Estonians could regain the right to hunt seals


Estonians could regain the right to hunt seals

August 29, 2010

Note 1

A news that should make us think: the 500 residents of the small island Kihnu, 40 km southeast of Pärnu, in the Gulf of Riga (Estonia) in the Baltic Sea, could regain the right to hunt the gray seal (Halichoerus grypus), which is prohibited to date from a moratorium that lasted 30 years. The inhabitants of the island have in fact claimed the right of being able to return to eat seal meat from the local Ministry, as their tradition dictates, as the population of the pinniped has increased and therefore it should be possible to resume hunting. In fact, according to the Ministry, the gray seal population has increased from 1,500 to 4,000 in the last ten years thanks to the better conditions of the Baltic Sea. As a result of this request, the government is therefore drafting a bill to make the reopening of hunting legal, estimating that 1% of gray seals per year could be hunted, calculated on those counted in the previous year.

Note 3

The issue is complicated, however, by the fact that the competent authorities are considering whether to give this permission only to the inhabitants of the island of Kihnu or whether to extend the privilege to other neighboring islands as well. Why should only the few inhabitants of Kihnu be favored? Seals are mobile animals, which also go to nearby islands, so why not give the inhabitants of the other islands the opportunity to hunt them too? Furthermore, the local authorities are discussing another serious issue: recognizing the right to hunt only to the descendants of the first inhabitants of the island or even to newcomers who have nothing to do with local traditions but have only bought a house on the island. .

It makes us think how in an era where we talk about animal rights, animals in extinction, marine reserves ... there are still those who, to "safeguard the tradition of eating a seal stew", ask to reopen the hunt for an animal considered threatened with extinction by the IUCN Red List.

Surveys indicate a total population of around 10,000 individuals across the Baltic, mainly in the Swedish and Finnish areas and in Estonian waters. This figure represents a remarkable recovery of a population that was around 2,000 in 1970, but it is estimated that a century ago, the Baltic had a population of around 100,000 gray seals. Hunting was the main cause of their decline until 1940, while reproductive problems, diseases, pollution, were the main problems from 1960 to today.

Note 2

Today gray seals die because they are trapped in fishing nets and it is not known what figures can be talked about because fishermen are not required to report these catches. Furthermore, it is now established that the meat and fat, especially of the Baltic Sea gray seal compared to other populations living in other areas of the world, are loaded with pollutants such as PCB and DDT in consideration of the fact that they are coastal animals living in the vicinity of cities and the Baltic Sea is a particularly polluted sea, as well as residues of trace elements such as mercury, cadmium, lead and selenium have been found. In addition, all gray seals are carriers of the Morbillivirus, ie the «Distemper virus of seals» (PDV), in all populations of the world, including those of the Baltic Sea. There have also been significant increases in intestinal ulcers, the cause of which is still unknown, and a significant decrease in the thickness of fat in the tissues over the past 10 years.

As a result of these observations, the gray seals of the Baltic Sea do not seem healthy animals whose meat can be eaten without reflecting on what you are doing, therefore the question arises: why want to hunt an animal whose edible use is very doubtful?

Estonians could regain the right to hunt seals


Èzio, Flàvio (Durostorum 390-Ravenna 454) Roman general of barbarian lineage. Son of Gaudenzio, he developed good relations with the Huns. At the death of the emperor Honorius (423) he fought for Galla Placidia. He subdued Goths and Franks (429) and freed Arles. It was successful against Burgundians, Franks and Goths. Winner of Attila (452) stopped the Huns in Gaul. He was killed by Valentinian III.

etiolation, sm. State of plants growing in the dark, characterized by the lack of chlorophyll and by the exaggerated elongation of the nodes.

etiolated, adj. Affected by etiolation.

etiology, sf. 1 Part of medicine that studies the causes of diseases and dysfunctions. 2 Investigation into the causes of a phenomenon.

etiological, adj. (pl. m.-ci) Which refers to etiology.

Ezralov, Daniel (Los Angeles 1956-) American choreographer and dancer of Russian-Polish origin.

Ezzelìno III da Romàno (Onara 1194-Soncino 1259) Son of Ezzelino II da Romano, son-in-law of Frederick II, he created the lordship of the Marca Trevigiana, including Verona, Padua, Vicenza, Brescia and Trento. His cruelty forced Pope Innocent IV to excommunicate him as the head of the Ghibelline party, he was defeated by the Guelph league, commanded by Martino Della Torre, in Cassano d'Adda (1259). Wounded and captured, he was taken to Soncino where he let himself die.

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Friday 23 August 2019

Four hundred years of dynamic efficiency

[This speech was given at the 2009 Mises Institute Supporters Summit: "The Birthplace of Economic Theory: A Trip to Salamanca, Spain."]

Thank you very much for your kind introduction. For me it is a great honor and a privilege to be here today first of all I would like to thank the Mises Institute and Professor Gabriel Calzada for inviting me to Salamanca to talk about the "Dynamic Efficiency Theory" in this wonderful city.

I will divide my presentation into three parts. I will first talk about the Spanish roots of the Austrian economy then I will introduce, according to the Austrian tradition, a dynamic concept of economic efficiency and finally I will try to demonstrate the relationship between ethics and efficiency in the capitalist system.

Let me begin by pointing out some points about the origin of the Austrian School, which should be traced back to the works of the Spanish scholastics of what is known as "Siglo De Oro Espanol" (the Spanish golden age), from the mid-16th century to the 17th century. In 1974 the great Austrian scholar, Murray N. Rothbard, first developed the thesis that the Austrian School is of Spanish origin. Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek shared this view, particularly after meeting Bruno Leoni, an Italian scholar and author of the book Freedom and the Law. The two met in the 1950s and Leoni convinced Hayek that the intellectual origins of classical economic liberalism lay in Mediterranean Europe and not Scotland.

I have a letter from Hayek dated January 7, 1979 in which he wrote to Rothbard: "The basic principles of the competitive market theory were elaborated by the Spanish scholastics of the 16th century and economic liberalism was born not of the Calvinists, but of the Spanish Jesuits. ". Hayek concludes his letter by telling us: "I can reassure you about the sources, they are extremely reliable".

Who were these Spanish intellectual ancestors of the free market movement? Many of them were scholastics who taught morals and theology at the University of the City of Salamanca. These scholastics were mainly Dominicans, or Jesuits, and were able to articulate the subjectivist, dynamic and libertarian tradition which, 250 years later, was revived by Carl Menger and his followers in the Austrian School. We recall some of the main contributions of these early scholastics.

Perhaps the first author to be mentioned should be Diego de Covarrubias Y Leyva. Covarrubias, the son of a famous architect, was born in 1512 and became bishop of the city of Segovia and minister of King Philip II. If you have the opportunity to visit the city of Toledo, I recommend that you visit the museum of the great Spanish painter El Greco. There you will see an extraordinary portrait of Covarrubias who, in 1554, presented better than anyone before him the subjectivist theory of value, the foundation of all free market principles.

In particular, Covarrubias said that "the value of an article does not depend on its nature, but on the subjective esteem of men, even if such an estimate is foolish". He added that "in the Indies wheat is more expensive than in Spain because men value it more, although the nature of the wheat is the same in both places."

Another important author is Luis Saravia de la Calle, the first Spanish school to demonstrate that prices determine costs, not the other way around. Saravia de la Calle is also credited with having written his main work in Spanish, not Latin. The title is Instruccion De Mercaderes (Instructions for traders), and here we read that "those who measure the right price for work, costs and risks incurred by the person who takes care of the commodity are wrong. The right price is not found in the cost, but in a common estimate".

Saravia de la Calle is also a great critic of the fractional reserve banking system. He argues that the collection of interest by a bank is incompatible with the nature of a security deposit and that, in any case, a fee should be paid to the banker for safekeeping of the money entrusted to him.

A similar conclusion is reached by another famous Spanish scholastic, Martin Azpilcueta. Azpilcueta was also known as Dr. Navarro, because he was born in Navarra, the northeastern autonomous region of Spain, famous for the Encierros, a festival held in the capital of the Pamplona region where every July people run in front of the bulls. Azpilcueta was born the year after the discovery of America (1493), lived to be 49 years old and is particularly famous for explaining the quantitative theory of money for the first time in 1556. Azpilcueta explained the effects on Spanish prices of the massive influx of precious metals from America:

Spanish scholastics have also acquired a clear understanding of the nature of market prices and the impossibility of achieving economic equilibrium. Jesuit Cardinal Juan de Lugo, wondering what the equilibrium price was as early as 1643, came to the conclusion that equilibrium depends on such a large number of specific circumstances that only God can know it: "Pretium Iustum Mathematicum Licet soli Deu notum". Another Jesuit, Juan de Salas, regarding the possibility that an authority might know specific market information, stated that the market is so complex that: "Quas Exact Comprehendere et ponderare Dei est non hominum". ("Only God, not men, can understand this exactly.")

Furthermore, the Spanish scholastics were the first to introduce the dynamic concept of competition (in Latin, concurrentium), which is best understood as a process of rivalry between entrepreneurs. For example, Jeronimo Castillo de Bovadilla (1547–?) Wrote that "prices will fall due to the abundance of vendors and the rivalry and competition between them".

Like Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, and most of the members of the Austrian School, inclined to be classical liberals, the Spanish subjectivist scholastics tended to defend strong libertarian positions in political matters. For example, the founder of international law, the Dominican Francisco de Vitoria, whose burial place we visited yesterday, began the Spanish scholastic tradition of denouncing the conquest and in particular the enslavement of Indians by the Spaniards in the New World, thus relaunching the idea that natural law is morally superior to the mere power of the state.

This natural law was further developed by the great libertarian Jesuit Juan de Mariana, who gives our institute its name. In his book, On the Alteration of Money (De Monetae Mutatione), published in 1609, condemns any devaluation of currencies by the state as robbery. Mariana also argued in her well-known theory of tyrannies that any individual citizen can rightfully assassinate a governor who imposes taxes without the consent of the people, takes over the property of individuals and squanders it, or prevents a meeting of a democratic parliament.

Let me remind you that in the 16th century the Emperor Charles V, who was the king of Spain, sent his brother Ferdinand I to become the king, or rather, the archduke of Austria. Etymologically "Austria" means "eastern part of the Empire". The Spanish Empire at the time encompassed almost all of continental Europe, with the sole exception of France, which remained "an island" surrounded by Spanish forces. Now you can better understand the origin of the intellectual influence exerted by the Spanish scholastics on the Austrian School.

This was not a coincidence, or a mere whim of history, but originated from the historical, political and cultural relations that arose in the 1500s between Spain and Austria and which would continue for several centuries. Italy also played an important role in this context, acting as a cultural, economic and financial bridge over which relations between the two most distant points of the Empire (Spain and Austria) flowed. So, as you can see, there are very strong arguments in support of the thesis that, at least at its roots, the Austrian School is a Spanish school.

In fact I think that the greatest merit of the founder of the Austrian School, Carl Menger, was to rediscover and revive this continental Catholic tradition of Spanish scholastic thought, almost forgotten due to the negative influence of Adam Smith and his followers of the Classical School. British. To quote Professor Leland Yeager in his "Review" of Rothbard's latest book on the history of economic thought:

Fortunately, despite the overwhelming intellectual imperialism of the British Classical School, the continental, subjectivist and free market tradition has never been completely forgotten. Several economists, such as Cantillon, Turgot and Say, have lit the torch of subjectivism and entrepreneurial analysis. Even in Spain, during the waning years of the 18th and 19th centuries, the old scholastic tradition survived, despite the typical inferiority complex of the time vis-à-vis the British intellectual world.

We have proof of this in that another Spanish Catholic writer solved the "paradox of value" and expounded the theory of marginal utility 27 years before Carl Menger: Jaime Balmes.

Balmes was born in Catalonia in 1810 and died in 1848. During his short life, he became the most important Spanish Thomist philosopher of his time. A few years before his death, on September 7, 1844, he published an article entitled "The idea of ​​value or thoughts on the origin, nature and variety of prices", in which he resolved the paradox of value and expounded the idea of marginal utility. Balmes wondered: "Why is a precious stone worth more than a piece of bread?" And he replied:

In this way Balmes was able to close the circle of the continental tradition of Catholic subjectivism, completed a few years later by Carl Menger and enriched by his followers in the Austrian School.

We can conclude that we owe the present revival of free market liberalism and the Austrian School to these great thinkers of the "Spanish golden age".

The Austrian concept of dynamic efficiency

Now let's move on to the second part of my presentation and I will talk about the concept of static efficiency, which I propose to replace with a typically Austrian concept of dynamic efficiency.

The term "efficiency" derives etymologically from the Latin verb ex facio, which means "to get something from". The application to economics of this concept of efficiency as the ability to "get something" predates the Roman world and can even be traced back to ancient Greece, where the term Economics it was first used to indicate the efficient management of a family's home.

We recall that Xenophon, in his work in Economy, written in 380 BC, explains that there are two different ways to increase the family patrimony each of its ways equates to a different concept of efficiency. The first corresponds to the static concept of efficiency and consists in the sound management of available resources (or "dates"), to prevent them from being wasted. According to Xenophon, the best way to achieve this static efficiency is to keep the house tidy.

However, together with the concept of static efficiency, Xenophon introduces a different concept, that of "dynamic" efficiency, which consists in the attempt to increase one's assets through entrepreneurial creativity, that is, through trade and speculation rather than through effort. to avoid wasting resources already available. This tradition of clear distinction between the two different concepts of efficiency, static and dynamic, survived until the Middle Ages. For example, San Bernardino da Siena wrote that the profits of traders were justified not only by the sound management of their resources (already provided), but also, and above all, by the assumption of risks and dangers (in Latin, pericula) present in any entrepreneurial speculation.

Unfortunately, the development of mechanical physics, which began with the Modern Age, had a very negative influence on the evolution of economic thought, especially after the 19th century, when the idea of ​​dynamic efficiency was almost completely forgotten in economics.

Both the Austrian Hans Mayer, before World War II, and Philip Mirowski, nowadays, have pointed out that traditional neoclassical economics developed as a copy of 19th-century mechanical physics: using the same formal method, but by replacing the concept of energy with that of utility and applying the same principles of conservation, maximization of results and minimization of waste. The most representative author of this negative trend was Leon Walras, who, in his 1909 article, "Economics and Mechanics", stated that the mathematical formulas in his book Elements of Pure Economics they were identical to those of mathematical physics.

In short, the influence of mechanical physics has eradicated the creative, speculative and dynamic dimension that was implicit in the idea of ​​economic efficiency from the very beginning, and all that is left is the reductionist and static aspect, which consists exclusively in the minimize the waste of economic resources (already existing). This change took place despite the fact that neither resources nor technology are "given" in real life, but they continually vary due to entrepreneurial creativity.

The reductionist concept of static efficiency had immense theoretical and practical influence in the twentieth century. Socialists Fabian Sydney and Beatrice Webb embody a case in point. This married couple were shocked by the "waste" they believed was produced in the capitalist system and founded the London School of Economics in an attempt to support the socialist reform of capitalism. The objective of this socialist reform would be to eliminate waste and make the economic system "efficient". The Webbs admired the "efficiency" they thought they observed in Soviet Russia, to the point that Beatrice even declared: "I fell in love with Soviet Communism."

Another author influenced by the static concept of economic efficiency was John Maynard Keynes himself, who, in the introduction to the German edition of General Theory, argued that his typically Keynesian economic policy proposals "fit more easily to the conditions of a totalitarian state." Keynes also praised the book Soviet Communism which Sidney and Beatrice Webb had published three years earlier.

Furthermore, in the 1920s and 1930s the static concept of economic efficiency became the focus of an entirely new discipline which became known as "welfare economics" and which grew out of alternative approaches, of which the Pareto approach is the best known. . From the Pareto point of view, an economic system is in a state of efficiency if no one can improve itself without making someone else worse.

Our main critique of welfare economics is that it reduces the economic efficiency problem to a simple mathematical maximization problem, in which all economic data is assumed to be given and constant. However, both assumptions are completely wrong: the data is constantly changing due to entrepreneurial creativity.

And for this very reason we must introduce a new concept, that of dynamic efficiency, understood as the ability to promote entrepreneurial creativity and coordination. In other words, dynamic efficiency consists of the entrepreneurial ability to discover profit opportunities, as well as the ability to coordinate and overcome any social mismatches or unrest.

In terms of neoclassical economics, the goal of dynamic efficiency should not be to move the system towards the frontier of production possibilities, but rather to strengthen entrepreneurial creativity and thus continuously "shift" the production possibility curve to the right. .

The word "entrepreneurship" derives etymologically from the Latin term in prehendo, which means "to discover", "to see", "to realize" something. In this sense, we can define entrepreneurship as the typically human capacity to recognize subjective profit opportunities that appear in the environment and to act accordingly to take advantage of them.

Entrepreneurship therefore implies a particular vigilance, the ability to be vigilant. Fully applicable to the idea of ​​entrepreneurship is also the verb "mirror", which derives from the Latin word speculates and refers to the watchtowers from which any enemies could be sighted.

Each business action not only creates and transmits new information, but also coordinates the previously disordered behavior of economic agents. Whenever someone discovers or creates a profit opportunity and buys a certain asset cheaply and sells it at a higher price, it harmonizes the previously unaware behavior of the owners of the asset (who most likely squandered and wasted it) with the behavior of those who need it. Therefore creativity and coordination are two sides of the same coin (I would add "entrepreneurial").

From a dynamic point of view, an individual, a company, an institution or even an entire economic system will be more efficient the more they promote entrepreneurial creativity and coordination.

And from this dynamic perspective, the really important goal is not so much to prevent the waste of some means considered known and "given" as to discover and continually create new ends and means.

For a more in-depth treatment of the whole question, I recommend the main works of Mises, Hayek, Kirzner and Rothbard on the idea of ​​the market as a dynamic process driven by entrepreneurship and on the notion of competition as a process of discovery and creativity.

In my opinion, these Austrian authors provide us with the most exact concept of dynamic efficiency, which contrasts with the more imperfect concept of dynamic efficiency developed by Joseph A. Schumpeter and Douglass North.

North and Schumpeter offer totally opposite perspectives. While Schumpeter only considers the aspect of entrepreneurial creativity and its destructive power (which he calls the process of "creative destruction"), Douglass North focuses on the other aspect, which he calls "adaptive efficiency" or the coordinative capacity of entrepreneurship. The Austrian concept of dynamic efficiency, developed by Mises, Hayek and Kirzner, combines the creative and coordinated dimension, which Schumpeter and North have only studied in a separate, partial and reductionist way.

Dynamic and ethical efficiency

And now let's focus on the relationship between ethics and the concept of dynamic efficiency. Traditional neoclassical economic theory is based on the idea that information is objective and given (in certain or probabilistic terms), and that questions of utility maximization have absolutely no connection with moral considerations.

Furthermore, the static point of view has led to the conclusion that resources are in a certain sense given and known, and therefore that the economic problem of their distribution was separate from the problem of their production. If resources are given, it is vital to investigate how best to allocate both the available means of production and the resulting consumer goods.

This approach collapses like a stack of papers if we focus on the dynamic concept of market processes, the theory of entrepreneurship and the notion of dynamic efficiency that I have just explained. From this point of view, every human being has a unique creative capacity that allows him to continuously perceive and discover new opportunities for profit. Entrepreneurship consists of the typically human ability to create and discover new ends and means, and it is the most important feature of human nature.

If ends, means and resources are not given but created continuously out of thin air as a result of the entrepreneurial action of human beings, clearly the fundamental ethical problem is no longer how to rightly distribute what already exists, but instead how to promote entrepreneurial creativity and coordination. .

Consequently, in the field of social ethics, we arrive at the fundamental conclusion that the idea of ​​human beings as creative actors and coordinators implies the axiomatic acceptance of the principle that every human being has the natural right to appropriate all the results of his entrepreneurial creativity. That is, the private appropriation of the fruits of entrepreneurial creation and discovery is a principle of natural law.

And it is a natural law principle because if an acting person were unable to claim what they create or discover, their ability to detect profit opportunities would be completely blocked and their incentive to act would disappear. Furthermore, the principle is universal in the sense that it can be applied to all people at all possible times and in all imaginable places.

Forcing free human action, compromising people's right to own what they entrepreneurially create, is not only dynamically inefficient as it hinders their creativity and coordination capacity, it is also fundamentally immoral as such coercion prevents human beings from developing what by nature it is very important for them, that is the innate ability to create and conceive new ends and means to try to reach their goals and objectives. Precisely for these reasons, not only socialism and interventionism, but also any form of statism are dynamically inefficient and ethically unjust and immoral.

It must be borne in mind that the strength of entrepreneurial creativity is also manifested in the desire to help the poor and in the systematic search for situations in which to help others. In fact, the coercive intervention of the state, through the typical mechanisms of the so-called "social state", neutralizes and largely blocks the entrepreneurial effort to help those (near and far) in difficulty. And this is an idea that, for example, Pope John Paul II emphasized in Section 49 of his 1991 Encyclical, Centesimus Annus.

Furthermore, according to our analysis, nothing is more (dynamically) efficient than justice (in its proper sense). If we think of the market as a dynamic process, then dynamic efficiency, understood as coordination and creativity, derives from the behavior of human beings who follow certain moral laws (mainly with regard to respect for life, private property and compliance contracts).

Only the exercise of human action subject to these ethical principles gives rise to dynamically efficient social processes. And now it is easy to understand why, from a dynamic point of view, efficiency is not compatible with different models of equity or justice (contrary to the second fundamental theorem of the economics of well-being), but instead efficiency derives only from a ' idea of ​​justice (based on respect for private property, entrepreneurship and, as we will see shortly, also on the principles of personal morality). Therefore the contradiction between efficiency and justice is false.

What is right cannot be inefficient and what is efficient cannot be unfair. A dynamic analysis reveals that justice and efficiency are two sides of the same coin, which also confirms the coherent and integrated order that exists in the spontaneous social universe of human interactions.

We now conclude with some ideas on the relationship between dynamic efficiency and principles of personal morality, especially in the field of family and sexual relations.

Up to this point we have looked at social ethics and discussed the key principles that make dynamic efficiency possible. Outside this realm lie the innermost principles of personal morality. The influence of the principles of personal morality on dynamic efficiency has rarely been studied and, in any case, they are considered separate from social ethics. However, I believe that this separation is unjustified.

Infatti ci sono principi morali di grande importanza per l'efficienza dinamica di qualsiasi società, soggetti al seguente apparente paradosso: l'incapacità di sostenerli a livello personale comporta un costo enorme in termini di efficienza dinamica, ma il tentativo di imporre questi principi morali usando la forza dello stato genera inefficienze ancora più gravi. Pertanto alcune istituzioni sociali sono necessarie per trasmettere e incoraggiare l'osservanza di questi principi morali personali, che per loro stessa natura non possono essere imposti con la violenza e la coercizione, ma sono comunque di grande importanza per l'efficienza dinamica di ogni società.

È principalmente attraverso la religione e la famiglia che gli esseri umani, generazione dopo generazione, sono in grado di interiorizzare questi principi e quindi trasmetterli ai loro figli. I principi che riguardano la moralità sessuale, la creazione e la conservazione dell'istituzione familiare, la fedeltà tra i coniugi e la cura dei figli, il controllo dei nostri istinti atavici e il superamento e la moderazione dell'invidia, sono tutti d'importanza cruciale per il successo di ogni processo sociale di creatività e coordinamento.

Come ci ha insegnato Hayek, sia il progresso della civiltà sia lo sviluppo economico e sociale richiedono una popolazione in costante espansione in grado di sostenere la crescita costante del volume di conoscenza sociale generata dalla creatività imprenditoriale. L'efficienza dinamica dipende dalla creatività delle persone e dalla capacità di coordinamento e, a parità di condizioni, tenderà ad aumentare con l'aumentare del numero di esseri umani, cosa che può avvenire solo all'interno di un determinato quadro di principi morali a sostegno delle relazioni familiari.

Tuttavia, come ho già affermato, questo è una sorta di paradosso. Il quadro dei principi morali personali non può essere imposto con la coercizione. L'imposizione di principi morali con la forza o la coercizione darebbe origine ad una società chiusa e inquisitoria che priverebbe gli esseri umani delle libertà individuali, le quali costituiscono il fondamento dell'imprenditorialità e dell'efficienza dinamica.

Questo fatto rivela precisamente l'importanza di metodi alternativi e non coercitivi di guida sociale che espongano le persone ai principi morali ne incoraggino l'interiorizzazione e l'osservanza. Possiamo concludere che, a parità di condizioni, più i principi morali personali di una società sono solidi e duraturi, maggiore sarà la sua efficienza dinamica.

Grazie mille per la vostra pazienza ed attenzione.

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