Sunday, July 16, 2017

Beating The Stupid Out With A Slide Rule

Apparently the latest "thing", if you are calculationally retarded, is to claim some hogwash to the effect that "The US could have avoided the entire Civil War by simply buying the slaves for market prices, ergo no war."

This from the Underpants Gnome School Of Economics.

Item One: The black population of the US in 1860 included 3,953,761 slaves.
Item Two: The average US budget from 1789-1860 was $19,000,000 per year.
Item Three: The price of the average slave ca. 1860 was $1400 to $2000 (and those are pre-CW 1860 dollars).
For the quibblers and nit-pickers, I'm inclined to grant that half the slaves would be women and children, and worth half the market rate for a prime healthy male. We'll ignore the fact that women could and did make more slaves, as their children were not considered free-born, which in a closed slavery market makes them more valuable, not less.

3,953,761 slaves x 0.5 = 1,976,880.5
So, we'll call it 1,976,880 males, and 1,976,880 women and children (and I'll drop the fraction).
Simple math follows (too hard for the die-hard moron):
So the market price for the male slaves only would be $2,767,632,000 - $3,953,760,000.
The women and children would fetch  $1,383,816,000 - $1,976,880,000.

Bringing the total cost to purchase all slaves to between $4.2 and $5.8B dollars (yes, following the rule, I rounded up, but if there was such a plan, the prices would have risen as well.) And at a price 2-3x the cost of the actual Civil War, in inflated wartime dollars.
(Oh, and nota bene that post-Civil War inflation jacked the federal budget up 800-1600%, for the half-century afterwards, which means inflation bit the hell out of everyone: there's your "slavery reparations", on top of the lives and blood shed for your freedom, and you're welcome, entitled race-baiting @$$holes from the other side.) 

At any rate, yes, the US could have bought all the slaves up in 1861:
By simply spending 218-312 years worth of federal budgets (which would have taken us to somewhere around 2007-2100) in 1860 dollars, provided they spent not one single penny on anything else.

During which time - two to three centuries, mind you - no other federal outlays would exist, and taxation would have been at exorbitant levels to pay off the interest on that $4-5 billion dollar note. (Yeah, that would totally fly in a country that had a revolution over a half penny tea if).

No government whatsoever; no Louisiana Purchase - cancel the entire plains states expansion; no Mexican War, so no Texas, no California, no Arizona, no New Mexico; no army for frontier settlement or Indian Wars; no Gadsden Purchase, so no AZ or New Mexico scrap, no intercontinental railroad, no Mississippi River trade, no navy, no patent office, no Alaskan purchase, no nothing, whatsoever, to this day, if not beyond. Except maybe hordes of tariff and tax collectors, sussing out every stray nickel from north to south, east to west, 24/7/365/forever.
America The Miniscule, in living stupidity.
If you think total actual anarchy was the way to save the union facing those facts, show your work.

For an asset that would have been, at best, shipped back to Africa, or at worst, pawned off on Northern cities in droves, and with worse bloodshed than the last century and a half on the same issue.

In fact, in all likelihood, the entire US, an Atlantic power, is re-absorbed following their defeat by the British in 1812.
God Save The King!
Or, God save us from innumerate @$$holes who can't even do chalkboard math.

So no, no way in hell was there an economic possibility of the United States simply buying our way out of slavery. (Though clearly, reconstruction of some morons was and continues to be an abject failure. And a testimony to the waste of billions in compulsory public schooling in the last century that would have been better spent on video games and porn.)

If you're one of those coulda-shoulda-woulda mathematically-challenged fucktards, please, I beseech you:
Go back to the third grade, take your diplomas and report cards, and demand a refund.
Or else pull up a chair and re-do math for grades 1-6, inclusive.
But spare me this sophomoric argument, doubly so if you can't look things up and do the equivalent of a sixth-grade essay on the subject.


Jennifer said...

Unrelated: Lawdog's book is out today!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Math is hard, feelings are easy.......

Mark D

Jess said...

It would have worked, if they had credit cards. Of course, we'd still only be paying the minimum.

Jim Scrummy said...

Again, I cannot fix stupid. I do not have the time or energy to fix this kind of stupid. Mafths are hard (and apparently, economic mafths are the hardest...) for stupid people.

Anonymous said...

methinks that, for this level of stupid, something more akin to rebar would be required, rather than a slide rule!

Aesop said...

There's an apocryphal story of tribes that use the ridges on rebar for math, so it's a "counting rebar".

Anonymous said...

This was called "compensated emancipation". Lincoln was in favor of it as late as mid-1862 and proposed it to border state moderates, who rejected it. Also, he proposed an average compensation of $400 per slave, the program to be spread over a period of 20-some years by US bonds payable at 6% interest. These would have been Lincoln's starting numbers in a negotiation that never happened. After being rebuffed by the border states, Lincoln moved ahead with plans for the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Anonymous said...

So this proposed purchase would have impacted events PRIOR to the purchase? Texas, Mexican War, Louisiana purchase? A slide rule isn't a time machine....

Aesop said...

No, but the argument was and is put forth, variously, that it should have started long before war broke out, including as early as the Declaration of Independence, when the fatal compromise was first struck. Even giving the option of throwing the first 70 years of federal budgets at the problem simply shows how ridiculous the proposition is, and how far from reality the idea is viewed through basic economics.

Doing it all at once, in 1860, would have been even worse.

There is no way to make it work without bankrupting and fatally hamstringing the country, and doing it at the last minute would have destroyed the country during the exact century-plus of American ascendancy, from 1865-1965.

We would have been a third world nation, to the present day, if we even still existed at all.

At a nominal 2% interest rate on bonds for a $5B note, the interest in the first year alone would be $100M, some three to five times the entire US federal budget. By twenty years in, the interest just on the unpaid interest would have been greater than the actual amount of revenue collectable, and the deficit from that alone would have crushed us before the turn of the century. (While preventing us from having any army or navy, or even paying the congress, president, judges, nor hiring so much as one federal employee, of any kind.) IOW, we couldn't even have made the payments, or we would have had rampant inflation of the type seen in Weimar or Zimbabwe, and then been a failed nation in perpetuity.

And then gobbled up by someone else, broker and worse off than before 1775.

It's an idea so absurd that there's no calamity than which anything could be greater.

Lincoln's plan is equally absurd (assuming slave owners would ever take 10-20 cents on the dollar in the first place, which is why the idea fell on its ass in about 2 seconds).

3,953,761 slaves x $400@ comes to $1.58B of principal, plus another $90M in simple interest, about what we spent on the first half of the Civil War, before wartime inflation went as hog wild as it did by the last two years (130% by 1864).
Compare an oz. of gold in 1860 vs. 1864, or to today, for the literal gold standard on inflation. Also note that gold returned, after the Civil War inflation blip was beaten back, back to the same $20.67 price and stayed there for decades, right up until FDR took us off the gold standard in 1933.}

Even with simple interest at 6%, the annual pay-in would be $84M/yr to pay off at the 20-year mark, which once again, overtops the entire federal budget in perpetuity going forward, or sinks the country financially to the point of ruin if payable on demand at the end.
And we were already $1B or more in the hole to finance the war thus far, which money would also have to be repaid.

Unless it was a deliberate cynical attempt to kick the can down the road, which would likely have triggered the exact same Civil War, except from everyone who held a worthless bond. Lincoln would have been dead, but so would the country.

To put it in perspective the actual cost to do such a thing honestly, at market prices, would be the equivalent of spending $300B today, a sum the entire US budget didn't surpass until 1975.

Aesop said...

And that after only 44 years of New Deal-driven inflation, compounded by a decade-plus of Great Society welfare gone insane, and a military-industrial complex running a Cold War at its literal peak.

"So let me get this straight, want people to sell their slaves for US bonds that we can't pay off until 110 years after your death, and decades after the original bond-holders have died too? Maybe even after their children are dead???
Sh'yeah, tell you what, how's about you go lie down, and I'll send for the doctor...