Many business wheeler-dealers ask their counterparties or collaborators to sign secrecy agreements. Some might be worried about an invention not yet patented. Others may be running an illegal operation and not want the police alerted. Governments also enter into these sorts of agreements, often to avoid “embarrassment.” But the information they hide may not really be theirs to hide–especially if the concealment exposes citizens to physical harm, financial losses or avoidable death.
Take the case of financial panics. Every one of these is explained by a circular fallacy wherein agents other than the government overspeculated. Those careless villains allegedly bought in the expectation of being able to sell at a higher price in other words. How do we know they speculated too much? Because the price “fell” and they lost more than their initial investment. Had the bottom not dropped out, that same speculation would have been Goldilocks perfect. The consequent of the argument is relied on to affirm the antecedent. This affirming the consequent was known to the Greeks as a logical fallacy thousands of years ago.
The crash of 1837 is never explained in terms of reality. Great Britain conquered India and turned it into a great opium and indigo farm. When China prohibited opium imports, Parliament needed money to send the Royal Navy to the other side of the planet to bombard and burn down Chinese cities and force the repeal of opium prohibition. To raise the money, English banks called loans and liquidated American securities such as municipal bond issues. Money became scarce, the US invaded Mexico to claim gold in California, then raised tariff rates until secession was resorted to (nullification having been tried with poor results). Yet economics professors in subsidized classrooms never mention these clear and simple facts of reality, all of them preserved in the historical record.
Similarly, the Panic of 1893 had several causes. France’s Panama Canal project was bankrupt, a free silver coinage bill was inflating that fraction or the currency, and the Chinese were angry at congressional renewal of the US policy of excluding them from immigration. Right before Grover Cleveland’s inauguration day, lame duck prohibitionist President Harrison suddenly clamped down on sea and railway smuggling of Asian products that had been skirting the protective tariff. But the the most important shock to the economy–debates in Congress over a movement to legislate the communist manifesto income tax as a permanent peacetime measure–never gets mentioned. Nevertheless the depression was so serious that the Supreme Court had to quickly strike down the income tax law in order for the economy to recover. The usual suspect, the fallacy of “overspeculation,” was rounded up and blamed.
The Panic of 1907 was also sparked in large part by the recalcitrant Chinese, this time boycotting U.S. imports because items containing morphine were not so labeled. When prohibitionist zealots leapt with whoops of joy upon Pure Food law as an open door to political meddling in beer, whiskey and foods marketing, the economy suffered an epileptic contraction. Similar events occurred in 1928, spring and fall of 1929, 1933, 1987 and 2007. In every case, politicians used the violence of law to interfere with the freedom of production and trade, often in harmless and non-toxic articles that, when left alone, offered very real harm reduction compared to their replacements under cartel-benefiting prohibitions. Thalidomide and alcohol come to mind, compared to such alternatives as hemp and lyserg saure diethylamide.
Could it be that politicians have formed another “gentleman’s agreement”–an agreement to conceal inconvenient truths and possibly penalize colleges that dare to offer political economy as part of their curriculum? Might such a subterfuge be accomplished by using federal tax proceeds to manipulate state and municipal governments and influence their educational policies and agendas? Such a move was in fact initiated shortly before the 1987 crash by using the First Lady as a surrogate for launching Orwellian “Just Say No” campaigns using schools to brainwash children with pseudoscientific disinformation.
Government information, like the government itself, belongs to the citizens who instituted and maintain that government. If the laws it enforces are just, proper and exist only to protect the rights of individuals, there is no reason for hiding the names of those who enforce those laws until such time as Congress has issued a declaration of war. Governments that use the violence of law to violate individual rights–such as the German Reich under the sway of Christian National Socialism–are criminal organizations. National Socialist military and political leaders were tried and hanged in Nuremberg during the years following the May, 1945 surrender.
But what of governments that keep from their citizens important relationships such as the statistically observable correlations between mixed-economy meddling, the financial panics that occur when these are detected, and the deleterious effects on pension funds, interest and inflation rates, and other economic measures of prosperity?
Would this not qualify as a financial crime?