Posted tagged ‘Obama’s Iraq Policy’

“Human Action” Helps Us Understand Mrs. Rice’s Instagram, and Obama’s Iraq Speech

September 12, 2014


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How can these seemingly unrelated stories have anything in common? They are not related in any way, unless you understand the concept of human action as explained by Ludwig von Mises in his tome “Human Action: A Treatise On Economics”. Human action has nothing to do with the psychological reasons or the internal forces that result in a particular action. Trying to figure out these reasons would be guesses by anyone who is not a psychiatrist, and educated guesses by professional psychiatrists. Human action is purposeful behavior and as such can be meaningfully interpreted. The end man seeks with his action is his motive for acting. Why he is motivated to attain this end has nothing to do with human action. Human action doesn’t care about the psychological reason compelling a person to act, it only cares about the action itself. When a person acts he is not simply giving preference among many alternatives, he is displaying what he prefers at that particular moment.

In summary. A person purposefully acts using available means, to reach a particular end, an end which he thinks will bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs than the state of affairs that existed before he decided to act. A person makes a particular choice,  between many competing ends, at a particular time. His choice reveals his most valued end that particular moment. The correctness or incorrectness of the action chosen will be revealed at some point in the future.

Now lets analyze these two stories.


Ray Rice hit and knocked out his then fiancée Janay Palmer in February of 2014. On March 27th a grand jury indicted Ray Rice on aggravated assault charges, and dropped simple assault charges on Janay Palmer. On March 28th Rice and Palmer were married. On May 1st Rice rejected a plea deal and applies for pretrial intervention program which accepted him allowing him to avoid a trial. Rice is suspended in July for the first two games of the year. The video of Rice punching his then fiancée surfaces on September 8th, and later that day the Ravens terminate his contract, worth $4 million this year, and the NFL  suspends him indefinitely.

Everyone from reporters, commentators, spokesmen for women’s groups, politicians, et al, have an opinion on why she would marry the guy who knocked her out. Here is how human action helps us understand this. It doesn’t matter what motivated her to marry him. Her choice reveals that she thinks being married to him is a better state of affairs than not being married to him. Trying to figure out why, assumes a level of knowledge that no one, outside of Ray and Janay, has access to. The correctness of her action will be revealed at some point in the future. The statement in her instagram message (here), “…THIS IS OUR LIFE!”, means butt out it is none of your business.

One more comment. What is the preferred end, the Ravens, the NFL, reporters, commentators, spokesman for women’s groups, and politicians think they will achieve by the actions they have taken in this case? No matter what the preferred end is, they obviously think the actions they have taken will bring about a better state of affairs, for themselves.


Lets start with a little background. In 08 the President campaigned  on getting out of Iraq. After he got elected he set a date for withdrawal which allowed the enemy to lay low and rearm. He withdraws our troops without leaving enough of them to keep the enemy in check and help support the new Government.

If there is one thing we can be 99% sure of concerning every politician its this: the end sought in every action is to gain political power, especially when these actions happen closer to an election. This is why in the last few weeks, the President has talked about corporations using “unpatriotic tax loopholes” to pay less in taxes, and why the minimum wage should be raised. The speech about Iraq is purposeful action taken for the achievement of an end that will be preferable to the present state of affairs. Now here is the 64,000 dollar question: is this preferable state of affairs to make the Iraq situation stable, or is it to help the Presidents political situation before the November elections? Either way we will know the answer to this question at some point in the future.

The biggest difference in these two cases is, 1) In the Rice situation, Ray and Janay suffer the consequences of their actions. 2) In the Iraq situation, all of us will suffer the consequences of the actions of the President. So why are more people talking about the situation that doesn’t affect them, instead of talking about the one that does affect them?