Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Power To Destroy (Michael Tennant)

Michael Tennant shows that taxation is simply robbery under an assumed name:

It’s 2:00 AM. You are aroused from your slumber by the sound of someone’s pounding on your front door. You stumble to the door and open it to find three men in expensive, pin-striped suits who haul you off to a warehouse and, under the threat of "sleeping with the fishes," force you to fork over thousands of dollars to purchase food, clothing, medicine, and other necessities that they promise to donate to the less fortunate – although at that moment you wonder if anyone could possibly be less fortunate than you. The thugs then return you to your humble abode, warning you that they will return to "help" you engage in further "charity" in the future.

The next night, at about the same time, you are again awakened by knocking on the door. This time you find three men in cheap blue vests who march you off to Wal-Mart and force you to purchase food, clothing, medicine, and other items that you need. They then return you home along with your purchases and promise to return to "help" you obtain necessities in the future.

Question: Which of these acts is a crime?

The answer, of course, is that they both are criminal acts. In both cases you were forced to give up your property, which is to say, a theft occurred. That in one case the result was to provide for the poor and in the other the result was to provide for you is entirely irrelevant. You were coerced into handing over your rightful possessions against your wishes, and no amount of good intentions on the part of the coercer can alter that.

Read the rest, and for a more in-depth look at the subject, also see Frank Chodorov's classic essay Taxation is Robbery.

Nonsense about Deflation (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs says the serious threat to our economic well being is not deflation, but inflation:

We are now hearing ominous warnings about imminent deflation. Checking the welcome page at AOL this morning, I see that the lead item in the financial news section heralds “The Looming Threat of Deflation.” This headline encapsulates two highly problematic ideas. The first is that deflation would necessarily be a bad thing. The second is that deflation is likely to occur in the near term.

That deflation is always and everywhere a bad thing, not simply a bearer of bad news, but bad news in itself, is now an almost universal article of faith among mainstream economists and financial commentators. Clicking on the scary headline, I opened an article by Ted Allrich, who is described as “the founder of The Online Investor and author of the book Comfort Zone Investing: Build Wealth and Sleep Well at Night.” Allrich’s article, which does nothing to alter my belief that most investment “experts” are simply charlatans, encapsulates virtually every untutored and fallacious idea you’ve ever encountered in regard to deflation.

Read the rest

Roger Young's Weekly Update 11/30/08

Presenting Roger Young's latest installment of the Image Review of the Week....

....and Quotes of the Week:

From the Light:
“In all types of systems, the state wishes to co-opt other potential competitors for social authority, but this is perhaps easiest under democracy. The artistic, scientific, journalistic, academic, legal, and religious communities – each at points in history the most reliable opponents and critics of tyranny – become bought off, intimidated or tricked into rallying for more state power. Churches begin lobbying for tax exemptions – a separation of church and state – and sometimes end up pushing for subsidies. Artists go from being against the establishment to being propagandists for it (witness how Obamania has co-opted the counterculture; those who used to wear anti-U.S. Che Guevara shirts now sport the likeness of the next head of the U.S. empire).”
~ Anthony Gregory

Read the rest of the Quotes of the Week

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Buck Higgs Closer to Becoming a Bank (Bob Higgs)

Some humor from the estimable Bob Higgs:

COVINGTON, LA. (Nov. 29) - Buck Higgs, a down-at-the-heels hobby farmer living four miles north of this small southeast Louisiana town, said today that he would seek a banking charter from New York State’s banking department, a key step in his effort to change his business model and attract deposits.

This action comes immediately after Goldman Sachs announced that it had won the same kind of charter in an “effort to change its investment banking model and gather deposits.” Two months earlier, Goldman, an investment bank, received permission from the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company, thereby gaining access to funds being distributed by the U.S. Treasury under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a scheme created to acquire “toxic assets” (i.e., assets whose market values had fallen substantially) from banks and other financial companies, but not used for the statutorily authorized purpose. Goldman received an allotment of $10 billion from the TARP.

Higgs told reporters that his hobby farm had fallen onto hard times during the past year. Although his operation was not highly leveraged - Higgs’s parents had reared him to steer clear of situations where he might be unable to pay his honest debts - he complained that the government’s ethanol subsidies had diverted so much corn into the faux-environmental boondoggle that the prices of poultry feed had gone sky high, greatly augmenting the losses he normally incurred on his birds. He therefore blamed Wall Street, reasoning that the ruling class operates as a coherent unit, and if the power elite was responsible for wrecking the country’s great financial institutions and shoving the losses onto the taxpayers, then the elite ought properly to be held accountable for his hobby-farming losses, as well.

Read the rest

Friday, November 28, 2008

Scott Horton interviews Will Grigg (Antiwar Radio)

Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio had a great conversation with the great Will Grigg a couple of days ago to talk about a number of issues past and present:

Click here to listen

Ron Paul on Russia Today

As they did throughout Ron Paul's presidential campaign, Russia Today conducted another very nice interview with the good doctor:

YouTube - World Central Bank is on its way

The Real World Order Is Chaotic (Butler Shaffer)

Butler Shaffer thinks it's time for a major paradigm shift in our thinking:

Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. Chaos always defeats order because it is better organized.

~ Terry Pratchett

My last words on the gallows will be to praise the study of chaos. For the sake of our very survival as a species, the destructive and dysfunctional nature of our highly-structured world may soon force humanity into an outburst of intelligence. Should that occur, an understanding of the creative and orderly processes of chaos may save us from the consequences of our collective hubris.

What can be more insane than mankind’s continuing insistence upon playing out the simple-minded notion that the intricacies and variability of our complex world can be fully comprehended and rendered manageable by wise leaders? In a world caught up in the madness of wars, genocidal campaigns, economic depressions, and the resort – by some – to the despair implicit in suicide bombings, there is no better occasion for us to consider a major paradigm shift in our thinking.

"Desperation" may well be the best word to describe our current responses to the ubiquitous malfunctioning of social systems premised on the necessity for vertically-structured, top-down, command-and-control organizational forms. Western civilization collapses all around us, and yet most of us continue to insist upon a renewed commitment to variations of the Platonic vision of a world made orderly by philosopher-kings.

Read the rest

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Is For Saps (Roger Young)

Roger Young isn't a big fan of Thanksgiving, which he says is for saps:

You heard it right. Thanksgiving was created by a mass murderer (Lincoln) to create a sense of obligation to the murderous state that had just eliminated over 600,000 lives to preserve a political abstraction (a unified nation state). All those left standing were to give homage and thanks to the o’ holy state.

If you truly despise the state, one way to show it is to not participate in their “holidays” (defined as days off with pay by government gangsters with said pay to be extracted by force from unwilling tax serfs) and goofy traditions.

If you genuinely give thanks to God, you should be doing it daily. Why only one day per year? And why do you need a paid day off from work to do it? You can still have an official family thanksgiving- just do it on a day you choose, not when the state orders you to assemble.

Use the day for productive and creative pursuits rather than spending it comatose on the couch, inebriated by the latest degenerate fad of bread and circuses. The state hates it when you spend time learning and creating. Wise subjects make it more difficult for the state gangsters to continue their scam of “service.” Sharp, attentive minds make it still harder for them to cover their crimes.

If you don’t recognize the state as a legitimate authority over your life, why would you recognize their designated days of importance? Boycott Thanksgiving and all other state-mandated goof-off days. Follow your own path!

The Rev. President (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell on the "federalday" of Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving is an alarming federal holiday. The beloved first presidential proclamation had Geo. Washington pretending to be a religious leader, and exhorting Americans to ask God to bless the government. Abe Lincoln issued the most famous diktat, calling Americans to thank God for the Union and its bloody war. Geo. Bush calls on Americans to thank God for the current warfare state and its federal employees.

It was Lincoln who first used the federalday as war propaganda, spreading the myth of America as founded in Massachusetts in 1620, i.e. the North. In fact, the first English Thanksgiving was in the South, at Jamestown, Virginia. The real first Thanksgiving, however, antedated Jamestown and was held by the Spanish in Florida. So Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias.

UPDATE from Evin: "Don't forget FDR, who moved thanksgiving to expand the holiday shopping season, nor the silly turkey pardon charade."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lew Rockwell interviews Dr. Thomas Dorman (Lew Rockwell Show)

In this episode of his excellent podcast, Lew Rockwell talks with Dr. Thomas Dorman on the medical mess we find ourselves in, which has everything to with socialism and control:

Click here to listen

The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving: The Triumph of Capitalism over Collectivism (Richard M. Ebeling)

Richard Ebeling gives thanks for free market capitalism:

This time of the year, whether in good economic times or bad, is when we gather with our family and friends and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. It marks a remembrance of those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts. What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving also is a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.

Read the rest

Also see:

Do not trust the police (Wendy McElroy)

Wendy McElroy has two more examples that vividly illustrate why we should never trust the police:

Two more news items that illustrate why you should not trust "the authorities" (by which I mean, governmental authorities) this case, specifically, the police.

News Item One with the moral...expect the police/authorities to steal from you if they think they can get away with it; keep receipts and do not needlessly display your goods. Do not expect the authorities to be punished if caught in outright theft.

A headline from the Inquirer (Nov. 20): Copper stole my XBox. A black man Kenyatta Hillman was pulled over for speeding in Florida but, instead issuing a speeding ticket, the deputy confiscated his XBox. Why? Because the deputy claimed to smell marijuana. None was found but, nevertheless, the deputy concluded that a discovered XBox with 8 eight games was stolen property. A check on the serial number did not produce a report of stolen goods. The policeman confiscated in case a report came in.

As commentator Nick Farrell observes, This is a novel police tactic. You have no evidence that equipment is stolen, but you can take it anyway. On that basis we would have thought that coppers could empty a large number of people's homes on the basis that some gear might be stolen.

Read the rest

Need Health Care? Go to Mexico (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs sees a potentially huge market for cross-border health care in Mexico as the system here in the U.S. becomes ever more centralized under the Obama administration:

Porfirio Díaz, the Mexican strongman of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, famously described his country’s situation by exclaiming, “¡Pobre México! ¡Tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos!” (Poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States!) I cannot say whether Mexico is now any closer to God, but its proximity to the United States is definitely proving to be a godsend for many Americans in need of medical and dental care.

Medical tourism is a rapidly growing industry, estimated to bring in gross revenues now well in excess of $60 billion per year, and Mexico is a convenient destination for many Americans in need of pharmaceutical drugs, dental work, and surgical procedures. Prices may be as much as two-thirds below those in the United States for comparable goods and services. The Los Angeles Times reports, for example, that at Los Algodones, a Mexican town of about 10,000 population on the border with California, “dental offices outnumber restaurants 49 to nine. Add in the 26 pharmacies, 20 optical shops and 14 physicians offices, and you’ve got something of a mecca of medicine.” Similar towns may be found here and there along the entire Mexican border, especially across from Texas.

U.S. hospital firms are now investing in the construction of new care facilities in Mexico, to serve Mexicans, to be sure, but also with an eye toward the norteamericanos who are expected to seek their services.

These developments are one of the many unanticipated consequences of the jerry-rigged interventionist nightmare known as the U.S. health care system, which is geared to soak up money from people with so-called health care insurance (more accurately described as prepaid health care, because insurance principles have little to do with how the policies are formulated or implemented). If, like me, you have no insurance to cover noncatastrophic health contingencies, you quickly discover that the pricing arrangements for medical care in this country savagely discriminate against those who pay out of their own pockets. (Insurers have made arrangements for the providers to accept much less than I must pay on my own account.) So, a huge potential market exists for cross-border health care. Of course, too, Medicare does not pay for dental work, so that situation also draws many elderly customers south of the border.

If the Obama administration moves in the direction it has indicated it will seek to move, toward even greater government intervention in, or perhaps complete takeover of, the U.S. health care system, look for the growth of the Mexican health care industry to become extremely rapid. As the United States has long been to Canadians (who seek to escape from the national health care system up north), Mexico may become to Americans, who will need a similar refuge from their government’s “compassion.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Honoring Marshall Fritz (Ron Paul)

Ron Paul honors the late Marshall Fritz on the House floor:

Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
United States House of Representatives
Honoring Marshall Fritz
November 19, 2008

Madame Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to my friend Marshall Fritz who passed away on Tuesday November 4 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Marshall was a true champion of freedom whose impact on the cause of liberty will be felt for years to come.

Marshall, with his booming voice and good humor, was the happy warrior of the freedom movement, as well as the movement’s Will Rogers. Marshall never met a fellow fighter for liberty, a single-issue ally, or a potential convert he did not like----and to Marshall anyone who did not already share his love of liberty was a potential convert.

Marshall was a model of an ideological/political entrepreneur. In 1984, Marshall saw that the growth of the freedom movement was handicapped by the lack of an organization to help activists better communicate the freedom philosophy to the general public. While Marshall was not the first person to have this realization, he was the first person to attempt to remedy the situation by founding Advocates for Self-Government, an organization designed to teach activists how to effectively communicate their principles.

In the years since Marshall founded the Advocates for Self-Government, the organization has helped countless libertarians by providing them with the intellectual resources necessary to effectively battle for a free society.

While serving as President of the Advocates, Marshall created the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. The quiz graphs an individual’s political philosophy based on responses to a series of ten questions that measure one’s commitment to economic and personal liberty.

Under Marshall’s leadership, the Advocates undertook an aggressive program of distributing the quiz. There is no doubt that this has been the Advocate’s most successful and popular program. The quiz is responsible for many American’s first contact with libertarian ideas. While traveling around the country, I have often heard people say, "I never knew I was a libertarian until I took the quiz!"

In 1990, Marshall stepped down as President of the Advocates to found the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, an organization focusing on the vital issue of parental control of education. Thanks in large part to Marshall's work, the idea that parents, not the government, should control education is no longer excluded from public debate as a "fringe" notion. One of the features that most impresses me about the Alliance is the way that Marshall brought libertarians, conservatives, and liberals together to work for education freedom.

Anyone who knew Marshall and worked with him would not be surprised that he was able to forge a coalition of people of diverse views. Marshall’s focus was always on building alliances and trying to persuade those with whom he disagreed, rather than on scoring debating points. While he never compromised his principles and never hesitated to criticize even his closet allies if they took what he considered an anti-liberty position, Marshall never personalized disagreements and always treated his opponents with courtesy and respect. I believe the freedom movement would be more successful if more libertarians followed Marshall's example of never turning policy disagreements into personal attacks.

All of us who care about building an effective freedom movement owe a debt of gratitude to Marshall Fritz. I join Marshall’s family in mourning his loss and I urge all of us who work or liberty to honor Marshall’s memory by following the example he set.

"Neanderthal" Economics (Chris Brown)

Chris Brown says Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman would do well to study what he derides as "Neanderthal" (ie, Austrian) economics:

It seems the Austrian economist possesses more truth in his pinky finger than Paul Krugman in his entire Nobel Prize–winning body. What other explanation can there be for Krugman's consistent policy "solutions" to the current economic crisis, which would actually exacerbate the problem and lead to a deepening and prolonging of a recession? Austrians not only predicted the current financial crisis but can accurately diagnose it and prescribe the proper antidote. Krugman's recent New York Times article, "Depression Economics Returns," continues to demonstrate his ignorance of economic truth by presenting even more antidepression policies as solutions. In this article, we will analyze Krugman's recommendations and provide the Austrian cure, including what government can do to cure the recession.

Read the entire article

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Bailout Surge (Ron Paul)

Here's Congressman Ron Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk:

This week the bailout of the Big Three automakers was under heavy consideration in Congress’s lame duck session. I have always opposed government bailouts of private organizations. Back in 1979 Congress had hearings about bailing out Chrysler and I was on record pointing out that these types of policies are foolish and very damaging to the long term economic health of our country. They still are.

There was also renewed pressure this week to bailout homeowners and send another round of stimulus checks to “Main Street” to balance out all the handouts to big business. It seems that eventually the entire economy is going to be blanketed over with Federal Reserve notes. Most in Washington are completely oblivious as to why this model of money creation and spending is so dangerous.

We must remember that governments do not produce anything. Their only resources come from producers in the economy through such means as inflation and taxation. The government has an obligation to be good stewards of these resources. In bailing out failing companies, they are confiscating money from productive members of the economy and giving it to failing ones. By sustaining companies with obsolete or unsustainable business models, the government prevents their resources from being liquidated and made available to other companies that can put them to better, more productive use. An essential element of a healthy free market, is that both success and failure must be permitted to happen when they are earned. But instead with a bailout, the rewards are reversed – the proceeds from successful entities are given to failing ones. How this is supposed to be good for our economy is beyond me.

With each bailout we hear rhetoric that this is the mother of all bailouts. This will fix the problem once and for all, and that this is absolutely necessary to avert disaster. This sense of panic squeezes astonishing amounts of dollars out of reluctant but hopeful legislators, who hate the position they are being put in, but are relieved that it will be the last time. It is never the last time, and again and again we are faced with the same scenarios and the same fears. We are already in the bailout business for such a staggering amount that admitting it was wrong in the first place would be too embarrassing. So the commitment to this course of action is only irrationally escalated, in the hopes that somehow, someway eventually it will work and those in power won’t have to admit they were wrong.

It won’t work. It can’t work. We need to cut our losses and get back on course. There is too much at stake for too many people to continue down this road. The bailouts thus far to AIG, Bear Stearns, Fannie and Freddie, and TARP funds amount to around $1.5 trillion. Considering our GDP is $14 trillion, and our Federal budget is already $3 trillion, this additional amount will significantly eat into our future lifestyles. That amounts to an extra $5,000 that every person in the country needs to somehow produce just to keep up. It is obvious to most Americans that we need to reject corporate cronyism, and allow the natural regulations and incentives of the free market to pick the winners and losers in our economy, not the whims of bureaucrats and politicians.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roger Young's Weekend Update

Roger Young has a new Image Review of the Week....

....and Quotes of the Week:

From the Light:
"I often say I don't have any heroes. I don't need any. And neither should you. If somebody can pose themselves as a hero and sell you a sense of salvation (half-baked though it be), then they own your mind and they own you, for you are in debt to them, and you are beholden to them. More than any aspect of the political, economic, or social system, it is this kind of psychological domination that the lover of liberty recognizes and opposes with every fiber of his being. The man on the white horse brings no real “change”; he serves to distract your passions and lure you back into the fold so that you don’t demand real, radical change."
~ Marcel Votlucka

Read the rest of the Quotes of the Week

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ron Paul at "End the Fed" Rally

Ron Paul made an excellent speech at the Houston End the Fed rally today, and here is the YouTube playlist:

YouTube - Ron Paul at End the Fed Rally 11/22/08

Why does anyone trust "the authorities"? (Wendy McElroy)

Wendy McElroy has a hard time understanding why most people think agents of the state deserve special privilege and respect:

There is overwhelming evidence that power corrupts. Of course, some people claim the foregoing chronology is wrong: it is not power that corrupts but the corrupt who seek power. I think both are true. I do not deny the phenomenon of decent people running for office or otherwise trying to assume unjust authority over others. But such people do not seek power per se. It is not a goal in-an-of-itself but a means to achieving another justice, individual rights, religious purity. Power is merely a necessary evil or an expedient. Of course, the decency doesn't last long once people start wielding their authority over others; you cannot embrace injustice and remain a just human being. At some point, being powerful becomes a habit -- that is, it becomes part of who you are -- so it seems only natural for you to enjoy special privileges or a respect that you are denying to others. This creates elitism -- the kind of double standard by which those who make or administer the law do not believe they have to abide by it themselves.

I understand that process far better than I understand its corollary: namely, why do "the people" agree with the politician and accept that he or she deserves special privileges and respect?

Read the entire article

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ron Paul with Scott Horton 11/21/08

Here's YouTubes of Ron Paul's appearance on Scott Horton's Antiwar Radio from earlier today:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Unwarranted Violence (Will Grigg)

In has latest article, Will Grigg writes that the primary purpose of law enforcement is not to "serve and protect," but revenue collection. An excerpt:

Government, as we must never forget, is force. And as Simone Weil so memorably observed, force is that mysterious influence “that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him.”

Every government function, no matter how mundane or apparently harmless, carries with it the implied (and often overt) use of lethal force against those who do not submit. Stefan Molyneux perceptively describes this as the principle of the “Gun in the room”: Whenever anybody refers to the supposed virtue of a given government undertaking, Molyneux sagely observes, the central question is not whether the end is desirable, but rather “whether I am allowed to disagree with you without getting shot.”

Not every government functionary carries a gun and a license to kill other human beings. But every government functionary collaborates closely with those who are thus equipped to compel the rest of us to submit. The people in question are readily identifiable by the blue, brown, or black clothing they wear, which is usually accessorized with a conspicuous piece of chintzy costume jewelry called a “badge.”

Read the entire article

To Get More of Something (e.g., Unemployment), Subsidize It (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs on the stupidity of Congress extending unemployment benefits:

Ronald Reagan was no economist, but his economic logic was impeccable when he declared, “If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.”

So, as the current recession deepens and the rate of unemployment rises, we might have confidently predicted that Congress, in its infinite compassion for the little guy, would extend the period during which the unemployed may collect unemployment-insurance benefits. President Bush signed a bill today that will provide as many as 13 weeks of additional benefits, on top of the additional 13 weeks of benefits approved last June, which was on top of the 26 weeks the basic program provides.

The Associated Press notes that “Congress has enacted federally funded extensions seven times in the past 50 years during economic slumps - in 1958, 1961, 1972, 1975, 1982, 1991 and 2002.” Thus, this particular sort of counterproductive economic policy is almost as predictable as the sun’s rising in the east.

Read the entire article

The Austrians Were Right (Ron Paul)

Ron Paul entered this powerful statement into the Congressional Record yesterday:
Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
United States House of Representatives
The Austrians Were Right
November 20, 2008

Madame Speaker, many Americans are hoping the new administration will solve the economic problems we face. That’s not likely to happen, because the economic advisors to the new President have no more understanding of how to get us out of this mess than previous administrations and Congresses understood how the crisis was brought about in the first place.

Except for a rare few, Members of Congress are unaware of Austrian Free Market economics. For the last 80 years, the legislative, judiciary and executive branches of our government have been totally influenced by Keynesian economics. If they had had any understanding of the Austrian economic explanation of the business cycle, they would have never permitted the dangerous bubbles that always lead to painful corrections.

Today, a major economic crisis is unfolding. New government programs are started daily, and future plans are being made for even more. All are based on the belief that we’re in this mess because free-market capitalism and sound money failed. The obsession is with more spending, bailouts of bad investments, more debt, and further dollar debasement. Many are saying we need an international answer to our problems with the establishment of a world central bank and a single fiat reserve currency. These suggestions are merely more of the same policies that created our mess and are doomed to fail.

At least 90% of the cause for the financial crisis can be laid at the doorstep of the Federal Reserve. It is the manipulation of credit, the money supply, and interest rates that caused the various bubbles to form. Congress added fuel to the fire by various programs and institutions like the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FDIC, and HUD mandates, which were all backed up by aggressive court rulings.

The Fed has now doled out close to $2 trillion in subsidized loans to troubled banks and other financial institutions. The Federal Reserve and Treasury constantly brag about the need for “transparency” and “oversight,” but it’s all just talk — they want none of it. They want secrecy while the privileged are rescued at the expense of the middle class.

It is unimaginable that Congress could be so derelict in its duty. It does nothing but condone the arrogance of the Fed in its refusal to tell us where the $2 trillion has gone. All Members of Congress and all Americans should be outraged that conditions could deteriorate to this degree. It’s no wonder that a large and growing number of Americans are now demanding an end to the Fed.

The Federal Reserve created our problem, yet it manages to gain even more power in the socialization of the entire financial system. The whole bailout process this past year was characterized by no oversight, no limits, no concerns, no understanding, and no common sense.

Similar mistakes were made in the 1930s and ushered in the age of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the Great Society and the supply-siders who convinced conservatives that deficits didn’t really matter after all, since they were anxious to finance a very expensive deficit-financed American empire.

All the programs since the Depression were meant to prevent recessions and depressions. Yet all that was done was to plant the seeds of the greatest financial bubble in all history. Because of this lack of understanding, the stage is now set for massive nationalization of the financial system and quite likely the means of production.

Although it is obvious that the Keynesians were all wrong and interventionism and central economic planning don’t work, whom are we listening to for advice on getting us out of this mess? Unfortunately, it’s the Keynesians, the socialists, and big-government proponents.

Who’s being ignored? The Austrian free-market economists—the very ones who predicted not only the Great Depression, but the calamity we’re dealing with today. If the crisis was predictable and is explainable, why did no one listen? It’s because too many politicians believed that a free lunch was possible and a new economic paradigm had arrived. But we’ve heard that one before--like the philosopher’s stone that could turn lead into gold. Prosperity without work is a dream of the ages.

Over and above this are those who understand that political power is controlled by those who control the money supply. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats came to believe, as they were taught in our universities, that deficits don’t matter and that Federal Reserve accommodation by monetizing debt is legitimate and never harmful. The truth is otherwise. Central economic planning is always harmful. Inflating the money supply and purposely devaluing the dollar is always painful and dangerous.

The policies of big-government proponents are running out of steam. Their policies have failed and will continue to fail. Merely doing more of what caused the crisis can hardly provide a solution.

The good news is that Austrian economists are gaining more acceptance every day and have a greater chance of influencing our future than they’ve had for a long time.

The basic problem is that proponents of big government require a central bank in order to surreptitiously pay bills without direct taxation. Printing needed money delays the payment. Raising taxes would reveal the true cost of big government, and the people would revolt. But the piper will be paid, and that’s what this crisis is all about.

There are limits. A country cannot forever depend on a central bank to keep the economy afloat and the currency functionable through constant acceleration of money supply growth. Eventually the laws of economics will overrule the politicians, the bureaucrats and the central bankers. The system will fail to respond unless the excess debt and mal-investment is liquidated. If it goes too far and the wild extravagance is not arrested, runaway inflation will result, and an entirely new currency will be required to restore growth and reasonable political stability.

The choice we face is ominous: We either accept world-wide authoritarian government holding together a flawed system, OR we restore the principles of the Constitution, limit government power, restore commodity money without a Federal Reserve system, reject world government, and promote the cause of peace by protecting liberty equally for all persons. Freedom is the answer.

A Free-Market Monetary System (F.A. Hayek)

The late Friedrich A. Hayek urged in this 1977 lecture to get government out of the money business:

When a little over two years ago, at the second Lausanne Conference of this group, I threw out, almost as a sort of bitter joke, that there was no hope of ever again having decent money, unless we took from government the monopoly of issuing money and handed it over to private industry, I took it only half seriously. But the suggestion proved extraordinarily fertile. Following it up I discovered that I had opened a possibility which in two thousand years no single economist had ever studied. There were quite a number of people who have since taken it up and we have devoted a great deal of study and analysis to this possibility.

As a result I am more convinced than ever that if we ever again are going to have a decent money, it will not come from government: it will be issued by private enterprise, because providing the public with good money which it can trust and use can not only be an extremely profitable business; it imposes on the issuer a discipline to which the government has never been and cannot be subject. It is a business which competing enterprise can maintain only if it gives the public as good a money as anybody else.

Read the entire article

What are libertarianism, anyway? (Ken Gregg)

Wendy McElroy posted an excellent article by Ken Gregg that answers the question of "What is libertarianism?":

Let us suppose that an ichthyologist (fish scientist) is exploring the life of the ocean. He casts a net into the water and brings up a fishy assortment. Surveying his catch, he arrives at two generalizations:

(1) No sea-creature is less than two inches long;
(2) All sea-creatures have gills.

An onlooker may object: "There are plenty of sea-creatures under two inches long, only your net is not adapted to catch them."

The ichthyologist dismisses this objection contemptuously. "Anything uncatchable by my net is ipso facto outside the scope of ichthyological knowledge. In short, what my net can't catch isn't fish."

A more tactful onlooker makes a rather different suggestion: "May I point out that you could have arrived more easily at the same generalization by examining the net and the method of using it? The net can never bring up anything that it is not adapted to catch.

Indeed, there are many ichthyologists of libertarianism who claim that libertarianism is tied to: individualism, Austrian or Chicagoan economics, egoism, utopianism, nihilism, anarchism, a night-watchman state... Well, the list is innumerable.

Read the entire article

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ron Paul Answers Your Questions, Part Two (NYT Freakonomics)

Steve Dubner of the New York Times' blog Freakonomics publishes part two of his Q&A with Dr. Ron Paul:

When we solicited your questions for Congressman Ron Paul shortly after the election, so many questions came in that we split Paul’s answers into two batches, the first of which was published last week.

Here is the second. Like the first batch, they are well-considered and interesting throughout; they will surely make many readers continue to wish fervently for a Paul presidency.

Thanks again to Rep. Paul for his time and insights, and to all of you for the good questions.

Q: What is the first thing the country should do about its monetary policy?

A: We should immediately audit the Federal Reserve. I am the ranking member of the Monetary Policy subcommittee in the U.S. Congress, yet I can get more information about the internal workings of the C.I.A. than I can about our central bank. This secrecy is fundamentally wrong, and I believe that people from all over the ideological political spectrum can agree on that.

Bloomberg News this month has gone to court compel the Fed to disclose securities the central bank is accepting on behalf of American taxpayers as collateral for trillions of dollars of loans to banks. Expanding transparency is critical and could be done very quickly.

Read the entire post

Hamilton's Curse and the Death of the Dollar Standard (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg on the man perhaps most responsible for today's Leviathan State, Alexander Hamilton:

Recalling the death of Alexander Hamilton at the hands of Aaron Burr, one is inevitably prompted to borrow the line from Shakespeare's Scottish Play: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it."

After examining the legacy of the first U.S. Treasury Secretary in Thomas DiLorenzo's timely and indispensable new book Hamilton's Curse, one might be forgiven for wishing the deadly round fired by Burr's pistol during the 1804 duel at Weehawken had found its target two decades earlier, or that Hamilton -- who displayed genuine valor as an artillery officer in the War for American Independence -- had died heroically on the battlefield before laying the foundations of the corporatist system under which we now live.

Read the entire article

How the State Co-opts the Opposition (Anthony Gregory)

Anthony Gregory says when the party in power claims to fly the banner of freedom, look out:

At the twilight of one president’s term and with the ascent of the next we see our neighbors’ attitudes toward the nation’s politics dramatically shift. Conservatives now claim that dissent is patriotic. Liberals now see the presidency as the best proxy for American progress.

It is a fine time to contemplate how, no matter how much the people seem to hate the government as it is, that energy all too often ends up to the state’s benefit.

Both Bush and Obama have used the word "liberty" on multiple occasions. They are tapping into the libertarian spirit of the country, for the purpose of promoting its opposite. Nearly all Americans have an anti-state strain to their political thinking. The most exciting and inspiring tenets of both left and right are anti-government.

Read the entire article

Why I Choose Low-Quality Healthcare (Jim Fedako)

Jim Fedako doesn't want "quality" healthcare as defined by the medical community:

Before the renewed discussions and debates over socialized healthcare begin in earnest, I want to make my preference known to all: I desire low-quality healthcare.

All right, to be straightforward, I do not actually desire low-quality healthcare; I simply do not desire high-quality healthcare — at least not "high-quality healthcare" as defined by generally accepted standards.

Time for some background. Once a year, around this time, my employer allows open enrollment in the various health plans the company offers. As I went through the process, I took the opportunity to review the physicians I had chosen for my family. In order to select the best pediatrician for my children, I used a feature provided by my company's website: a link to a database of physician ratings. I looked up my children's current doctor to see how he fared. What I found was interesting: he was not rated as well as I imagined. Luckily, the reason was just a few mouse clicks away.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lew Rockwell interviews Dr. Thomas Szasz

One man's work that I've wanted to more deeply research for some time is that of Dr. Thomas Szasz, who has shone the light on psychiatry and so-called "mental illness." Lew Rockwell uses his latest podcast to interview the great man, which gives a nice introduction to his tremendously important work:

Click here to listen

Congressman Paul on Financial Services Hearing

Congressman Ron Paul now has his own YouTube channel! His first video is an excellent video message about yesterday's Financial Services hearing:

YouTube - Congressman Paul on Financial Services Hearing

Not All News Is Bad (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell likes the fact that Republicans are starting to sound more like libertarians (which seems to only happen when a Democrat is elected president; go figure!) and thinks there's a good chance we'll see some glorious gridlock in Washington:

The headlines say that a deal to bail out automakers stands little chance of success. One might hope that common sense alone would have killed it (it's never a good idea to throw good money at failing enterprises), but the Democrats are citing intense Republican opposition.

So too for the "stimulus package" that contains a long list of bad ideas, almost like a recipe for prolonging the downturn: bailouts, welfare, unemployment subsidies, union privileges, and other devastating devices. Now the package is being considered largely dead.

Already the Republicans are toughening up, seeing the light of day. After nearly a decade of signing off on horrible legislation and looking the other way as a Republican president chewed through our liberties, they are new converts to the cause of limiting the government because a Democrat will be president.

At the same time, we are witnessing the disgusting spectacle of Bush lecturing us on the merits of the free market. After eight years of wars, the police state, bailouts, and regulations, he is newly concerned about his legacy, and so he is following the path of Hoover, who was horrible in office and better out of office. Thus is Bush, of all people, sounding like a champion of the free society.

Already, you can see that the political constellation is lining up in a way that is more friendly to the cause of liberty. The Democrats are up to their old tricks, which are transparently dumb and dated. The Republicans are responding with smart and sound criticisms. The government looks poised for a fantastic gridlock that will let the liquidation take place so that we can move toward a good recovery.

Read the entire article

Ron Paul on CNN 11/18/08

Ron Paul had a nice appearance on CNN last night to talk about the hearing and the bailouts:

YouTube - Ron Paul On CNN Headline News With Jane Velez-Mitchell

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Congressional Missed Tackles Cost Taxpayers the Game (Bob HIggs)

Bob Higgs on today's performance by Henry "Crazy Legs" Paulson and his partner in crime Ben Bernanke:

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before a congressional committee today. Their performance was nothing short of dazzling; not since the days of Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch has anyone seen such footwork.

Hirsch, you’ll recall, became renowned for his amazing style of running with the football. After one game, a sports writer reported: “His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck.” That description might equally well be applied to the actions of a certain baldheaded secretary of the Treasury (aka Bailout Czar).

Said Czar begged the committee members today for understanding and compassion. “There is no playbook for responding to turmoil we have never faced. We adjusted our strategy to reflect the facts of a severe market crisis.” They certainly did, in a manner of speaking.

Read the entire blog post

Free Mark Cuban! (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg on the SEC's attack on the great (albeit eccentric) entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:

During an NBA contest between the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz several years ago, a shoving match at the low post quickly mutated into a bench-clearing brawl. In time-honored pro sports fashion, the fans were treated to the spectacle of world-class athletes conducting an empty and largely harmless pantomime of actual violence.

Somehow, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban ended up on the floor at the periphery of the melee.

Cuban, a legitimate self-made billionaire entrepreneur, can usually be found sitting court-side. With splendid indifference to the informal rules of team owner decorum, Cuban can be found mingling with the fans and hurling abuse at opposing players and officials alike. So when the scuffle erupted, Cuban figured he'd get a taste of the action -- or at least a suitable substitute that he could enjoy at a minimum safe distance.

The following day, Cuban made a comment to the effect that he wanted a piece of Jazz power forward Karl Malone. This gesture was a bit like an asthma hound chihuahua calling out a cape buffalo. I found myself admiring Cuban's audacity even as I entertained doubts about his sanity.

Only recently did I learn that Cuban, in addition to being a wildly successful businessman and a genuinely brilliant if occasionally abrasive person, is an individualist whose favorite author is Ayn Rand.

Read the entire article

The Triumph of Imperial Christianity (Laurence Vance)

Laurence Vance on the warped patriotism and Christianity of those he calls "Imperial Christians":

"If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian." ~ Mark Twain

John McCain may have lost the election, but some of his core beliefs are alive and well among the majority of conservative Christians. True, some of these Christians had their doubts about the genuineness of McCain’s pro-life position, his devotion to real conservative values, his faithfulness to the Constitution, and his commitment to reducing wasteful government spending, but there was one principle that they were sure of: McCain is a war hero who served his country in the military, supported the war in Iraq, and would make an ideal choice for a commander in chief to lead the U.S. military in the perpetual war against Islamofascism.

It is bad enough that McCain is an unrepentant war criminal, but it is even worse that he is an incorrigible militarist, imperialist, interventionist, and all-around warmonger who thinks that there is no job in the world too small for the U.S. military. This is the man who jokes about killing Persians with bombs and cigarettes. This is the man who told a reporter that U.S. troops "could be in Iraq for ‘a thousand years’ or ‘a million years,’ as far as he was concerned." This is the man who wants to start another cold war with Russia. Yet, instead of rejecting McCain outright, many conservative Christians supported him until the bitter end.

Read the entire article

Ron Paul vs. Fed Chairmen

Here's Ron Paul's wonderful speech at the recent Mises Institute Supporters Summit:

YouTube - Ron Paul: My Exchanges with Fed Chairmen

Ron Paul vs. Ben Bernanke

Here's Ron Paul from this morning's Financial Services Committee hearing, where he gave Ben Bernanke a lesson on Austrian economics:

YouTube - Ron Paul vs Bernanke 11/18

Afterward, Dr. Paul was interviewed on Fox Business to talk about it:

YouTube - Ron Paul Fox Business News 11/18/2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Melancholy Days for Investors (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs questions the conventional wisdom that the stock market is best long term method to acquire wealth:

My wife tells me, don’t watch. But like the passerby who cannot avert his eyes from the roadside debris and injured persons in the aftermath of an automobile accident, I can’t help myself. I keep checking the movements of the stock markets.

I still have some investments in stocks, even though I switched the bulk of my stockholdings to bonds back in January. (I felt like an idiot for waiting so long, but looking back, I feel somewhat better, knowing that at least I saved myself from the much greater losses I would have sustained since then, had I not made the switch.) On most days, my stock investments, though widely diversified, take a further beating. The odds that I will live long enough to recover these losses are slim to none. Yet I cling to a shred of hope that I will be wrong, that the market will recover in time to win the race against the Grim Reaper, and therefore that I will have a little bonus to enjoy when I reach 80 or 85 years of age.

Here is a chart of the Standard & Poor’s 500 stocks index over the past 15 years. Unfortunately, it does not show clearly how low the index has sunk recently. The index closed today at 851, which means that it has lost 46 percent since its recent high in October 2007.

To reach a comparable value of the S&P 500, you have to go back to June 1997. So, if you invested $1 million at that time, you now have stock holdings worth–blaring trumpets, please–exactly $1 million.

Not really, of course, because the value of the dollar has fallen during the interim by about 27 percent, if we use the CPI as our price index for the calculation.

If we adjust for the depreciation in the dollar, today’s S&P 500 stands, not at 851, but at 622 (in dollars comparable to those of June 1997). To reach that level of the index, we’d need to go back to the autumn of 1995. So, the investor has held his bundle of S&P shares for 13 years, received piddling dividends, and enjoyed a capital gain of exactly 0 percent. Pretty cool, eh?

The experts always tell us that in the long run the stock market is our best bet for building wealth. I’m beginning to have some doubts. But even if it is, that fact is cold comfort to those of us whose long run is getting short enough to count on the fingers and (for those with especially stout genes) the toes.

Air Power: Zooming and Booming for the Sheer Hell of It (Fred Reed)

The always politically incorrect Fred Reed writes a little primer on air power:

OK, today I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about air power. You will never need to read anything else. These revelations will provide blinding insight into our current wars. Here we go. Hold on.

The key: Air power is really good for things it is really good for, but works lousily for things it doesn’t work well for. (If “lousily” wasn’t a word, it is now.)

The foregoing is genius incarnate, and would revolutionize military thinking if the Air Force understood it, which it doesn’t. As is usual with our late-simian species, the fly-guys' motivations are instinctual and emotional, with reason a pretext slathered on afterwards and accountability a no-show.

Now, it is chic among Military Reformers and other fernbar Clausewitzes to say wisely that air power is impotent and useless and accomplishes nothing. This is not true. In its own kind of war, it works splendidly. Often it is the only thing that could. Anyone who thinks that airplanes are pointless gewgaws should talk, say, to Japanese survivors of the Coral Sea and Midway, or of Yamato’s death run.

See, what airplanes are good at is blowing up expensive, visible, identifiable things, to include other airplanes. An aircraft carrier in the open Pacific fits the bill nicely. You can’t hide aircraft carriers very well. They don’t look like anything else. Even a Marine pilot would never mistake one for an olive orchard, or the cathedral at Chartres, or the Gobi Desert. They just don’t look the same.

Read the entire article

Golden Weight on the Market (Bill Butler)

Bill Butler on how trends show that a 4000 Dow and $5000/oz price of gold may well be in our future:

For the last century, the United States ’ Keynesian economy has exhibited a peculiar but predictable pattern. In economic boom times, the historical dollar price of the stock market (as measured by its blue-chip index, the DJIA) in relation to the dollar price of gold has been high. Each and every peak in this ratio has been followed by a commensurately deep trough that correlates with economic recession or depression. A graph of this relationship can be found here.

From an Austrian economics viewpoint, the fluctuations in the Dow-to-gold ratio make sense. It shows that Keynesian interventions in the natural, organic, market cannot succeed and can only have the effect of delaying the inevitable pain that results when decades of dislocated labor and capital searches for employment. For Austrians, a rising Dow-to-gold ratio illustrates inflationary Keynesian centralized social planning. The subsequent, inevitable and unavoidable drops in the ratio illustrate gold laughing at Keynesian plans. Artificial values caused by Keynesian “stimuli” can delay, but cannot escape, the reality of real value as reflected in history’s best measure of real value—gold. Just like a ball thrown into the air must come back down, a currency (together with its fiat-denominated market) can only temporarily escape the bonds of real value.

Read the entire article

Restricting Freedoms and Choices (Ron Paul)

Dr. Ron Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk:

As the financial sector continues its tailspin despite efforts to bail out Wall Street, among the few gainers in recent stock trading have been those companies looking for a new “shot in the arm” with government funding from the next administration.

With its strident rhetoric toward reestablishing the so called “pro-choice” agenda, the incoming administration has threatened a whole host of policies that would not only reduce restrictions on abortion, but would actually force people who wish to avoid participating in the procedure to support it.

As a physician who has delivered over 4,000 babies I am very disturbed by the continued efforts of those on the left to establish absolute rights to abortion. However, even more distressing is the notion that taxpayers should be forced to subsidize life-ending procedures such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

In addition to the news that those who will benefit from federally-funded stem cell research have seen an uptick in their financial position as a result of the election, comes news from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that many health care facilities under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church may be shut down as a result of the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” for refusal to perform abortions.

Not only does this Act seem to have growing support in Congress, the President-elect and his Administration have indicated support for this legislation. Since many people cast their votes in a way that they believed would help to improve and increase availability of health care, this is an ironic twist.

Of course, the government takeover of health care began a long time ago, but we should be wary of how far that takeover will go if more private providers are forced out of the marketplace. If enacted, The Freedom of Choice Act and the potential for increased federal funding of embryonic stem cell research will go to show that the incoming Congress and Administration are far more dedicated to a government takeover than they are to affordable and available health care. Moreover, these approaches show no real concern at all for the free choices of taxpayers and health care providers who wish to be free from giving assistance to immoral activities.

These facts should also serve to remind social conservatives that they are better to leave the legislative remedies for important social issues at the level where they constitutionally belong, namely at the discretion of state and local officials. The centralization of power that seemed so attractive to many conservatives just a few years ago no longer seems pleasant at all in light of a more liberal-minded majority in both Houses of Congress and the White House.

This should be a good lesson for future conservative majorities, namely that the centralization of power never results in anything more than the most temporary of “gains” for those who are committed to traditional moral principles, and the power one administration consolidates for itself must inevitably be handed over to the next administration, which will use that increased power for its own agenda.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Roger Young's Weekend Update

Roger Young once again has an excellent Image Review of the Week....

....and Quotes of the Week:

From the Light:
"As Election Day approaches, Americans dutifully watch inane debates, respectfully watch commercials in which celebrities harangue them to “rock the vote” or other such nonsense, and compulsively ask each other who they’re going to vote for. On Election Day, they go to the polls as if they were receiving Holy Communion and then go through the rest of the day wearing “I Voted” stickers as if these stickers were ashes on Ash Wednesday."
~ David Heleniak

Read the rest of the Quotes of the Week

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Myth of Good Government (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell on the irrational belief that there can be such a thing as "good government":

One of the great and most persistent errors of classical liberals is to believe in "good government," a government that does "what it is supposed to do."

There is nothing the state can do, which society needs done, that cannot be done far better by the market. Another point that is just as telling: no state empowered to do what is supposedly necessary will restrain itself to those things. It will expand as much as public opinion will tolerate.

Sometimes the point is easier to see when looking at foreign governments, such as the tragic case of China. The government is embarking on an explosive venture to dump $586 billion into "infrastructure" over two years. The reason is the classic Keynesian excuse: the spending is needed to stimulate investment. Never mind that this trick has never worked in all of human history. This is instead a grand plan to loot the private sector on behalf of the Communist Party, which will then spend the money bolstering its power.

Read the entire article

Ron Paul on FOX News Cavuto 11/15/2008

Ron Paul appeared on a Fox News special with Neil Cavuto this morning to talk about the "G20" meeting this weekend:

YouTube - Ron Paul on FOX News Cavuto 11/15/2008

Rothbard, Ron Paul, and Public Leadership (Lew Rockwell Show)

Lew Rockwell is usually the one asking the questions on his great series of podcasts called The Lew Rockwell Show, but this time he lets a senior from the University of Alabama named Scott Morris ask him some questions, and it is well worth checking out!

Click here to listen

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dr. Paul on the Global Financial Summit

In this YouTube update, Congressman Ron Paul discusses the G-20 summit taking place in Washington this weekend that will address the global monetary system:

YouTube - Dr. Paul on the Global Financial Summit

Dr. Paul on NYT's Freakonomics, Part One

Ron Paul answers some readers' questions for the New York Times' Freakonmics blog (part two is expected on Monday):

Do you love the smell of libertarianism in the morning? If so, today is a good day for you.

Last week we solicited your questions for Congressman Ron Paul.

There was such a big response (more than 400 comments) that we have split Paul’s answers into two batches, the first of which is posted below.

Thanks to Paul for his answers and all of you for your good questions.

Q: What was your first thought when you found out McCain chose Palin as his running mate?

A: At first, I thought it was a pretty savvy choice from a political perspective. I also knew that she had said some nice things about me in the past. At the same time, I knew that to be on the ticket, she would have to toe the line on foreign policy and the war, so that tempered a lot of my enthusiasm.

Read the entire blog post

The TARP Is Dead, Long Live the TARP (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs has some great commentary on how not even a penny from the bailout has gone where Paulson said it was so desperately needed:

UPDATE: Dr. Higgs has an expanded article here.

Think back. Think far, far back into the past. Think all the way back to the last week of September 2008. Historians tell us that at that time many Americans took leave of their senses. Despite all the evidence of their own eyes, ears, and noses, they became persuaded that the world as they had always known it stood on the verge of utter destruction. Hysterical “journalists” and “experts” on radio and television told them so. What else could they do? Because life without a flush 401(k) lay beyond their wildest imagination, they concluded that “something must be done.”

That realization became the signal for hundreds of devoted public servants to leap into action to save civilization. Understanding full well that the people expected them to “do something,” they enacted the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, known in some quarters as the Bailout of Abominations.

The core of this statute consists of the Troubled Asset Relief Progam (TARP), in which the Secretary of the Treasury would expend as much as $700 billion to purchase rotten paper, such as mortgage-backed derivatives, from banks and other financial institutions. It was a bold stroke, to be sure. An unnecessary and foolish stoke, too, yet, withal, bold in the fashion of fearing nothing but fear itself, which was precisely the kind of boldness the crisis seemed to demand.

Read the entire blog post

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stabilize This, Stabilize That (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs says when the state claims to want to "stabilize" something, watch your wallet:

Consider the word stabilize. It has a comforting ring, does it not? It calls up as a mental background, however, images of something that is currently unstable. Airplanes may become unstable shortly before they crash; teenage boys are said to have become unstable shortly before they gunned down their teacher and fellow students; unstable economies give rise to depressions, with rampant business failures and mass unemployment of workers; unstable regions harbor countries that often go to war with one another. Instability would appear to be a bad thing, so government actions to “restore stability” to X, Y, or Z would appear to be prima facie good things.

Things are not, however, always what they appear to be, as government stabilization policies illustrate when we consider them carefully. Anyone who has studied economic policy over a long period has encountered one stabilization policy after another that aside from failing to stabilize anything, was never actually intended to stabilize anything in the first place.

Instead, like most government policies, those purportedly aimed at stabilization are actually intended to transfer wealth, doing so under cover of the seemingly admirable announced goal of restoring order to something currently askew.

Read the entire blog post

History Is Clear (Doug French)

Doug French on how history has shown that throwing more fiat money at a problem caused by fiat money won't solve anything:

It is often said "there are no atheists in a foxhole." The other week, as world financial markets melted down, CNBC go-to wise man Art Cashen put a market spin on that familiar line drolly saying, "there are no libertarians in a market crash."

The crusty Cashen is certainly right for the most part. Plenty of financial talking heads who argue for free markets and smaller government on a daily basis suddenly screamed that government must intervene to "save capitalism." Of course, the idea that government must print multiple blizzards worth of money to save a system where individuals and businesses trade with each other unfettered makes as much sense as presidents who claim that war must be waged to "protect the peace."

The fact is that what we've been enjoying since the Federal Reserve was created is anything but free-market capitalism. The value of the dollar has been pushed down 99 percent and the economy has been a series of booms, followed by busts, ad nauseam since J.P. Morgan partner Harry Davidson and other big bank chieftains secretly took a train to go duck hunting on Jekyll Island in 1910. Of course, the ducks were safe, but Americans since have paid the price for the Federal Reserve–system idea that was hatched that weekend.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't get a flu shot! (Donald Miller)

Dr. Donald Miller warns us against getting a dangerous flu shot (also see this podcast where Dr. Miller talks about flu shots and other health concerns with Lew Rockwell):

Another influenza season is beginning in the northern temperate zone, and our government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will strongly urge Americans to get a flu shot. Health officials will say that every winter 5–20 percent of the population catches the flu, 200,000 people are hospitalized, and 36,000 people will die from it.

The CDC’s 15-member Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations each year on who should be vaccinated. Ten years ago, for the 1999–2000 season, the committee recommended that people over age 65 and children with medical conditions have a flu shot. Seventy-four million people were vaccinated. Next season (2000–01) the committee lowered the age for universal vaccination from 65 to 50 years old, adding 41 million people to the list. For the 2002–03 season, the ACIP added healthy children 6 months to 23 months old, and for 2004–05, children up to 5 years old. For the 2008–09 season the committee has advised that healthy children 6 months to 18 years old have a flu shot each year. Its recommendations for influenza vaccination now covers 256 million Americans – 84 percent of the U.S. population. Only healthy people ages 19–49 not involved in some aspect of health care remain exempt. Pharmaceutical companies have made 146 million influenza vaccines for the U.S. market this flu season.

Read the entire article

McChristians (Laurence Vance)

Laurence Vance has something to say to Christians who support the likes of John McCain:

To the dismay of many Christians, John McCain was not elected president of the United States. Were it not for the support of evangelicals and other conservative Christians, McCain would have been more soundly defeated in what was probably his last election. It didn’t really matter what McCain believed or didn’t believe; these Christians turned out in droves to vote for him because he was a Republican. As bad as Barack Obama was, most Christians who voted for McCain would have voted Republican no matter who the Democratic and Republican nominees were.

Throughout the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, Yellow Dog Democrats in the South consistently voted for Democrats no matter who the Democratic and Republican nominees were. The idea was that they would rather vote for a yellow dog than a Republican. Christians who consistently vote Republican – and especially after decades of Republican compromises and sellouts – are even worse. They would vote for a dead yellow dog over a Democrat.

Read the entire article

GOP should ask why U.S. is on the wrong track (Ron Paul)

Ron Paul writes another op-ed for CNN, this time on how the Republican Party is completely screwed up:

The questions now being asked are: Where to go from here and who's to blame for the downfall of the Republican Party?

Too bad the concern for the future of the Republican Party had not been seriously addressed in the year 2000 when the Republicans gained control of the House, Senate, and the Presidency.

Now, in light of the election, many are asking: What is the future of the Republican Party?

But that is the wrong question. The proper question should be: Where is our country heading? There's no doubt that a large majority of Americans believe we're on the wrong track. That's why the candidate demanding "change" won the election. It mattered not that the change offered was no change at all, only a change in the engineer of a runaway train.

Once it's figured out what is fundamentally wrong with our political and economic system, solutions can be offered. If the Republican Party can grasp hold of the policy changes needed, then the party can be rebuilt.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Matthews and Hardball (Butler Shaffer)

Butler Shaffer on a remarkable admission by Chris Matthews that tells you all you need to know about the mainstream media:

I am not a current follower of major league baseball, but the last guy I remember named "Matthews" who played "hardball" the way it should be played, was a third basement for the Milwaukee Braves named Eddie Matthews. The present make-believe media player of hardball - Chris Matthews - has just announced his conversion to the game of "puffball." After Obama's recent ordination, Matthews declared "I'm going to do everything I can to make this thing work - this new presidency." There is nothing so startling in this revelation - drum-beating for the state is, after all, what the mainstream media have long been doing (as witness its post-9/11 "roll-over-and-play-dead" behavior concerning the Iraq war, the "war on terror," and trillion-dollar bailouts of major corporate interests). It is remarkable, however, that Matthews would feel inspired to openly admit to this kind of institutionalized bias. It is equally telling that his employer - MSNBC - did not immediately fire the man out of some distant respect for the dying art of journalistic truth-telling.

As we embark upon New Deal II, it is interesting to make a comparison of the real journalists of the 1930s who were more interested in informing the public than in cheerleading the political establishment. I wonder for how long Bush and Obama could have put up with the torment of questioning from the likes of H.L. Mencken, Albert Jay Nock, John T. Flynn, et. al.; men for whom "making this thing work" referred to a free society, not a new presidency.

Consumers Don't Cause Recessions (Bob Murphy)

Bob Murphy on the idiotic and dangerous Keynesian (or maybe "Krugmanian") notion that recessions result from the actions of consumers:

There's one saving grace about Paul Krugman's column at the New York Times: when an Austrian economist wants to explain how mainstream economics leads to ruin, he can always trust Krugman to set up the target in a clear, concise manner. This saves us a lot of work, because we don't have to first build up the position before knocking it down.

Even the casual reader of the financial press knows that it is dominated by Keynesian "demand-side" thinking. For example, during the debate over the stimulus checks earlier in the year, the main objection was that taxpayers might use some of their rebate to pay down credit card bills, rather than blowing the whole thing at the mall. But the reader will never see a careful, step-by-step exposition of the worldview that generates such crazy notions.

Enter Paul Krugman. In a recent piece, "When Consumers Capitulate," the newest Nobel laureate spells out the method behind the madness. Let's take the opportunity then to show just why this focus on consumer spending is not only mistaken but downright dangerous.

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