Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year Ahead: 2009 (Glen Allport)

Glen Allport, author of The Paradise Paradigm, looks ahead to 2009 and sounds the alarm:

"We are facing an unprecedented emergency," [Toyota] President Katsuaki Watanabe told a year-end news conference. "This is a crisis unlike the crises of the past." ~ Toyota sees "unprecedented" crisis by Chang-Ran Kim, Reuters, 12/22/08

"When the bond market crashes [expected timing: 'any day now'], it’s going to be 15 on the Richter scale. It’s going to be enormous. It’s far more dangerous than the stock market crashing. When the bond market crashes, the hyperinflation starts." ~ Bob Moriarty of, interviewed by The Gold Report

The tone and direction for the coming year seem clear enough: ominous, and downward. Down for living standards; down for levels of employment; down for world trade; down for investment portfolios and retirement funds; down for the prosperity and even the physical safety of the lower and middle classes in the United States and around the world.

Levels of freedom are headed downward also, as the power elite worldwide use the time-honored method of responding to a crisis – any crisis – as a tool to increase their own power. From ancient Rome to Hitler's Germany, from the U.S. Civil War to modern Zimbabwe, from the Great Depression to the terrorist events of 9/11/2001, crisis has worked so reliably as an excuse for power-grabs that one wonders why tyrants haven't thought of creating crises in order to increase and consolidate their power.

Thank goodness for small favors! What a nightmare it would be if tyrants (and their central bankers) ever did catch on to such an obvious tool.

Read the rest

The Left, The Right, and The State (Lew Rockwell)

Here's the introduction to Lew Rockwell's important new book, The Left, The Right, and The State (you can read the entire book online here):

In American political culture, and world political culture too, the divide concerns in what way the state's power should be expanded. The Left has a laundry list and the Right does too. Both represent a grave threat to the only political position that is truly beneficial to the world and its inhabitants: liberty. What is the state? It is the group within society that claims for itself the exclusive right to rule everyone under a special set of laws that permit it to do to others what everyone else is rightly prohibited from doing, namely aggressing against person and property.

Why would any society permit such a gang to enjoy an unchallenged legal privilege? Here is where ideology comes into play. The reality of the state is that it is a looting and killing machine. So why do so many people cheer for its expansion? Indeed, why do we tolerate its existence at all? The very idea of the state is so implausible on its face that the state must wear an ideological garb as means of compelling popular support. Ancient states had one or two: they would protect you from enemies and/or they were ordained by the gods. To greater and lesser extents, all modern states still employ these rationales, but the democratic state in the developed world is more complex. It uses a huge range of ideological rationales — parsed out between Left and Right — that reflect social and cultural priorities of niche groups, even when many of these rationales are contradictory.

The Left wants the state to distribute wealth, to bring about equality, to rein in businesses, to give workers a boost, to provide for the poor, to protect the environment. I address many of these rationales in this book, with an eye toward particular topics in the news.

The Right, on the other hand, wants the state to punish evildoers, to boost the family, to subsidize upright ways of living, to create security against foreign enemies, to make the culture cohere, and to go to war to give ourselves a sense of national identity. I also address these rationales.

So how are these competing interests resolved? They logroll and call it democracy. The Left and Right agree to let each other have their way, provided nothing is done to injure the interests of one or the other. The trick is to keep the balance. Who is in power is really about which way the log is rolling. And there you have the modern state in a nutshell. Although it has ancestors in such regimes as Lincoln's and Wilson's, the genesis of the modern state is in the interwar period, when the idea of the laissez-faire society fell into disrepute — the result of the mistaken view that the free market brought us economic depression. So we had the New Deal, which was a democratic hybrid of socialism and fascism. The old liberals were nearly extinct.

The United States then fought a war against the totalitarian state, allied to a totalitarian state, and the winner was leviathan itself. Our leviathan doesn't always have a chief executive who struts around in a military costume, but he enjoys powers that caesars of old would have envied. The total state today is more soothing and slick than it was in its interwar infancy, but it is no less opposed to the ideals advanced in these pages. How much further would the state have advanced had Mises and Rothbard and many others not dedicated their lives to freedom? We must become the intellectual dissidents of our time, rejecting the demands for statism that come from the Left and Right. And we must advance a positive program of liberty, which is as radical, fresh, and true as it ever was.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Revolution: A Manifesto,'s Most Loved Book of the Year

Thanks to Campaign For Liberty for this great news:

What exciting news! The Revolution: A Manifesto, Ron Paul's seminal book on the princples of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, sound money and peace, has been rated Amazon's "Most-Loved" book of the year, meaning that among all books sold, The Revolution was "reviewed most positively by customers in 2008."

Thanks to all those who helped make it happen. This is yet another great indication of the continuing success of the Ron Paul Revolution. It is evidence that many people care about these ideas.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ron Paul interviews by Iranian Press TV

Dr. Paul recently had a nice interview with Iranian Press TV, which thus far is in two parts:

Paul: Economic crisis may be a blessing

Paul: No such thing as an independent Israel

Transition and Hope (Ron Paul)

Presenting Dr. Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk:

As another year draws to a close, there are some important transitions ahead of us. Not just transitions to a new administration, but also economically, politically and culturally.

Many hoped that the changes would signify overwhelming positive steps for our country, and that we would enter a new era, as promised during the campaign. I would like for this to be true, but based on the continuity so far, I would not be surprised to see America stay on the same course of failed monetary and economic policies. The course has been set for several decades, and in reality there is little the new administration could do to fix things without actually making them worse. But I expect them to try. The only real solutions involve allowing the market to liquidate the debt and malinvestment. The political reality is that this is not going to happen.

Through the coming months and years, our nation will find itself at many crossroads, as all manner of socialist, corporatist, protectionist and nationalist initiatives will be thrown at the economy to see if anything will reflate it. Some of these so-called fixes will be enacted amidst much outcry, as with the $700 billion TARP bailout, which the public was right to oppose. About half of that money is gone without a trace, with no accountability, and the economy is no better off for it. Others, such as the proposed new $800 billion plus economic stimulus the new administration is already clamoring for, might have limited public support, as many will find the prospect of receiving a government check a little too tempting to object to. After all, Wall Street got a bailout. What about the little guy? Everything will be attempted by government in the short run to remedy the worsening situation – everything, that is, but freedom. Therefore everything attempted will fail. Unfortunately, government will continue to consolidate and abuse power at an accelerated pace. Government will get bigger, in the short term, and as monetary policy goes from irresponsible to absurd, I have every expectation that we will soon shift from some prices falling to an inflationary nightmare.

But there is hope. As all these attempts fail, more people will demand freedom, and see that it is the only way. Government can only get so big before the country goes broke.

It is regrettable that we keep forgetting what history has shown over and over to be true, because truly, it is a hard and destructive lesson to keep learning. Perhaps it is just something that every generation has to learn for itself. The political and cultural changes that come from these economic transitions will be key to the direction and quality of life for future generations. But I am hopeful because of the strength of the American people and the increased number of voices recognizing that liberty really is the only way to peace and prosperity.

Dave Barry Year in Review: Bailing out of 2008

The hilarious and libertarian Dave Barry gives his year-end review:

How weird a year was it?

Here's how weird:

• O.J. actually got convicted of something.

• Gasoline hit $4 a gallon -- and those were the good times.

• On several occasions, Saturday Night Live was funny.

• There were a few days there in October when you could not completely rule out the possibility that the next Treasury Secretary would be Joe the Plumber.

• Finally, and most weirdly, for the first time in history, the voters elected a president who -- despite the skeptics who said such a thing would never happen in the United States -- was neither a Bush NOR a Clinton.

Of course not all the events of 2008 were weird. Some were depressing. The only U.S. industries that had a good year were campaign consultants and foreclosure lawyers. Everybody else got financially whacked. Millions of people started out the year with enough money in their 401(k)'s to think about retiring on, and ended up with maybe enough for a medium Slurpee.

So we can be grateful that 2008 is almost over. But before we leave it behind, let's take a few minutes to look back and see if we can find some small nuggets of amusement.

Read the rest

Marty Peretz and the American political consensus on Israel (Glenn Greenwald)

Glenn Greenwald on the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians over the weekend, as well as the despicable response of the editor of The New Repbulic:

Opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute are so entrenched that any single outbreak of violence is automatically evaluated through a pre-existing lens, shaped by one's typically immovable beliefs about which side bears most of the blame for the conflict generally or "who started it." Still, any minimally decent human being -- even those who view the world through the most blindingly pro-Israeli lens possible, the ones who justify anything and everything Israel does, and who discuss these events with a bottomless emphasis on the primitive (though dangerous) rockets lobbed by Hamas into Southern Israel but without even mentioning the ongoing four-decades brutal occupation or the recent, grotesquely inhumane blockade of Gaza -- would find the slaughter of scores of innocent Palestinians to be a horrible and deeply lamentable event.

But not The New Republic's Marty Peretz.

Read the rest

Calvin and Hobbes on Bailout Subsidies (David Theroux)

Thanks to David Theroux of the Independent Institute for posting this gem:

When President George W. Bush was recently interviewed on CNN regarding the economy, he left us with another Bushism that will likely go down in history along the economy his interventionist policies are destroying, “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free market system.”

Bush incoherently believes that corporatism (e.g., the bailouts) and the Federal Reserve’s hyper-expansion of the money supply (e.g., monetary socialism and debasement of the dollar) are crucial to make free enterprise viable, despite his claimed devotion to the Christian, natural-law, moral principle that the end never justifies the means. However as with most politicians (including Obama, Dodd, McCain, Pelosi, Schwarzenegger, Frank, Reid, Cheney, Biden, Clinton, . . .), means are ethically situational depending on one’s own personal and political fortunes.

A classic Calvin and Hobbes cartoon illuminates many of the key factors at work here (i.e., vanity, arrogance, intolerance, ignorance, narcissism, fraud, greed, indifference, foolishness) (please click on image to see full size). Thanks to Paul Theroux for the reference.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Fed versus the Banks: Who Will Blink First? (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs comments on the extraordinary excess reserves the banks are holding:

During recent months, the Fed has flooded the banking system with reserves, which the banks have chosen to accumulate as (legally) excess reserves, rather than using the funds to add to the volume of their outstanding loans and investments. The Fed’s recently adopted policy of paying a small rate of interest on bank reserves accounts for some of this accumulation, but the amount is so gigantic that it seems much more likely that the banks have greatly increased their assessment of the risk involved in lending and investing as usual and therefore have chosen the lower yielding but less risky alternative of accumulating more and more reserves. Since August, the amount of excess reserves has risen from $2 billion to $559 billion. A graph of this astonishing development shows an abrupt transition from a virtually horizontal line (approximately zero excess reserves for decades) to a virtually vertical line (a quick jump of $557 billion in three months).

So far, this explosive increase of reserves has had only a small effect on the growth of the money stock as measured by the conventional monetary aggregates, such as M2, although the rate of growth of the monetary aggregates is beginning to increase substantially, as shown in this graph.

Read the rest

Most Absurd Statement Ever Made? (Bob Higgs)

The great Bob Higgs on the unbelievable veneration of tyrants:

In the spirit of Christmas, I have been striving to regain my faith in humanity. I want to believe again, as I did in my childhood, that people are better than cockroaches or staphylococci. For a while I was making progress. On Sunday, I enjoyed a magnificent performance of Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall (featuring my stepdaughter Virginia Warnken as the mezzo-soprano soloist). That helped. But, for the most part, my quest has proved to be tough sledding.

Today, my charitable yearning has been crushed like a bug under a jackboot, and I am once again inclined to view the human race as, by and large, an evolutionary blunder. As Exhibit A, I offer the statement of Sergei Malinkovich, leader of the St. Petersburg Communist Party:

In all opinion polls [Stalin] comes out on top as the most popular figure. Nobody else comes close. So for his service to this country we can forgive his mistakes. [emphasis mine]

Strange to say, Comrade Malinkovich also carries an icon of Stalin and wants to see Russia’s most monstrous mass-murderer made a saint.

If Malinkovich were a lone nut, one might dismiss his views as a deeply regrettable aberration, but according to recent reports, including the BBC News article from which I extracted his statement, millions of Russians still venerate Stalin and consider him the greatest Russian of all time.

I am no Russophobe. Indeed, I hold certain Russians in the highest regard. The country has produced composers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, and performing artists of the highest caliber, and their works adorn civilization wherever it dares to show its head. So, one can only wonder that having Mendeleev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Kolmogorov, and Shostakovich, among many others, to choose from, millions of Russians identify Stalin as the greatest man their nation has produced.

As against people who hold such views, I will embrace the cockroaches with relative gladness.


Note: D. Saul Weiner makes an excellent comment on Dr. Higgs' post:

We are a gullible species, that is for sure. Here in the U.S., we certainly glorify some questionable figures, as Dr. Higgs has well documented. I am told that many in China hold Mao in high regard as well. Perhaps it is only those tyrants who have lost major wars who are in the end discredited as they should be.

Roger Young's Images and Quotes of the Week 12/28/08

Here, once again, is Roger Young's favorite Images of the Week....

....and Quotes of the Week:

From the Light:
“Savagery is associated with a cluster of other ideas and beliefs that have a grip on American thought. They include collectivism, which is against a person having property in his own mind, body, and life, that is, having control over his own mind, body, and life. For once one owns and controls others, even via a collective sense of ownership, the sense of restraint that governs behavior when each of us has property in ourselves disappears. We are free to act as we will, and that allows a broader scope for our more evil and selfish impulses”
“Once we abandon the idea that each of us is a person who makes decisions for himself over his life, and replace that with the idea that a person’s essence arises by virtue of belonging to some collective group, and the idea that everyone within a group is the same, the way is open to mistreating vast numbers of persons by labeling them and treating them all in government-specified ways.”

~ Michael Rozeff

Read the rest of the Quotes of the Week

Saturday, December 27, 2008

There's No Pain-Free Cure for Recession (Peter Schiff)

Amazingly enough, the War Street Journal published a great op-ed by Peter Schiff:

As recession fears cause the nation to embrace greater state control of the economy and unimaginable federal deficits, one searches in vain for debate worthy of the moment. Where there should be an historic clash of ideas, there is only blind resignation and an amorphous queasiness that we are simply sweeping the slouching beast under the rug.

With faith in the free markets now taking a back seat to fear and expediency, nearly the entire political spectrum agrees that the federal government must spend whatever amount is necessary to stabilize the housing market, bail out financial firms, liquefy the credit markets, create jobs and make the recession as shallow and brief as possible. The few who maintain free-market views have been largely marginalized.

Taking the theories of economist John Maynard Keynes as gospel, our most highly respected contemporary economists imagine a complex world in which economics at the personal, corporate and municipal levels are governed by laws far different from those in effect at the national level.

Read the rest

Are You an Austrian? (

If you'd like to see how "Austrian" you are, check out the updated version of the quiz! I took the earlier version a couple of years ago and scored something like 94, but this time I got a 100 :-)

Thank Goodness I Live in a Free Country (Don Cooper)

Don Cooper thanks God that he lives in a country where the government doesn't control his life (cough, cough...):

I was talking with some friends over the Christmas holiday break and they were commenting on how lucky we are that we live in a free country where we have the liberty and the opportunity to live our lives the way we want and are not controlled by the government like in other countries.

So I started thinking about a particular day of mine a couple months ago:

I woke up in the morning in my FHA (Federal Housing Administration) approved home that was built in accordance with USDOE (Department of Energy), FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), and numerous CFRs (Code of Federal Regulations).

I went to the bathroom to clean up for work. I showered with soap, shampoo and other toiletry products that have been approved for me by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) using water that meets federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) quality standards.

I took my morning vitamins which had to be approved by the FDA.

Read the rest

Into a Parallel Universe (Fred Reed)

Fred Reed explores the wonders of the sea to get away from it all:

The world is indeed too much with us, late and soon. We have too many contracts and iPods and too little time or calm for looking about. One readily forgets this amid blatting buses and blowing exhaust and sprinting for the subway, amid bills and commercials and forms to fill. Yet still there are things other than elections and recessions, maybe things even more important, certainly things that have been around longer than we have or will be.

Some years back I was on a scuba trip to the Caribbean with Capital Divers, my then dive club out of Washington. I forget just where we were. We made these trips annually for several years and they blur together. The club usually chartered one of those 125-foot or so specialized dive boats and spent most of our time underwater. Dive, burgers, beer, sleep, dive. Bright sun, blue water, explosion of bubbles as you stepped off the dive deck and finned at ten feet to the anchor line. Cool water leaking into wetsuits and running down your spine. More bursts of bubbles with a diver magically materializing from within.

One day we swam along a deep wall at 120 feet, maybe fifteen of us, the sea dropping below us to blue-black night and the wall colorless in the crepuscular dimness of depth. It was deeper than a basic instructor would recommend, but Cap Divers was a bit of a cowboy outfit, and everyone was experienced. Curling misshapen growths of deep water projected from the rock like tangled ropes and distorted cups in some nightmarish basement. The only sounds were the slow ssssssss-wubbawubba of breath and exhaust and the locationless clicking of arthropods.

A curious relaxation comes over you at such times, a sense of not mattering at all to the sea, of the world as an older and bigger place than Washington or even New York, of detachment from fizzing little wars of columnists and from pols and polls. Call it a salubrious triviality. If I could bottle the feeling, drug markets would wither overnight.

Read the rest

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Best Government Money Can Buy (Butler Shaffer)

Butler Shaffer blogs on the Orwellian corruption of language when it comes to crimes committed by the state:

When dishonesty is practiced by bureaucrats and politicians for their personal gain, it is regarded as "corruption." But when such conduct is institutionalized (i.e., engaged in for the furtherance of governmental and establishment purposes), it is considered "economic planning" or, modernly, an economic "stimulus." We see the same phenomenon at work elsewhere: if someone goes into a school and kills ten people, it is properly considered an act of "murder," with the assailant hunted down and punished. But when the government employs its weapons to kill Americans, it is referred to as "law enforcement;" when used to kill millions of foreigners, it is called "national defense," with its practitioners often later rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize. If a power-seeking group uses fear against a population to achieve its ends, it is regarded as a "terrorist" organization. When the United States used super-bombs against the Iraqi people to subdue them with mass-fear under the name of "shock and awe," such practices were characterized as "sound military strategy."

The Strategic Air Command's motto "peace is our profession," and your local police department's claim "to protect and serve" are daily reminders of Orwell's message: political corruption begins with the corruption of language - and, consequently, of our minds - and ends with the corruption of civilization itself.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fair Weather Friends of the Market (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs has something to say to those supporters of a "free-market" that have gone over to the dark side:

It’s hardly a news flash that many people who are widely regarded as lions of the pro-market side have gone over to the dark side in recent months. I am not going to name any names; if you are one of the guilty parties, you know who you are; and the rest of us know, too, owing to your public expressions of anti-market sentiment in newspapers and on the World Wide Web. Why have so many notable economists and others jumped ship?

Many, it appears, have simply panicked. Starting late last summer, the financial markets began to exhibit tremendous volatility, officials at the Fed and the Treasury began to act as if imminent disaster loomed, and media commentators and reporters completely lost their composure. Even people who should have known better began to talk and to act as if the economy stood on the brink of complete collapse unless the government took unprecedented actions immediately. When one extraordinary action failed to calm the waters at once, another extraordinary action was taken, then another, and another.

We now look back on four months littered with ad hoc bailouts, new regulations, institutional takeovers, a gigantic bail-out statute, massive lending, asset exchanges, and loan guarantees never before made by the Fed and the Treasury – all on a scale that no one foresaw six months ago. We might understand that the big bankers and other financial masters of the universe who had got themselves and their mega-institutions into such deep trouble would have worked hard to create a sense of crisis and to exploit it as a pretext for cushioning their slide from the financial pinnacles — peaks so high that the air is thin and the brain does not function effectively, so that even such workaday necessities as due diligence are overlooked. Blessed with friends in high places, these financial titans snatched loot by the hundreds of billions while the snatching was good.

But why have free-market economists and other commentators expressed approval of this blatant piracy?

Read the rest

The Economic Lessons of Bethlehem (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell's classic essay on what the story of Jesus' birth can teach us about the nature of the state vs. the free market:

At the heart of the Christmas story rests some important lessons concerning free enterprise, government, and the role of wealth in society.

Let’s begin with one of the most famous phrases: "There’s no room at the inn." This phrase is often invoked as if it were a cruel and heartless dismissal of the tired travelers Joseph and Mary. Many renditions of the story conjure up images of the couple going from inn to inn only to have the owner barking at them to go away and slamming the door.

In fact, the inns were full to overflowing in the entire Holy Land because of the Roman emperor’s decree that everyone be counted and taxed. Inns are private businesses, and customers are their lifeblood. There would have been no reason to turn away this man of aristocratic lineage and his beautiful, expecting bride.

In any case, the second chapter of St. Luke doesn’t say that they were continually rejected at place after place. It tells of the charity of a single inn owner, perhaps the first person they encountered, who, after all, was a businessman. His inn was full, but he offered them what he had: the stable. There is no mention that the innkeeper charged the couple even one copper coin, though given his rights as a property owner, he certainly could have.

Read the rest

The Truce of God (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg revisits the great Christmas Truce of 1914:

In August 1914, Europe's major powers threw themselves into war with gleeful abandon. Germany, a rising power with vast aspirations, plowed across Belgium, seeking to checkmate France quickly before Russia could mobilize, thereby averting the prospect of a two-front war. Thousands of young Germans, anticipating a six-week conflict, boarded troop trains singing the optimistic refrain: "Ausflug nach Paris. Auf Widersehen auf dem Boulevard." ("Excursion to Paris. See you again on the Boulevard.")

The French were eager to avenge the loss of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany in 1870. The British government, leery of Germany's growing power, mobilized hundreds of thousands of young men to "teach the Hun a lesson." Across the continent, writes British historian Simon Rees, "millions of servicemen, reservists and volunteers ... rushed enthusiastically to the banners of war.... The atmosphere was one of holiday rather than conflict."

Each side expected to be victorious by Christmas. But as December dawned, the antagonists found themselves mired along the Western Front – a static line of trenches running for hundreds of miles through France and Belgium. At some points along the Front, combatants were separated by less than 100 feet. Their crude redoubts were little more than large ditches scooped out of miry, whitish-gray soil. Ill-equipped for winter, soldiers slogged through brackish water that was too cold for human comfort, but too warm to freeze.

Read the rest

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

En Route to Military Rule (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg fears that we are already living under a de facto military junta:

“We no longer have a civilian-led government.”

This ominous conclusion comes to us from Thomas A. Schweich, who held the title of deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs in the Bush Regime, by way of a December 21 Washington Post op-ed column. Lamenting “the silent military coup d’etat that has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media,” Schweich describes the infusion of the military “into a striking number of aspects of civilian government” as “the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration.”

Schweich is not an advocate of limited-government who managed to burrow deeply into the Bu’ushist Welfare/Warfare State; he is an advocate of “soft power” imperialism, the supposedly benign variety that focuses more on hectoring foreigners about their shortcomings, rather than unceremoniously bombing them into blood pudding. Oh, sure – even “soft power” imperialism involves the threat and occasional practice of bombing, but usually only amid cries of anguished reluctance following the performance of the proper multilateralist sacraments. (For useful examples, consult the Clinton-era bombing campaigns in the former Yugoslavia.)

Schweich seems particularly miffed that the military shouldered aside the State Department’s efforts to train civilian “law enforcement” personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Pentagon’s habit of Bogarting all of the boodle set aside for “reconstruction” projects.

Read the rest

Herod’s Henchmen (Laurence Vance)

Laurence Vance compares Christian warmongers to the henchmen of King Herod:

"Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men." ~ Matthew 2:16

Christian apologists for the state, its leaders, its military, and its wars are not known for being the most consistent group of religious people. They are, in fact, some of the most inconsistent, hypocritical, duplicitous, two-faced people – religious or irreligious – that one will encounter when it comes to people who defend the state’s military adventures. They may otherwise be good, godly, conservative disciples of Christ who don’t drink, smoke, dance, or gamble, but when it comes to the subjects of war, the military, and U.S. foreign policy, they can turn into crazed warmongers faster than Barack Obama used the word "change" in a campaign speech.

Ignorance greatly abounds, of course. But much of this is willful ignorance. It is one thing to be ignorant, but it is stupid to make a career out of it. Who else of all people should be opposed to war, militarism, nationalism, and imperialism than Christians who claim to believe the Bible, obey its precepts, and worship the Prince of Peace? Yet, it is conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians who continue to be among the biggest defenders of Bush’s war in Iraq, the U.S. military, and American foreign policy. I know this is the case, not only because they themselves write to me and call me a liberal or a pacifist (I am neither), but because many of them are pastors whose church members write to me because they are so frustrated that their pastor is so blatantly partisan, willingly ignorant, and laughably inconsistent.

Read the rest

Tom Woods on Antiwar Radio

The always entertaining and enlightening Tom Woods appeared on Scott Horton's Antiwar Radio yesterday to talk about the idiotic notion that war is good for the economy:

Click here to listen

Ron Paul on Lew Rockwell: There is Hope

Ron Paul had a nice appearance on the Lew Rockwell Show this morning:

Click here to listen

Or if you'd rather listen via YouTube, here it is in two parts:

Part 1
Part 2

Monday, December 22, 2008

Government and Fraud (Ron Paul)

Ron Paul compares Madoff's comparatively piddly $50 billion Ponzi scheme with the truly massive fraud of the state and its central bank in his latest Texas Straight Talk:

Billions of dollars were recently lost in the collapse of Bernie Madoff’s self-described Ponzi scheme, in which too-good-to-be-true returns on investments were not really returns at all, but the funds of defrauded new investors. The pyramid scheme collapsed dramatically when too many clients called in their accounts, and not enough new victims could be found to support these withdrawals. Bernie Madoff was running a blatant fraud operation. Fraud is already illegal, and he will be facing criminal consequences, which is as it should be, and should act as an appropriate deterrent to potential future criminals. But it seems every time someone breaks the law, politicians and pundits decide we need more laws, even though lack of laws was not the problem.

The government itself runs a fraud much bigger than Madoff’s. Our Social Security system is the very definition of a Ponzi, or pyramid scheme. If the government truly had an interest in protecting people’s savings, they would allow people to opt out of Social Security altogether. We would cut wasteful spending, such as our overseas empire, to honor current obligations to seniors, and eventually phase the program out. Instead, as with Enron and Sarbanes Oxley, I expect new, unrelated legislation to be proposed that further damages freedom in the name of protecting us, amidst loud proclamations that they have made the world safe.

Merely passing a law does not fix any problems, just as throwing paper at a recession does not stop it. How can a government so complicit in mandatory public fraud effectively pre-empt private fraud? I see no reason to believe that any new law, or regulatory agency will solve anything. But I do see liberty slipping away every time Congress decides to “do something”. We already have an oversight agency, the SEC, which did a poor job overseeing and preventing this, but does a great job hamstringing honest, productive businesses and driving them overseas.

Total trust in government solutions only creates moral hazard, and amplifies risky behavior. Trust in government got us here. We trusted government to eliminate risk, but it just made risk more creative and dangerous. We trusted the Federal Reserve, a supra-governmental cabal of private banks, to know better than the free market what interest rates should be, and how to stabilize the business cycle, but like a spinning top that loses its balance, it has instead spun the business cycle and the economy wildly out of control.

No governmental activity can negate market forces or nullify the cardinal rule of caveat emptor. Government can however, use our fears against us and promise unrealistic outcomes as a means to consolidate power and erode our liberties. Liberty comes with risk. This is a fact of life. But life without liberty is not much of a life at all.

The only way the American people will get through these difficult times is through our own resilience and ingenuity. At best, the government is irrelevant in finding prosperity again. At worst, government can present a massive obstacle for the economy to overcome. If we do not wise up and rein government back in to its Constitutional limitations, bloated government could be a cumbersome unnecessary weight the economy will continually have to support to stay afloat.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Madoff as Metaphor (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell on the $50 billion Ponzi scheme created by state-connected criminal Bernard Madoff, which is dwarfed by the staggering enormity of the fraud still perpetrated by the state and its central bank:

The mystery of Bernard Madoff will be storied a hundred years from now. As history's biggest financial criminal, he took a cheap ripoff that you can use at home—the Ponzi scheme—and turned it into a global empire worth some $50 billion.

One ingredient was financial intelligence. Madoff had buckets of it. Early in his career, he was the real deal, an actual innovator. He combined this with an amazing lack of conscience, for his scam was rooted most fundamentally in lying and stealing. The difference between him and all who came before was his grand scale, the grandest scale imaginable.

There is a saying in the world of Austrian economics about the business cycle. The puzzle is not to explain business failures. Those are part of the normal course of life, and the sign of a healthy economy. The puzzle is to explain the "cluster of errors" that appears at the beginning of a recession. How could so many have been so wrong about so much at the same time? The business cycle is a system-wide failure, not merely the mistaken judgment of a few.

Read the rest

Roger Young's Images and Quotes of the Week 12/21/08

Here is Roger Young's latest installment of his wonderful Image Review of the Week....

....and his favorite Quotes of the Week:

From the Light:
"I only hope that you have been spiritually visited as I have, and that you understand where freedom comes from. It doesn’t come from that hallowed piece of paper signed by the ruling elite of yore. It doesn’t come from the gun in the hand of the soldier featured on every recruitment poster. It sure as hell doesn’t come from multi-culti Obama. It comes from the simple recognition that you were born free, and you are free right now."
~ B.R. Merrick

Read the rest of the Quotes of the Week

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Question 46," Revisited (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg on the stage being set for an attempt to disarm civilians here in the Land of the Free:

“Hey, Will – we just got a letter from a Marine saying that he was part of a project dealing with civilian arms confiscation by the military. Are you interested?”

It had been a fairly slow morning up until the point Dave Bohon, at the time the managing editor at The New American, came down to the research department with the aforementioned letter clutched in his hands and a puzzled expression inscribed in his aquiline features.

Practically leaping out of my chair, I grabbed the proffered letter, a handwritten missive attached to a multi-page document called a "Combat Arms Survey" (scroll down). I read both the letter and the questionnaire with a sense of mingled dread and excitement.

As students of the federalization and militarization of law enforcement, my associates and I knew things of this sort had to be happening, but proving it was somewhat difficult. Here was a letter that seemed to provide the dreadful confirmation. While it would be useful to see our suspicions confirmed, we couldn't exactly take pleasure in the knowledge that one of our worst fears appeared to be taking tangible form.

Read the rest

Bush Hits a New Low (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs on Bush's idiotic and soon-to-be-classic statement that he "abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system":

Conservatives will probably dismiss what I have to say here on the grounds that it's only another harangue by a "Bush hater," but they'll be wrong. I have never hated Bush, even though I've criticized virtually everything he's done and said for the past eight years.

He's not worth hating. He is – and so far as I can tell, he has always been – such a sorry excuse for a human being, so altogether pathetic in every way, that he simply does not rise to the level of hateable material. You can't honestly hate a maggot; it's simply the creature's nature to be a maggot; it cannot be anything else; and although it may be disgusting to behold, it still has a useful function to perform in the natural order. Likewise, you can't honestly hate Bush; it's simply his nature to be an intellectual and moral cipher; and although he may be disgusting to behold, he still has a useful function to perform in the political order.

That function, it would appear, is to serve as the warm body the ruling elites prop up to pretend to be the rightful lord and master of the known universe. Americans want somebody to serve this function. They stoutly insist on such a display of divinely ordained power – when did you last hear anyone complain about the imperial presidency, as opposed to demanding that the all-powerful president set right everything from cholera outbreaks in Africa to the value of a middle-class worker's 401(k). Americans demand that the president tame the business cycle, cure cancer, reverse global warming, and keep the heathen from raging. No one can carry out these tasks, of course, but the people demand that the president promise to carry them out and, once in office, make believe he is doing so. Failures can be conveniently blamed on the opposing party's obstructions or on al-Qaeda.

Read the rest

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prostitution vs. war crimes: The real moral offense (Glenn Greenwald)

Glenn Greenwald on the outrage over the non-crimes of Eliot Spitzer vs. the fawning over Dick Cheney as he brags about his massive war crimes:

In October, the extremely pro-war, neoconservative New York Sun ceased operations, and its journalists are now finding a warm and welcoming home, appropriately and revealingly enough, at The New Republic. Sun reporter Eli Lake was quickly hired as a TNR Contributing Editor (where he now "exposes" and excoriates "the Left" for its sinister "solidarity" with "Islamic supremacist insurgents" in Iraq, such as shoe-throwing reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi), and yesterday, TNR published a finger-wagging sermon by former Sun reporter Jacob Gershman, who vigorously objects that Eliot Spitzer is allowed to appear in public and even write a Slate column so soon after exposure of his grave and monumental sin of hiring adult prostitutes.

Gershman's column -- entitled: "Why Eliot Spitzer's attempt to be taken seriously again won't work--and doesn't deserve to" -- illustrates how warped our public morality has become. As a result of his minor, consensual, victimless, private crime (not because of his actual sin of hypocrisy as a former persecutor of prostitution rings), Spitzer was forced to resign as Governor, had intimate details of his sex life voyeuristically dissected by hordes of people driven by titillation masquerading as moral disgust, and was as humiliated and disgraced as a political figure can be. But apparently, that's not even close to enough.

Read the rest

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ron Paul on the Alex Jones Show 12/17/08

Ron Paul had a nice appearance on Alex Jones' radio show earlier today, which you can listen to with these YouTubes:

Part 1
Part 2

How to protect yourself from martial law (Wendy McElroy)

Wendy McElroy has some advice to heed if we ever face martial law, for which the possibility is steadily increasing:

What would you do if martial law were declared in the United States? After all, martial law is not a new concept nor a new reality to America. It was declared in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion, in 1882 during the Civil War, in Hawaii during World War II, and in NYC after 9/11. Many analysts have commented on how the Bush administration has paved the way for Presidents to declare martial law in the future.

IntelDaily stated,
In October 2006, Bush signed into law the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Quietly slipped into the law at the last minute, at the request of the Bush administration, were sections changing important legal principles, dating back 200 years, which limit the U.S. government's ability to use the military to intervene in domestic affairs. These changes would allow Bush, whenever he thinks it necessary, to institute martial law--under which the military takes direct control over civilian administration.

If martial law is declared, your civil rights will no longer be recognized by the authorities; basic rights -- such as due process -- will no longer exist. How can you protect yourself...right now and afterward?

Read the rest for Wendy's common sense tips.

Join the Fight! (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell asks for help to support the work of the great institute that he heads, the Ludwig von Mises Institute:

We know from vast correspondence that readers of appreciate the many thousands of essays, book, and hours of media available at no charge — each offering a different perspective from what you can find anywhere else. Would you consider supporting this work with a donation? Voluntary support is essential to keeping on the cutting edge.

You have helped this site soar to the top in terms of traffic, not only beating out other economics sites and most every nonprofit but also most every cause-related site you can think of. represents a fundamental challenge to socialism and Keynesianism, the greatest political and economic failures in world history. Tragically, they are both not only fashionable among the elites but more so than freedom.

The most recent financial meltdown — entirely a result of the Fed and predicted by scholars of the Mises Institute — has unleashed a fury of socialistic blather and Keynesian central-planning mythology.

We have politicians and central bankers telling us that more paper money and bank nationalization will save us. Others say that capitalism has completely failed so we need to try socialism.

You would swear that these people were born yesterday, had never read a lick of history, and were wholly ignorant of economic logic. All of that is probably true. But here is what people don't entirely understand: it is in the interest of our rulers to promote bad ideology.

Read the rest, and if you are able please donate to the Mises Institute to help them continue their vitally important work.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Flying Shoes, Bursting Bubbles (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg gives his take on the flying shoe incident:

The most remarkable thing about the gesture was the fact that it was an act of defiant contempt, rather than one of criminal violence.

Bush's reaction was remarkable only in the sense that he displayed, for perhaps the last time before he becomes deservedly inconsequential, the depth of his ignorance and the utter impregnability of his unearned self-regard.

Immediately after a Iraqi reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi disrupted a Baghdad press conference by hurling both shoes at Bush, calling him a "dog" and denouncing him in the name of "the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq," Bush sat down with ABC reporter Martha Raddatz to decant some of his unique wisdom about matters of diplomacy and cultural understanding.

Raddatz pointed out that Zaidi's gesture -- attempting to strike Bush in the face with the sole of a shoe -- is "considered a huge insult in this [part of the] world."

Bush's reply defies parody: "Look, they were humiliated. The press corps, the rest of the Iraqi press corps was humiliated.... But I'm not insulted."

So -- this carefully calibrated gesture, this surgical strike of an insult, which was directed specifically at the individual most responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans, managed somehow to humiliate everybody else in the room, while sparing the invincible ego of the one who was targeted.

Read the rest

Monday, December 15, 2008

Economic Freedom or Socialist Intervention? (Ron Paul)

Dr. Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk deals with the auto bailout:

The freedom to fail is an essential part of freedom. Government- provided financial security necessitates relinquishing the very essence of freedom. Last week, the big 3 American automakers came back to Capitol Hill with their hands out to the government. Congress spent this past week debating how much money to give them and what strings should be attached. Though the bailout plan for the auto industry has suffered what I would call a temporary setback in the Senate, other avenues for public funding are being explored through the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. I am afraid the American auto industry will soon learn that having billions rain down from Washington will not be the blessing one might expect.

The government, after it subsidizes an industry, tends to become a very demanding benefactor. Politicians may not have any real idea about how to build a car, run a bank, educate a child, heal the sick or build a road, but they are quite adept at using carrots and sticks to manipulate and threaten those who do. Most of the federal control over education, roads, healthcare, and now banking and soon auto manufacturing, is done through money, mandates and conditions. The bailout proposal we were considering would force automobile manufacturers to submit their business plans for the approval of a new federal "car czar." This bureaucrat would have the authority to approve the automakers’ restructuring plan, monitor implementation of the plan, and even stop certain transactions he determines are inconsistent with the companies’ long-term viability.

One could argue that if billions of taxpayer dollars are going to flow into a failing industry, then representatives of those taxpayers have "bought" a say in how that industry is run – which is precisely why bailouts are such a bad idea for both the industry and the taxpayers. The federal government has neither the competence nor the Constitutional authority to tell private companies, such as automakers, how to run their businesses. I would have thought that failed experiments with central planning and government control of business that caused so much harm in the last century would have taught my colleagues the folly of making businesses obey politicians and bureaucrats instead of heeding the wishes of consumers, employees, and stockholders. But the auto industry is in danger of learning for themselves one of the oldest lessons in politics: he who pays the fiddler calls the tune.

It is not the job of government to sustain business. The government should get out of the way, and instead examine excessive regulations, tax policy and red tape that have been hostile to manufacturing in this country. We should get back on a sustainable economic course in this country, or we are doomed to collapse, as the Soviets did, under the crushing burden of big government and a strangled economy that can no longer pay for it.

Think public education is not indoctrination ... think about this (Jim Fedako)

Fellow homeschooler Jim Fedako on the difference between free market day-care and state-run public schools:

My wife and I do not use daycare, so I am speaking as an outside observer. That said, I know many folks who do place their children in a professional daycare setting, so I have a good idea of the services offered by daycare providers (note: I am differentiating between in-home daycare and what I am calling professional daycare to make a point).

Sure, I hear the occasional complaint, but life and individuals are never perfect. However, I have never heard a parent complain about some form of forced social indoctrination occurring at a professional daycare service. Never.

Professional daycare services have one agenda -- profit. And, to obtain a decent profit (an interest return for you economists), these services provide for the wants of parents -- that's it.

Daycare services act as if the parent knows best. Parents want their children to be safe and secure. They also want their children to learn by participating in age-appropriate activities and learning experiences. A service that conforms to these wants, and controls its costs, will have a waiting list and its decent profit.

Of course, parents have different wants, but the market easily creates segments for any niche want.

Contrast the above with your local public schools. Agenda's abound. Why? It's government and its minions running the show for their own good; the parent be damned.

The wants of parents are nothing to these folks. In fact, the whole organization, from board to classroom teacher, consists of folks who truly believe they know best. And they truly believe that indoctrinating children with a mishmash of nonsense is their life's work.

For whatever reason, many folks distrust the free market. Yet it's the free market that exists to serve by providing for the wants of the consumer -- parents in this instance.

Government never seeks to serve by providing for the wants of the consumer, and government education never seeks to serve the wants of parents. Government seeks to solidify its power by inculcating the youth with its self-serving, statist nonsense.

Fear the state, always.

Disgusting Political Humbug (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs on how the latest rendition of TEOTWAWKI, the impending bankruptcy of the U.S. auto industry, is a fine time for politicians to attempt to loot the taxpayers to help their corporate donor buddies:

Turned away by the Senate, the Big Three auto makers have resorted to begging the Bush administration to rescue them from the plight in which they now find themselves as a result of decades of poor management. Wailing and gnashing of teeth are all the rage in Washington as these wannabe plunderers warn us of dire consequences unless the government acts as the middleman in their attempts to raid the taxpayers' bank accounts.

Well, ho-hum, auto makers are scarcely unique in their lack of scruple and their desire to loot the Treasury. What strikes me in the latest reports on this sordid business is not so much the auto executives' undignified prostration and supplication before the Almighty Government, but the statements being spewed out by our ever-faithful public servants.

Perhaps the single good thing that might have been said about the George W. Bush administration is that its spokespersons sometimes talked as if they supported the free-market system, even if they virtually never acted accordingly. Now, however, even the pro-market talk has gone by the boards.

Thus, according to an Associated Press report, White House press secretary Dana Perino said: "Under normal economic conditions we would prefer that markets determine the ultimate fate of private firms." [But] "given the current weakened state of the U.S. economy, we will consider other options if necessary including use of the TARP program to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers. A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy, and it would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time."

Everybody knows that the only way to find out who your true friends are is by noting who stands by you when you are down and out. Political principles work the same way. If you are prepared to throw them out the window when times are tough, then you never really held them in the first place. Principles are intended especially to guide our behavior in difficult circumstances. If they don't do so, then our proclaimed principles stand revealed as having been nothing but rhetoric in the worst sense of the word.

Read the rest

Pay-to-Play: Why the Fuss? (Tom DiLorenzo)

Tom DiLorenzo on how the governor of Illinois is following the footsteps of other notorious crooks commonly known as "Chicago politicians," namely the most famous of them all, Father Abraham Lincoln:

[G]overnment, like a highwayman, says to a man: "Your money or your life."
~ Lysander Spooner

[T]he state is an inherently illegitimate institution of . . . organized . . . crime against the persons and properties of its subjects.
~ Murray Rothbard

The Washington establishment and its kept media are feigning outrage over the fact that the governor of Illinois has been selling political favors. So far, the biggest laugh line came from federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who claimed that Abraham Lincoln would roll over in his grave if he were to know that an Illinois politician was selling political favors to the highest bidder. In reality, Lincoln would be rolling his eyes over the stupidity of such a statement. As Pulitzer prize-winning Lincoln biographer David Donald has noted, Lincoln’s aspiration as a young pol was to be "the DeWitt Clinton of Illinois." DeWitt Clinton was the governor of New York who is "credited" with having invented the spoils system.

By the time Lincoln ran for president, writes David Donald, he had become the master string puller in Illinois politics. He was what would today be called a "lobbyist" for the railroad corporations. In the late 1830s he led the effort to get the Illinois legislature to spend more than $10 million on "internal improvements" of roads and canals, none of which were ever finished; much of the money was stolen; and the taxpayers of Illinois were put deep into debt for many years. A Chicago politician is what we would call him today – a precursor of Mayor Daley and Congressman (and convicted felon) Danny Rostenkowski.

Read the rest

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bush's finest moment as President

This made my day:

YouTube - Shoe Thrown at President Bush in Iraq

Roger Young's Quotes and Images of the Week 12/14/08

Once again, here's Roger Young's latest Image Review of the Week....

....and Quotes of the Week:

From the Light:
"The lies the government and media tell are amplifications of the lies we tell ourselves. To stop being conned, stop conning yourself."
~ James Wolcott

Read the rest of the Quotes of the Week

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ron Paul: Bailouts Will 'Destroy the Dollar' (Newsmax)

Newsmax interviewed Dr. Paul and posted this nice writeup:

U.S. Representative and former presidential candidate Ron Paul tells Newsmax that bailouts of U.S. corporations are “bad morally” — and says current federal economic policies “will literally destroy the dollar.”

He also insists that the use of “counterfeit” paper money instead of a gold-backed currency is “insane,” and declares it is “foolhardy” for Barack Obama to propose national health care under the present economic conditions.

The Texas legislator ran for president as the Libertarian candidate in 1988, and sought the Republican presidential nomination beginning in March 2007. He withdrew this past June and did not endorse GOP candidate John McCain.

Asked by Newsmax’s Ashley Martella about the bailouts of Wall Street, the banking industry and apparently the Big Three automakers, Paul — a member of the House Financial Services Committee — said:

“I think we’re going in the wrong direction and I strongly oppose it.

“I find it to be bad economics. I find it bad morally to transfer wealth from one group of people to another no matter what kind of problems they have…

“Lo and behold, the Constitution doesn’t talk much about allowing Congress to go and bail out their friends. So I oppose it from practical and well as philosophic reasons.”

Read the rest

Leviathan Devours a Family (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg on the tragic F/A-18 crash near San Diego and the amazing response of the man whose family was slain:

It was neither a demonic wind nor “the fire of God” that destroyed the home of San Diego resident Dong Yun Yoon. The culprit was a crippled F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet that spiraled to the ground out of control after its pilot ejected two miles short of the runway at Miramar Air Station.

The pilot survived the experience. Yoon’s family did not. The crash destroyed his home and killed his wife, daughters, and mother-in-law, none of whom arose that morning expecting to become collateral damage in a military training exercise gone lethally wrong.

After receiving word of the tragedy, Yoon, a 37-year-old immigrant from South Korea, rushed to his home from his job at a retail store near the Mexican border – but by that time his family was gone and his home was in ashes. Like Job, Yoon was beaten to the ground by the weight of the sudden, inexplicable loss of everything he cared about.

Read the rest

Ron Paul Opposes Auto Bailout, Part 3

Finally, Ron Paul further explains the multitude of problems associated with the failed (for now) auto bailout in this YouTube video update.

Ron Paul Opposes Auto Bailout, Part 2

Here a YouTube of Ron Paul's second speech, and here's the text with extended remarks:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But I am concerned that we are narrowed down on a problem of the car industry, which is a significant problem, but we are dealing with $15 billion here. But if you look at the grand problem we have, it is much, much bigger, and it seems like we don't pay much attention to it.

The problems that we are facing today and the problems that we have been trying to solve in these last 6 months were predictable. It had been building for a good many years. We can date it back to 1971. We have had a financial bubble building, so there were many who predicted that the climax would be exactly as we are witnessing.

But we don't seem to want to go back and find out how financial bubbles form and why they burst. Instead, we just carry on doing the same old thing and never look back. We spend more money, we run up more debt, we print more money, and we think that is going to solve the problem that was created by spending too much money, running up debt, printing too much money. And here we are today, we are talking about tinkering on the edges without dealing with the big problem.

The Federal Reserve has literally created over $2 trillion here in the last several months, at least in obligations, and that is outside the realm of the Congress. We don't even audit the Federal Reserve. They create this money, and when the Fed Chairman comes before our committee and we ask, well, where did you dispose of this $2 trillion that you have created recently, he says well, it is not your business. That is not necessary. Under the law, he doesn't even have to tell us.

So this is how out of control our problem is. Sure, there is a lot of debt in the economy, and once a government or a corporation gets an excessive amount of debt, it is never paid for. So, yes, we can transfer the debt to others.

We are dealing with only finding victims. We cannot get rid of the debt, whether it is our national debt or whether it is corporate debt, but we have to put it on somebody else. We need to look at the cause of these bubbles, and it has to do with monetary policy and the Federal Reserve system.

Mr. Speaker, no one can deny that Congress bears much culpability for the current condition of the United States auto industry, and therefore Congress should act to help that industry. We should be repealing costly regulations we have imposed on domestic auto manufactures. Congress should also be considering legislation like H.R. 7273 and H.R. 7278, which reduces taxes on American consumers to make it easier for them to purchase American automobiles.

Unfortunately, instead of repealing regulations and cutting taxes, Congress is nationalizing the automakers by giving them access to $14 billion of taxpayer funds in return for giving the federal government control over the management of these firms. Mr. Speaker, the federal government has neither the competence nor the constitutional authority to tell private companies, such as automakers, how to run their businesses. Yet, the bailout proposal forces automobile manufacturers to submit their business plans for the approval of a federal ``car czar.'' This czar will not only have the authority to approve the automakers' restructuring plan, but will also monitor implementation of the plans. The czar will also be able to stop transactions that are ``inconsistent with the companies' long-term viability.'' Of course, the czar has the sole authority to determine what transactions are ``inconsistent with the companies' long-term viability.''

I would have thought that failed experiments with central planning and government control of business that wrought so much harm in the last century would have taught my colleagues the folly of making businesses obey politicians and bureaucrats instead of heeding the wishes of consumers, employees, and stockholders.

The alternative proposal is less costly to the taxpayer; therefore I will vote for it if offered as a motion to recommit. However, I am troubled that the proposal endorses the notion that the federal government should play both a financial and managerial role in restoring the American automobile industry. Mr. Speaker, it is a shame that we are not given a chance to vote for a true free-market approach; instead we are asked to choose between two types of government interference with the market.

Providing this $14 billion in loan guarantees will contribute to the already fragile economy by increasing the federal debt and thus creating either increased inflation or increased taxes. Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to consider how many businesses will not be started, jobs will not be created, and consumer desires will remain unfulfilled because the resources to start those business and create those jobs were taken from the private sector for the auto bailout. I urge my colleagues to reject this unconstitutional bill that will further the growth of government and damage the American economy. Instead, Congress should help the American auto industry, and all American business, by cutting taxes and regulations.

Ron Paul Opposes Auto Bailout, Part 1

Here's a YouTube of Ron Paul's first speech on the House floor on 12/10, and here's the text:

I rise in opposition to the rule and the underlying legislation. It doesn't take a whole lot to convince me that we are on the wrong track with this type of legislation. And at great risk of being marginalized, I want to bring up a couple of issues. One is that if one were to look for guidance in the Constitution, there's no evidence that we have the authority to take funds from one group of Americans and transfer it to another group who happen to need something.

And the moral argument is it's not right to do so. Why should successful Americans be obligated to take care of those who have made mistakes?

But those two arguments in this Chamber are rather weak arguments, so I will try to talk a little bit about economics. I think what we're doing here today and what we've done here for the last week has been, essentially, a distraction. We're talking about transferring funds around, $15 billion that's been authorized. It's been designated to do some other interventions that were unnecessary in the car industry. And in a way, this legislation probably could have been done by unanimous consent, but there's been a lot of talk and a lot of publicity and a lot of arguments going back and forth about the bailout for the car companies; and it is, of course, very important.

But in the scheme of things, you know, what's $15 billion mean anymore, especially since it's been authorized?

The big thing is the big bailout, the $8 trillion, the unlimited amount the Federal Reserve has invested and what we've been doing for the past 6 months. We are on the road to nationalization. In many ways, we're in the midst of nationalization without a whimper.

There is no real talk about it. I mean, we've essentially nationalized the insurance companies, the mortgage companies, the banks, and medical care is moving in that direction, and now the car companies are going to be run by a car czar from this Congress. I mean, it is such an embarrassment. It is such an insult to us who believe in freedom, who believe in sound money and who believe in limited government. It is such an insult to the whole idea of what made America great, and this is what it has come to--bailout after bailout after bailout--and nobody even calls it what it really is. It is the nationalization of our industries.

You know, in many ways, Harry Truman was a much more honest person. He said we should nationalize the steel industry, and he did. Fortunately, we still had a little bit of common sense in our courts, and they said ``Hey, you're going too far.'' That's what we're doing here. We're nationalizing. It happens always for good purposes, and we are always going to do good for this group, or that, but you never ask the question ``How much harm have you done to the other group?'' and that's what we ought to be talking about. We ought to really find out what this is costing.

As much as I strongly believe in the free society--and I can defend it from the economic viewpoints--I also know where we are and where we ought to go.

I do believe in the transition. That is, if we need a bailout for the car companies, even though I don't like the idea, if you could pay for it, take it out of these hundreds of billions of dollars running the American empire around the world. Cut it; bring it home and spend it here, but running up of these deficits is going to do us in, and we are working on the collapse of the dollar. That is what you'd better pay attention to. So pay attention. This is a lot more important than this little $15 billion. To me, it has been a gross distraction of the great harm we've done in the past 6 months.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oldsmobile Nation (Gary North)

Gary North on the impending bailout of the "Big 3" and the Year of the Living Dead:

On April 29, 2004, the last Oldsmobile rolled off the assembly line in Lansing, Michigan.

The Olds Cutlass had been the #1 selling car in America in the mid-1970's. In the 80's, Olds did well. But in the 90's, it became a stodgy, nothing-special vehicle, stuck in between Pontiac (youth) and Buick (successful middle age). I knew it was not long for this world when an ad agency introduced this slogan: "This is not you father's Oldsmobile!" This immediately popped into my head: "Is it my grandfather's?"

Do you miss the Oldsmobile? Have you given it much thought?

Fast forward to today. Imagine a TV film clip of President-elect Obama. "Oldsmobile is the backbone of American manufacture."

You would think he has gone nuts. Who cares about Oldsmobile? It's gone. Forgotten. Unlamented.

Obama said this on Sunday's "Meet the Press": "The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacture."

That sounded plausible, until we recognize the context: a proposal to bail out GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Not under discussion is a bailout of Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, and other automobile companies that produce cars in the United States.

This is a proposed bailout of the equivalent of Oldsmobile. It is a bailout of firms that could not meet the test of the competitive marketplace.

Read the rest

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Selective Constitutionalism (Chuck Baldwin)

Chuck Baldwin has a nice article on the laughable uproar over Barack Obama's uncertain birthplace:

Many conservatives are up in arms regarding the charge that President-elect Barack Obama may not have been born in the United States and is, therefore, not qualified under the U.S. Constitution to be President of the United States.

Article. II. Section. 1. of the U.S. Constitution states, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President . . . ." Some accuse Mr. Obama of not being born in the State of Hawaii as claimed, but in Kenya, Africa. Several people have filed various lawsuits challenging Mr. Obama's U.S. citizenship.

Historically, "natural born Citizen" has always been understood to mean someone born in the United States of America. If Barack Obama was not born in the United States, he is absolutely unqualified to be President. Hawaii's secretary of state says Obama was indeed born in that state. However, to date, Obama's actual birth certificate has not been publicly released, which only serves to add fuel to the accusations that he was not born in Hawaii.

Many conservatives seem to be obsessed with this controversy, calling it a "constitutional crisis." The fact is, however, we have been in a "constitutional crisis" for years! The problem is, most conservatives only get worked up over a potential abridgement of constitutional government when it serves their partisan political purposes. In other words, when a Democrat appears guilty of constitutional conflict, conservatives "go ballistic," but when Republicans are equally culpable of constitutional conflict, they yawn with utter indifference.

Read the rest

Now It’s Jobs (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell on the state continuing the swift road to fascism under the guise of "doing something":

The downturn is following a path so predictable, day by day, that people who comprehend the business cycle don’t even need to read the news. You can intuit what will happen next because it’s happening like a textbook case – even as it is reported with a continued sense of surprise.

Press reporting on the downturn has been like reports from a committee that knows nothing about gravity, but which has nonetheless been assigned to watch what happens when you drop objects from high places.

They keep filing surprised reports about how the objects fall – what a bizarre and unwelcome turn of events – and then they conjure up ways to keep this from happening through some outside intervention. They recommend bailouts, spending, programs, controls, and inflation.

You just want to get their attention and explain: what you are observing is part of the structure of reality itself, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You can cover your eyes, put up fancy mirrors, turn somersaults, speculate and talk and decry all you want. But in the end, the downturn is a necessary and inevitable response to the previous boom. It must be allowed to continue on its course.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Sovietizing the Economy: The Final Phase (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg on how the centralization of the economy under Bush the Lesser will likely be dwarfed by that of Obama the Blessed (PBUH):

“Insanity,” according to a famous definition, is a condition revealed by the habit of doing exactly the same thing repeatedly in earnest anticipation of a different result. A closely related form of derangement is megalomania, a prominent symptom of which is an individual’s self-exalting belief that he is the divine exception that can make that different result occur.

When it’s displayed in private pursuits, megalomania is a harmless if pitiable condition. When coupled with political power, it becomes the propellant of large-scale social experiments that ruin societies and kill people by the tens of millions.

Barack Obama suffers from an acute case.

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Gun Control: Protecting Terrorists and Despots (Ron Paul)

Dr. Paul talks about the tragedy of gun control in his latest Texas Straight Talk:

Tragically, over the Thanksgiving holiday, the world was reminded how evil and cruel people can be. According to emerging accounts of the events in India, about a dozen well-armed and devastatingly well-trained terrorists laid siege on the city of Mumbai, killing almost two hundred people, and terrorizing thousands.

Regardless of the reasons, the indiscriminate shooting on masses of unarmed and defenseless people is chilling and reprehensible. How were these terrorists able to continue so long, relatively unchallenged, killing so many?

India’s gun laws are her business, of course. However, once the shock of these events and the initial reaction of fear passes, Americans should take away a valuable lesson about real homeland security and gun control from this tragedy.

Gun control advocates tell us that removing guns from society makes us safer. If that were the case why do the worst shootings happen in gun free zones, like schools? And while accidents do happen, aggressive, terroristic shootings like this are unheard of at gun and knife shows, or military bases. It bears repeating that an armed society truly is a polite society.

The fact is that firearm technology exists. It cannot be uninvented. As long as there is metalworking and welding capability, it matters not what gun laws are imposed upon law-abiding people. Those that wish to have guns, and disregard the law, will have guns. Gun control makes violence safer and more effective for the aggressive, whether the aggressor is a terrorist or a government.

History shows us that another tragedy of gun laws is genocide. Hitler, for example, knew well that in order to enact his “final solution,” disarmament was a necessary precursor. While it is not always the case that an unarmed populace WILL be killed by their government, if a government is going to kill its own people, it MUST disarm them first so they cannot fight back. Disarmament must happen at a time when overall trust in government is high, and under the guise of safety for the people, or perhaps the children. Knowing that any government, no matter how idealistically started, can become despotic, the Founding Fathers enabled the future freedom of Americans by enacting the second amendment.

In our own country, we should be ever vigilant against any attempts to disarm the people, especially in this economic downturn. I expect violent crime to rise sharply in the coming days, and as states and municipalities are even more financially strained, the police will be even less able or willing to respond to crime. In many areas, local police could become more and more absorbed with revenue generating activities, like minor traffic violations and the asset forfeiture opportunities of non-violent drug offenses. Your safety has always, ultimately been your own responsibility, but never more so than now. People have a natural right to defend themselves. Governments that take that away from their people should be highly suspect.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jim Rogers on the Crash of 08 (Lew Rockwell Show)

Lew Rockwell interviewed the great investment guru Jim Rogers for the latest installment of his fantastic podcast:

Click here to listen