Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ron Paul: More Government Won't Help Healthcare Mess

Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
United States House of Representatives

More Government Won't Help

September 23, 2009

Government has been mismanaging medical care for more than 45 years; for every problem it has created it has responded by exponentially expanding the role of government. Points to consider:

1.) No one has a right to medical care. If one assumes such a right, it endorses the notion that some individuals have a right to someone else’s life and property. This totally contradicts the principles of liberty.
2.) If medical care is provided by government, this can only be achieved by an authoritarian government unconcerned about the rights of the individual.
3.) Economic fallacies accepted for more than 100 years in the United States has deceived policy makers into believing that quality medical care can only be achieved by government force, taxation, regulations, and bowing to a system of special interests that creates a system of corporatism.
4.) More dollars into any monopoly run by government never increases quality but it always results in higher costs and prices.
5.) Government does have an important role to play in facilitating the delivery of all goods and services in an ethical and efficient manner.
6.) First, government should do no harm. It should get out of the way and repeal all the laws that have contributed to the mess we have.
7.) The costs are obviously too high but in solving this problem one cannot ignore the debasement of the currency as a major factor.
8.) Bureaucrats and other third parties must never be allowed to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship.
9.) The tax code, including the ERISA laws, must be changed to give everyone equal treatment by allowing a 100% tax credit for all medical expenses.
Laws dealing with bad outcomes and prohibiting doctors from entering into voluntary agreements with their patients must be repealed. Tort laws play a significant role in pushing costs higher, prompting unnecessary treatment and excessive testing. Patients deserve the compensation; the attorneys do not.
10.) Insurance sales should be legalized nationally across state lines to increase competition among the insurance companies.
11.) Long-term insurance policies should be available to young people similar to term-life insurances that offer fixed prices for long periods of time.
12.) The principle of insurance should be remembered. Its purpose in a free market is to measure risk, not to be used synonymously with social welfare programs. Any program that provides for first-dollar payment is no longer insurance. This would be similar to giving coverage for gasoline and repair bills to those who buy car insurance or providing food insurance for people to go to the grocery store. Obviously, that could not work.
13.) The cozy relationship between organized medicine and government must be reversed. Early on medical insurance was promoted by the medical community in order to boost re-imbursements to doctors and hospitals. That partnership has morphed into the government/insurance industry still being promoted by the current administration.
14.) Threatening individuals with huge fines by forcing them to buy insurance is a boon to the insurance companies.
15.) There must be more competition for individuals entering into the medical field. Licensing strictly limits the number of individuals who can provide patient care. A lot of problems were created in 20th century as a consequence the Flexner Report (1910), which was financed by the Carnegie Foundation and strongly supported by the AMA. Many medical schools were closed and the number of doctors was drastically reduced. The motivation was to close down medical schools that catered to women, minorities and especially homeopathy. We continue to suffer from these changes made which were designed to protect physician’s income and promote allopathic medicine over the more natural cures and prevention of homeopathic medicine.
16.) We must remove any obstacles for people seeking holistic and nutritional alternatives to current medical care. We must remove the threat of further regulations pushed by the drug companies now working worldwide to limit these alternatives.

True competition in the delivery of medical care is what is needed, not more government meddling.

Tom Woods' Tesitmony for HR1207 Hearing

In case you weren't aware, a hearing for Ron Paul's audit the Fed bill H.R. 1207 has been scheduled for Friday morning at 9:00am! I don't know whether it will be on CSPAN, but you can view the committee's webcam here, and I expect there will be YouTubes available at least by the afternoon. I will pass on links when they're available.

The great Austrian economist and historian Tom Woods has submitted some excellent testimony for the hearing, which is reprinted below:

Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
Testimony in Support of HR 1207, The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009
House Financial Services Committee
September 25, 2009

I am speaking this morning in support of HR 1207, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. As the Committee knows, this bill would require a full audit of the Federal Reserve by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

On November 10, 2008, Bloomberg News ran the following headline: “Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose.” The story pointed out that the Fed was refusing to identify the recipients of trillions of dollars in emergency loans or the dubious assets the central bank was accepting as collateral. When the initial $700 billion congressional bailout was being debated last September, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson couldn’t emphasize their commitment to transparency strongly enough. But “two months later, as the Fed [lent] far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn’t require approval by Congress, Americans [had] no idea where their money [was] going or what securities the banks [were] pledging in return.”

Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, put it simply: “Taxpayers – involuntary investors in this case – have a right to know who received loans, in what amounts, for which collateral, and why specific loans were made.”

This has been portrayed as a trivial matter being pursued by some cynical and uppity Americans who don’t know their place. But there is no good reason for Americans not to know the recipients of the Fed’s emergency lending facilities. There is no good reason for them to be kept in the dark about the Fed’s arrangements with foreign central banks. These things affect the quality of the money that our system obliges the American public to accept.

The Fed’s arguments against the bill are unlikely to persuade, and will undoubtedly strike the average American as little more than special pleading. Perhaps the most frequent of the claims is that a genuine audit would jeopardize the alleged independence of the Fed. Congress could come to influence or even dictate monetary policy.

This is a red herring. The bill is not designed to empower politicians to increase the money supply, choose interest-rate targets, or adopt any of the rest of the Fed’s central planning apparatus, all of which is better left to the free market than to the Fed or Congress. It seeks nothing more than to open the Fed’s books to public scrutiny.

Congress has a moral and legal obligation to oversee institutions it brings into existence. The convoluted scenarios by which merely opening the books will lead to an inflationary catastrophe at the hands of Congress are difficult to take seriously.

At the same time, as we hear this objection repeated time and again, we might wonder just how independent the Fed really is, what with its chairman up for reappointment by the president every four years. Have these critics never heard of the political business cycle? Fed chairmen have been known to ingratiate themselves into the president’s favor close to election time by means of loose monetary policy and the false (and temporary) prosperity it brings about. Let us not insult Americans’ intelligence by pretending this phenomenon does not exist.

Moreover, try to imagine a Fed chairman doggedly seeking to maintain the value of the dollar even if it meant refusing to monetize a massive deficit to fight a war or “stimulate” a depressed economy. It is not possible.

If there is any truth to the idea of Fed independence, it lay in precisely this: the Fed may reward favored friends and constituencies with trillions of dollars in various kinds of assistance, while keeping the public completely in the dark. If that is the independence we’re talking about, no self-respecting American would hesitate for a moment to challenge it.

A related argument warns that the legislation threatens to politicize lender-of-lastresort decisions. Again, this is untrue. But even if it were true, how would that represent a departure from current practice? I hope we are not asking Americans to believe that the decisions to bail out various financial institutions over the past two years, and in particular to allow them to become depository institutions overnight that they might qualify for assistance, were made on the basis of a pure devotion to the common good and were not political at all. Most Americans, not unreasonably, seem convinced of another thesis: that Goldman Sachs, for instance, might be just a little bit more politically well connected than the rest of us.

Opponents of HR 1207 have sometimes tried to claim that the Fed is already adequately audited. If this were true, why is the Fed in panic mode over this bill? It is the broad areas these audits exclude that the American public is increasingly interested in investigating, and these are the gaps that HR 1207 seeks to fill.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the monetary system we have now is sound and beyond reproach, and certainly better than any system that preceded it. My purpose today is not to render judgment upon such views, however deeply misguided I happen to consider them, and however inaccurate their implicit view of nineteenth century financial panics. My point is simply this: if our monetary system were really as strong, robust, and beyond criticism as its cheerleaders claim, why does it need to rely so heavily on public ignorance? How can it be a sound banking system that depends on keeping the public in the dark about the condition of its financial institutions?

Let me also make clear that supporters of this legislation are strongly opposed to a watered-down version of the bill – which, incidentally, would only increase public suspicion that someone is hiding something.

If the Federal Reserve Transparency Act passes and the audit takes place, the American people will have achieved a great victory. If the legislation fails, more and more Americans will begin to wonder what the Fed could be so anxious to keep hidden, and the pressure for transparency will simply intensify. A recent poll finds 75 percent of Americans already in favor of auditing the Fed. The writing is on the wall.

The Federal Reserve may as well get used to the idea that the audit is coming. That would be a far more sensible approach than the counterproductive and condescending one it has adopted thus far, in which the peons who populate the country are urged to quit pestering their betters with all these impertinent questions. The Fed should take to heart the words of consolation the American people are given whenever a new government surveillance program is uncovered: if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

The superstitious reverence that Americans have been taught to have for the Federal Reserve is unworthy of the dignity of a free people. The Fed enjoys a government-granted monopoly on the creation of legal-tender money. It is not an unreasonable imposition for Americans to demand to know about the activities of such an institution. It is common sense.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ron Paul: Trade Wars and Protectionism are not Free Trade

Dr. Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk:

Congressman Ron PaulTwo weeks ago, both the administration and the Fed announced with straight faces that the recession was over and the signs of economic recovery were clear. Then last week, the president made a stunning decision that signals the administration’s determination to repeat the mistakes of the Great Depression. Much like the Smoot-Hawley Tariffs that set off a global trade war and effectively doomed us to ten more years of economic misery, Obama’s decision to enact steep tariffs on Chinese imported tires could spark a trade war with the single most important trading partner we have. Not only does China manufacture a whole host of products that end up on American store shelves, they are also still buying our Treasury debt.

One has to wonder why this course of action is being undertaken if the administration really believes its own statements about economic recovery. Why are they still trying to fix something they have supposedly already fixed? The most troubling thing is the rhetoric about free trade given to justify this. The administration claims it is merely enforcing trade policies and that this is necessary for free trade. This sort of double speak demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of free trade, economics and world history. Yet these are the same people the country trusts to solve our problems. This sort of thing should remove all doubt about the credibility of the decision makers in Washington.

The truth is this will hurt American consumers by driving up prices of tires and cars. This will also complicate matters for our already crippled manufacturing and agricultural industries, if and when China retaliates against US made products. Whatever jobs might be saved in the tire and steel industries here as a result of this protectionist measure will likely be lost in other American industries. It is even doubtful that those jobs will be saved, as cheap tires can be obtained from other places like Mexico instead. It is difficult to see any real winners among all the losers where trade wars are concerned. If Unions think this is beneficial to them, they are being penny-wise and pound foolish.

Free trade with all and entangling alliances with none has always been the best policy in dealing with other countries on the world stage. This is the policy of friendship, freedom and non-interventionism and yet people wrongly attack this philosophy as isolationist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Isolationism is putting up protectionist trade barriers, starting trade wars imposing provocative sanctions and one day finding out we have no one left to buy our products. Isolationism is arming both sides of a conflict, only to discover that you’ve made two enemies instead of keeping two friends. Isolationism is trying to police the world but creating more resentment than gratitude. Isolationism is not understanding economics, or other cultures, but clumsily intervening anyway and creating major disasters out of minor problems.

The government should not be in the business of giving out favors to special interests or picking winners and losers in the market, yet this has been most of what has consumed politicians’ attention in Washington. It has reached a fevered pitch lately and it needs to end if we are ever to regain a functional and prosperous economy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Freedom Watch 9/16/09

The folks at Freedom Watch w/ Judge Napolitano have asked that people watch each episode on the Fox site (rather than YouTube) and generate enough traffic so that Fox will put it on the air. I attempted to embed a playlist and failed, but you can watch the entire episode here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Judge Napolitano's Freedom Watch now on daily!

Congratulations to Judge Andrew Napolitano, whose great online show Freedom Watch is now on daily! Instead of being live, it is recorded and edited, so should result in a far more polished product. It will be available every day at the new Freedom Watch website on Fox, and the first episode in the new format is also available as a YouTube playlist, which features Glenn Beck, Lew Rockwell, and Sen. Jim DeMint. Today's episode is slated to include Ron Paul, Tom Woods, and Walter Block, so should be make for an excellent show!

UPDATE: According to Fox, Freedom Watch will broadcast from the Strategy Room at 4:00pm EDT! If you miss it, the recordings should be available soon thereafter either at the official Fox site or the "unofficial" site run by Marc Gallagher, who should have YouTubes available on his channel.

UPDATE 2: Here's today's episode on YouTube:

Monday, September 14, 2009

What’s the Point of Demonstrating? (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs explains why demonstrations like the one in D.C. over the weekend are useless:

Robert HiggsThousands of Americans have just staged a demonstration in Washington, D.C., to express their displeasure with the growth of government in general and the Obama administration’s health-insurance proposals in particular. Such demonstrations are a tradition in this country. The First Amendment, which people usually associate with freedom of speech, religion, and the press, also stipulates that Congress shall make no law abridging “the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Founders knew that people would sometimes desire to complain publicly against government policies that affected them adversely. After all, their own revolution had begun amid many such protests against the British government.

So, in this country, people have a constitutionally guaranteed right to demonstrate and petition for redress of grievances, and they often exercise this right. Although the government sometimes tries to control when and how people demonstrate, especially when such protests might prove too visibly embarrassing to the emperor or to one of the two gangs that purport to be competing political parties in what is actually a one-party state, most of the time the rulers seem to appreciate that such demonstrations pose no genuine threat to their control of the state and that the wise course is to allow the peasants to blow off steam. Later, they can be told how fortunate they are to live in a country where the government permits freedom of speech, as if such speech in itself would feed the baby.

Read the rest

McGovern's Socialism (Jacob Hornberger)

Jacob Hornberger takes the rationale behind government run healthcare to its logical conclusion and shows how idiotic it really is:

Jacob HornbergerLiberal George McGovern has a simple solution to the health-care crisis. In an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post, McGovern recommended that we simply extend Medicare, which currently is limited to people over 65, to everyone else.

Like most other people on the dole, McGovern loves his government-provided health care: “Those of us over 65 have been enjoying this program for years. I go to the doctor or hospital of my choice, and my taxes pay all the bills. It’s wonderful…. I want every American, from birth to death, to get the kind of health care I now receive.”

But hey, why limit McGovern’s simple idea to health care? Don’t people have a right to food as much as they have a right to health care? Isn’t food more important than health care? Why not extend the federal food-stamp program, which is currently limited to poor people, to everyone? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to walk into any grocery store you wanted and get all the groceries you needed without having to pay for them?

Read the rest

Roger Young's Images and Quotes of the Week

Check out Roger Young's latest editions of his always excellent Image Review of the Week....

....and Quotes of the Week. If you don't follow Roger's blog, I strongly suggest you do so; he publishes some great stuff!

Ron Paul: Healthcare Reform is More Corporate Welfare

Dr. Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk:

Congressman Ron PaulLast Wednesday the nation was riveted to the President’s speech on healthcare reform before Congress. While the President’s concern for the uninsured is no doubt sincere, his plan amounts to a magnanimous gift to the health insurance industry, despite any implications to the contrary.

For decades the insurance industry has been lobbying for mandated coverage for everyone. Imagine if the cell phone industry or the cable TV industry received such a gift from government? If government were to fine individuals simply for not buying a corporation’s product, it would be an incredible and completely unfair boon to that industry, at the expense of freedom and the free market. Yet this is what the current healthcare reform plans intend to do for the very powerful health insurance industry.

The stipulation that pre-existing conditions would have to be covered seems a small price to pay for increasing their client pool to 100% of the American people. A big red flag, however, is that they would also have immunity from lawsuits, should they fail to actually cover what they are supposedly required to cover, so these requirements on them are probably meaningless. Mandates on all citizens to be customers of theirs, however, are enforceable with fines and taxes.

Insurance providers seem to have successfully equated health insurance with health care but this is a relatively new concept. There were doctors and medicine long before there was health insurance. Health insurance is not a bad thing, but it is not the only conceivable way to get health care. Instead, we seem to still rely on the creativity and competence of politicians to solve problems, which always somehow seem to be tied in with which lobby is the strongest in Washington.

It is sad to think of the many creative, free market solutions that government prohibits with all its interference. What if instead of joining a health insurance plan, you could buy a membership directly from a hospital or doctor? What if a doctor wanted to have a cash-only practice, or make house calls, or determine his or her own patient load, or otherwise practice medicine outside the constraints of the current bureaucratic system? Alternative healthcare delivery models will be at an even stronger competitive disadvantage if families are forced to buy into the insurance model. And yet, the reforms are sold to us as increasing competition.

What if just once Washington got out of the way and allowed the ingenuity of the American people to come up with a whole spectrum of alternatives to our broken system? Then the free market, not lobbyists and politicians, would decide which models work and which did not.

Unfortunately, the most broken aspect of our system is that Washington sees the need to act on every problem in society, rather than staying out of the way, or getting out of the way. The only tools the government has are force and favors. These are tools that many unscrupulous and lazy corporations would like to wield to their own advantage, rather than simply providing a better product that people will willingly buy. It seems the health insurance industry will get more of those advantages very soon.

No More Marches on DC (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell says it's time abandon the idea that marches in Mordor do any good at all:

For many years, pro-lifers have expended vast time, energy, and money “marching on Washington” every January, to exactly zero effect. Worse, they hark back to pro-redistribution events. And always, as with the latest 9/12 extravaganza headed by red-state fascists, the marchers assemble on the “National Mall,” the government grass that extends from Lincoln’s Roman temple — where he sits enthroned like Jupiter, fasces and all — to George Washington’s obelisk, an Eqyptian monument to the god Amon Re. In the distance is the capitol, whose dome copies the Roman pantheon, temple to all the gods. In the top of the dome is a painting of Washington being assumed, like the divinized Julius Caesar, into Heaven upon his death. Even Jefferson is portrayed as a god in a Roman temple. Not far away is the the Greek temple where the nine supremes hand down the “law.” Then there is the vast executive apparatus, headed by a living god, and dedicated to killing, spying, taxing, redistributing, inflating, and controlling. Really, DC is one nasty place. So why would anyone concerned about the state and its power “march on Washington”? Such events only dissipate energy, and fool people into thinking that their time and money have accomplished something, as the regime laughs up its sleeve. Indeed, that is the purpose. So stay home. Read, write, work, organize, and avoid DC like the plague it is.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Causes, Aftermath and Lessons of 9/11 (Anthony Gregory)

Anthony Gregory wrote a great article on the events and ramifications of 9/11:

America suffered its deadliest terrorist attack eight years ago, on September 11, 2001. Nearly three thousand people, mostly Americans, were murdered, and thousands more wounded. The great institution of American and global capitalism, the World Trade Center, was destroyed.

Americans agree that we should remember 9/11. The current president has declared it a "National Day of Service and Remembrance" on which we should honor community service. This has been criticized by many conservatives as "statist" politicization of that horrific day. Some might respond that it was politicized by the last president too.

Indeed, within 24 hours of the planes hitting the Twin Towers, many Americans mourned but also reacted quickly with their thoughts of the event's political implications. Many on the right said that the attack showed the need for a more aggressive foreign policy. Others on the left said that it was time to stop being critical of big government. Calls for restricting civil liberties could be heard before the Pentagon fire was extinguished, and they continue to this day.

If it is fair game for people to politicize 9/11 in this way, as an argument for more government and less liberty, people should also feel free to advance different conclusions about terrorism. We must never forget that day, and it is also important, if we want to prevent such attacks in the future, to understand what led up to the event and what has transpired since.

Read the rest

Canary in the Coal Mine (Peter Schiff)

Peter Schiff says gold is the canary in the economic gold mine, and those who ignore the continuing bull market in gold are like miners who think that since they can't smell any gas, the canaries must be dying of natural causes:

Like a battering ram in a medieval siege, gold keeps hammering away at the gate. For the third time in less than twelve months, the yellow metal is once again crashing into the $1,000 per ounce level. As of press time, it looks like gold will close above that level today and will set a new record in the process. Even if the breach is fleeting, who can doubt that it will mount another assault soon? In the meantime, there is no shortage of market analysts who are not buying gold while questioning the motives of those who are. Although they offer a variety of strained reasons, they nearly all agree that it has nothing to do with inflation, which is nearly universally considered dead and buried. As a self-confessed gold bug, I can assure all that inflation is the only reason I buy gold. And recently, I'm buying a lot.

When individuals choose to accumulate savings in the form of gold rather than interest-bearing paper deposits in government-insured accounts, there is only one reason for doing so: they fear that the interest will not be enough to compensate for their expected loss of purchasing power through inflation. This fear reflects both current inflation and the expectation for future inflation. While there are those who buy gold to speculate on its appreciation, the underlying factor that drives that appreciation in the first place will always be inflation. If governments were not creating inflation, there would be little investment advantage to owning gold.

Some believe that gold investors are primarily motivated by fear. It is often assumed that gold is the one asset class that holds its value when all other asset classes are falling due to market uncertainty. But this explanation brings us right back to inflation. When economies move into recession, there is always political pressure for governments to intervene. Their one tool is the printing press.

Read the rest

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Anatomy of an Economic Ignoramus (Tom Woods)

Tom Woods takes a blogger to task over his idiotic attack piece on Peter Schiff (as usual for Dr. Woods, he gives some great, easy-to-understand arguments on the merits of the free market):

We all encounter more than our share of foolish blog posts. Most of the time you simply have to let them be. You could spend the rest of your life correcting drones and automatons who will never have an original or unconventional thought no matter how much you prod them. Their seventh-grade teacher, who was also the track coach, taught them what they know, and they're sticking to it.

Once in a while, though, for your own sake and for the sake of readers who suspect the post is all wrong but aren't quite sure why, you let loose with a full-blown response. And that's what I'm doing here in reaction to a blog entry called "Peter Schiff: Medicare Recipients Are Lazy People Who Refuse to Pay for Their Own Health Care."

This is longer than my usual pieces, but I hope I am not trying the reader's patience too much. In block quotes are the words of a blog author who identifies himself, interestingly enough, simply as "Che."

Here we go.

I love it when right wing economists talk about "market forces" and "letting the free market run our economy." They make it sound like the free market is some altruistic being that always knows exactly what to do and when to do it.

I do not know of anyone who subscribes to this junior-camper caricature. For one thing, no free-market economist is dumb enough to use a phrase like "letting the free market run our economy." The free market is merely the matrix of free exchanges entered into by individuals. How can a matrix of free exchanges "run" anything?

Secondly, no free-market economist thinks the market "always knows exactly what to do and when to do it." If that were the case, how could free-market economists account for firms that go out of business?

Read the rest

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Audit the Fed Will Get Hearing in House Committee!

Campaign For Liberty

September 9, 2009

Dear Friend of Liberty,

Your hard work in this historic movement to Audit the Fed continues to pay off!

Thanks to the thousands of Campaign for Liberty members who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to spreading the word, gathering petitions, and putting continuous pressure on Congress by calling, writing, and faxing, Congressman Ron Paul informed C4L today that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank has officially agreed to hold hearings on HR 1207! The hearings are tentatively scheduled for Friday, September 25 at 9:00 am.

Your efforts have resulted in Washington's most secretive institution having to defend itself before the media, the American people, and now at a House hearing specifically focused on transparency.

This exciting victory is only one more achievement in a battle that we must see through until the end.

Contact your representative and senators and urge them to cosponsor HR 1207/S 604 if they have not yet done so. If they have already signed on, tell them it is imperative that Audit the Fed receive a standalone, up or down vote on its own merits. Full transparency in our nation's monetary system is too important to be a minor footnote in yet another massive Washington bill, and C4L will vigorously oppose any attempts to include HR 1207 in a regulatory reform package that increases the Fed's power over our economy and lives.

Less than a year ago, a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve wasn't on anyone's radar. Now, we have the support of seventy five percent of the American people, almost two thirds of the House of Representatives, nearly a quarter of the Senate, and an official hearing before the House Financial Services Committee!

There will be more exciting information to follow soon, but I wanted you to know right away. Now is the time to turn the heat up even more.

Together, we will finish this fight!

In Liberty,


John Tate


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Legitimacy (Paul Hein)

Paul Hein debunks the fallacious concept of "legitimate" government:

There are, I suspect, many people who confuse America --this beautiful and bounteous land with which we are blessed--with the United States , that corporation calling itself the government, which owns and operates it through its front men, those windbags in Washington . That’s a shame, because one’s natural love for the country rubs off on the United States, so to speak, tending to give it (notice how the “United States” is always singular!) a respectability which it does not deserve.

The recognition of a distinction between the U.S. and the country can make one uneasy. Can one love one’s country, and not respect the state? Can you call yourself a patriotic American and distrust the U.S. ?

What little remains of the basic principles of American life: freedom of speech and association, private property, the sanctity of contracts, the rule of law, etc., is quickly disappearing under the Obama reign. Americans will eventually have to confront the dilemma: freedom, or adherence to the “law.”

I checked with the law dictionary to confirm what I suspected: the word “legitimate” is a synonym for “lawful,” or “legal.” I also looked up “government,” and found, among the many definitions associated with that word, “governmental action.” It is defined as any action of the federal government authorized by the Constitution, with several court citations to support that definition. So it is logical to conclude that a legitimate government is one that acts within its own Constitution and the laws made pursuant to it.

That presents a problem. A legitimate government obeys the laws, but that selfsame government makes the laws. What is so difficult about obeying your own laws? And how can a government be criticized for lawlessness, when it can simply make laws to justify its actions? After all, “blacks in the back of the bus” was the “law.” I would be willing to bet that most of the actions of the Nazis, or the Communists, at least in the beginning, were according to the laws which they had made. Slavery, in this country, as in others, was utterly lawful.

Even worse, however, than the sham of a government piously claiming adherence to laws of its own making, which shouldn’t exist in the first place, is the action of government unsupported by any laws whatsoever--bogus or not.

Read the rest

Ron Paul: Government Solutions Lack Understanding

Dr. Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk:

Congressman Ron PaulThings seem to be unraveling quickly for the new administration. The latest unemployment numbers are worse than the last reports. For all the billions of dollars spent and committed to fixing our economic problems, the situation is only getting worse. This was to be expected by those who understand the root causes of the problems. Throwing money around and creating more government programs is both simplistic and damaging to the economy. Of course, the administration claims that we would have been much worse off without these efforts. You can’t improve this situation by adding to our mountain of public debt for the benefit of big banks and other special interests. The American people know this. When will Washington learn?

In addition, the president’s plans for healthcare reform – or health insurance reform - are becoming more and more unpopular as details are examined. But because of all the alarmist rhetoric, politicians in Washington feel obligated to pass something, even if it doesn’t help. Rarely are liberty and prosperity at greater risk than when politicians feel they must “do something”. It is frightening to watch Washington toy with our healthcare purely for political reasons.

However, the saddest shortcoming of this administration is its utter failure to pursue a more peaceful foreign policy. Just last week up to 90 people, apparently mostly civilians, were killed in Afghanistan in an airstrike, and the violence is only getting worse. The administration is mulling over how many more troops they will send as part of their “Afghan Surge” with advisors getting it exactly backwards. They qualify sending fewer troops as “high-risk” and sending more troops as “low-risk”. This is not the perception at all if you were to ask the families of those being sent over. The best answer would be to stop risking any of our troops for the sake of what is, for all intents and purposes, a violent occupation, helping no one.

But all of these problems and their wrong-headed solutions come from one greater problem - which is not understanding the reasons that we are here. The economy is in bad shape because of too much government intervention producing a myriad of unintended consequences and perverse incentives. Healthcare is broken because the doctor-patient relationship has been broken down by hyper regulation and too much government interference. Afghanistan is a mess because they ignored the mission approved by Congress - to seek out those who attacked us on 9/11. They have instead gotten sidetracked with nebulous interventionist tasks such as promoting democracy and nation building. Eight years later, there is no real progress. The Soviets bankrupted themselves fighting in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan and we’re about to do the same. If we would just look to history it would be self-evident that there is nothing left to win in Afghanistan, and everything to lose.

Most of all, we need to understand that we don’t understand Afghan culture and politics, and for that reason alone, intervening in their affairs is unlikely to produce positive results. The best thing we could possibly do now is to bring our troops home, from Afghanistan, from Iraq, from Japan, from Germany, from all occupied countries, and concentrate on mending badly damaged relationships around the world. Free and honest trade has always been the best way to do that, without fail. Not understanding the benefits of peace, freedom, and nonintervention will always bring about catastrophe.

You're Not the Boss of Me! (Larken Rose)

I'm surprised I hadn't run across this great speech by Larken Rose, which he delivered at a July 4th "Tea Party" in Philadelphia, but I'm glad I found it and highly recommend checking it out (you can also watch it here):

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, in Philadelphia, a bunch of guys got together and wrote a letter to their king. The letter was very eloquent, and well thought out, but it basically boiled down to this:

"Dear King George,

You're not the boss of us!


A Bunch of Troublemakers"

That's essentially what the Declaration of Independence was: a bunch of radicals declaring that they would no longer recognize the right of their king to rule them, at all, ever again. They went on to create a new boss, which turned into a new oppressor, but we'll get to that in a moment. First, let's consider the essence of that attitude: "You're not the boss of me!"

This July 4th, like every year, millions of Americans are celebrating Independence Day with various parades, picnics, fireworks, and so on. But how many of those people celebrating have ever actually considered what the Declaration was actually about, and what the colonists actually did? The colonists did not merely beg the king to change his ways. In fact, the Declaration explains how they had tried that, to no avail. Instead, the colonists were doing something far more drastic.

In short, they committed treason. They broke the law. They disobeyed their government. They were traitors, criminals and tax cheats. The Boston Tea Party was not merely a tax protest, but open lawlessness. Furthermore, truth be told, some of the colonists were even cop-killers. At Lexington, when King George's "law enforcers" told the colonists to lay down their guns, the colonists responded with, "No, you're not the boss of us!" (Well, that was the meaning, if not the exact verbiage.) And so we had "The Shot Heard 'Round the World," widely regarded as the beginning of the American Revolution.

Read the rest

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Killing America's Kids (Fred Reed)

Fred Reed gives his not-so-subtle take on the controversial publication of a photo showing a 21-year old dying in a senseless war:

The web is covered in stink today because of a reporter for the Associated Press, Julie Jacobson, who photographed the death of a Marine whose legs had just been blown off. The kid was Joshua Bernard, a Lance Corporal of 21 years. When the photo appeared, Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense [sic] furiously tried to get the AP to quash the photo. It didn’t, to its everlasting credit. To quote one of many accounts on the web:

"Gates followed up with a scathing letter to Curley [of AP] yesterday afternoon. The letter says Gates cannot imagine the pain Bernard's family is feeling right now, and that Curley's ‘lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put out this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right—but judgment and common decency.’"

I thought a long time before writing about this matter, and was not pleasant to be around. The photo resonated with me, as we say. You see, long ago, in another pointless war, promoted by another conscienceless Secretary, I too was a Marine Lance Corporal of twenty-one years. I too got shot, though not nearly as badly as this kid, and spent a year at Bethesda Naval Hospital. At this point I am legally blind following my (I think) thirteenth trip to eye surgery as a result of an identical foreign policy.

Read the rest

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bad News: The Real Wage Rate Is Rising (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs makes the troubling observation that even as the unemployment rate skyrockets, wage rates have actually gone up, a situation first observed at the beginning of the Great Depression:

The U.S. rate of unemployment has been rising since March 2007, when it stood at 4.4 percent. In 2007 it rose slowly, then in 2008 and 2009 much more quickly. In August 2009 it reached 9.7 percent. The increase in unemployment represents for most people the most troubling aspect of the current recession.

However, during the past year, so much attention has been focused on the financial debacle in its various dimensions, and on the Fed’s and the Treasury’s efforts to deal with it, that the growing unemployment - now amounting to approximately 15 million persons - has become almost a footnote to the welter of troubles besetting the economy, and the labor market itself has received relatively little attention. Of course, the government’s “stimulus” spending programs purport to be aimed at restoring employment, and, if we subscribed to vulgar Keynesianism, we might expect them to do so.

Sound economists know, however, that, as some of them like to say, the labor market clears in the labor market, not in the product market or the bond market. When we seek to understand changes in the volume of employment (and by loose implication, the amount of unemployment), we are well advised to pay closest attention to what is happening in the labor market.

Read the rest

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

World War II: An Unspeakable Horror Now Encrusted in Myths (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs gives his take on the Good War, the biggest winners of which were obviously the monstrous tyrant (and U.S. "ally") Joseph Stalin and the great scourge of Communism:

Robert HiggsSeptember 1, 1939 — exactly seventy years ago today — is customarily considered the day when World War II began, owing to the German invasion of Poland. Of course, some belligerents, most notably the Japanese and the Chinese, had already been at war for years, and others did not join the fray until later. The United States actually began to participate in the war almost immediately, but its participation remained for the most part covert until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

I was born in the midst of this terrible event, and all my life, whenever anyone referred to “the war,” I have assumed, as most Americans have, that the reference was to World War II. It was the largest and the most horrible of all wars, although, sad to say, it no more proved to be “the war to end war” than its predecessor (1914-18) had been. In many ways the two world wars are best understood as two phases of a single conflict, although the matter is much more complicated than that formulation might suggest.

No one knows with much confidence how many people died as a result of the war. Estimates range widely, from a low of about 50 million to a high of nearly 80 million. Perhaps two-thirds of the dead were civilians. Countless others were wounded or harmed in various ways, as by malnutrition. Millions were spiritually scarred for life. The war was very productive of nightmares that, for some individuals, recurred for decades. After all that had taken place between 1939 and 1945, it was difficult to believe that the human beings of the mid-twentieth century, many of whom had regarded themselves as civilized, were any better than their savage ancestors of ten thousand years ago.

Yet, oddly enough, World War II has developed a reputation in this country as “the Good War” — an unfortunate turn of phrase, if ever there was one.

Read the rest

Rethinking the Good War (Laurence Vance)

On this, the 70th anniversary of Germany' invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II, Laurence Vance has published an excellent essay on why the "Good War" was actually "...the most destructive thing to life, liberty, and property that the world has ever seen":

"Rarely in history has a war seemed so just to so many." ~ Michael Bess

"Participation in the war against Hitler remains almost wholly sacrosanct, nearly in the realm of theology." ~ Bruce Russett

On September 1, 1939 – 70 years ago – Germany attacked Poland and officially began World War II. Although over 50 million people died in the war – including 405,000 Americans – it is considered to be the Good War. The fact that most of deaths were on the Allied side (the "good" side), the majority of those killed were civilians, hundreds of millions were wounded – including 671,000 Americans – and/or made refugees, homeless, widows, or orphans, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of property was destroyed, hundreds of billions of dollars more were wasted on armaments, and untold millions underwent an incomprehensible amount of suffering, misery, and loss doesn’t seem to matter either. World War II is still universally recognized as the Good War.

How is it possible to make such a description of such carnage on a grand scale?

As John V. Denson explains in his essay "Franklin D. Roosevelt and the First Shot" in his book A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt:

Part of the mythology that surrounds this war is that it was the "last good war." It was a "just" war because it was defensive. Despite President Roosevelt’s supreme efforts to keep America neutral regarding controversies in Europe and Asia, the Japanese launched an unprovoked surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, thereby "forcing" America into the fray. It was also a "noble" war because America fought evil tyrannies known as Nazism in Germany and fascism in Italy and Japan.

From the American point of view, World War II is basically considered to be the Good War for two reasons: Pearl Harbor and Hitler.

But setting aside for a moment the facts of Roosevelt’s duplicity and culpability, as well as the U.S. provocation of Japan: Was it necessary for 405,000 American soldiers to die to avenge the 2,400 (1,177 were from one ship, the USS Arizona) who were killed at Pearl Harbor? Was it moral to incinerate hundreds of thousands of civilians in Japanese cities because Japan bombed the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, a military target? And setting aside for another moment the folly of U.S. intervention in World War I, which prevented a dictated peace settlement and paved the way for the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles, thus facilitating the rise of Hitler: Was it necessary that tens of millions were slaughtered to prevent Hitler from slaughtering millions? Was it wise to join forces with a brutal dictator like Stalin, who had already killed millions, with the result that he enslaved half of Europe under communism?

It is time to rethink the Good War.

Read the rest or buy the booklet.