Friday, June 29, 2012

Peter Schiff On Obamacare Ruling

And how SCOTUS was wrong again.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

HOT: SCOTUS Upholds Obamacare

SCOTUS live blog:
"The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read."
Apparently Chief Justice John G. Roberts sided with the 'left' of the court, "saving ACA [Obamacare]".

Like I said yesterday, this is a loss, but keep in perspective it's not the end of the world; only a continuation of the status quo. Healthcare is still a wreck that's getting worse with time, and the Constitution is once again interpreted by the federal government to not limit the federal government.

Lack of Omniscience is a Reason to Support Free Markets

In a great article on education published at today, author David Greenwald includes an insightful point about knowing exactly how the free market would work in any particular area, as skeptics and critics often demand to know. End government intervention in healthcare? Exactly how does the market do healthcare? No government education? What specifically is it replaced with?

However, their questions are actually a case against the central planning they support!
We do not have space here to speculate on all the optimizing innovations creative entrepreneurs might come up with, and to do so would be presumptuous in any case. As John Hasnas has pointed out, if we could forecast the future market accurately, our very ability to do this would be the greatest possible justification for central planning.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Not All Federal Reserve Opponents Are Equal

Beware of Greenbackers! Though they are fellow opponents of the current, corrupt banking system, their ideas are not the solution and are anti-liberty. Bob Murphy explains that fiat currency, not who controls fiat currency, is the real problem.

Thoughts Before the Healthcare Ruling

Tomorrow morning, the United States Supreme Court will issue its much anticipated ruling on Obamacare. One of three outcomes are likely:
  1. Obamacare is upheld
  2. The mandate (and perhaps a few other items) are struck down
  3. Obamacare is struck down
The second outcome, a partial strike-down, is widely expected. If the court actually followed the Constitution's original meaning, rather than something invented since 1789, Obamacare would not survive at all.

Any strike-down will be a win, but only a very small win in the fight for liberty. Though the ruling is bound to leave healthcare a mess, at least the idea that the federal government does not have unlimited power might gain more traction. On the other hand, it could hasten the advent of a Medicare-for-all option, which would be another disaster, of course.

Unfortunately, the Republicans are not even trying to do what's right, other than complain about Obamacare and government intervention. Talk is cheap. Where is the republican leadership pushing proposals to bring us closer to free markets in healthcare, the only sensible solution? Crickets. Where are the republican voters? That's right, busy re-electing the same old politicians.

Both parties are very invested in the incredibly powerful medical industrial complex, which wants the millions of regulations, the tax subsidy for insurance, state license requirements that restricts the supply of doctors, etc. All of this government interventionism is the problem, driving up costs, making access difficult, slowing innovation, straining the doctor patient relationship, and causing the long waits for medical treatment.

It's important to keep in mind SCOTUS will not be fixing any of that on Thursday. Nevertheless, a good ruling is good news, a tiny step in the right direction healthcare-wise, a slightly larger step Constitution-wise, but only the beginning of our battle. Conversely, a bad ruling is bad news, but not the end of the world; it would only be a continuation of the status quo.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Republicans and Democrats are (Still) Delusional

File under: old news.

A recent poll shows Republicans and Democrats still live in a fantasy world where there are no fiscal restraints, where socialism is a good idea, the Constitution means nothing, etc. Of particular significance, as Matthew Yglesias points out, is the Republicans. They are the ones supposedly for free markets, less government, fiscal conservatism, etc. If they claim to know better, and support the right ideas, we should hold them even more responsible for being so irresponsible.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another Economic Decline Ahead?

The roller coaster economy, after taking a bit of an upturn this year, appears ready for another dive. EPJ reports on the latest from the Federal Reserve:
Fed Will Not Add Reserves 
Instead, the Bernanke bunch will continue "Operation Twist", a looney program that results in the Fed buying long term Treasury securities, while simultaneously selling short-term securities. 
Given that money supply (M2) has already been trending lower, the likelihood of another major crash in the manipulated stock market and economy has increased substantially. Such a crash will, of course, be a major problem for President Obama in his election bid. 
The full Fed statement is here.
EPJ, or rather it's publisher Robert Wenzel, combines the insights of Austrian school economics and financial expertise, which has resulted in amazingly accurate predictions of where the economy is headed. For the record, Wenzel called the financial crisis of 2008 on his blog, as well as the "recovery" we had back in the winter and spring.

Unless Bernanke increases the money supply soon, Obama may be a one term President. Unfortunately, Romney is the next Obama, so we are screwed either way.

Once again, note the Fed's plan to keep interest rates at zero through late 2014. I'm amazed at how few recognize the significance of this.

Rand Paul Blasts Mitt Romney

For his reckless statement on Presidential war powers:
...I must oppose the most recent statements made by Mitt Romney in which he says he, as president, could take us to war unilaterally with Iran, without any approval from Congress. His exact words were:
I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now.
This is a misreading of the role of the president and Congress in declaring war.
The Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president. The War Powers Act also clearly states that U.S. forces are to engage in hostilities only if the circumstances are “pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” 
Absent these criteria, the president has no authority to declare war. 
Even if the president believes he has such authority, the War Powers Act goes on to require the president to seek congressional approval within 60 days of conflict. 
No president is above the law or above the Constitution. 
Our Founding Fathers were quite concerned about giving the power to declare war to the executive. They were quite concerned that the executive could rule like a king.
Before sending our young men and women into combat, we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications, the authorization, and the motives of the war. James Madison wrote that the Constitution supposes what history demonstrates, that the executive is the branch most interested in war and most prone to it. The Constitution, therefore, with studied care vested that power in the legislature. 
I will hold accountable and oppose any actions from any president, Republican or Democrat, if he declares war without congressional consent.
High five for Rand.

And, Mitt, seriously? Obama could take your logic and say "I don’t believe at this stage that Obamacare is unconstitutional. The federal government has that capacity now."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Fake Equal Pay Crisis

Democrats still claim that there's a major wage gap between men and women. Women only make 77% of what men do! But no worries, Democrats are trying to come to the rescue again, this time with the "Paycheck Fairness Act".

Unfortunately for them, the statistic they use is very misleading. Julie Borowski explains:
Women do earn less than men, on average. But here’s what Harry Reid doesn’t say—the oft-cited U.S. Department of Labor’s wage gap statistic only compares the median wage of a full-time working woman with the median wage of a full-time working man. 
There are numerous factors that affect a person’s pay such as education, years of experience, and the working condition. The Department of Labor’s statistic neglects to hold these variables constant in their statistical study. It does not compare apples to apples. 
The PFA is based on the fallacy that the disparity between wages for men and women is based solely on discrimination. But even the same government department that conducts the annual gender wage study finds that claim false. The Department of Labor wrote in a 2009 report that:
“This study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.
The pay gap does not exist because of gender discrimination but individual choices made by women. Women and men tend to gravitate towards different college majors. Women dominate lower-paying majors such as education, English, and psychology. Men are more likely to choose high-paying majors such as engineering and computer science. This signals that men and women tend to have different interests and values that cannot be controlled. 
 Click here to read the whole thing. It's well worth your time. She concludes:
"the PFA would hurt women by increasing the liability employers’ face when hiring them. The last thing we need is a law that makes employers hesitant about hiring women in this stalled economy."
For those who wish to see a video on this topic, see this for an excellent presentation by economist Steve Horowitz.

So there we have it. Another dishonest campaign for more government intervention and political power.

One final note: why is Mitt Romney, who is allegedly better on the economy, so gutless on this issue? Or is it ignorance? Or politics? There's no excuse for it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Is Steve Kornacki An Objective Political Analyst?

One of the many sources of news and commentary I frequent is the left-leaning Glenn Greenwald's excellent work there on civil liberties and war issues was the only reason I visited at first, but since then I've discovered Steve Kornacki's articles and have followed them for months. His impressive knowledge of political history and fairly objective analysis is very useful for anyone who wants to keep up with election news.

But here and there, more often these days, I'm spotting more political bias getting slipped in, and it's now hard to believe he does not favor the Democrats like most other Salon writers. Perhaps he was always like this, and I'm just now realizing it with the republican primaries all but over.

The problem is, bits of Kornacki's political agenda- quietly tucked between his objective reporting  and analysis- will go unnoticed for what it is and assumed to be just more objective reporting and analysis.

In today's column, Kornacki writes:
"The key point here is that Clinton was asking voters not just to give Obama two more years (they had no choice but to do that), but also to give Democrats two more years of congressional control, to allow the party to continue implementing its agenda. As you’re probably aware, voters ended up ignoring this plea and installing a Republican House, which has pretty much made it impossible for Obama and Democrats to do anything substantive to boost the economy these past two years – like, say, pass a jobs bill that economists widely agree would incease growth and cut unemployment." (my emphasis)
Bad Republicans! See what Kornacki did? First, he pretends that only Republicans, not also the Democrats, were too stubborn to compromise; and only the Democrat plans would substantially boost the economy. Secondly, he points us to mainstream economists... who, oops, with few exceptions, couldn't foresee the housing bubble and financial crash of 2008. (But they sure see what we need to do now!) Those who actually saw what was coming, many of whom- incidentally- find proposals like the 'jobs bill' harmful, are simply ignored.

Kornacki's May 22nd article on deficits is even worse:
The CliffsNotes version of what’s wrong with this: 1) There’s been no spending explosion under Obama; 2) the increase in debt under Obama can be traced to the economic crash (which dramatically reduced federal revenue), the wars, the Bush tax cuts (which, yes, Obama agreed to extend – at the insistence of Republicans), the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law, and only to a very minor extent the 2009 stimulus; and 3) the economy would actually be in better shape now if Obama had spent more.
Here we go again. The first item laughably attempts to paint Obama as a fiscal conservative; on the second, increasing debt could only be the fault of falling revenues, citizen, rather than lack of leadership in cutting spending, and note he goes out of the way to make sure Republicans- and not poor, helpless President Obama- is considered the cause for extending the Bush tax cuts; and the third item is just blatant progressive/Keynesian propaganda.

There's nothing wrong with Steve Kornacki writing political commentary- I do it all the time. But you have to watch out for political agendas, they are everywhere and often hard to spot if you're not paying attention. It would help readers if reporters and analysts like Kornacki explicitly disclosed their personal political views, so that readers understand the worldview that informs the inescapable biases of every author..

End Krugman's Nonsense Now

Book review by David Gordon, who by the way is one of the finest reviewers out there.

Don't miss Robert Wenzel's review from last month.

Non-Voters Have No Right to Complain? Hogwash!

We've all been told at one time or another, "if you don't vote, don't complain". This is wrong, and even backwards; it's nothing but more faulty statist propaganda. Here's three strikes against this misguided platitude:

  1. Everyone has a right to complain about anything the government does, regardless of voting. We're all paying taxes and being restricted and controlled and otherwise having our rights violated. Voting does not change this, therefore, voting is irrelevant to our right to complain.
  2. Those who do vote, especially for the major parties- that's nearly everyone- might actually have less right to complain. After all, if you play the game, you're consenting to the rules, right? You still have a right to complain (see above) but it seems like you have less grounds for doing so than if you either abstain from voting or cast protest votes.
  3. This assumes a non-voter's vote would have changed things. Look at the math: it never does. Look at the candidates, too: often they are not very different on major issues. So even if they had voted their reason to complain would be unchanged.
Note: This is nether an anti-voting nor a pro-voting post.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Domestic Drones Must Be Restricted

Thankfully, Rand Paul is working on that. If only Americans were roused by threats to the fourth amendment the way they are to the first and second.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rand Paul Interviewed by Peter Schiff: Endorsement Explained

Rand talks a lot about his political strategy. It's a good interview and confirms my opinion that he is still on our side.

Government NEVER Creates Jobs

Despite all the endless chatter about government creating jobs, in reality it does not ever create jobs. The government does not bring into existence more employment; it merely changes that employment to something more wasteful, by forcefully taking resources from us to employ someone for the government's purpose. Absent this, we would use the resources to employ that person. Sounds equivalent at a glance, but the difference is one of morality and waste. A third party (politicians and bureaucrats) cannot make choices for you better than you can for yourself. And violating property rights is immoral.

Congress Gets an Earful They Deserve

From Peter Schiff. Gotta love him.

The Congresscritters are a real pain to listen to with their constant spewing of statism and fantasy economics. They really deserved much more from Peter, the only one representing the taxpayers. But being a bit rude with the already confrontational message probably doesn't help, as much as it is needed. It's just not a good sign when the start bringing up decorum...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Responses to Rand Paul's Romney Endorsement

Rand Paul's endorsement of Romney remains the top story in the liberty movement:

Jack Hunter offers a case for Rand's decision. Hunter says it's to build Rand's political capital, and it sets him up to be an effective politician for our cause whether Romney or Obama wins. In a later posting Jack reminds us even Rothbard gave a "endorsement" of Bush in 1992.

Lew Rockwell's take is a bit different. He is not surprised by son being different than father, and suggests now is the end of using political office as a means for advancing our cause. He admits Ron Paul is an exception to the rule, though, which of course opens the possibility that others can be an exception, too. In fact, Justin Amash, already in Congress, probably is another exception and will be the most principled pro-liberty Congressman after Ron leaves.

Adam Kokesh slams Rand Paul as a statist and a sellout. And Alex Jones has also doubts Rand's move, and challenges Ron Paul. Robert Scott Bell and Tom Mullen talk about it here.

I think they've all made some good points. I am disappointed with the way the endorsement was done, but accept that some kind of endorsement is politically inevitable for Rand Paul's strategy. I'm just hoping that the worst case scenario- that of Rand Paul becoming "Washingtonized" isn't happening. So far, I don't think so.

Finally, see Barry Lyndon's excellent article. I couldn't have said it better:
Rand Paul will become a sellout if --and only if -- he changes his senate voting habits away from libertarian values. I will be watching him very closely to see if this happens. If he starts “blowing in the wind,” I will certainly eat my words. But if I’m right, that Paul is simply being prudent in the pursuit of libertarian goals, then I hope Paulites everywhere will join me in giving full support to his future endeavors.
To be 90% right and in office is more use to the cause of liberty than to be 100% right and sit on the sidelines.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rand Paul is Still On Our Side, Despite the Romney Endorsement

A lot of people in the liberty movement are disappointed if not disgusted with Senator Rand Paul's recent endorsement of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and I share the sentiment. However, it's not time to completely disown him as the latest sell out to the cause of liberty, at least for now.

Ron Paul's purity to the message of liberty has spoiled us. That he has been able to maintain this integrity and consistency while becoming as influential as he has is amazing, inspiring, and encouraging. It's a strategy for liberty that yields little in the short run in exchange for much in the long run.

However, this is not the only way to advance our cause. You can play ball with your opponents, compromise, and change the outcome in your direction. That has been Rand Paul's strategy from the beginning. As long as he advances our ideas and uses his power to hold back the advance of statism, he's on our side, and we should be supportive of him to the degree he supports liberty. So far, he has been decent, fighting to reduce regulations, promoting some fiscal sanity, opposing the PATRIOT Act and the Lybian war, and calling for ending the Iraq war, to name a few highlights of his one and a half years in office.

No matter how ugly the politics, Rand Paul is still advancing our cause, in the Senate. Voice your disgust to him, but keep the big picture in mind and don't disown him completely. And from now on, don't think Rand Paul is the next Ron Paul. He's his own man.

Dan McCarthy has an excellent article in the American Conservative on this subject.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Liberty Policy Journal is the place to follow my political life. I'm one of the countless young people that have recently joined the liberty movement thanks particularly to Ron Paul. I'm author of the Striking at the Root blog, where I occasionally post lengthy articles making the case for liberty.

Since S@tR is limited to serious essays, this blog's purpose is to share briefer and more frequent bits of news and thoughts on politics. It's inspired primarily by Lew Rockwell's Political Theater, and Robert Wenzel's Economic Policy Journal. I hope someday this blog will be as enlightening and entertaining as theirs.

If the traffic justifies the expense, I'll upgrade this site to it's own domain name. I need your help to get this off the ground. Please subscribe, post comments, give feedback, and share!