Thursday, July 26, 2012

Democrats Work for the 1%

Democrats like to portray themselves as being for the "99%" while painting Republicans as being for the "1%". In reality both parties primarily work for the elite; however, yesterday, the Republicans acted in the interest of the people while a majority of House Democrats did the opposite.

Glenn Greenwald has a great piece "Protectors of Wall Street" out this morning. Here's the portion on auditing the fed:
If you believe the Federal Reserve has done a fine job of managing monetary policy and trust it to continue to exert vast power with no accountability or transparency, then you are probably content with the status quo. But yesterday, “a powerful left-right coalition” in the House of Representatives — defying the Fed as well as a likely White House veto — voted overwhelmingly to enact Rep. Ron Paul’s bill to subject the Fed’s monetary policy to audits by the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan and independent congressional agency. As Dennis Kucinich, one of 89 Democrats to vote for the bill, put it: “It’s time that we stood up to the Federal Reserve that right now acts like some kind of high, exalted priesthood, unaccountable to democracy.” 
Despite the large bipartisan House majority in favor of the bill, it is almost certain, as Reuters put it, “to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate.” That’s because “Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, at one time expressed support for an audit — though he reportedly has changed his mind.” Indeed, despite substantial Democratic support for the bill (including some from the progressive wing, such as Kucinich, Jerry Nadler and Raul Grijalva), “every top Democratic leader [in the House] voted against the bill, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.” As former Alan Grayson aide Matt Stoller documented yesterday, Democratic leaders did not merely oppose the bill but actively whipped against it, meaning they sought to pressure caucus members to stay in line and oppose it; but as he observes: “The Democratic leaders, despite whipping, barely got a majority of the caucus to vote no. This is a massive failure on their part, and shows how weak they are.” 
It was this same left-right coalition, led by Paul and joined by liberal Democrats such as Alan Grayson, that succeeded in enacting an Audit the Fed bill back in 2010. Even though that 2010 bill was substantially weakened by the same forces that oppose the bill now — the Fed, the White House, and party leadership — that audit, once completed, “revealed 16 trillion dollars in secret bank bailouts and has raised more questions about the quasi-private agency’s opaque operations” and independently showed that the Fed ignored rules to aid the largest banks. Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose watered-down Audit the Fed amendment is what passed in the Senate in 2010, said this about the audit revelations:
The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. . . . “As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”
The argument has always been that the Fed must be able to act with independence and secrecy and that transparency would undermine its credibility and lead to political interference in monetary policy; especially now, the ostensible concern is that Republicans will impede necessary measures. But as Stoller points out, none of the parade of horribles about which the Fed warned resulted from the 2010 audit, and more to the point, the Fed — prime enablers of banks, crony capitalism and oligarchy — has proven that it deserves neither the trust nor the credibility which it had previously commanded. It’s remarkable to watch the Democratic Party become its most devoted defenders. As Stoller said about yesterday’s vote: “It’s so tiresome to see the Democratic leadership take the side of Wall Street, over and over and over.”
 Needless to say the Republicans are essentially as bad as the Democrats in general. But it's a myth that they work for the elite more than the Democrats.

Tyranny in Chicago

So the President of Chick-fil-A says something someone doesn't like. And this is grounds for a Chicago politician to prevent Chick-fil-A from building a new restaurant? And this thug has support from Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

This is an outrageous violation of property rights. What happened to free speech? There have been calls for a Chick-fil-A appreciation day on August 1st for those who support Dan Cathy's statements. Liberty supporters should join them, even if they differ with Cathy's views on marriage.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald, again, has weighed in on the issue. This is why I respect him; when he defends freedom, he does so thoroughly and consistently. In this case, he is gay himself yet defends Chick-fil-A against tyranny and hypocrisy from certain "left-wing " factions.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Campaign Finance Reform is Another Distraction

If only we could separate money from politics, all would be well, we are told.

No, all would not be well. Separate money and you still have a problem: politics, the state and its allegedly legitimate power to do things the rest of us can't do. Of course, it's rather Utopian to think we can prevent such power from being bought off by the highest bidders. If the government is already bought off by the highest bidders now, as many believe, it would be foolish to expect it to make any reforms that restrict "big money". But let's grant that unlikely success for the sake of argument.

The state would still be a parasite, a violator of our rights, a destroyer of prosperity, and a machine to benefit some at the expense of many. The state is inherently less efficient- i.e. more wasteful- than the market, as Ludwig von Mises irrefutably demonstrated almost 100 years ago in the debate about economic calculation.

Since politics is the problem, "campaign finance reform" is a distraction from the real goal of shrinking the government. Even if one could improve the campaign finance laws in a way that helps the ultimate goal, what is the opportunity cost? Once people recognize the evils of all types of central planning and statism, and stop supporting it, politicians, their campaigns, and their financing will fade away as unimportant.

If there are to be reform efforts, the only worthwhile type seems to be repealing campaign finance laws, which do nothing but further violate our rights. The problem is not money in politics, but politics itself. Let's not take our eyes off the ball.

Monday, July 23, 2012

David Frum Wants You To Get Rid of Your Guns

We all know most Republicans- particularly the establishment, politically connected Republicans- are fake friends of freedom. But some are worse than others. David Frum, a former Bush speech writer, is a prime example. This guy belongs in the Democrat party.

Today he writes in a CNN op-ed "Fear drives opposition to gun control" (a troublesome title already),
The more terrifyingly criminal the world looks, the more ineffective law enforcement seems, the more Americans demand the right to deadly weapons with which to defend themselves. It is local TV programming directors, not the National Rifle Association, who are tirelessly persuading Americans that they need to strap a gun to their legs before heading to the mall. 
And what will change those attitudes is not more atrocity stories, but instead the reassuring truth: The United States is safe and getting safer, safer than ever before in its history. 
The police can protect you, and will, and do. And a gun in the house is not a guarantee of personal security -- it is instead a standing invitation to family tragedy. The cold dead hands from which they pry the gun are very unlikely to be the hands of a heroic minuteman defending home and hearth against intruders. They are much more likely to be the hands of a troubled adolescent or a clumsy child. 
In the land of the Second Amendment, nobody will take your guns away. But if you love your children, you should get rid of them voluntarily.
Everything is fine. Trust the Government for protection. You might hurt yourself. Your rights are not in danger. Now please disarm.

No, Frum, if you love your children, you will be a responsible gun owner, and teach them to be as well. And remember that saying, "when seconds count, the police are minutes away".

Gun control is basically nonsense. People who commit real crimes are going to ignore gun restrictions and bans, and will always find a way to get a gun if they want one. Guns can't be un-invented. Meanwhile, good people will be disarmed, which can only embolden criminals further.

While a lot more could be said against gun control, the argument should be irrefutably settled by the moral question. Provided that you don't violate the equal rights of others, you have the right to do anything with your property that you want. That includes producing gun, trading guns, using guns, and deciding whether to allow guns on your property.  Statists like David Frum are free to not own guns, but he is not free to have the government, via "gun control", restrict or prevent others from owning guns.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Obamney Politics

I was playing around with Go Animate today. Here's what I made. Probably could have been improved further but I had already spent enough time on it. Notice the description in You Tube includes references to back up things said about Romney and Obama.

Government Regulations Screw the Little Guy, Episode 4761

You know all those new banking regulations, which are supposed to protect us, right? They actually are not. I'm personally getting screwed by them. My bank is now charging a crazy fee for a simple checking account. I don't really blame the bank, though. I blame the government and all the interventionist ideology in America. You've violated my rights. It's despicable.

Huffington Post ran an article in 2010 on the disappearing of free checking. The cause?
It's happening because a raft of new laws enacted in the past year, including the financial overhaul package, have led to an acute shrinking of revenue for the banks. So they are scraping together money however they can.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Risk for Stock Market Crash, Stagflation Increasing

Robert Wenzel, as mentioned previously, should be given careful attention when he posts on money supply and the short term outlook for the economy. His latest posts (my emphasis):

Is Stagflation Around the Corner? Core Inflation Climbs 
Yikes, how are the Fed apologists going to deal with this. Their favorite price inflation measure, the core index, is climbing. 
Core inflation rose at a 2.4% annual rate in June. The past year, apparel prices rose 3.9%, medical care +4.3% and the food index rose 2.7%. 
The energy index fell 1.4%. 
What's going on is that the latest slowdown in Bernanke money printing (M2 annualized money growth is around 4%) has pushed oil prices lower. It is also causing a slowdown in the overall economy and stock market. BUT, the previous money printing, which entered the capital goods sector is now moving into the consumer goods sector, that's why you are seeing apparel, medical care and food prices climbing. 
If Bernanke keeps slowed money growth into the election, we will be facing stagflation, with a possible stock market crash.
Citigroup's Surprise Index Heading South 
For the last few weeks, money supply (M2) growth has been slowing substantially. Economic numbers are getting weaker as is the stock market. 
Last Friday, Citigroup’s Economic Surprise Index was at -64. It’s in crash dive mode. Analysts are coming in with much too optimistic numbers. Last time it was this low was about a year ago. It’s slightly below 2010’s lowest reading (It's the red line in the chart below).

Since most economic analysts simply forecast, as the trend, what they have seen over recent months, they miss the inflection points. In 2011, they missed the upward economic activity that resulted from the aggressive money printing at that time.  Now that Bernanke has slowed money growth, they are missing the new downturn developing. If Bernanke does not start accelerating money supply growth very soon, we are headed for a major economic and stock market crash. You heard it here first. The Surprise Index shows that most economists are too bullish and don't have any idea of the dangers ahead. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Question for Term Limits Opponents: Double Standards?

In 1951, the 22nd amendment was added to the Constitution, putting term limits on the Presidency. Since then, there has been some debate about adding term limits for Congress. Personally, I don't get involved in the debate, since I find it a distraction from the real problem of state power.

However, I have a question for opponents of term limits: do you also oppose the 22nd amendment? I don't see how one could consistently oppose term limits without opposing Amendment 22.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

George Reisman's Open Letter to Warren Buffett

Quite an interesting and long read. I'm going to have to go through this letter more carefully at another time; there's a lot in it. One thing stood out:
In the ABC news report, your secretary is quoted as saying, “Everybody in our office is paying a higher tax rate than Warren.” If one ignores the failure to include payments of corporate taxes on your behalf, that’s true. But even if that were a legitimate calculation, which it isn’t, so what? What is the percentage of their income that your secretary and everyone else in your office pays for anything, from a pound of apples to a pound of zinc, compared to the percentage of your income that you must pay? Isn’t it typically higher, to the precise extent that your income is higher? Do you want an arrangement in which everyone pays the same percentage of his income for everything? Is that your concept of fairness? That would be a system of perfect egalitarianism, in which everyone was perfectly equal in terms of buying power to everyone else. I’m sure that the truth is that if you ever had an experience in which your secretary was charged $5 for something that you were charged $35,000 for, you’d consider it a case of very serious “mispricing” and wouldn’t accept it for an instant. Why are you ready to accept it in the case of taxation? A considerable part of the taxes paid by your secretary and other employees is for social security and Medicare. You have no need of either. Why should you be compelled not only to pay for both but to pay thousands of times as much for them as your employees pay? 
The fact that normally you pay a lower percentage of your higher income for everything that both you and your employees buy is precisely what allows you to buy more than them; it’s what leaves over the funds required to buy your private jet and all the additional securities and other investments you add to your holdings. Surely, you accept this. You’re not a communist, are you? (emphasis mine)

Warren Buffet is a shill for the establishment and his propaganda needs to be taken down. Reisman's post hits most of the main points, though I wish he would have gone into more detail on the underlined portion- as Peter Schiff has done on his radio show.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Can Obama Take Credit for Stopping Job Losses?

Many Democrats like to credit Barack Obama for stopping the massive job losses of 2008-09 and creating new jobs. did so here. They posted this chart:

Despite the convenient chart, it's completely unreasonable to give so much credit to Obama. The economy was not capable of continued job losses at those rates. Should Bush have served a third term, the above chart wouldn't look much different.

Additionally, Presidents simply don't have as much power as they are credited with. Just like their influence on oil prices are minimal, so are their influences on job numbers. It's actually the Federal Reserve and Congress that has more influence with the policies they set.

The real question about Barack Obama is whether he supported or opposed certain policies and how they affected employment. And the bottom line is that he, as most other politicians would have, made the problem worse. The "recovery" seen above is abysmal. The right policies would have unemployment rates at record lows already. And those policies are pretty much the opposite of what everyone in Washington advocates, Obama included.

Those policies are: reducing government interventions, i.e. free markets. The 1920 Depression is quite an impressive (though not perfect) example of that approach put in practice.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Question for Republicans, Conservatives, et. al.

Many of you are unhappy with Mitt Romney and have resisted him in some way during the nomination process. But, you think he's the lesser of the two evils, and will vote for him over Barack Obama. Now, let's suppose Romney wins.

Are we stuck with this guy for eight years? Even if he is to be a one term president, the GOP is very likely to re-nominate him. What are your plans, will you seek out a challenger in 2016? You may say yes now, but won't you be persuaded by the argument that a primary challenge to the incumbent in 2016 weakens the party and might help Democrats win?

So, are we stuck with this guy for eight years? Forget about the Democrats for a moment and think of the long term consequences for conservatism, the Constitution, the economy, liberty, everything. Mitt Romney, with your support, will be the face of your values and ideas, even if he doesn't put them into practice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is the Free Market a Nonexistent Fantasy?

The market is not "free" in pretty much every economic sector around the globe. Interventionism by government of one sort or another thoroughly dominates (obviously, this says nothing about the merits of government interventionism; slavery was once a dominant institution as well, but it was wrong on both utilitarian and moral grounds, and, happily, has been almost entirely eradicated).

Does this mean the free market is non-existent, some Utopian, impossible goal? Of course not. The market exists in the real world, but trampled upon and beaten down by violations of property rights. The largest offender by far is the state. To the degree property rights are upheld, the market functions and accomplishes amazing things (See "I Pencil" by Leonard Read, where the author unveils the wonders of what seems to be one of the most trivial things: the production of a pencil).

To the degree private property rights are not upheld, the market is hampered, and the intended and unintended consequences of interventionism by the government wreaks havoc. Unfortunately, interventionist ideologues blame these problems on the market and call for more interventionism. This process continues endlessly. It reaches a point where no one understands what the market is or how it works, and many dismiss the notion of free markets as a fantasy. That's where we are today.

Yet, the market is still there. Trammeled, but not completely, and to the degree it isn't, working wonders, and waiting for people to wake up and take the burdens of interventionism off its back. Why haven't we done this? The people are ignorant, and the rent-seekers- rich, poor, and middle class- are busy trying "to live at the expense of everyone else", as Bastiat put it.

This is the task of the liberty movement: changing the ideology of the people. It is the only thing standing between us and the free market. And there are reasons to be optimistic that the next generation is going to be less hostile to the market.

We're Making Progress

The Ron Paul 2012 campaign is essentially over. Two Obamas are left to fight over the White House and the media's attention. Now is the time we might feel most discouraged, especially those of us who got on board only recently. I've been hoping for some leaders in the movement to put liberty's progress in perspective for us. Jack Hunter's recent video attempts to do just that:

Monday, July 9, 2012

RomneyCare vs. ObamaCare: The 2012 Presidential Race is a Joke

In this two minute video from 2006, Mitt Romney advocates the Massachusetts healthcare mandate. Now, in 2012, Romney has made clear his opposition to a national mandate which is part of Obamacare. He resorts to the tenth amendment to defend his position, which is a correct argument. However, Romney seems to think this is somehow the only federal program that should be struck down on tenth amendment grounds, a laughable and transparent act of political posturing. Could Republicans have possibly picked a worse candidate on healthcare, the Constitution, (and most everything else)?

And this is the guy who's gonna repeal Obamacare. Yeah, sure. I'll believe it when I see it.

Oh wait, he also wants to "replace" it. With what, RomneyCare II? We will go through all of that work to get something that's maybe 20% better? That's our strategy- seriously? I call Mitt the Republican Obama for reason. Let's face it: the 2012 Presidential election was lost months ago, and one of the two losers left will win. Focusing on other races or political efforts- like education- are much more productive to the cause of liberty.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Don't Advocate Gradualism

I came across an old article by Sheldon Richmond today. Here's an excerpt from the ending, on gradualism:
While we should advocate quick abolition of intervention, abolition all at once is unlikely to happen. (Although we can hope, can’t we?) But while liberalization is likely to be gradual, it doesn’t follow that we should advocate gradualism. As the great anti-slavery activist William Lloyd Garrison understood, “Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.”
Advocates of liberty are often afraid to push the whole message. We water it down before we even bring our demands to the table. We may be afraid of being seen as extreme, or it could be ignorance holding us back. Fear and ignorance are not a recipe for success. No wonder we are always loosing the war even if we win a battle here and there.

Working to bring more people to our ranks is imperative for ultimate victory, and a practical tool for that is the political process. But teaching the concepts of liberty, however the method, must follow learning. With the Ron Paul presidential campaign over, it seems to be time for all of us newcomers to focus more on educating ourselves*. Tom Wood's Liberty Classroom or his free resource page on Austrian Economics is a nice place to start.

For me, it's back to the books, and less commenting on political forums- which has yielded little if any fruit at a great cost of time. I'm tired of not giving statism the smack-down it deserves.

*This doesn't mean abandon everything for education; just shift more focus towards it.