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Putchists in the Shadow of the Coronavirus, by Thierry Meyssan

Posted by M. C. on April 2, 2020

While the public’s eyes are riveted on the progression of coronavirus numbers, a profound reorganization of the executive is taking place, giving primacy to senior health officials over policy. In the shadows, bankers and soldiers are agitating in the hope of confiscating power for their own benefit.

https://www.voltairenet.org/article209572.html

by Thierry Meyssan

The primacy of administrative logic over political logic

Many governments in industrialized countries decided to respond to the Covid-19 epidemic by confining their populations. This strategy does not stem from medicine, which has never practised isolation of healthy people, but from good management of medical resources to prevent a massive influx of sick people so as not to clog hospitals. Few industrialized countries, such as Sweden, have rejected this administrative approach to the epidemic. They have opted for a medical approach and therefore do not practise generalised containment.

The first lesson of the current period is therefore that in developed countries, administrative logic is now superior to medical experience.

Yet even without medical expertise, I have no doubt that millennia of medical experience can be more effective against a disease than bureaucratic recipes. Incidentally, if we continue to observe the current phenomenon, we can see that, at the moment, Sweden has 10 deaths per million inhabitants, while Italy mourns 166 per million. Of course, this is only the beginning of the epidemic and these two countries are very different. However, Italy will probably have to deal with a second and then a third wave of infection, while Sweden will have acquired group immunity and will be protected from it.

The primacy of senior health officials over the elected representatives of the people

This being said, the widespread containment of capital goods not only disrupts the economy, but also modes of government. Almost everywhere, we see the word of politicians fading in the face of that of senior health officials, who are supposed to be more effective than they are. This makes sense because the decision to contain is purely administrative. We have collectively agreed to fight for our hospitals and to prevent disease, not to fight it.

Unfortunately, everyone can see that, contrary to appearances, we have not become more efficient. For example, the Member States of the European Union have not been able to provide the necessary medical equipment and medicines in good time. This is the fault of the usual rules. For example: economic globalisation has resulted in there being only one manufacturer of artificial respirators, and it is Chinese. Tendering procedures take several months before they are available, and policies are no longer in place to override these procedures. Only the United States has been able to solve this problem immediately through company requisitions.

France, which during the Second World War, under Philippe Pétain, experienced an administrative dictatorship known as the “French State”, has already experienced a political takeover by senior civil servants over the past three decades. We then spoke of ENArchie. Identically and without her being aware of it, she deprived politicians of the knowledge of the administration that the accumulation of local and national mandates conferred on them. From now on, elected officials are less well informed than senior civil servants and have all the trouble in the world to control them.

Just as senior health officials suddenly find themselves vested with an authority that does not normally belong to them, so bankers and the military aspire to the same promotion at the expense of politicians.

Bankers lurking in the shadows

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance), then British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, published an op-ed in the Financial Times [1] In it, he argues for using the fear of Covid-19 to achieve what failed during the financial crisis of 2008. At the time, he had failed to create a global financial government and had to settle for mere consultation with the G20. It would be possible today, he continued, to create a global health government. And to consider which powers should be associated with the permanent members of the Security Council.

There is no reason to believe that this global government would be more successful than national governments. The only thing that is certain is that it would escape any form of democratic control.

This project is no more likely to succeed than that of the world financial government. Gordon Brown was also a staunch supporter of keeping the United Kingdom in the European Union. Again, he lost.

The deep US state lurks in the shadows

Historically, in all crises, attempts are made to use the argument of “urgency” to change Power without the public having time to think, and often this is successful.

On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared a “state of public health emergency of international concern”. The next day, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper secretly signed a Warning Order stating that NorthCom was to stand ready for possible application of the new “Continuity of Government” rules.

These rules are classified Above-Top Secret, meaning that communication is restricted to persons with the highest level of clearance and with a Special Access Program (SAP).

It should be remembered that the principle of “continuity of government” was forged at the beginning of the Cold War. It was designed to protect the United States in the event of a nuclear war against the Soviet Union and the death or incapacity of the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives. According to a written directive from President Dwight Eisenhower, a replacement military government was to provide immediate continuity of command during the war until democratic procedures were restored [2].

This replacement government was never requested, except on September 11, 2001, by the National Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Richard Clarke [3] However, if the country was undergoing a terrible attack, neither the President, the Vice-President nor the Speaker of the House of Representatives had died or been prevented from doing so, which led me to conclude that it was a coup d’état. In any case, President George Bush Jr. regained his prerogatives the same day in the evening and no explanation was ever given of what happened during the ten hours of suspension of his authority [4].

According to the best Pentagon expert, William Arkin, in Newsweek [5], there are now seven separate plans:
- Rescue & Evacuation of the Occupants of the Executive Mansion (RESEM) to protect the President, the Vice President and their families.
- Joint Emergency Evacuation Plan (JEEP) to protect the Secretary of Defense and key military leaders.
- Atlas Plan to protect members of Congress and the Supreme Court.
- Octagon, about which nothing is known.
- Freejack, also unknown.
- Zodiac, still unknown.
- Granite Shadow, which provides for the deployment of special units in Washington and stipulates the conditions for the use of force and the passage of places under military authority [6].

Note that RESEM is intended to protect the president and vice-president, but can only be applied once they are dead or incapacitated.

In any event, the implementation of these seven plans would be the responsibility of the United States Military Command for North America (NorthCom) under the responsibility of an illustrious unknown, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy.

It should be remembered that under US law, this man is required to become the dictator of the United States only in the event of the death or incapacity of the three principal elected officials of the federal state, but in practice, his predecessor, General Ralph Eberhart, has sometimes exercised this power without this condition being met. Eberhart, now 73 years old, is the head of the major US military avionics companies.

General O’Shaughnessy told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 13 that NorthCom was preparing for the worst. To this end, it liaises on a daily basis with the ten other US Central Commands for the World [7].

NorthCom has authority not only over the United States, but also over Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. Under international agreements, it can, on its own initiative, deploy US troops to these three countries.

In 2016, President Barack Obama signed the top-secret Presidential Policy Directive 40 on “National Continuity Policy”. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate signed Federal Continuity Directive 1 two days before President Donald Trump took office, specifying some of the details at lower levels.

They’ve thought of everything, and are prepared for the worst. The outbreak provides them with the motive to act. So the questions asked by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian about a possible deliberate release of the virus by the US military make sense.

Translation
Roger Lagassé

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The Newspeaking ‘Free’ Press – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 2, 2020

An age-old complaint about ultra-equality is that it always leaves some people more equal than everybody else.

Neither the Columbia Journalism Review, nor The Free Press, websites have comment sections. Many news media sites don’t but there is a difference in mid-demand to tap taxpayers. It’s just another sign of an intention to talk down to subjects who can’t talk back up.

John Lithgrow’s (as Roger Ailes) response is the punchiest line in the film: “That’s not bullying you moron. Bullying is when a more powerful person abuses a less powerful person. These assholes have cellphones, you’ve got a goddamn TV show.”

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/04/tim-hartnett/the-newspeaking-free-press/

By

The woman on the street can have a hard time understanding what some journalists think free speech is these days. Craig Aaron is the president and CEO of an organization known as “Free Press”. Visiting the “about” section on that website turns up this quote describing their mission statement:

“Free Press (501c3) and Free Press Action Fund (501c4) are two separate, autonomous and interrelated organizations. Both organizations are completely independent: We don’t take money from business, government or political parties and rely on the generosity of charitable foundations and individual donors to fuel our work.”

On March 24th, Mr. Aaron had an article published on The Columbia Journalism Review’s website, under the title, “Journalism Needs a Stimulus. Here’s What it Should Look Like”. Like Commodus in Gladiator, the reading public could be a little hazy, the two ideas don’t seem to jibe. Here’s a citation from Aaron’s article:

Free Press, the independent, nonprofit advocacy organization I lead, champions structural solutions to the news business’s dire financial problems. We’ve long campaigned for more federal and state support for public media, opposed media consolidation, and argued that journalism is too important to democracy to be left to the whims of the market.”

But, if not the “whims of the market,” what whims are we supposed to go by? It is possible not to see a contradiction going on. The specific organization known as Free Press doesn’t take government handouts, we are told, but that doesn’t mean news writers shouldn’t get them. So who, exactly, makes up this “free press,” that has to rely on public largesse to remain free? Aaron, along with a lot of fellow travelers, don’t know why anyone has a question here. Looking around the internet there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of people willing to tell us what they see going on around them in the world. Private online media giants have deplatformed many of them. That, kind of whimsically, deprives these sources of revenue in spite of “the market.” Readers who know their way around this turf probably figured out these are not the deserving mendicants Mssr. Aaron plugs for in the CJR piece, even if he hadn’t said so.

How does Aaron plan to decide who gets government checks? Who will be doing the qualifying?

“Any recovery package should include at least $2 billion over the next two years to fund newsroom jobs at commercial outlets committed to local coverage. These could be daily newspapers, community papers, or alt-weeklies (which are in bad trouble). The immediate priority is keeping outlets in business and workers on the payroll. Direct, emergency subsidies of say $25,000 per newsgathering position could make sure reporters everywhere stay on the local COVID beat. Just $625 million would help retain 25,000 newsroom jobs.

Over the next two years, as coverage of both the health and economic crises continues, Congress could offer deferred or no-interest business loans that could be repaid in the future. Another sensible approach could be through tax credits, in which the government picks up a significant part of the tab for newsroom staff wages through the end of 2021. An Emergency Jobs for Journalism Tax Credit could offer $40,000 per newsroom employee hired during the remainder of calendar year 2020; the tax credit would apply through the end of 2021.”

An age-old complaint about ultra-equality is that it always leaves some people more equal than everybody else. The most important part of free speech, I always thought, was giving everybody the same chance to be heard. If you pay certain people they end up with quite an edge in the game. That’s how we heard of Mencken, Hemingway, Pyle, Bly, Patterson, West, Crane and a lot of other writers. But their publisher’s had to be making money before these legends got checks.

The question is whether or not privileged classes are ordained by the first amendment? Anyone who’s delved into the subject lately knows some will answer a definite yes. It’s not hard to guess where they come from. A substantial number of people published in mainstream organs in recent years implicitly take the term “press” from the first amendment, in the phrase “or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” to mean an entitled class.   They openly oppose the idea of a machine, like a laptop, that anyone with access is free to use to widely disseminate ideas. Where does this leave the consumer? Paying people who fail in the marketplace of ideas with funds exacted from the public, while barring people who don’t, is an oddly new conception of freedom.

Neither the Columbia Journalism Review, nor The Free Press, websites have comment sections. Many news media sites don’t but there is a difference in mid-demand to tap taxpayers. It’s just another sign of an intention to talk down to subjects who can’t talk back up.

In the movie Bombshell Nicole Kidman, playing Gretchen Carlson, complains of being bullied on social media, it’s a whine that’s become all too common from people who want to be public figures without consequences. The audience needs to dummy up so that celebrity bliss goes untrammeled. John Lithgrow’s (as Roger Ailes) response is the punchiest line in the film: “That’s not bullying you moron. Bullying is when a more powerful person abuses a less powerful person.  These assholes have cellphones, you’ve got a goddamn TV show.”

The winners of Mr. Aaron’s competition do not necessarily get a TV show. They would get a voice, however low, to reach a broader audience that is not available to others. Who gets heard is a choice safely left in the hands of the listening market. The government already has an enormous army of spokespersons, websites and coercive angles to get their points across. A monologue fueled by entitled scolds on the public dole, to “inform” us all as they please, sounds like the pipe dream of Mephistopheles. It’s only slightly stunning how many sadists in the 4th Estate he’s got dreaming with him.

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True Generosity Involves Choice, Not Coercion – Foundation for Economic Education

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2020

But that’s not how they see it. They torture logic to justify why those they “care” about, often including themselves, deserve your money more than you do.

In his words, “moral considerations have no place except where liberty exists.” He demonstrated that while government coercion can create more “need,” it undermines charity. Further, he saw that coercion “justified” because it is deemed charitable by someone other than the one whose resources are used was a threat to liberty more broadly:

https://fee.org/articles/true-generosity-involves-choice-not-coercion/

When the tax filing deadline comes during a political campaign, it can be quite instructive. That is because many of those who are loudest in their insistence that other people must be taxed much more heavily to help others—that is, for charitable purposes—have their own charitable contributions revealed. And that can provide valuable insight into the credibility of their claims.

The reason is that, as Thomas Jefferson put it,

To take from one…to spare to others…is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association—the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.

But while that problem haunts government “charity” pursued at others’ expense, our individual charitable activities violate no such ethical rules. In fact, they strengthen our ethical muscles. And government has long encouraged them via itemized deductions in the tax code. Yet, if we are generous with others’ resources (even when it is against their will) but not with our own resources, it brings into question whether it is really assistance for others or power over others that motivates their positions.

So what did we learn about candidates’ charitableness? According to the Washington Post, for 2017 returns, Beto O’Rourke’s family donated one-third of 1 percent of its income to charity, Kamala Harris gave 1.4 percent (and none at all her first three years as California’s attorney general), Amy Klobuchar and Kristen Gillibrand each gave just under 2 percent, Bernie Sanders gave 3.4 percent (plus proceeds from a book), and Elizabeth Warren gave 5.5 percent. For people who advocate massive increases in what others will be forced to pay for government “charity,” that reveals a substantial amount of cognitive dissonance.

But that’s not how they see it. They torture logic to justify why those they “care” about, often including themselves, deserve your money more than you do. And they portray themselves as above such criticism because they “give” so much as critical cogs in advocating those (involuntary) transfers while asserting that opponents who object to proposed government tax and transfer “charity” are just selfish.

This issue means that Americans could benefit from revisiting the largely unknown “other side” to the coercive government charity argument. And few have provided that better than F.A. Harper, a Cornell University professor and member of the Mont Pelerin Society who helped start the Foundation for Economic Education, co-directed the William Volker Fund, and founded the Institute for Humane Studies. Consider an abbreviated version of what he wrote in Chapter 4 of his 1949 book, Liberty: A Path to Its Recovery, titled “Liberty and Charity.”

“One accusation above all others seems to have wide appeal…the charge that liberty means selfishness and a lack of the spirit of charity.”

“Is liberty…in conflict with charity? Is it proper to accuse one who asserts his right to the product of his own labor, together with rights to private property, of being uncharitable and totally self-seeking?”

“The right to the product of one’s own labor, and the associated right to keep it and to do with it as one may choose, is not in conflict with compassion and charity. Leaving these matters to voluntary action, rather than to apply compulsion, is in harmony rather than in conflict with Christian ethics…assistance given voluntarily and anonymously from the product of one’s own labor…is truly charity; that taken from another by force, on the other hand, is not charity at all, in spite of its use for avowed ‘charitable purposes.’ The virtue of compassion and charity cannot be sired by the vice of thievery.”

“’Political charity’ violates the essentials of charity…It is not anonymous; on the contrary, there is boasting about the process by the politician both in the form of campaign promises yet unfilled as well as by reminders during the term of office…to insure that the receiver of these fruits of ‘charity’ is kept mindful of an enduring obligation to the political agent. And the source of the giving is not from the pocket of the political giver himself…the wherewithal is taken by force from the pockets of others. And some of the amount collected is deducted for ‘costs of administering’ by the one who claims personal virtue in the process. All told, the process of ‘political charity’ is about as complete a violation of the requisites of charity as can be conceived.”

“Those who contend that the rights of liberty are in conflict with charity falsely assume that persons generally have a total disregard for the welfare of others …Evidence to the contrary is that the infant and the helpless members of the family, and other needy persons, do not ordinarily starve in a society where these rights prevail. The right to have income and private property means the right to control its disposition and use; it does not mean that the person himself must consume it all himself.”

“[There is also] the effect on compassion when welfare by force is attempted as a substitute for charity; when aid is no longer that of voluntary and anonymous donations from the product of one’s labor, for specific and known purposes.”

“Compassion is a purely personal thing. The body politic cannot have compassion. One cannot delegate compassion to a hired agent. Nor is compassion so cheap a virtue as to be practiced by the mere distributing of grants of aid taken from the pockets of others, rather than from one’s own pocket or from his own effort in production. A charity worker may be a kindly and lovable soul, but as far as compassion is concerned, he is only an employed person buying groceries and things for certain persons by using other people’s money.”

“When a taxpayer is forced to contribute to ‘charity’ in spite of his judgment of need, he will increasingly shun the sense of responsibility which is requisite to a spirit of compassion; he will lose compassion as he more and more accepts the viewpoint: ‘That is the government’s business!’”

“Advocacy of these rights of liberty is sometimes called ‘selfishness.’ ‘Self,’ if used in this sense, means the entire circle of the person’s family, friends, relatives, organizations—anything which this person considers worthy of help from his income or savings.”

“If ‘selfishness’ is to be charged against the one who demands the right to that which he has produced, selfishness of a far less virtuous order should also be charged against any non-producer who takes the income and wealth from another against his will.”

“If control of the disposition and use of income and wealth is to be called ‘selfishness,’ then it is unavoidable that someone act selfishly in the handling of everything produced. The question then becomes: Who should have the right to be selfish, the one who produced it or some other person? Is it selfishness to control the disposition of that which you have produced, but unselfish to control the disposition of that which you have taken from those who produced it?”

“For this argument to be accepted, one would have to hold that non-producers are better qualified than producers to judge the wise use of what is produced. He would have to hold that non-producers are somehow more virtuous than producers; that they have superior wisdom and conscience. He would have to hold that the taking away from the producer by force will not discourage him from production, since it is not possible to be charitable with something not produced.”

“If the members of the human race be so self-centered that they are judged to be unqualified to handle the use of what they have labored to produce, the advocates of ‘charity’ by force…must face an interesting question. How will it be possible to administer the program? Who can be found to operate a program of ‘wise charity,’ if that be true? If one could be found, by what respectable means could he be expected to gain his throne of power over all those supposedly self-centered dregs of humanity?…And finally, they should review carefully their starting assumption that justice and charity and selflessness can best be attained through giving legal or moral sanction to the taking by one person of the product of another’s labor by force. Whence comes the alleged superiority in the morals and wisdom of the taker–is it the result of his having engaged in the taking, or in gaining power over others, or from where? More reasonable is the assumption that proficiency in these respects is found in a person lacking in morals and wisdom.”

“Liberty is not in conflict with charity. More accurately, charity is possible and can reach large proportions only under liberty; and under liberty, ‘need’ for it would probably be greatly reduced.”

Currently, Americans are already more than knee-deep in campaigns that revolve in major part around proposals to massively scale up mandatory government “charity,” largely in search of the votes of intended beneficiaries. But seven decades ago, Harper answered the argument that charity required, or is even advanced by, such government coercion.

In his words, “moral considerations have no place except where liberty exists.” He demonstrated that while government coercion can create more “need,” it undermines charity. Further, he saw that coercion “justified” because it is deemed charitable by someone other than the one whose resources are used was a threat to liberty more broadly:

Liberty will be allowed in society only insofar as there is acceptance of the conduct of others…Tolerance in disagreement demands acceptance of separate domains within which a person is allowed to make his mistakes, if he does so with what is his rather than with what is yours. Private property within the economic arena of scarce and desired things operates to this end. Once these domains are accepted, then it becomes a prime moral right of a person “to do what I will with mine own” instead of to do what I will with your own.

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Preventing Liberty from Becoming a Coronavirus Fatality – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2020

Given the historical record of how previous emergencies spawned corrosive policies that continue to menace basic freedoms years or decades later, it is urgent to seek effective curbs on the growing abuses of power in the current crisis.

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/preventing-liberty-from-becoming-a-coronavirus-fatality/

by

Public attitudes about the coronavirus outbreak increasingly exhibit features of a collective panic. That development creates the danger that government measures designed to deal with a very real public health problem may lead to enormous collateral damage both to the economy and the freedoms that Americans take for granted.

Given the historical record of how previous emergencies spawned corrosive policies that continue to menace basic freedoms years or decades later, it is urgent to seek effective curbs on the growing abuses of power in the current crisis. We must resist being stampeded into endorsing whatever policies self-interested officials insist are necessary.
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Governments at all levels have taken ever more extreme (even outrageous) actions in an effort to stem the outbreak. The governors of New York, California, and other states have issued orders closing most private businesses and requiring residents not engaged in “essential” activities to remain in their homes.  Nevada’s governor greatly restricted doctors from prescribing an anti-malaria drug that Trump administration experts suggested held promise for treating coronavirus, because in the governor’s opinion, such prescriptions might lead to hoarding.  U.S. Justice Department officials secretly asked Congress to give the executive branch the authority to seek orders from federal judges to detain indefinitely any individual during the current emergency or any future one.

Although appalling, such attempted eviscerations of constitutional liberties should not be surprising.  Governments invariably exploit crises to expand their powers—often to a dangerous degree. That certainly has been the track record in the United States throughout our history.  Worse, a significant residue of expanded powers always persists after the crisis recedes and life supposedly returns to normal.

Most, but not all, of the abuses and unhealthy expansions of power have occurred during wartime. World War I led to statutes and executive orders that still haunt us more than a century later.  For example, various administrations have used the Espionage Act of 1917 to punish whistleblowers and intimidate investigative journalists. Barack Obama’s administration even waged a campaign to harass and intimidate journalists who published leaked material. Officials conducted electronic surveillance of both New York Times reporter James Risen and Fox News correspondent James Rosen in an effort to identify their sources.  The government named Rosen as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in an espionage case brought against his source.  The administration asserted that it had the right to prosecute Risen, even though it chose not to take that step.

Later presidents used other laws passed during World War I in ways the legislators who enacted them never contemplated.  For example, in August 1971 Richard Nixon declared a national emergency under the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 to impose import tariffs, close the gold window for international payments, and establish domestic wage and price controls.

World War II produced additional abuses and dangerous precedents. The most alarming example was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order putting Japanese Americans in “relocation centers” (concentration camps).  In an especially shameful ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of his action.  That decision is not just a matter of academic or historical interest.  Later administrations developed contingency plans along the lines of FDR’s infamous executive order.  In the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, suggestions surfaced that Muslim aliens (and even Muslim-American citizens) should be subjected to internment measures as part of the war on terror.

During the Korean War, President Harry Truman expanded the number and scope of executive orders, further enlarging the power of the presidency—a power surge that already had reached troubling levels under Woodrow Wilson and FDR.  Truman’s most flagrant initiative was his attempt to seize control of the nation’s steel mills as a wartime measure.  Fortunately, on that occasion the Supreme Court fulfilled its constitutional duty and struck down his dangerous executive power grab.

More recently, the policy responses to the 9-11 terrorist attacks included that 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), ostensibly to wage war against Al Qaida and its allies.  However, the AUMF became a veritable blank check for presidents to wage wars anytime, anywhere, for any reasons those presidents deemed appropriate.  Domestically, the response to 9-11 included the so-called Patriot Act and its legendary erosions of the 4th Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the weakening of other substantive and due process rights guaranteed in the Constitution.  That measure was a crucial building block in the growth of the current pervasive surveillance state.

Wars and other “national emergencies” produced an array of lesser, but still undesirable, expansions of governmental power and the narrowing of individual rights.  For example, the federal government’s response to the economic and financial dislocations of the Great Depression included Roosevelt’s executive order banning the private ownership of gold.  That annoying limitation continued until the mid-1970s.

The historical record also demonstrates that “temporary” measures enacted to deal with a specific crisis frequently prove to be anything but temporary.  One insidiously corrosive “temporary” change was the establishment of the withholding provision to the federal income tax during World War II.  That temporary measure is still with us, and the effect has been revolutionary.  Paying the tax in installments that show up as nothing more than an entry on an employee’s paycheck stub disguises the extent of the actual tax burden on that individual and reduces the emotional impact.

The fundamental lesson from these historical episodes is that Americans need to resist the casual expansion of arbitrary governmental power in response to the current coronavirus crisis.  New local and state governmental assaults on civil liberties came early and already are disturbingly plentiful. In early March, authorities around the United States ordered schools to close and ether prohibited large-scale public events or pressured the sponsors to take such action.  A growing number of jurisdictions soon went further. San Francisco ordered residents to “shelter in place,” barring them from engaging in any “nonessential” activity outside their own homes.  All of this occurred before California Governor Gavin Newsom and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo set a new, even more intrusive pattern by ordering statewide lockdowns.

Beyond the trampling of property rights and other crucial liberties, the coronavirus episode has led to worrisome erosions of the democratic political process.  Louisiana and Georgia were the first states to cancel primary elections, citing the danger of contagion among polling place crowds. Other states, including Ohio and Maryland, soon followed

Both the nature and scope of the expanding restrictions should alarm all defenders of liberty.  In mid-March, North Carolina went beyond shutting down individual enterprises or even types of businesses; authorities there placed most of the Outer Banks off limits to tourists and other outsiders.  Police established checkpoints to examine identifications and required special permits for access.  There is more than a small echo in that measure of the ubiquitous police or military checkpoints and “show your papers” demands that countries in the old Soviet bloc implemented, and various dictatorships around the world require today. It’s an ominous policy and image.

Sentiments in favor of comprehensive lockdowns to halt the spread of the virus reflect understandable emotions, but panic is always a poor basis for policy decisions.  The economic costs of such radical responses to the coronavirus outbreak are enormous, and the damage to basic liberties ultimately may prove even worse. Ugly, potentially dangerous precedents are being set left and right.  In virtually every case, officials imposed restrictions without any provisions for appeal—or even public comment. Worse, they did not seem to recognize any limits to their power with respect to a health crisis. The steps taken to date go far beyond the longstanding authority of local governments to impose quarantines on individuals or families diagnosed with certain highly contagious diseases.  Entire cities and states are now being put on similar lockdowns, even though the overwhelming majority of residents show no signs of coronavirus

Worries about expansive government diktats and precedents are especially warranted if the coronavirus outbreak is neither unique nor a crisis of short duration.  Originally, there was a pervasive assumption that the emergency would last only a few weeks, and then life in America (as well as other countries) would return to normal.  But in Trump’s March 16 press conference, both the president and his health policy advisers indicated that the outbreak might last until July or August.  Some experts in Britain fear that it could last until spring 2021.

That possibility creates some very serious concerns. There is no realistic way that a complex, inter-connected market economy can operate effectively for an extended period of time with a country—or even major portions of it–on lockdown.  A similar problem arises if the coronavirus does not prove to be a one-time visitor, but resembles influenza outbreaks that ebb and flow each year. In addition to the adverse economic consequences, forcibly cocooned populations will have every justification to become furious if arbitrary bureaucratic edicts repeatedly uproot their lives.

There is an imperative reason to monitor and curb some of policy precedents being set.  Future overcautious or egotistical public officials will be tempted to impose drastic measures even in response to lesser health or other emergencies.  Government orders closing private businesses fundamentally alter the relationship between individuals and the state in a dangerous fashion. Travel restrictions that confine people to their homes or bar them from specific areas are further cause for alarm.  Such restrictions always have been a hallmark of authoritarian political systems. Likewise, the postponement of elections is unsettling. Giving incumbent officials such authority creates an obvious potential for abuse—especially if the incumbents face the prospect of electoral defeat.  Perhaps worst of all is the possibility of the federal government being able to seek the indefinite detention of people based on nothing more than a Justice Department request and a compliant judge’s order.

Given the historical record of how previous emergencies spawned corrosive policies that continue to menace basic freedoms years or decades later, it is urgent to seek effective curbs on the growing abuses of power in the current crisis. We must resist being stampeded into endorsing whatever policies self-interested officials insist are necessary. Benjamin Franklin observed that “those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  Americans must keep that wise admonition in mind during and after the coronavirus crisis.

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America, We Have To End the Wars Now – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2020

Worst of all, America under President Donald Trump is still “leading from behind” in the war in Yemen Barack Obama started in conspiracy with Saudi then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015. This war is nothing less than a deliberate genocide.

https://original.antiwar.com/scott/2020/03/31/america-we-have-to-end-the-wars-now/

Can anyone think what our society might have spent six and a half trillion dollars on instead of 20 years of war in the Middle East for nothing? How about the trillion dollars per year we keep spending on the military on top of that?

Invading, dominating and remaking the Arab world to serve the interests of the American empire and the state of Greater Israel sounds downright quaint at this point. Iraq War II, as Senator Bernie Sanders said in the debate a few weeks ago, while letting Joe Biden, one of its primary proponents, off the hook for it, was “a long time ago.” Actually, Senator, we still have troops there fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency, and our current government continues to threaten the launch of Iraq War IV against the very parties we fought the last two wars for. This would almost certainly then lead to war with Iran.

The U.S.A. still has soldiers, marines and CIA spies in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and only God and Nick Turse know where else.

Worst of all, America under President Donald Trump is still “leading from behind” in the war in Yemen Barack Obama started in conspiracy with Saudi then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015. This war is nothing less than a deliberate genocide. It is a medieval-style siege campaign against the civilian population of the country. The war has killed more than a quarter of a million innocent people in the last five years, including at least 85,000 children under five years old. And, almost unbelievably, this war is being fought on behalf of the American people’s enemies, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). These are the same guys that bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden in 2000, helped to coordinate the September 11th attack, tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with the underpants bomb on Christmas Day 2009, tried to blow up another plane with a package bomb and launched the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France since then. In fact, CENTCOM was helping the Houthi regime in the capital of Sana’a target and kill AQAP as late as January 2015, just two months before Obama stabbed them in the back and took al Qaeda’s side against them. So the war is genocide and treason.

As Senator Rand Paul once explained to Neil Cavuto on Fox News back before he decided to become virtually silent on the matter, if the U.S.-Saudi-UAE alliance were to succeed in driving the Houthi regime from power in the capital city, they could end up being replaced by AQAP or the local Muslim Brotherhood group, al-Islah. There is zero chance that the stated goal of the war, the re-installation of former dictator Mansur Hadi on the throne, could ever succeed. And yet the war rages on. President Trump says he’s doing it for the money. That’s right. And he’s just recently sent the marines to intervene in the war on behalf of our enemy-allies too.

We still have troops in Germany in the name of keeping Russia out 30 years after the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Empire, even though Germany is clearly not afraid of Russia at all, and are instead more worried that the U.S. and its newer allies are going to get them into a fight they do not want. The Germans prefer to “get along with Russia,” and buy natural gas from them, while Trump’s government does everything in its power to prevent it.

America has expanded our NATO military alliance right up to Russia’s western border and continues to threaten to include Ukraine and former-Soviet Georgia in the pact right up to the present day. As the world’s worst hawks and Russiagate Hoax accusers have admitted, Trump has been by far the worst anti-Russia president since the end of the last Cold War. Obama may have hired a bunch of Hitler-loving Nazis to overthrow the government of Ukraine for him back in 2014, but at least he was too afraid to send them weapons, something Trump has done enthusiastically, even though he was actually impeached by the Democrats for moving a little too slowly on one of the shipments.

We still have troops in South Korea to protect against the North, even though in economic and conventional terms the South overmatches the North by orders of magnitude. Communism really doesn’t work. And the only reason the North even decided to make nukes is because George W. Bush put a gun to their head and essentially made them do it. But as Cato’s Doug Bandow says, we don’t even need a new deal. The U.S. could just forget about North Korea and it wouldn’t make any difference to our security at all.

And now China. Does anyone outside of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps really care whether the entire Pacific Ocean is an American lake or only 95% of it? The “threat” of Chinese dominance in their own part of the world exists only in the heads of hawkish American policy wonks and the Taiwanese, who should have been told a long time ago that they are on their own and that there’s no way in the world the American people or government are willing to trade Los Angeles and San Francisco for Taipei. Perhaps without the U.S. superpower standing behind them, Taiwanese leaders would be more inclined to seek a peaceful settlement with Beijing. If not, that’s their problem. Not one American in a million is willing to sacrifice their own home town in a nuclear war with China over an island that means nothing to them. Nor should they. Nor should our government even dream they have the authority to hand out such dangerous war guarantees to any other country in such a reckless fashion.

And that’s it. There are no other powers anywhere in the world. Certainly there are none who threaten the American people. Our government claims they are keeping the peace, but there are approximately two million Arabs and Pashtuns who would disagree except that they’ve already been killed in our recent wars and so are unavailable for comment.

The George W. Bush and Barack Obama eras are long over. We near the end, or half-way point, of the Trump years, and yet our former leaders’ wars rage on.

Enough already. It is time to end the war on terrorism and end the rest of the American empire as well. As our dear recently departed friend Jon Basil Utley learned from his professor Carroll Quigley, World Empire is the last stage of a civilization before it dies. That is the tragedy. The hope is that we can learn from history and preserve what’s left of our republic and the freedom that made it great in the first place, by abandoning our overseas “commitments” and husbanding our resources so that we may pass down a legacy of liberty to our children.

The danger to humanity represented by the Coronavirus plague has, by stark relief, exposed just how unnecessary and therefore criminal this entire imperial project has been. We could have quit the empire 30 years ago when the Cold War ended, if not long before. We could have a perfectly normal and peaceful relationship with Iraq, Iran, Syria, Korea, Russia, China, Yemen and any of the other nations our government likes to pretend threaten us. And when it comes to our differences, we would then be in the position to kill them with kindness and generosity, leading the world to liberty the only way we truly can, voluntarily, on the global free market of ideas and results.

That is what the world needs and the legacy the American people deserve.

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Managing a Disaster – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2020

Many of the problems associated with a disaster would be eliminated if people’s buying behavior were the same as it was before the disaster. To get people to behave nicely and consider their neighbors is the ultimate challenge. I think rising prices are the best and most dependable way to get people to be considerate of their fellow man.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/04/walter-e-williams/managing-a-disaster/

By

I’m not sure whether COVID-19, first identified in Wuhan, China, in the U.S. qualifies as a true disaster. Putting the disease in perspective, we might look at current influenza illnesses. According to Centers for Disease Control estimates, between Oct. 1, 2019, and March 14, 2020, there have been 390,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations as a result of the flu, 38,000,000 to 54,000,000 flu illnesses and 23,000 to 59,000 flu deaths. That’s compared with, as of March 27, a total of 85,356 cases of COVID-19 resulting in the deaths of 1,246 people.

But let’s agree that COVID-19 is a disaster and ask what the appropriate steps that are to deal with it. One of the first observations about any disaster is that the quantity demanded of many goods greatly exceeds the supply. There is a shortage. The natural market response when there is a shortage is for prices to rise. Rising prices produce several beneficial effects. They reduce the incentive for people to hoard while suppliers, motivated by the prospect of higher profits, are incentivized to produce more of the good in short supply.

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have anti-price gouging laws that prohibit “excessive and unjustified” increases in prices of essential consumer goods and services during a federal, state or local declared emergency. Price gouging is legally defined as charging 10 to 25% more for something than you charged for it during the month before an emergency. Sellers convicted of price gouging face stiff fines and perhaps prison terms.

But what about hoarding? Often, hoarding creates the shortage. In uncertain times, people may purchase three dozen eggs instead of one dozen. They may want to maintain stockpiles of canned goods and buy up large quantities of cleaners, paper towels and toilet paper. This kind of behavior has left some with overflowing freezers, shelves of sanitizers and garages full of toilet paper while their neighbors are left either wanting for the same items or paying what some call “excessive and unjustified” prices.

While it’s difficult to get beyond emotions, the fact is that consumers are not forced to buy products for the higher (gouged) price. If they pay, it is likely because they see themselves as being better off acquiring the good than the alternative – keeping their money in their pocket. Higher prices charged have a couple of unappreciated benefits. First, they get people to economize on the use of the good whose price has risen. That is higher prices reduce demand and encourage conservation. That helps with the disaster.

With higher prices, profit-seeking suppliers know that they can make more money by bringing additional quantities of the goods to the market. This increases the supply of goods, which helps to drive prices back down. Anti-price gouging laws disrupt these two very important functions of the marketplace and enhance and prolong a disaster. In other words, in a disaster, we want people to economize their use of goods and services and we want suppliers of these goods and services to produce more. Rising prices encourage these actions. Anti-price gouging laws stymy those incentives and create the pretense that a disaster does not exist.

Some people might reluctantly agree that allowing prices to rise during a disaster helps allocate resources. But they’ll complain that’s not the intention of greedy sellers who are out to profit. I say, so what? It’s not sellers’ intentions that count but what their actions accomplish that’s important — namely, getting people to conserve more and suppliers to produce more.

Many of the problems associated with a disaster would be eliminated if people’s buying behavior were the same as it was before the disaster. To get people to behave nicely and consider their neighbors is the ultimate challenge. I think rising prices are the best and most dependable way to get people to be considerate of their fellow man.

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The Government Employee Who May Have Saved a Million American Lives, by Ron Unz – The Unz Review

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2020

But then on Monday, March 16th a miracle occurred. With no prior warning or public discussion, Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sarah Cody and her counterparts from five other SF Bay Area counties announced that they had issued a “Shelter in Place” order, their somewhat euphemistic term for a full regional lock-down.

https://www.unz.com/runz/the-government-employee-who-may-have-saved-a-million-american-lives/

Dr. Sarah Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer

Dr. Sarah Cody. That’s the name of a local government employee probably unknown to almost everyone reading this. Yet I think there’s a good chance that a million or more Americans will owe her their lives. And therein lies a tale…

Last Tuesday President Donald Trump announced that he expected to lift most health restrictions recently imposed due to the Coronavirus epidemic and send the country back to work by Easter, a possibility that shocked and horrified nearly all mainstream health professionals.

No need to worry, I said. I predicted that the exponentially-growing Coronavirus death toll in his home city of New York would have reached such horrifying levels by Easter that his Wall Street friends would persuade him to “pivot” away from such a foolhardy proposal.

At the time I made that prediction, Coronavirus deaths in New York were running at around 50 per day, and they soon jumped to 140 per day, then reached 209 in a 24-hour period by Saturday. Wall Street Wizards are quite familiar with exponential growth, the fundamental basis of compound-interest, and presumably they began to notice what was happening outside their own windows. So on Saturday, Trump announced that rather than any relaxation, he was instead considering an unprecedented federal quarantine of the entire State of New York as well as adjoining parts of of New Jersey and Connecticut, though he later backed down under fierce pressure. Just five days had made all the difference in the world.

The unimaginable human disaster now facing our country has several obvious roots. Our oceans had protected our home front from any attack during the two world wars while modern medicine had rendered disease epidemics a fading memory for three generations. Our arrogant and incompetent national leadership simply could not comprehend the possibility that their missteps might actually kill hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans. Moreover, our mainstream media was equally oblivious, and even if they had sounded the alarm, they had hysterically cried wolf so many times about so many ridiculous things that nobody would have taken them seriously.

But an important contributing factor is surely the inability of most individuals to grasp the unusual dynamics of an exponentially-growing process. In such a situation, seemingly insignificant delays can have enormous consequences.

Let us consider a very simple example in which two similar cities each happen to have 1,000 Coronavirus infections, with a doubling-period of 3 days.

Suppose that the first city immediately implements a complete lock-down, thereby drastically reducing the spread of the disease, and then uses that window of opportunity to track down and temporarily quarantine all the infected. Assuming a 1% death rate, 10 total fatalities will result.

Now suppose the second city takes exactly the same approach, but merely delays implementing the policy for a single week. During that lost week, the number of infected will grow to 5,000, and the resulting five-fold increase in cases requiring hospitalization may overwhelm the local health care system, thereby increasing the death rate to 5%. The result is 250 fatalities. So the delay of a single week has increased the death toll by a factor of 25.

I live in Palo Alto, and every now and then I see a squirrel wander into the middle of a street, then remain frozen in fear as an approaching car bears down upon him. Almost invariably, the squirrel leaps away to the nearby pavement at the last moment, saving its life. But occasionally I have noticed the remains of a youthful squirrel who did not react in time.

For a month or two, our national government and its top health officials seemed similarly paralyzed with horror as they began to recognize the oncoming locomotive of a deadly disease rapidly approaching them. But during this crucial period, they did little or nothing and vast numbers of Americans may die as a consequence.

The Coronavirus is extremely contagious and once it has significantly established itself within a community, the only effective means of halting the rapid spread is through a full social lock-down. This approach had been especially necessary in America, given our woeful lack of adequate testing capabilities.

China completely locked down and quarantined the city of Wuhan at a point when only 300 detected infections and 17 deaths had occurred, thereby strictly confining all 11 million residents to their homes. Not long afterward, similar measures were applied to the 60 million residents of the surrounding province of Hubei, and later extended to include some 700 million Chinese across the country, a medical quarantine perhaps a thousand times larger than any such previous effort in human history.

These remarkable Chinese actions shocked and astonished many observers around the world, certainly including myself. But they succeeded brilliantly, and China seems to have almost entirely stamped out the deadly disease at the final cost of just a few thousand deaths. Millions perhaps even tens of millions of Chinese owe their lives to the decisiveness of their bold and courageous national leadership.

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Who’s Next to Fail in the Post-COVID World?

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2020

Europe’s troubles are multiplying because the basic premise of how to fight this virus and the deflation it is engendering is functionally flawed. More money dropped from helicopters isn’t the solution.

Freeing Europe from the euro is.

And then there won’t be enough credit in the world to keep the engine of the world from sputtering and dying. That’s when real leadership is needed.

https://tomluongo.me/2020/03/30/whos-next-engine-world-failure/

As much as I hate to invoke The Ayn Rand lest I give off the impression I’m some kind of Objectivist, which I am most certainly not, the engine of the world is coming to a halt.

Money velocity has been falling for years. It is now cratering as we hide in our homes from a bug that eventually we will all have to reconcile with. Credit is the engine of the world of today.

It is the gas which fuels the engine of the world.

COVID-19 has cratered the global economy exposing the internal rot within our hyper-financialized global economy as nothing more than a pyramid of Ponzi schemes…

… piling credit on top of credit until there are no more greater fools to sell the new debt to.

That’s the system we have. And it is collapsing precisely because the world is situated at the point where there is little more productive capacity to monetize and pull that capital from the future to fund the new debt.

It won’t matter if we replace this system with pure helicopter money without debt as the Modern Monetary Theory proponents argue. We’re already doing a version of this by having the central banks buy debt they never intend to sell on the open market. So, the debt itself is without value. The money printed from those bonds is as much scrip as if the bond had never been issued.

But the time lost by people in pursuit of uneconomic ends by mispricing risk and servicing debt they are legally obligated to service is real.

The engine is sputtering as trillions are printed to kick it back over one more time. But the gas has too much ethanol in it. There’s not enough air.

The engine is dying.

And it can no longer outrun the abyss swallowing the world staring back at us saying, “Thanks for the snack, those frackers and restaurants are tasty, but I’m still hungry. Who’s next?”

I’ve been very clear that Europe is the next big meal for the Abyss.

In the end, a home builder here, an over-leveraged bank there are nice. These are but apéritifs in the grand scheme of things. They are like sugar to a starving child, revving it up but not fulfilling its real needs.

Europe’s troubles are multiplying because the basic premise of how to fight this virus and the deflation it is engendering is functionally flawed. More money dropped from helicopters isn’t the solution.

Freeing Europe from the euro is.

And it will set Italy in the post-COVID-19 world at odds completely with the rest of Europe.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard adds more color to what happened at last week’s meeting of EU national leaders in which both sides of the fiscal divide dug in their heels.

Dutch premier Mark Rutte has become the spokesman for the hardliners – giving political cover to Germany – categorically ruling out emergency “coronabonds” or other forms of debt mutualisation. “It would bring the eurozone into a different realm. You would cross the Rubicon into a eurozone that is more of a transfer union,” he said. “We are against it, but it’s not just us, and I cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would change that position.”

Enrico Letta, Italy’s former-premier and an ardent EU integrationist, accused the Netherlands of leading the pack of “irresponsibles” and trying to “replace the United Kingdom in the role of ‘Doctor No’”. The reflexive use of the UK as a rhetorical foil evades of the true issue. It was not London that blocked moves to fiscal union over the last decade; it was Germany.

Pritchard brings up the spectre of Lega’s Matteo Salvini coming back into the picture, especially as the mood sours among even the most ardent Euro-integrationists like Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Merkel is hiding behind her quarantine and letting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speak for her. And that is driving the Italians to the point of no return.

Giuseppe Conte’s government is at a loss to fight the virus. It was ignored by the EU when it asked for help it paid for when this began. As Pritchard points out, what purpose does the EU serve when it won’t act to help a member in need as it is supposed to do?

The answer is the EU’s purpose is to be obeyed.

Italy’s two ways out of this mess is leaving the euro or forcing the northern bloc to cry uncle. But that has to occur within the prospect of removing so many internal roadblocks to Italian economic growth, starting with the euro but entailing much wider reforms, which are most definitely not on the post-Keynesian/MMT technocrats’ agenda.

Italy’s debt numbers are a large part of the hunger of the Abyss and no amount of blackmail by them and France will get Germany to go along with bailing them out.

I discussed these issues and more at length with Alexander Mercouris of The Duran in this series of videos we recorded over the weekend (here, here, and here) in which we tie Europe’s collapse to all the other things we’re experiencing in the world right now.

Most EU economies are fundamentally hampered by the ossified bureaucracy of the EU which is an over-layer of domestic bureaucracies.

And, as such, these national systems are barely capable of acting in a coordinated manner normally, no less with the EU enforcing its fiefdoms at the same time in the face of overwhelming strain.

In all situations the primary objective of all organizations is survival. All else is secondary.

The more credible the threat the more extreme their response.

They will dig in to protect against that threat rather then fulfill their stated mission. In the case of the EU that means using this crisis as the excuse to force fiscal integration and monetary reform on those that don’t want it as a means to survive.

Because in a crisis period there is no time for such luxuries as national sovereignty. There isn’t any reflection that the organization itself is the source of the problem. The organization is a default setting.

And now both sides of the fiscal debate are seeing the other for what they are and the result will most likely be an irreparable fracturing of the European Union.

Italy has now seen the true face of the EU. Conte has now tried histrionics to get his bailout, which won’t actually solve anything, because he’s aligned with the Euro-integrationists. What his country needs is a new currency and different leadership.

But he’s held onto power because his opposition would have already broken with the EU.

Like the obsequious worm that he is, instead of doing the right thing, issuing mini-BOTs, to free up domestic liquidity issues, Conte is looking at putting up the whole of the Italian government’s holdings as collateral against new debt to pay for stimulus of Einsteinian proportions.

This is the ultimate sellout of Italy to the EU. As a proposal it is the ultimate betrayal of the Italian people. These buildings and infrastructure are their legacy and they will be sold as collateral to loan sharks as opposed to reclaiming their national dignity.

There is no market for these bonds. So,who will buy them? The ECB.

Who then owns all of this property, ultimately?

The ECB and therefore the EU.

This is a proposal designed for Merkel to take back to home to the Bundestag and sell to the German people. If they bail out Italy, they will get something in return for their risk.

It’ll be just like they did with Greece in 2015, except then it was Germany forcing this upon them rather than the satrap Italian government offering themselves up like lambs.

But even with this desperation attempt to find buyers for their debt, Italy is facing a bleak future without serious reform.

And the odds are about equal at this point as to whether Germany or Italy breaks the EU. Because neither side can live with the other under the other’s terms.

At it’s core, however, this fight is a symbolic one over the continued belief that government can provide the solutions to our problems rather than being the source of them in the first place.

Socialized markets with bureaucratic controls are incapable of reacting in real time to swiftly changing conditions. No amount of helicopter money will change that. No amount of taxation as social engineering tool will create preferred outcomes.

Because remember when you advocate for things like that, you’re putting in charge of those taxes the same people who are mismanaging them now. Our governments aren’t staffed and run by angels. These are the same misinformed, mal-educated, biased, myopic, flawed people as everyone else.

In short, they are human.

And they have the same pretense to knowledge everyone else does. And they will make the same mistakes as everyone else. Under the pressure of outrunning the Abyss the character of the people in charge of the money reveals itself.

All that does is create the false signal of stability while perpetuating systems that are wholly inadequate to the job. COVID-19 has exposed them ruthlessly.

And still the Abyss stares back, like an implacable kidnapper, demanding its payday. Because there is no escaping the it.

So, while you can chuck funny money in there for as long as you want it doesn’t create value. It doesn’t produce sustainable outcomes. It produces theft and graft, it extends the grift, bails out the unproductive and punishes those that honestly went about their business.

Digging holes and filling them in doesn’t produce wealth anymore than breaking a window stimulates aggregate demand for glass.

It just creates an accounting fiction which costs twice as much as having not dug the hole or broken the window in the first place. It may delay the Abyss from swallowing you until tomorrow.

Until, of course, you run out of time.

And then there won’t be enough credit in the world to keep the engine of the world from sputtering and dying. That’s when real leadership is needed.

Be seeing you

 

 

 

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Day of Shame: US House Approved $2 Trillion Everything Bailout on a Voice Vote – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2020

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/04/david-stockman/day-of-shame-us-house-approves-2-trillion-everything-bailout-on-a-voice-vote/

By

David Stockman’s Contra Corner

Did we say it’s getting stupid crazy down there in the Imperial City?

Well, we probably have….ad infinitum. And we are doing so again but not merely owing to today’s abomination in the once and former Peoples’ House, which thinks so little of its oath to defend the constitution and the rights of current and future taxpayers that it approved the $2 trillion Everything Bailout without even a roll call vote.

Then again, like the late night TV pitchman says – wait, there’s more!

Consider the chart below, which surely the Fed heads have not. To wit, it took the Fed 85 years after its doors opened in 1914 to print enough money to fund a $600 billion balance sheet.

It wasn’t exactly the Ohio State offense – three yards and a cloud of dust – which accomplished this. But it was pretty close – even including Greenspan’s first years at the helm. Between the famous Treasury Accord in 1951, under which the Fed was liberated from Treasury-ordered yield pegging, and 1999, its balance sheet grew at a modest 5.2% per annum.

And, by your way, the Fed’s relative stinginess with the printing press was a great big no nevermind. Real GDP grew at 3.4% per annum over that near half-century period, and real median family income more than doubled from $35,000 to $74,000.

We are pondering the number “$600 billion” today because its capsulizes the insanity loose in the Imperial City. What took 95 years to accomplish in the purportedly benighted 20th century, has now taken just five days!

You truly cannot make this stuff up. The Fed has purchased $622 billion of USTs and MBS since March 19th, meaning that its balance sheet has expanded from $4.75 trillion last Thursday evening to $5.372 trillion last night….

The rest here

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For Autocrats, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power

Posted by M. C. on March 31, 2020

As the new laws broaden state surveillance, allow governments to detain people indefinitely and infringe on freedoms of assembly and expression, they could also shape civic life, politics and economies for decades to come.

In the United States, the Justice Department asked Congress for sweeping new powers, including a plan to eliminate legal protections for asylum seekers and detain people indefinitely without trial.

New York, Kalifornia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, Utah, Louisiana…

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/for-autocrats-coronavirus-is-a-chance-to-grab-even-more-power/ar-BB11V0cS

Selam Gebrekidan

LONDON — In Hungary, the prime minister can now rule by decree. In Britain, ministers have what a critic called “eye-watering” power to detain people and close borders. Israel’s prime minister has shut down courts and begun an intrusive surveillance of citizens. Chile has sent the military to public squares once occupied by protesters. Bolivia has postponed elections.

As the coronavirus pandemic brings the world to a juddering halt and anxious citizens demand action, leaders across the globe are invoking executive powers and seizing virtually dictatorial authority with scant resistance.

Governments and rights groups agree that these extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. States need new powers to shut their borders, enforce quarantines and track infected people. Many of these actions are protected under international rules, constitutional lawyers say.

But critics say some governments are using the public health crisis as cover to seize new powers that have little to do with the outbreak and have few safeguards to ensure that the new powers will not be abused.

 

The laws are taking swift hold across a broad range of political systems — in authoritarian states like Jordan, faltering democracies like Hungary, and traditional democracies like Britain. And there are few sunset provisions to ensure that the powers will be rescinded once the threat passes.

“We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close if not on the heels of a health epidemic,” said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights.

As the new laws broaden state surveillance, allow governments to detain people indefinitely and infringe on freedoms of assembly and expression, they could also shape civic life, politics and economies for decades to come.

Slideshow by photo services

The pandemic is already redefining norms. Invasive surveillance systems in South Korea and Singapore, which would have invited censure under normal circumstances, have been praised for slowing infections. Governments that initially criticized China for putting millions of its citizens under lockdown have since followed suit.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has authorized his country’s internal security agency to track citizens using a secret trove of cellphone data developed for counterterrorism. By tracing people’s movements, the government can punish those who defy isolation orders with up to six months in prison. Read the rest of this entry »

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