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Posts Tagged ‘Big Government’

BRICS Ministers of Finance Hold a Meeting – It Is Time to Replace Western Financial Trade Mechanisms and Remove The Dollar

Posted by M. C. on April 12, 2022

The objective of the BRICS group is simply to present an alternative trade mechanism that permits them to conduct business regardless of the opinion of the multinational corporations in the ‘western alliance.’

Sundance 

This is not some grand conspiracy, ‘out there‘ deep geopolitical possibility, or foreboding likelihood as an outcome of short-sighted western emotion.  No, this is just a predictable outcome from western created events that pushed specific countries to a natural conclusion based on their best interests.

You can debate the motives of the western leaders who structured the sanctions against Russia, and whether they knew the outcome would happen as a consequence of their effort, but the outcome was never really in doubt.  Personally, I believe this outcome is what the west intended. The people inside the World Economic Forum are not stupid – ideological, yes, but not stupid. They knew this would happen.

[Left to Right] Xi Jinping (China), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil), Narendra Modi (India) and Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), the BRICS group.

The finance ministers of the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have decided to create their own financial mechanisms to continue trade between nations of similar disposition.  Once the internal issues inside the BRICS alliance are resolved, and once the mechanisms are created, then other nations will be able to decide to join or not.  The great global cleaving will commence.

(Reuters) – Russia, hit by Western sanctions, has called on the BRICS group of emerging economies to extend the use of national currencies and integrate payment systems, the finance ministry said on Saturday.

[…] On Friday, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told a ministerial meeting with BRICS, which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, that the global economic situation had worsened substantially due to the sanctions, the ministry’s statement said.

The new sanctions also destroy the foundation of the existing international monetary and financial system based on the U.S. dollar, Siluanov said.

“This pushes us to the need to speed up work in the following areas: the use of national currencies for export-import operations, the integration of payment systems and cards, our own financial messaging system and the creation of an independent BRICS rating agency,” Siluanov said.

International payment cards Visa and MasterCard suspended operations in Russia in early March and Russia’s biggest banks have lost access to the SWIFT global banking messaging system.

Russia set up its own banking messaging system, known as SPFS, as an alternative to SWIFT. Its own card payment system MIR began operating in 2015.

[…] They were part of Moscow’s efforts to develop homegrown financial tools to mirror Western ones, to protect the country in case penalties against Moscow were broadened.

The finance ministry said BRICS ministers have confirmed the importance of cooperation in efforts to stabilise the current economic situation.

“The current crisis is man-made, and the BRICS countries have all necessary tools to mitigate its consequences for their economies and the global economy as a whole,” Siluanov said. (link)

For a deep dive on BRICS, as predicted by CTH, {SEE HERE}.  The bottom line is – the 2022 punitive economic and financial sanctions by the western nations’ alliance against Russia was exactly the reason why BRICS assembled in the first place.

The multinational corporate control of government is exactly what the BRICS assembly foresaw when they first assembled during the Obama administration.  When multinational corporations run the policy of western government, there is going to be a problem.

In the bigger picture, the BRICS assembly are essentially leaders who do not want corporations and multinational banks running their government. BRICS leaders want their government running their government; and yes, that means whatever form of government that exists in their nation, even if it is communist.

BRICS leaders are aligned as anti-corporatist.  That doesn’t necessarily make those government leaders better stewards, it simply means they want to make the decisions, and they do not want corporations to become more powerful than they are.  As a result, if you really boil it down to the common denominator, what you find is the BRICS group are the opposing element to the World Economic Forum assembly.

The countries run by multinational corporations are in Yellow, the countries who have not yet chosen a side are in GREY:

The BRICS team intend to create an alternative option for all the other nations. An alternative to the current western trade and financial platforms operated on the use of the dollar as a currency.  Perhaps many nations will use both financial mechanisms depending on their need.

The objective of the BRICS group is simply to present an alternative trade mechanism that permits them to conduct business regardless of the opinion of the multinational corporations in the ‘western alliance.’

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Biden’s Big Government Centrism

Posted by M. C. on April 5, 2022

Little of Biden’s proposed defense budget will be spent to defend the American people, although it will defend the ability of defense contractors, lobbyists, and war party propagandists to continue littering Northern Virginia with “McMansions.” Biden wants to spend yet more to continue the US’s counterproductive intervention in Ukraine, as well as on NATO and other programs aimed at challenging Russia. Biden’s budget also proposes spending 1.8 billion dollars to “support a free and open, connected, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific Region” and another 400 million dollars for the Countering the People’s Republic of China Malign Influence Fund. How would Biden react if China started spending money to challenge the US’s influence in the Western Hemisphere?

Biden’s budget spends 33.2 billion dollars to support law enforcement. Federal spending on local law enforcement violates the Tenth Amendment and takes a step toward nationalizing the police.

https://mailchi.mp/ronpaulinstitute/breadcircus-115997?e=4e0de347c8

Apr 4 – President Biden’s 5.8 trillion dollars fiscal year 2023 budget increases “discretionary” spending to 1.6 trillion dollars. The remaining 4.2 trillion dollars of spending consists of “mandatory” spending, including on Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the national debt. The discretionary spending is divided between 813 billion dollars for “defense” and 769 billion dollars for the rest.

Since Biden’s budget increases military spending and does not call for major new government programs, some have described it as “centrist.”  Calling a 5.8 trillion dollars tax-and-spend monstrosity “centrist” shows how far the center of American politics is from the principles of limited government.

Little of Biden’s proposed defense budget will be spent to defend the American people, although it will defend the ability of defense contractors, lobbyists, and war party propagandists to continue littering Northern Virginia with “McMansions.” Biden wants to spend yet more to continue the US’s counterproductive intervention in Ukraine, as well as on NATO and other programs aimed at challenging Russia. Biden’s budget also proposes spending 1.8 billion dollars to “support a free and open, connected, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific Region” and another 400 million dollars for the Countering the People’s Republic of China Malign Influence Fund. How would Biden react if China started spending money to challenge the US’s influence in the Western Hemisphere?

Biden’s budget spends 33.2 billion dollars to support law enforcement. Federal spending on local law enforcement violates the Tenth Amendment and takes a step toward nationalizing the police. A national police force would be a grave danger to liberty.

Biden also proposes spending 1.7 billion dollars on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives so it can, among other activities, crack down on gun trafficking. A crackdown on gun trafficking allows the agency to harass gun owners and firearms dealers. Biden’s “centrist” budget also provides funding to crack down on hate crimes. Criminalizing thoughts has no place in a free society.

Biden claims he has reduced spending. However, the only reason spending is down is because Congress has stopped passing multitrillion dollar covid relief bills. Biden’s budget proposes reducing the deficit by raising taxes. Among Biden’s tax proposals is a new 20 percent tax. Biden’s “billionaires tax” breaks new ground in theft by taxing unrealized capital gains — in other words, taxing income that taxpayers did not actually receive!

Biden’s budget estimates an increase in the federal debt to 44.8 trillion dollars in ten years. Of course, the final spending bill approved by Congress will likely spend more on welfare and warfare then Biden is proposing. The spending will force the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low, further eroding the dollar’s purchasing power and thus increasing demand for welfare and yet more government spending.

America may soon pay the price for attempting to fund a massive welfare-warfare state with fiat currency, America’s ham-fisted intervention in the Ukraine-Russian conflict has caused more countries to seek alternatives to the dollar. This increases pressure for the dollar to lose its world reserve currency status. When that happens, the US will face a major economic crisis featuring hyperinflation, massive unemployment, and the growth of authoritarian political movements. The only way these problems can be avoided is if the people demand the federal government stop trying to run their lives, run the economy, and run the world.



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TGIF: Licensing the Fringe

Posted by M. C. on February 19, 2022

In other words, the promise to cleanse the internet of officially pooh-poohed claims, assertions, and opinions would invigorate all manner of conspiracy theorists with perhaps not-so-good political intentions. This happens already. It happened during the 2020 election and with Trump’s unsupported post-election declaration that he had been robbed of the presidency.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/tgif-licensing-the-fringe/

by Sheldon Richman

Big Tech’s incredible promise to rid its platforms of “misinformation and disinformation” is not only a chimera that will harm the most gullible, but it is also an unwitting grant of power and credibility to some of the dodgiest elements online.

That claim might sound familiar. We opponents of drug prohibition and other anti-vice laws often point out that when the government outlaws a product or service that people want, it does not disappear. It simply moves into the shadows where it will be handled by less-than-honorable people because law-abiding types will be averse to supplying the black market. Consumers suffer as quality control diminishes, and recourse to the courts for bad-dealing is off-limits. Think of the 1920s alcohol prohibition in America, with its boost to organized crime. Black markets are like a government monopoly grant to the unsavory.

The same sort of thing will happen as Big Tech, pushed by politicians, restricts and excludes people who are accused of trafficking in bad information, actual and alleged, about health and other highly contentious and hotly debated matters. The suppressed information will not vanish. It will be left to others, some of whom will be less scrupulous about misleading listeners. Those others will have a powerful lever handed to them by the private “censors.” They will be able to tell their followers: “If Big Tech and the government want to suppress information about, say, Covid, what else will they suppress — indeed, what have they already suppressed?”

Also, attempts to stifle the open exploration of even dubious ideas inevitably emit the stench of fear. That’s self-defeating. “What are the censors and the ruling elite afraid of?” it will be asked. “If the claims being hushed up could be refuted, they would have been. But instead, they are being driven from public scrutiny. That speaks volumes.”

Is that the message the private “censors” want to send the public?

In other words, the promise to cleanse the internet of officially pooh-poohed claims, assertions, and opinions would invigorate all manner of conspiracy theorists with perhaps not-so-good political intentions. This happens already. It happened during the 2020 election and with Trump’s unsupported post-election declaration that he had been robbed of the presidency.

I wouldn’t call an indirect boost to the credibility of the fringiest voices benign.

It’s a civil libertarian cliche that the way to defeat “bad speech” is with good speech. Nuggets like that become cliches precisely because they are true; they have stood the test of time. Let’s also remember that some good speech will invariably be suppressed in the efforts to suppress the “bad.”

This self-defeating nature of Big-Tech/Big Government “censorship” can also be seen in our rampant cancel/de-platforming culture. When heterodox speakers are driven from college campuses or other venues, the same boost is given to those quarters that are awarded a de facto monopoly in “forbidden ideas,” whether those ideas are about race, the immutability of biological sex and its consequences for gender, or whatever. Again, conspiracy theorists, who may be too casual about the truth and falsehood of ideas, are given a boost they could not have earned in the open marketplace of ideas.

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The Terrible Economic Ignorance behind Covid Tradeoffs: My Speech to the Ron Paul Institute | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 8, 2021

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe has a famous dictum: markets produce goods, which are the things we want and willingly buy or consume. Government produces bads, which is to say things we don’t want at all. Things like wars and inflation. They do this with our own money, reducing what we have to spend on actual goods and thus reducing production of those goods.

https://mises.org/wire/terrible-economic-ignorance-behind-covid-tradeoffs-my-speech-ron-paul-institute

Jeff Deist

Some of you may know the name Alex Berenson, the former New York Times journalist who comes from a left-liberal background. He has been absolutely fearless and tireless on Twitter over the past eighteen months, documenting the overreach and folly of covid policy—and the mixed reality behind official assurances on everything from social distancing to masks to vaccine efficacy. He became a one-man army against the prevailing covid narratives. 

Mr. Berenson is famous for creating a viral (no pun intended) phrase which swept across Twitter last year: virus gonna virus.

Which means: whether one is in Sweden or Australia, whether in New York or Florida, whether you have mask mandates or lockdowns or close schools or require vaccine passports—or do NONE of these things—virus gonna virus. Covid hospitalizations and deaths will be concentrated among the obese and elderly. In almost any community, two-thirds or more of deaths are over age seventy, but even among the elderly more than 90 percent of those infected survive covid. And among all covid deaths, only about 7 percent are “covid only” without other serious contributing factors. 

What we won’t ever know, unfortunately—because we don’t have a control group, at least in the West—is what would have happened in a society which simply did nothing in response to the virus. What if a country simply had encouraged citizens to build up their natural immunity through a healthy diet, exercise, vitamins, and natural sunlight? What if it had taken precautions for elderly and immune-compromised populations, while allowing younger and healthier people to live normally? Would such a country have reached a degree of natural immunity faster, with overall better outcomes for the physical and mental health of its citizens? And with far less economic damage?

All of this is the unseen. And no, it wasn’t “worth it” to shut down the world.

Back to Mr. Berenson. Last week Twitter decided it had enough, and permanently suspended his account. This is no small thing for independent journalists—and God knows we need them—who reach a lot of people via Twitter and rely on it to make a living.

Search for his Twitter profile and you’ll find something spooky. His name is still there, but with a quietly menacing “Account Suspended” warning. All other traces of his existence are erased: his header photo is gone, his profile photo is blank, and the descriptive bio is missing. Just blank. It’s eerie, and reminds me of that famous old photo of Stalin by the Moscow Canal. He’s standing next to Nikolai Yezhov (I had to look him up), who fell out of favor with Stalin and was executed—then erased from the photo by Soviet censors.

Alex Berenson has been similarly unpersoned, removed, erased. But even if he ends up a casualty of this war1—and whether you agree with him or not—people like him have managed to challenge the official narrative in ways unimaginable even twenty years ago. The financial journalist John Tamny made an interesting point last week: complain about social media all you want, but Facebook and Twitter have been great sources of information during this covid mess. And after thinking about it I had to agree. Most of the alternative information about covid I’ve consumed via social media. But of course Mr. Berenson no longer has this luxury.

The Covid Economy and Tradeoffs

Speaking of narratives, we have especially lacked clear and sober thinking about the injuries to the US economy created by covid policies. We profoundly fail to understand the economics behind covid, because we so desperately want to kid ourselves that the economy will be “normal” soon.

Governments are good at two things, namely bossing us around and spending money. They do both in spades whenever a supposed crisis arises, and both Congress and the Fed went into hyperdrive beginning in March 2020. The Fed pumped more than $9 trillion to its primary dealers, estimates are that more than 20 percent of all US dollars ever issued were issued in 2020 alone. On the fiscal side, more than forty federal agencies have spent $3.2 trillion in covid stimulus spending. So that is $12 trillion of inflationary pressure introduced to our economy.

What the economy wants and needs during crises is of course deflation. When uncertainty rises, and it certainly did for millions of Americans worried about their jobs in 2020, people naturally and inevitably hold larger cash balances. They spend less. Meanwhile they were staying home, driving less, dining out less, traveling less, working less. All of this is naturally deflationary, so of course Congress and the Fed embarked on an effort to fight this tooth and nail with intentional inflation. So now we’re in a wrestling match between two opposing forces, one natural and one artificial.

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe has a famous dictum: markets produce goods, which are the things we want and willingly buy or consume. Government produces bads, which is to say things we don’t want at all. Things like wars and inflation. They do this with our own money, reducing what we have to spend on actual goods and thus reducing production of those goods.

The past sixteen months we’ve had lots of government bads, to the point where we might call them “worsts,” which are even worse than bads. The covid and Afghanistan debacles come to mind. 

It may be facile and self-serving to compare the federal state’s inability to manage Afghanistan with its inability to manage a virus, but the comparison is just too perfect to resist. So I won’t resist.

Among the bads government produces is misinformation. One analogy between covid and Afghanistan is the phenomenon known as the fog of war: the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations.

Paraphrasing Carl von Clausewitz: war is the realm of uncertainty; the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of uncertainty. Fog and friction cloud the commander’s judgment—even where the commander wholly shares our interests, which is hardly a given with covid. When we declared war on a virus, clarity went out the window. And so we’ve lived with sixteen months of fog, of covid misinformation. This happens in tandem with the media, which parrot official pronouncements from sources like the deeply compromised Fauci and stir up alarmism at every turn.

And we’re still living with it. Consider we still don’t have definitive answers to these simple questions:

Do masks really work?
Do kids really need masks? As an aside, our great friend Richard Rider reports that San Diego County—population 3.3 million—shut down its public schools for a year with one student death!
Is there asymptomatic spread?
Does the virus live on surfaces?
How long does immunity last after having covid?
How many vaccines will someone need to be “fully” vaccinated? How many boosters? Annual?
Aren’t delta and other variants simply the predictable evolution of any virus?
How do we define a “case” or infection if someone shows no symptoms and feels fine?
Can covid really be eradicated like polio? If so, why haven’t we eradicated flu by now?

And so on. We never get clear answers, but only fog.

But perhaps the most shocking thing about sixteen months is our childlike inability to consider tradeoffs! I’m not only talking about the tremendous economic consequence of shutting down businesses, and the horrific financial damage it has done and will do to millions of Americans. I’m not only talking about the depression, isolation from friends and loved ones, alcoholism, untreated illness, suicide, weight gain and obesity, stunted child development, and all the rest.

I’m talking about understanding the basic economic tradeoffs of covid policy: supply chain, food, energy, housing, unemployment. This is bread and butter economics.

I can’t stress this enough: millions of Americans have no conception of economics, and simply don’t believe tradeoffs exist. They think, are encouraged by the political class to think, that government can simply print money in the form of stimulus bills and pay people enhanced unemployment benefits to stay home. That the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], of all cockamamie federal agencies, can simply impose a rent moratorium and effectively vitiate millions of local contracts—it will just work itself out somehow. That Congress can simply issue forgivable PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loans to closed or hobbled businesses so they can magically make payroll. That the Federal Reserve can simply buy up assets from commercial banks, lend them limitless funds, and command lower interest rates to stimulate housing and consumerism.

Millions of Americans, through sheer ignorance of economics, literally think these actions are costless and wholly beneficial—without downside.

And now we wonder why the economy can’t just flip a switch and get back to normal. But that’s not how an incredibly complex global supply chain, with just-in-time delivery, works. And that’s why thousands of Ford F-150s are sitting unsold, and unsellable, in huge parking lots—there is a global semiconductor chips shortage. Many of them come from a single company in Taiwan. By the way, semiconductor chips are used in everything from iPhones to Xbox consoles to Surface laptops to refrigerators.

There was a remarkable op-ed at CNBC recently about the supply chain interruptions. It gets the cause of inflation wrong, blaming it on the pandemic rather than central banks, but it paints a vivid picture of the serious problems facing a radically overstressed global manufacturing sector. Delays in delivery are said to be the longest in decades. And inflation plus delays is bad news, because it’s so hard for buyers and sellers at all stages of production to know what to charge and what to pay for either capital goods or consumption goods. How many construction projects, for example were blindsided by the five-time rise in lumber prices last year? Ports are clogged awaiting trucks—not enough drivers—so containers sit for weeks rather than days. Empty containers have become scarce. Rail schedules are affected by the ports like dominos, and freight prices are spiking. Will West Coast longshoremen strike in 2022 when their contract is up? Will new emissions regulations which slow ships kill more capacity? Will key Chinese factories shut down again due to delta?

None of it is pretty and may last into 2023. So buy your Christmas presents now!

We are starting to see the unseen, but economists, whose job it is to show us the tradeoffs, have been largely AWOL over the past year and a half. Consider this recent post by a famous libertarian free market economist:

US GDP is now higher, in fact a fair bit higher, than when the pandemic began.
US labor force participation is about 1.5% lower than when the pandemic began.
Was there really slack to the tune of a few million people in Jan of 2020?
Has inflation really changed enough to make the GDP numbers misleading?
Has total factor productivity improved that much in that time, under those stresses? (i.e. more output from less input, labor & capital).

Or is this all a sign that the structure of the economy is more stratified than we think—that there are millions of people in more-or-less filler jobs who can be cast out and the economy just keeps on running along? Yes, there are all sorts of reports of labor shortages, and all manner of supply chain hiccups which seem to often be associated with off shoring, but general activity is still high. (Or is it? Are the numbers reporting “vapor GDP?”—or are the inflation adjustments really out of whack so real GDP is not what we think it is?)

This is clever masquerading as smart, and it’s the sort of thing which makes people dislike economists. It’s homo economicus nonsense. This kind of navel-gazing—wondering aloud, as though we could shut down the world for a year, send everybody home, suspend rent payments, and not suffer tradeoffs—makes me think economics as a profession is not doing the world any good. People desperately need productive activity for their basic health and happiness, even if that activity doesn’t much add to the national economy.

A friend who runs a large chain of retail stores across several states sent me this in response.

It’s amazing how [BLANKED]-up this person is. An economy is a way to get stuff. Is there much stuff, or less stuff, than when this all began? More cars or less? More computers and personal digital devices or less? More food or less? More oil or less? Greater business to business supply chain or less?

But because this [BLANK] thinks the economy is a symbolic architecture, not a real thing for getting real stuff, he’s absolutely flummoxed by a simple question. Go outside, moron. Step away from the keyboard and the spreadsheet.

I thought he was spot on. Economics is the study of choice in the face of scarcity, of how we get the goods and services we want in an environment of tradeoffs and uncertainty. Nothing could be more disastrous to that environment than vague, open-ended government lockdown measures. We don’t need to move numbers around until they please us as some kind of substitute gnostic knowledge. We shut down the world over a virus, restarting it will be difficult, and the economic damage will be enormous and long lasting. Economists should be showing us the unseen damage, not cheering the juiced-up data.

My point here is to suggest the economics of our present situation are worse than advertised, and that economics is about that holds us together. What we think of as America is mostly an economic arrangement, not a social or cultural one—and certainly not a political arrangement. America is hardly a country anymore, and I take no pleasure in saying that. What happens when the economics unravel?

The Great Unraveling

But there is a happy upside to all of this. A silver lining, perhaps.

Over eighteen months we’ve learned that all crises are local. For eighteen months it has mattered very much whether you live in Florida or New York, whether you live in Sweden or Australia. And the physical analog world reasserted itself with a vengeance: no matter where you are, no matter how rich you may be, you must exist in corporeal reality. You need housing, food, clean water, energy, and medical care in the most physical sense. You need last-mile delivery, no matter what is happening in the broader world. Your local situation suddenly mattered quite a bit in 2020. It was the year localism reasserted itself.

Whether your local reality was dysfunctional or did not matter quite a bit in the terrible covid year. And people are waking up to the simple reality of this dysfunction. We know the federal government can’t manage covid. It can’t manage Afghanistan. It can’t manage debt, or the dollar or spending, or entitlements. It can’t even run federal elections, for God’s sake much, less provide security, or justice, or social cohesion.

So how can it manage a country of 330 million people? How can it manage fifty states?

Whether we want to call it the Great Awakening or the Great Realignment, something profound is happening. Imagine if the twenty-first century reverses the dominant trend of the nineteenth and twentieth, namely the centralization of political power in national and even supranational governments? What if we are about to embark on an experiment in localism and regionalism, simply due to the sheer inability of modern national governments to manage day-to-day reality?

A kind of centrifugal force is at work. Here in the US, people are self-segregating—both ideologically and geographically—in what we should think of as a kind of soft secession. A recent survey by United Van Lines confirms what we already knew: people are fleeing California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois for Texas, Idaho, Florida, and Tennessee. This is simple flight from the dysfunction of big cities and unworkable progressive policies, laid bare by the analog lessons of covid.

We should cheer this. If just 10 percent of Americans hold reasonable views on politics, economics, and culture they would constitute 33 million people—we could coalesce as a significant political force! And this nation within a nation would be larger and more economically powerful than many European countries.

Furthermore, we are witnessing a tremendous shift in political power away from cities toward exurbs and rural areas. There really is nothing like it in US history. America started in colonies and villages, before moving westward to farms and ranches. When factories began to replace farms as major employers, Americans moved to the old Rust Belt cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh and Detroit. When tech and finance began to overshadow manufacturing, Americans moved to Manhattan and Seattle and Silicon Valley for the best jobs. But that revolution in finance and tech means capital is more mobile than ever, and covid accelerated our ability to work from home. All of this could have huge beneficial effects for smaller cities and rural areas, which in turn could have profound effects for the congressional map and electoral college. If the angry school board meetings over masks are any indication, politics already has become more localized.

Covid policies ruined cities, at least for awhile, and the Great Unraveling will reduce the political and economic power of those cities. 

So a once-in-a-generation opportunity is before us. The federal government is far and away the biggest, most powerful institution in America, but as previous speakers mentioned, faith in institutions is crumbling. And it should crumble. Washington, DC, has been the centerpiece around which we organize society for a hundred years now, and that’s a profoundly evil reality. So we should cheer when Americans lose faith in it due to Trump or covid or Afghanistan or public opinion polls which show a deeply divided and skeptical country. There is a growing sense that DC is over, it’s done, and it’s time to turn our backs on it. We are losing our state religion.

Contra our political elites, covid and the disastrous reaction by governments may end up reducing their power and standing in society.

This article is excerpted from a talk delivered at the Ron Paul Institute conference on September 4, 2021

  • 1. Don’t let this happen! Read Mr. Berenson here

Author:

Contact Jeff Deist

Jeff Deist is president of the Mises Institute. He previously worked as chief of staff to Congressman Ron Paul, and as an attorney for private equity clients. Contact: email; Twitter.

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Big Government and Big Inflation

Posted by M. C. on May 19, 2021

Why the Fed will not raise interest rates. Staggering government interest payments.

The real unfunded government debt. A lot more than 20-some trillion.

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‘Big Government and Big Inflation’ – Ron Paul’s 17 May Column

Posted by M. C. on May 18, 2021

The refusal of Congress to cut spending means the Fed will keep increasing its balance sheet in an effort to monetize skyrocketing debt. Eventually, the increasing debt and inflation will lead to a major economic meltdown. The meltdown will likely include a rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status.

https://mailchi.mp/ronpaulinstitute/inflation?e=4e0de347c8

May 17 – April’s 4.2 percent past year increase in the Consumer Price Index is not likely to dissuade the Federal Reserve from continuing its policy of near-zero interest rates. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell believes the rising prices are just a temporary phenomenon caused by the ending of lockdowns releasing pent-up consumer demand.

Powell may be right that the ending of lockdowns would inevitably be accompanied by a rise in prices. However, this is just the latest reason the Fed has given for putting off increasing interest rates. Powell does not want to admit that the real reason the Fed will continue to keep rates low is that increasing rates will cause the federal government’s interest payments to rise to unsustainable levels.

One way the Fed increases the money supply — and thus lowers interest rates — is by purchasing US Treasury securities. These purchases increase demand for US government debt, keeping government’s borrowing costs low. An expansionary monetary policy thus enables increased federal spending and deficits. Since the lockdowns, the Fed has worked overtime to monetize federal debt, doubling its holdings of Treasury securities.

A Truth in Accounting report from April concluded the real federal debt is 123 trillion dollars — over four times larger than the 28 trillion dollars “official” debt. The higher debt calculation includes the federal government’s unfunded liabilities. The biggest unfunded liabilities are the 55 trillion dollars in promised but unfunded Medicare benefits and the 41 trillion dollars in promised but unfunded Social Security benefits.

Congress could transition away from entitlement and welfare programs without harming current or soon-to-be beneficiaries by cutting spending on militarism and corporate welfare. Part of the savings from these cuts could be used to pay down the debt, and part could be used to provide payments for current and soon-to-be beneficiaries of government programs while we transition to a free market.

Unfortunately, there is not much appetite in Congress for spending cuts. The main Democratic criticisms of President Biden’s 1.52 trillion dollars budget, which increases spending by 8.4 percent, are that Biden is not proposing bigger increases in spending and debt, or in taxes on “the rich.” Biden’s budget increases are in addition to the trillions in other spending Biden is pursuing, including related to Covid, infrastructure, and his “American Families Plan.”

Republicans are making obligatory attacks on Biden’s spending, while also attacking Biden for increasing military spending to “only” 753 billion dollars. Republican complaints about Biden’s big spending ring hollow given their support for Presidents Donald Trump and George W. Bush’s spending increases and Republicans’ proposals to spend billions on infrastructure.

Some conservatives have even embraced the madness of Modern Monetary Theory. These conservatives are urging people to stop worrying about spending and debt and instead figure out how to use Fed-financed government spending to advance conservative ends.

The refusal of Congress to cut spending means the Fed will keep increasing its balance sheet in an effort to monetize skyrocketing debt. Eventually, the increasing debt and inflation will lead to a major economic meltdown. The meltdown will likely include a rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status.

The only way to avoid the crash is to spread the truth among enough people to force Congress to reverse course. Early steps in reversing course are blocking Biden’s big spending plans and passing Audit the Fed so the American people can finally know the truth about the Federal Reserve’s actions.



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A Penchant for Controlling Others | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on February 6, 2021

Think of this the next time you are in a big city zooming around curves and between lanes along with thousands of others, doing top speeds. Here we have 4,000-pound hunks of steel barreling down the road without aids other than a dotted yellow line on the road. These are real-life death machines in which one wrong move could cause a 100-car pileup and mass death.

And yet it works. Why? The reason is that it is not in anyone’s interest to get in a crash. It is in everyone’s interest to get to where one is going in one piece and to do it efficiently. Roll together tens of thousands of people with the same broad goal and you get spontaneous cooperation. Something that people normally think could not work does in fact work. Looked at from that angle, the orderliness we see on the roads is a general expression of the capacity for human society to work in the context of self-interested individualism.

https://mises.org/library/penchant-controlling-others

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

Editor’s Note: In this 2009 article, Lew Rockwell lists the problems with government mandates on private use of mobile phones. Observant readers will note the “public safety” arguments against the freedom to use phones as we choose are essentially the same as current claims that “public health” is a justification for dictating daily habits and behavior. ]

We all want freedom for ourselves, but many people have doubts about the way others might use their own freedom. Under these conditions, the state is there to help. Get enough people to favor enough restriction, and the state is good to go, administering every aspect of life from its smallest to its largest detail.

Every day presents more cases, but the most recent case is stunning. It turns out that 97% of people polled support a universal ban on texting while driving. Half of those surveyed say that the penalty should be as severe as that for drunk driving. Among these, how many do you suppose do text and drive but don’t want to admit it to the pollster? Probably plenty. And yet I couldn’t find a single online defense of the practice anywhere on the web.

The truth is that it is not necessarily unsafe to text behind the wheel. It all depends on the situation. If you are in a traffic jam, and are late to an appointment, the ability to text can be a lifesaver. Or if there are no cars around, you might be able to risk it. On the other hand, it would probably be a mistake to attempt this doing 80 mph around slower traffic on a freeway.

How can we know the difference between when it is safe and when it is not? The principle applied on American roads is that the driver himself makes that decision. If this principle didn’t make sense, there would be no way that the roads themselves could work at all.

Think of this the next time you are in a big city zooming around curves and between lanes along with thousands of others, doing top speeds. Here we have 4,000-pound hunks of steel barreling down the road without aids other than a dotted yellow line on the road. These are real-life death machines in which one wrong move could cause a 100-car pileup and mass death. We do it anyway.

What’s remarkable is not that there are so many wrecks. The miracle is that it works at all and that, for the most part, people get to where they are going. And consider too the demographic behind the car: old, young, abled, disabled, experienced, inexperienced. Some people have a facility for driving and others do not. Some people have spatial agility and others do not.

How does it all work? Don’t tell me that it is due to central planning and the police. The police aren’t driving every car and controlling every wheel. Our human volition on the road and the decisions we make that affect other drivers are nearly 100% our own.

And yet it works. Why? The reason is that it is not in anyone’s interest to get in a crash. It is in everyone’s interest to get to where one is going in one piece and to do it efficiently. Roll together tens of thousands of people with the same broad goal and you get spontaneous cooperation. Something that people normally think could not work does in fact work. Looked at from that angle, the orderliness we see on the roads is a general expression of the capacity for human society to work in the context of self-interested individualism.

Now think of this poll showing a widespread opposition to texting while driving. I submit that you would get similar results from a poll that asked people about the right to drive:

Do you support or oppose the right of everyone to own 4,000-pound heaps of steel and control them completely and autonomously at top speeds in the midst of thousands of other citizens whose lives could be in danger with so much as a slight flick of the wrist to the right or left?

That question could elicit nearly 100% negative results. We generally trust our capacity to manage ourselves but we do not trust the capacity of others to manage themselves. And we surely don’t believe that society can generally function well under conditions of freedom. Even though we live in the midst of spontaneous order and use its brilliance every day (grocery store, the world wide web, restaurants, housing developments), we don’t really understand it.

Or how about this one:

Do you support the right of anyone over a certain age to buy and consume as much hard liquor as he wants, even to the point of drinking himself into a life-threatening stupor, neglecting the kids, wrecking family life, and killing brain cells that cannot be replaced?

Probably most people would say no. And yet this is precisely the reasoning behind Prohibition, which most people today regard as a terrible error. Today, we supposedly realize that the social cost of the right to drink hard liquor was greater than the supposed benefit we receive from enforcing Prohibition.

So it is with texting and driving. There are times when it is safe. There are times when it is not safe. The only ones who can really know the difference are the people behind the wheel. These people already enjoy the freedom to talk to passengers, to fiddle with their stereo, to drive following an exhausting jog, to drive while distracted with anxieties over work and marriage, to pray or sing in the car, and do many other things that seem like a distraction from the goal at hand. Somehow it all works, and there is a lesson here. You can count on more order to emerge from trusting freedom than you get from attempting to micromanage people’s lives.

Now, the libertarians among us might point out that these roads are publicly owned and that this is the core source of the problem. Under privately owned roads, there might be intense restrictions on what you can and cannot do and these might be part of the contract you make with the road owner.

The market would take care of the rest. If an owner were too restrictive, drivers would take other routes. If they are too lenient, their insurance premiums would rise and they would pay too high a price. The resultant rules of the road would be a result of this careful calibration, tested constantly by the forces of supply and demand.

Under the existing rules of private roads, we see no evidence of a crackdown on texting. Maybe it would come in the future, but at least there would be a market test. When a rule fails in private markets, the rule is changed.

But it is different with government. No matter how preposterous the rule, it stays and stays, regardless of whether it works to accomplish its end. And there can be no question that a crackdown on texting is coming. Obama has already banned texting while driving for federal workers. A bill that would deny federal funds to states is flying through the Senate. Look for a nationwide ban in the coming months.

The ban says, You don’t know what is good for you so you must be forced to do what the government thinks is good for you. The ban gets support because people generally think that while they are responsible and good at calibrating what is safe and unsafe, others are not. Through this method, all freedoms could be abolished.

It’s a bad way to form the rules of a society.

Originally published November 2009. Author:

Contact Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is founder and chairman of the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and editor of LewRockwell.com.

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Follow The Money

Posted by M. C. on May 1, 2020

In Florida, the State receives $132,000 for each reported case of corona.
In Nebraska, Minnesota and Montana, the State receives over $300,000 for
each reported case of corona. The difference in the amounts received is
based on some weird government bureaucrat-created voodoo Medicare
formula. The point is, hospitals are being financially rewarded for
identifying people as contracting or dying from corona—whether they
actually contracted the virus or not.

https://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/109/ID/4001/Follow-The-Money.aspx

Chuck Baldwin

By now, most thinking people realize that the numbers being circulated by the Medical/Pharmaceutical/Industrial Complex and their Big Government hacks in the media of people being infected and killed by the coronavirus are grossly exaggerated.

Watch this medical doctor’s report.

And also watch this medical doctor’s report.

Now we learn that medical professionals, most of whom are employed by hospital monopolies, have a personally vested reason to participate in the dishonest practice of fudging corona numbers upward. States are being given government (read: taxpayer) stimulus dollars for each corona case reported.

In Florida, the State receives $132,000 for each reported case of corona. In Nebraska, Minnesota and Montana, the State receives over $300,000 for each reported case of corona. The difference in the amounts received is based on some weird government bureaucrat-created voodoo Medicare formula. The point is, hospitals are being financially rewarded for identifying people as contracting or dying from corona—whether they actually contracted the virus or not.

In the meantime, however, most hospitals are literally sitting empty. There is no mad rush of corona patients lining up for treatment. For example, in one of the so-called COVID-19 hot spots, Seattle, Washington, an army field hospital on loan to the city was returned after only nine days, because it never saw a patient:

Gov. Jay Inslee’s office on Wednesday announced that the state will be returning a field hospital deployed to CenturyLink Field Event Center to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The 250-bed facility, for which setup began on March 30, was intended to help Washington state’s health care system tend to non Covid-19 patients in the event of a hospital surge.

But just three days after announcing the facility was ready to receive patients, officials say they’re returning the hospital to the federal government.

The action is aimed at helping another state with a more significant need for hospital capacity at this time, according to the Governor’s Office. The facility did not see any patients during the time it was slated to operate in Seattle.

A local hometown newspaper where I live published this story a few days ago:

Kalispell Regional Healthcare announced today that it will furlough roughly 600 employees beginning April 15 due to steep revenue declines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospital executives, physicians and executive directors will also take reductions in their salaries, effective immediately.

KRH officials say the actions are necessary because revenue losses are projected to exceed $16 million per month, “which could jeopardize the organization’s ability to serve the long-term health needs of our community.”

The hospital didn’t immediately specify what types of employees or departments will be impacted by the furloughs.

An April 13 press release noted that KRH, like other health-care organizations across the country, has strengthened COVID-19 clinical teams, support staff and resources “needed to deliver life-saving care and ensure patient and staff safety as a result of the pandemic.” But the pandemic response has also led to the halting of many services “for the health and safety of our community,” the hospital stated.

In other words, people who need all sorts of medical care unrelated to corona are deliberately being denied treatment, as hospitals gear their entire operations to treat a mad rush of nonexistent corona cases. This is called medical rationing, by the way. But instead of admitting this pandemic was a complete and total exercise in government-created manipulation and hysteria—and allowing hospitals to reopen to the REAL medical needs of their communities—they continue to parrot the Fauci/CDC-authorized fear and paranoia over corona, while hospitals sit empty and must layoff untold numbers of employees in order to stay solvent.

Say it yet another way: The only thing keeping hospitals financially afloat right now is government corona money—and it’s not enough, as the numbers of corona cases just aren’t there. So, doctors and hospitals are diagnosing everyone they can as being infected or killed by COVID-19 just to keep government dollars flowing into their coffers. And still, untold numbers of medical workers are losing their jobs.

Besides the obvious usurpation of our Natural liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights, we can expect an all-out push from the mad scientist Anthony Fauci and his billionaire Frankenstein Bill Gates to coerce the federal and State governments to mandate forced vaccinations. Go ahead: Take a quick guess who will profit from this little act of government tyranny.

From the very beginning, this has never been about OUR health and safety; it has been all about THEIR money and power. That’s what manufactured crises like this are always about.

Speaking of money: You and I both know that our economy cannot withstand this massive explosion of national debt without dire consequences. It seems almost certain that this corona scam is the perfect storm for recession and hyperinflation.

After talking with my friend Ron Paul several years ago, I converted my personal IRA into a precious metals-backed IRA as a hedge against hyperinflation. And the company I am able to recommend is one of the finest precious metals companies in the country. They have been in business since 1976 with a solid reputation and track record, offering the option of easy online ordering as well as the safe, secure storage of metals if needed.

I am, therefore, proud to partner with this fine company and recommend them to my readers. I know these fellows personally. They are genuine Christian patriots who truly understand what’s going on and have a heart to help their fellow Americans affordably obtain precious metals.

Whether you are looking to convert your traditional IRA to a precious metals-backed IRA (as I did) or are simply wanting to purchase gold and silver coins, I urge you to contact my friend of many years, David Hart. He is the National Sales Director. Dave is extremely friendly, helpful and trustworthy.

I promise you that Dave will not try and pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do. He will simply answer your questions, help you determine whether adding precious metals to your financial portfolio is something you want to do and guide you through the process—if you decide to proceed. Believe me, Dave will take the anxiety out of transferring your IRA or even purchasing a few gold and silver coins. I urge you to contact Dave and see whether investing in precious metals is right for you.

Contact Dave here.

As with almost every government “emergency,” follow the money—and keep an eye on yours, because those miscreants in Washington, D.C., will take every penny they can, by hook or by crook.

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Trump and Pelosi Ready to Spend Another $2 Trillion on Infrastructure

Posted by M. C. on April 7, 2020

Sadly, a large quantity of Americans seem eager to take the fast lane on this road to serfdom, even as the economic and civil liberties restrictions pile up under the guise of a public health emergency.

https://www.theadvocates.org/2020/04/trump-and-pelosi-ready-to-spend-another-2-trillion-on-infrastructure/

Who says there’s not enough bipartisanship in Washington? President Donald Trump is praising House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and urging Congress to follow her lead by passing yet another $2 trillion coronavirus bill that would “invest” in infrastructure.

privacy coronavirus south korea 

What a sight to behold, a country in crisis inspires its leaders to come together for the common good. Even better, by forcing more debt and inflation on Americans, the economy can finally get roaring again!

That demented logic prevails in Washington, D.C., and the swamp-drainer-in-chief is no exception.

Fresh off signing the most expensive bill in American history, more than twice the cost of FDR’s New Deal, Trump is ready for whatever Pelosi throws at him next, as long as it also costs at least $2 trillion.

On Monday, Pelosi unveiled her wishlist for what she called “Phase 4” of Congress’s response to COVID-19. This fourth bill could very well be bigger than the previous three, setting a new price tag record.

The San Francisco Democrat listed “more direct payments,” “more opportunity for family and medical leave,” and an infrastructure megaproject.

“She wasn’t bad,” Trump tweeted after watching Pelosi’s press conference.

“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4,” Trump wrote, adopting Pelosi’s term for the forthcoming proposal.

Sadly, a large quantity of Americans seem eager to take the fast lane on this road to serfdom, even as the economic and civil liberties restrictions pile up under the guise of a public health emergency.

Economist Peter Schiff, who predicted the 2008 financial crisis, has been sounding the alarm that another crash is imminent since the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates to zero, promising to monetize debt without restraint or limit.

“President @realDonaldTrump thinks it’s the perfect time for the government to borrow trillions more to improve our infrastructure. That’s like a guy who just lost his job deciding it’s the perfect time to take out a second mortgage to put in the swimming pool he’s always wanted,” Schiff tweeted.

To extend the analogy, Trump is gaining support for the project by promising the biggest pool party ever. All politicians and special interests are invited.

There is no opposition to this profligate spending. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just wants to wait “a few weeks” to see how the other $2.2 trillion stimulus bill plays out first.

It doesn’t actually matter what happens in a few weeks though. When government policies go horribly wrong, a bureaucrat knows that just means the policy wasn’t enacted with enough gusto.

The coronavirus pandemic remains the sole focus of the country to the detriment of the people. Worse than the disease is the government’s cure.

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How the Nanny State Feasts on the Poor | The Nestmann Group

Posted by M. C. on December 4, 2019

https://www.nestmann.com/how-the-nanny-state-feasts-on-the-poor

By Mark Nestmann

Should you have to pay thousands of dollars before you can legally work? Or be imprisoned because you don’t have the money to pay a fine?

Economic liberty – the right to support yourself without needless government interference – is a bedrock principle of what was once called the “American Dream.” And debtor’s prisons were supposedly abolished in a federal law Congress passed in 1833.

But if you’re poor, economic liberty can seem more illusory than real. A case in point is the war many states are fighting against natural hair braiding – a beauty practice popular with African-American women. This type of braiding doesn’t require dyes, coloring agents or any chemicals at all. It’s much safer than bleaching hair or giving manicures.

But seven states require hair braiders to obtain a cosmetology or hairstylist license to practice their craft. That can cost up to $20,000 and require up to 2,000 hours of coursework. Eight more states require hair braiders to obtain a speciality license. Those seeking the license must obtain up to 500 hours of training.

Texas hair braider Isis Brantley has spent more than 20 years fighting for the right to practice her craft. In 1997, she was arrested for braiding hair without a cosmetology license. But she persevered and opened a hair braiding school to teach African-American women her techniques. In 2007, Texas began regulating hair braiders and hair braiding schools. To teach the required hair braiding curriculum at her school, according to the Institute for Justice:

Brantley had to do three useless things: (1) install ten barber chairs that she was not even required to use; (2) obtain at least 2,000 square feet of floor space she was not required to fill; and (3) mount five sinks (even though Texas braiders were prohibited from offering services that required a sink). Texas also told Isis Brantley she had to become a licensed barber school instructor, which meant spending up to 750 hours learning to teach barbering and passing written and practical exams on barbering instruction.

There are countless other examples of big government standing in the way of working people trying to make an honest living. Whether it’s banning young girls from selling Girl Scout Cookies in their own front yard, requiring day care providers to get a college degree to babysit children, or shutting down a seven year-old boy’s lemonade stand for not having a required permit, economic liberty is under attack by the Nanny State.

It’s even worse for the poor once they get caught up in the justice system. Cash-strapped cities and municipalities routinely impose “taxation by citation” on people charged with minor offenses such as jaywalking or putting out a trash bin for collection on the wrong day. Ferguson, Missouri, is notorious for this practice. It routinely fines people – primarily its poorest residents – for offenses ranging from “illegal walking” to wearing saggy pants in public. The crackdown has been so successful that 20% of the city’s budget is now paid with municipal court fines.

And if you don’t pay up, or miss a court date, you go to jail. That’s what happened to Qiana Williams, a homeless single mom living in Ferguson. In 1995, she missed a court date after being cited for driving without a license. The judge issued a warrant for her arrest, and a few months later police threw her in jail when she didn’t have $250 to pay a bond for pre-trial release. Williams became part of a Kafkaesque cycle of unpaid tickets, arrest warrants, imprisonment, and ever-increasing fines that she couldn’t afford.  When she enrolled in college to pull herself out of this nightmare existence, police arrested her again for unpaid traffic tickets.

States defend licensing rules as necessary to protect the public from harm. And taxation by citation is supposedly needed to bolster city budgets. But in nearly all cases, the poor are the victims of these laws.

Any politician who needs an issue to excite the most vulnerable Americans could do worse than declare war on the Nanny State. Yet the leading Democratic contenders to unseat Donald Trump from the presidency want to dramatically expand it. Elizabeth Warren has declared that no American “succeeds on their own” because they rely on government. Bernie Sanders wants to impose a “meat tax” to fight climate change. Of course, poor people will pay this tax with a larger proportional share of their incomes than anyone else.

Americans don’t need a Nanny State to babysit them from cradle to grave. It’s time to allow the poorest and most vulnerable Americans to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

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