Monday, November 20, 2006

Anti-Immigrant Racism

Apparently, it is now illegal in some parts of the country to fly a flag other that the ol’ Stars and Stripes. Saying that again…you can be punished by the government for flying a politically incorrect flag.

Now…many Conservatives rail against “immigrants”, with the excuse that these immigrants are not even demonstrating any desire to become Americans, as evidenced by their displays of loyalty to their former homelands. Not coincidentally, many Conservatives have a fetish about “protecting Israel”. So I found it particularly amusing when Ruben Navarette, Jr. wrote an op-ed piece and stated:
Besides, the spectacle with the Mexican flags was no different than what happened a few weeks later when American Jews marched in Los Angeles and New York, waiving the Israeli flag to show support for Israel in its war against Hezbollah. About that, there were few complaints. Somehow, I doubt many Conservatives will acknowledge the hypocrisy of their silence.
Apparently, waving Mexican flags is bad, while waving Israeli flags is good. Which brings up a bigger point about the nature of the Conservative hypocrisy. I’ve long held that there was a racist element to the Anti-Immigrant movement. Navarette expresses my very thoughts on the subject:
What I don't understand is how immigration restrictionists can still insist, with a straight face, that the immigration debate and its offshoots haven't become anti-Mexican. When people brush aside distinctions of legal versus illegal immigrants and start banning the Mexican flag, what else do you call it?
However, this should not be surprising to anyone who has actually paid attention to one of the leading anti-immigrant groups, The Minutemen, whose membership include many Neo-Nazis and other racist fringe elements , who are simply picking up the torch passed by some less than savory predecessors .

Yeah.. Let the Anti-immigrant crowd say that they are just for "the enforcement of the law". Riiiight. We know better.

Time to End Prohibition

Submarine with cocaine seized off Costa Rica: Makeshift vessel carrying 3.5 tons of drugs en route from Colombia to U.S.

Thanks to Prohibition, the drug trade is so lucrative that smuggling cartels can reap enough in black market profits to afford such technology. According to the article, 3.5 tons has a street value of $300 million. That’s one-third of a billion (with a B). My guess is, that would buy more than a few submarines.

And so what if they caught this one sub? How many more do you think are out there right now? How many resources do you think are being used by the drug cartels to study and respond to government tactics?

The "War on Drugs" is a glorious disaster. We may have a few ceremonial victories, like this. But we will never stop the trade of a product that present such lucrative opprotunities.

It's time to give it up. Re-legalize it. Get it back in the hands of legitimate companies. Hell, regulate and tax it if you want to. That would be better than putting a $300 million dollar gift into the hands of violent, murderous thugs, and their coke-addicted, old-lady-mugging clientele.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Income Tax, Military, and the Voluntary Society

Brian Duffy over at The Miami Valley Conservative Alliance shows off his fundamental love of All-Things Government. In a recent post, he comments on the idea that military people should be exempt from paying income tax, as an incentive to join the Armed Services.

Of course, he contradicts himself when he says:

The bottom-line is that we need men and women to serve in our armed forces. We all know that the work is not very appealing, and is usually arduous. For instance, Ohioans have built roads in Honduras, patrolled the streets of Baghdad, and waded through polluted water saving lives on the Gulf Coast. Yet its not incentives they join for; it’s the service and comradeship, which is most often missing from the civilian sector.

So, people don’t join the military because of incentives…but we should throw out more incentives to get people to join?

But I think there are a couple of bigger points to be made here that show more insidious aspects to the Conservative thought-process. The first, is the assumption only people employed by the State are providing a “service” to American society. Presumably, those working in the private sector are just concerned with fulfilling their selfish desires, building wealth for themselves, and only themselves. There is no "comraderie" in the private sector. There are no mutually beneficial, supportive, cooperative relationships, and corresponding social institutions which cultivate such relationships, formed by civilians. No. The private sector is merely a dog-eat-dog world, a war of all-against-all where individuals exploit each other, lying, cheating, and stealing their way to riches and glory. This is an argument Collectivists have long used when criticizing the voluntarist society.

Of course, this view is fundamentally flawed in the sense that, in the private sector, one only is able to secure wealth through service to others; others who voluntarilyy desire to trade for one’s creative energies. When a plumber, a doctor, a taxi-cab driver, or an actor goes to work, he or she is expending his/her energies in ways that the rest of society values and desires. In the private sector, one only “gets rich” if one first serves the needs of others. It matters not what one thinks of the particular service being rendered; society, as a whole, through the sum total of individual buying and selling activities, freely expresses what it desires to have on any given day. And it’s everyday, and everyone in society, when these votes are being cast.

Duffy’s view is completely backwards. The State, because it operates via coercion, does not provide any service to society; not in any meaningful sense, anyway, because what the political authorities decide to give you has no fundamental connection to whether or not you want said service. If there is one lesson to be learned from Social Security, it would be that. Anything "provided" by the State is done so at gun point. You will have this good or service whether you like it, or value it, or not. And you will pay for it, too. In a political system, you get rich by plundering others, not by providing a service of value.

Which brings me to a second point. Duffy says, we “need men and women to serve in our armed forces”. In fact, he even makes the point that we “need” the police, as well. Sure, one might agree that the generic provision of “protection” is a service most people value to some degree or another. But Duffy assumes that such services can only be provided by the State. In keeping with his general distaste for the workings of the private sector (or, at the very least, his fundamental misunderstanding), the idea that the private sector can provide “security” falls outside of his imagination.

Furthermore, in light of the history of American foreign policy over the past 100 years, there is a circular logic that invades his reasoning. The American government meddles in places around the globe, propping up foreign dictators who brutalize their people, and a whole slew of other not-so-nice actions that are the direct cause for so much enmity toward Americans, leading to events like 9-11-01. And yet, we need these same politicians, with their military enforcers, to protect us from the enemies they’ve created?

But the bottom line is… if we truly “need” police and military, why are they funded by compulsory taxes, and not through voluntary contract? If its so clearly obvious that the police and the military are providing an invaluable service, without which, our entire country would up and disappear in a cloud of smoke tomorrow, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that most individuals would recognize this clear fact, and pony up to voluntarily buy something that it is in their interest, and desires, to have? After all, that’s what those greedy civilian sector people are doing when they work to enrich themselves, instead of selflessly “serving” American society, right? Or do these hyper-greedy private sector brigands possess a flawed sense of calculus, to which our heroic Duffy and his politicians will come to the rescue and provide us something we all were too stupid to recOgnize was "for our own good".

The last point regards the use of the income as a tool for social engineering. He implicitly acknowledges that the income tax is, and ought to BE, a power the State retains in order to engage in the act of organizing society to harmonize with the desires of the political class. Need more bodies for the War Machine? Abolishing taxes for military personnel is just the solution. Of course, he doesn’t take any issue with the income tax, per se. Presumably, he’s ok with this Marxist carrot-on-a-stick, as the rest of his post extols the virtues of the outcome of such a policy, which he so obviously supports, and which would only work providing the rest of us working schmucks were to still be kept under the boot of such a tax (otherwise, there’s not relative benefit to joining the military). My view, however, is the income tax is immoral, and should be abolished - for everyone. That a so-called “Conservative” fully and implicitly embraces it as an effective tool speaks volumes for the priorities Conservatives have, and their view of liberty itself.

Conservatives: Just Another Brand of Delusional Collectivists

Just as Socialists (or “progressives”, or “liberals”, or “left wingers”) everywhere used to spout the mantra that “socialism wasn’t a failure, the ‘wrong’ people were in charge and betrayed the vision”…. Now we have a bunch of Neocon Warhawks complaining that it was Bush’s fault that the Iraq war has been such a dismal failure.

And the idea that such lofty dreams cannot be advanced at the point of a gun, through killing and destruction on a massive scale? Oh, no! Banish the thought! The State is God, and the President is (supposed to be) an all-knowing Messiah, capable of delivering us from evil, carrying mankind unto the Promised Land.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Doug Bandow: The Wreck of the War Party

Doug Bandow is one of my favorite foreign policy scholars. Often writing insightful articles which acknowledge the political realities of the world, he offers a refreshing perspective on the subject. In his latest article published on, he comments on the spectacular crash and burn of the Republican party in last week's elections. Normally, I would provide a link and a couple of excerpts, but this one is SO good, I am just going to repost it in its entirety. Enjoy!


November 10, 2006
The Wreck of the War Party
Doug Bandow

The wild, drunken neocon joyride is over. After running as the candidate of national restraint and humility, George W. Bush metamorphosed into a modern Alexander the Great, promising to bring civilization and democracy to both the known and unknown worlds. He mobilized popular support for war in Iraq by manipulating dubious intelligence and spinning idyllic fantasies. The Republicans increased their congressional majorities by demonizing their critics, suggesting that opposition equaled defeatism and treason. The results were GOP victories in 2002 and 2004.

But like a classic Ponzi scheme, the Republican political scam eventually had to end. For a time the GOP could blame its manifold failures on former President Bill Clinton, Democratic Party opposition, media bias, French perfidy, foreign faithlessness, Pakistani double-dealing, UN ineffectiveness, Iranian interference, Russian skullduggery, and more. After six years, however, there is no one left to blame.

America has squandered its immense store of moral capital after Sept. 11. Iraq is a catastrophe, a strategic mistake of enormous proportions. North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon. Iran is busy moving ahead with its own atomic program. China and Russia, along with much of Europe, cheerfully obstruct, oppose, impede, and hinder U.S. initiatives. The American government is hated around the world, and especially in the Muslim and Arab worlds.

Democratic movements in Egypt and Lebanon are fizzling. The Sudanese conflict continues to rage. Latin America has embraced unregenerate leftists Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega despite Washington's angry mutterings. Russia is reasserting its influence in the nations of Georgia and Ukraine. Today the U.S. government is more distrusted and Americans are less secure than before George W. Bush took office.

The domestic policy record is no better. Massive spending increases. Little respect and sometimes overt disdain for civil liberties. Centralization of power in Washington. The biggest expansion of the welfare state in 40 years. No progress on Social Security reform. And fulfillment of Lord Acton's famous warning about power: pervasive abuse, pork-barreling, self-dealing, and corruption in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Perhaps most important has been the administration's astounding combination of arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 George W. Bush's stubborn simplicity seemed to affirm America's moral rightness; today the president's unchanging rhetoric in the face of endless disaster is recognized as dangerous indifference to reality. It has become all too evident to the majority of Americans that President Bush makes policy based on how he believes the world should be, not on how it really is.

The Republicans still thought they had a chance to hang on to their congressional majorities. Maldistricting in the House made it hard to dislodge more than a handful of incumbents. Moreover, GOP candidates sought to keep the contest focused on local issues.

The Republican demagoguery machine also was directed against Democratic congressional challengers – the president allowed that he wouldn't say they were traitors or unpatriotic, but he said: "The Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: the terrorists win and America loses." The Republicans preferred to discuss sex scenes in novels by Virginia Democratic Senate hopeful James Webb rather than the war in Iraq or congressional overspending. The GOP recognized that nothing was more important than avoiding a debate over the party's actual record in office.

Thankfully, the people were not fooled. Election-day polling found widespread dissatisfaction with Republicans on many issues, particularly congressional abuses. Most important, however, the election turned into a vote on George Bush and his misbegotten, unnecessary war in Iraq. Even a third of white evangelicals, perhaps the GOP's most reliable voting bloc, pulled a Democratic lever. Observes Gary Jacobson of the University of California-San Diego, "One thing that's true is this will have been a referendum election."

President Bush's approval rating is below 40 percent. Twice as many voters used their congressional ballot to express opposition as support for the president. While his sky-high approval ratings once helped elect Republicans to Congress, now he dragged them down.

Perhaps even more important was the war, deemed the most critical issue by voters – 49 percent said that Iraq was "extremely important." Almost 60 percent of voters disapproved of the ongoing debacle, roughly twice the number who supported the conflict. Critics of the war were far more likely, by a four-to-one margin, to choose Democrats for Congress. Opposition to the war was particularly important in moving independents and moderates into the Democratic column. An exit poll found that 56 percent of voters favored withdrawal of some or all U.S. troops from Iraq.

Although people vote for or against candidates for many reasons, the war clearly affected many races. Before the balloting, pollster John Zogby observed, "Our polling has shown that several key issues have benefited the Democrats heading into next week's election, but the war, far and away, has been the most important." One unnamed GOP campaign analyst told the Washington Times, "The Iraq war is an overwhelming presence in this election that dwarfs all other issues. It is the issue of this campaign, and it is draining all enthusiasm out of GOP partisans while motivating the Democrats."

It was James Webb's opposition to the war, and Sen. George Allen's unthinking, reflexive support of the Bush administration, that led Webb to switch parties, run, and win. Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, a county chairman, rode opposition to the war to an unexpected victory over Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-N.H.). Explicitly antiwar candidates also defeated Reps. Anne Northrup (R-Ky.) and Clay Shaw (R-Fla.).

The war may have been the deciding factor in Maryland, where decrepit Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) narrowly defeated the much more thoughtful and better qualified Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in the Senate race. Free Congress Foundation President Paul Weyrich believes the war also measurably hurt Republican Senators Mike DeWine (Ohio) and Rick Santorum (Pa.).

The Pennsylvania race is particularly interesting. Democratic State Treasurer Bob Casey is a social conservative, like Sen. Santorum. On Iraq, however, the two differed dramatically, with Santorum perhaps even more thoughtlessly hawkish than the president. Santorum had bizarrely attempted to make the case that the discovery of a few hundred chemical artillery shells, dating back to the Iran-Iraq war decades ago, somehow justified America's invasion. Also in discussing Iraq, Santorum argued that "we're facing the greatest threat this country has ever faced," one apparently surpassing the Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War. This is a parody of thinking, let alone foreign policy analysis, suggesting that Santorum, not Bob Casey, as many Republicans charged, was the unserious candidate.

Now that the electorate has spoken, have the Republicans learned anything? President Bush sounded conciliatory in the election aftermath, though on Iraq he had previously pledged to maintain his stay-and-die policy for U.S. troops even if he was left with just his wife and dog in his corner. Bush's rhetoric suggested that he was more likely to endorse further domestic concessions – more wasteful subsidies for alternative energy and increased federalization of education, for instance – than acknowledge reality in Iraq. Bush's quick defenestration of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, however, indicates that even the president understands that politics as usual won't work. The president said that a "fresh perspective" on Iraq was needed. Whether he will actually change strategy, as in begin to withdraw, as opposed to tactics, is not yet obvious.

Other Republicans clearly have gotten the message. A number of GOP candidates began edging away from Bush on Iraq during the campaign. For instance, Ohio's Rep. Deborah Price said that "What's happening in Iraq is not a direct reflection on me" and opined that her support for the invasion authorization "doesn't mean I'm always happy with what I see." Republican New Jersey Senate hopeful Tom Kean and Rep. Anne Northrup (R-Ky.) both called for Rumsfeld's resignation. Other candidates, such as Florida Governor-elect Charlie Crist, voiced no criticism of the president but avoided ever joining him on the same platform.

This general strategy was of only limited utility: for instance, Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) triumphed while Kean, Northrup, and Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) did not. (The latter actually had opposed going to war with Iraq from the start, but angry voters were in no mood to pay attention to such fine distinctions.) The trickle of GOP defections may soon become a deluge.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), declared after her victory that the administration's Iraq policy "has to change." Moreover, "that message should have been conveyed by the administration much sooner." The redoubtable Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said that it is time to "start moving America out of Iraq."

Equally important is the attitude of GOP apparatchiks. Most are practical rather than ideological, committed to winning above all else. They have generally supported Bush's pro-war policies because he helped them win, not because activists believed in his neocon-inspired joyride. The reality of defeat is likely to spark a stampede away from the administration. One unnamed GOP analyst told the Washington Post, "For way too long, we believed our own talking points. We actually believed that things were getting better." No longer.

Neocon intellectuals might still be able to maintain their grip on the levers of power within the administration, though Robert Gates, Rumsfeld's designated successor, is viewed more as a traditional hawk with realist sensibilities. But the administration is likely to lose a significant chunk of its political and popular support. That will reduce the administration's running room in Iraq; perhaps more important, the president will be less able to launch other foolish foreign adventures, such as an attack on Iran.

Bush still might hold firm on Iraq, refusing to abandon the administration's misguided crusade. Indeed, until now retreat was the last thing on the administration's mind. Observed Vice President Dick Cheney before the vote, "You cannot make national security policy on the basis of that. It may not be popular with the public. It doesn't matter, in the sense that we have to continue the mission." If Bush chooses to do so, it will be hard to stop him: the executive branch has seized primacy in foreign affairs, despite the Constitution's grant of concurrent authority to Congress.

Moreover, there is no easy way for even a united Democratic Party on Capitol Hill to force Bush to give way. Use of the budget power to cut off funding is awkward and risks allowing the executive to charge that Congress is hurting troops in the field. Even more so, disaffected Republicans will be loath to challenge the president.

What the Democrats can do is investigate administration deceptions and blunders, expose the lack of realistic planning, and challenge DOD and White House officials to offer a justification for America's continued presence. In particular, the incoming Democratic Congress needs to demand that the administration offer a program that rooted in reality rather than fantasy.

Moreover, the Democrats must develop an alternative foreign policy vision, one that does not rely on the so-called incompetence dodge – that the only thing wrong with the Republican War Party is that its members are inept. Iraq is a disaster because social engineering is even less workable at a global than at a national level. After developing a more noninterventionist critique, Democrats need to use their newfound access to the media and the policy world by making the case that a measured but full withdrawal is the only rational policy alternative in Iraq today.

Equally important, the Democrats need to cooperate with Republicans who realize that the War Party has wrecked their chance to build an enduring majority. Just as there are interventionist Democrats, who like war so long as they wage it, there always have been Republicans who realized that war is always a last resort, the ultimate big government program. And now there are many GOP candidates, workers, and supporters who realize that promiscuous warmongering, especially a war of choice based on deceptive arguments and crackpot fantasies, is a political loser. Within the GOP, ideological noninterventionists must work with political activists to isolate, and if possible expel, the ideological interventionists.

Ultimately, breaking the neoconservative grip on the levers of power will require a bipartisan (or multi/transpartisan) effort. This election should embolden the Democrats to directly confront the War Party. Equally important, it should encourage Republicans to abandon a political leadership that led its candidates, like lemmings, over the cliff.

Despite the election, more Americans and Iraqis are destined to die in the administration's foolish, unnecessary war. But Nov. 7 is the beginning of the end for the warmongers. The War Party has run aground. Now it's critical to ensure that the end comes sooner rather than later, and that never again does a small cabal of ideological extremists grab control America's national security apparatus to inaugurate a disastrous war of choice.

Milton Friedman: Dead at 94

A moment of silence, please, for the passing of a prominent free market economist.

Milton Friedman: Dead at 94

Milton Friedman, Nobel Winning Economist, Dies at 94

My take? While one can certainly find problems with Friedman's theories and approach to free market advocacy - he was, afterall, largely responsible for income tax "withholding" - there is no denying that Friedman was a giant in the field of Economics. Whether you are a follower of the "Austrian" school of economics - such as I tend to be - Friedman's "Chicago" school, or some other school of thought, its hard to deny that Friedman had a lot of impact on the course of public policy.

Today, however, I pause to acknowledge that a great man has passed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Who's the Bigger Threat to Freedom?

Mike Gaddy had a superb article this morning on
Does the insurgent in Iraq present a greater danger to freedom than the politicians who signed The Patriot Act without reading it? Is al Qaeda to be feared more than ? the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus Is the young Iraqi soldier fighting in the streets of Baghdad more dangerous to our freedoms than the John Warner National Defense Act , which allows the State to take direct control of any and all National Guard units over the objection of state and local officials to whom they report, through the simple expedient of declaring a "public emergency"? Just exactly who is the greatest threat to our individual rights and freedoms in this country?
This reiterates my same argument I use to those warmongers who parrot the mantra that the government is sending our troops overseas to kill or be killed for the purposes of "defending our freedoms".

Sorry, people... But our own politicians are more of a threat to our liberties than some street thug running around in a third world country.

How to Argue with A Libertarian

I've been having some rather interesting discussions recently with some Statist friends of mine. I hope organize my thoughts about some of them and blog my reflections.

And then this morning, I came across a blog post titled, "How To Argue With A Libertarian". Its a wonderful piece of satire that includes such nuggets as:
9. No policy should ever be tried until it has already been tried.

Example: "Let libertarians point to a successful example of their policies being implemented before we consider implementing them." Be sure to use this argument like a taxicab, however, as it implies that no government program should ever have been implemented in the first place.

I have one acquaintance that routinely demands that I point to a libertarian society that has existed in the past to show that liberty works, doesn't result in "chaos", and will provide security. Of course, no such society has existed, since the entire history of mankind has been marked by Statism, brutality, and oppression..(but I repeat myself). And furthermore, when one points to smaller advances that are made when liberty is allowed to flourish, numerous excuses are made, or the advances are dismissed as not being the product of liberty, but of something else - usually government. A determined Statist, who will reject liberty as the cause for any improvement in the human condition, has locked himself into a bubble in which he will only accept certain predetermined answers. He will pretend to consider proposals for liberty, but because liberty heretofore hasn't been tried, it is automatic proof that it doesn't work.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Conservative Excuse Makers

Further elaborating on my point that Conservatives are perhaps the best excuse-makers known to mankind, Lawrence Vance had this article published on Lew , where he asks "what Republican revolution?"
When what looked like a Republican revolution seemed to stagnate under Clinton, excuses began to be made for the fact that the Republicans were acting like anything but the conservatives who voted them into office. Republican control of the White House, we were told, and a larger Republican majority in Congress, were needed to complete the revolution. After all, Clinton could veto any bills passed by a Republican Congress, and the Republicans did not have a veto-proof majority. It turns out that in eight years Clinton only vetoed seventeen bills, making Republican fears unfounded.
As I've said for years, Republicans will give you an excuse for everything under the sun as to why we can't have liberty. Under Reagan, when government grew bigger, more expanasive, more intrusive and more costly, it was because the Dems controlled Congress. Under Clinton, it was't a big enough Republican congressional majority. And now that they've lost power, it's because Dems are now in power.

They'll give you every excuse except the one that's most obviously true... Conservatives have NO interest in liberty. Zero. Zilch. Nada. None. When they have the opportunity to actually do something for the cause of liberty, they don't.

To prove it, Jacob Hornberger asks,

- How many departments were abolished when Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress?
- How many agencies?
- How many spending bills were vetoed?
- How many pork-barrel projects were jettisoned?
- How much was federal spending reduced?

The answer to every question is, of course, a big fat zero. No egregious legislation was repealed, and the welfare/warfare state is bigger and more intrusive than ever. Some revolution.

Who can really take Conservatives seriously? All it takes is will power, folks! And Conservatives have none.

Orwell Would Be Proud

Yesterday was "Veteran's Day". This is the holiday that was formerly known as Armistice Day, and was established to commemorate the end of one of the most horrific wars in history, World War I.

Its kind of ironic how a holiday that was established to celebrate peace and the end of war, has been subtly changed to now be an opportunity to glorify all things warlike. On days like these we are supposed to roll out the mental and emotional red carpet for "our troops", who are spread out across half the globe, on a mission to kill or be killed, sent by politicians in Washington. We are supposed to be thankful on days like this for the willingness of our leaders to courageously wage war, and by placing the focus on the ones actually doing the Pols dirty work, they cleverly avoid all criticism.

All this on a day originally meant to celebrate the end of war.

Yes, Orwell would be proud.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Republican Party: Liberty's Version of the AIDS Virus

It’s funny how much rationalizing Conservatives are doing about their party’s election losses. All around the blogosphere, we hear the same mantras being spouted and touted: We didn’t lose because of the scandals, the complete and utter lunacy of the war on Iraqi, massive expansion of State power, a reckless foreign policy, etc.… No, we lost because we "lost our way"… We didn’t deliver on the promises we made in 1994. Spending and government growth have gone through the roof, and so on.

What Conservatives need to realize is that the Republican party is not, nor has ever been, the answer. Republicans have ALWAYS stood for bigger government. Whenever they have held the reins of power, we have seen massive intrusions on civil liberties and the Bill of Rights, and the diminshment of liberty on all fronts. We get more warmongering, which in turn leads to more taxes, more spending, more debt, and more inflation here at home. People who call themselves "Conservative" need to understand that the Republican party is not the party of smaller, limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, and free markets. To sit here and say… well, our party didn’t deliver on what we asked for 12 years ago is, frankly, disingenuous, because even 12 years ago, any libertarian could have accurately predicted what the Republican party would deliver upon seizing control of the State.

The problem, as I see it, is that many Conservatives truly and honestly believe their party is organized around the principles of liberty. As I said, they are not. Sure, a few Republicans now and then will spout a few platitudes about free markets and smaller government, but when you take a look a bit deeper at the actions of Republican politicians, not a single trace of principle – beyond the principle of weilding raw power – can be found. The unwillingness to examine this core truth is what makes Conservatives probably the biggest enemy of liberty in existence.

This is also why I equate the Republican Party to the AIDS virus. When Democrats are in power, and try to pass their hare-brained big government schemes – higher taxes, new programs, onerous regulation, stupid laws, etc. – self-described Conservatives are on guard to fight these encroachments on their fundamental rights. When Conservatives are the "opposition party", they do a marginally passable job of, at least, keeping the debate open on liberty (even if it is a misguided sense of what true liberty is.)

However, when Republicans hold the reins of power, as we’ve had these past 6 years, suddenly, any big government intrusion on liberty is now deemed acceptable by Conservatives, and defended with every ounce of energy. When Republicans want, say, to abolish habeas corpus – a staple of the western legal tradition dating back to 1215 – Conservatives everywhere rush to defend this massive expansion of State power. Because it’s the "good guys" doing it, it must be OK. Where Conservatives once acted as the body politic’s immune system to State tyranny, Republicanism has lulled their defenses to sleep, allowing the State to expand and liberty to diminish.

Think this isn’t the case? How many Conservatives railed against Clinton’s plans for education and healthcare, only to turn around and give a pass to Bush for doing just about the exact same things? If a Democrat does must be fought. If a Republican does best, go ahead and complain a little, but by all means, don't leave the fold! We must keep the Rs in power at all costs!

Furthermore, how many Conservatives stuck by their party in this past election, hoping they could maintain their power, but now say that Republicans deserve to lose because they walked away from their Conservative principles? You can’t have it both ways, people! If they walked away from Conservative principles, and you were STILL out there campaigning and politicking for them, then you cannot say that they deserved to lose because they didn’t deliver what you wanted. You’ve seen the record of the past 6 years, and you still wanted to see them hold on to power, Conservative principles be damned! In short, you want more war, more spending, more government. More! More! More!

So, my message for those Conservatives trying to console themselves for their party’s losses is simply this: don’t blame the Republican party - blame yourself and your ideology. The Republicans gave you what you ask for, which is power over principle. If you don’t like the result, then maybe it’s time to rethink your principles.

Or else, admit you're not the least bit interested in liberty.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Fallout Continues

And given that the War was cited as the overwhelming reason for the Republican loss, the point man for the war is quitting.

(There was no word on whether Bush commented, “You’re doing a great job, Rummy!” shortly before the elections….)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just two years ago, when Bush won re-election almost single-handedly on his record as a “war president”, he bragged about his “political capital”, and was emboldened by what he perceived to be validation by the voters for the Iraq bloodbath. He stubbornly continued to pursue his war with reckless myopia, employing the propaganda machines with full force when any sort of criticism was directly his way. He was right, and come hell or high water, damn it, he was taking America and Iraq to a Utopia of democracy, peace, and prosperity.

And now, it has all backfired. Even Bush cannot deny what is plainly obvious to even the simplest voter. His glorious plans are a failure. He’s scrambling to find some political capital, and so it makes total sense that he makes a change in the position that is in charge of executing the war. It won’t change anything, of course. The next two years will be a living hell for Dubya, and his party lies in ruins. One can only hope that the Democrats don’t go too socialist on our dead asses. But if they do…it’s the fault of Conservatives and the monolithic police State they’ve built.

Some Post Election Thoughts

Some post election conversations I’ve been having….

- I think it’s a good thing the Democrats took the House. One-party rule is NEVER good. We’ve gotten nothing but war, big-government, outrageous spending, and an obscene trampling of the Bill of Rights under the Republicans. At least now…we can look forward to some good old-fashioned gridlock.

- Bill Peirce garnered over 67000 votes. The campaign was fairly well-run, creative, and run with dignity and class. Because of Bill Peirce, a retired Economics professor, people can look at the LP and say that we run bona fide candidates with the actual skills needed to govern effectively, instead of being a bunch of overambitious political hacks. I’m proud to have voted for Bill Peirce yesterday. I pity those people who enter the voting booth with fear. Democracy is supposed to be about "the people" excercising their power. A voter who casts his ballot under a cloud of fear, suspicion, and worry (which is exactly what most voters do, when they vote because they are afraid of one of the parties and/or candidates gaining power) doesn’t exactly strike me as a person who feels powerful. Something’s wrong here.

- The minimum wage increase passed. There is NO economic justification for a minimum wage – or any other form of price controls. Some co-workers are optimistic about the increase to $6+ /hr, because they think that their sons and daughters will now be able to earn more money to spend, because they always seem to be short. What this overlooks is that in order to spend more, one must produce more. The actual wage is simply a gauge to measure the value of services rendered. Furthermore, by raising the minimum wage, we lock out those at the lowest end of the labor market because their skills are not valued enough to offset the increased price. Thus, being unemployed, they now must pay more for goods and services which cost more…because of the higher labor costs of business. Even at my company, HR just had a meeting this morning to decide how to respond to the new minimum wage that is being enforced. As our wage rates are already competitive (at about $4/hr more than minimum), it was decided that no increase would be passed off to our current workforce. In relative terms, our entire workforce just got that much poorer. And as I said to one of my coworkers…if we could make more people, more prosperous, simply by raising the minimum wage, then why not jack it up to $100/hour? Think of how rich we would all be! Common sense tells you that this wouldn’t work. Do why would it work for any other, strictly arbitrary, "minimum".

- The smoking ban passed. In the war between Big Pharmacueticals and Big Tobbacco, it was the small business owners and Liberty itself that was the casualty. Johnson and Johnson, and other companies which sell "the patch" and other anti-smoking aids, now stand to reap a windfall with the potential increase in sales. And you thought this was a "public health" issue. Its all about using the State to line ones pockets. Stupid voters!

- As I noted before… Blackwell lost by about 20+ points. And I still have people telling me they voted for him "because he had a chance". Uhh.. Sorry folks… About a week or two ago he was down by 10 points in the polls. That doesn’t strike me as having much of a chance. And then he came out with some attack ads to try to pin Strickland with NAMBLA, and making implications that he’s gay? C’mon, people! If that isn’t the most desperate tactic imaginable, I can’t imagine what is. So, to you Blackwell voters out there… you wasted your vote. You had a chance to send a message that you wanted REAL change…REAL accountability… REAL reform… and a REAL commitment to smaller, limited government, private property, individual liberty, and personal responsibility. You had a chance to vote for Bill Peirce. You didn’t take it. You wasted your vote and asked Republicans to continue offering you candidates who are corrupt, and will use their positions to advance their own interests at the expense of the ordinary Ohioan. There never was any real chance he was going to win. You’re delusional to think he had a shot.

- And then there’s the typical, worn-out argument… "I would vote for Peirce, but it’s a vote away from Blackwell." Well… for the record, I knew 3 different people who told me that they wanted to vote for Peirce, but felt it was more important to get rid of the Republicans, and therefore were voting for Strickland. To them, a vote for Peirce was a vote FOR Blackwell. Both people cannot be right. Yet, neither side allows themselves to see this contradiction. Then again… no one ever said voting was about rational, philosophical introspection and sound, objective decision making.

I’m sure I’ll have some more conversations today. Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ken Blackwell: LOSER!!!!

Supporters of the Libertarian Party in Ohio are no doubt laughing at Ken Blackwell for his failure to win the Governorship. Good. He deserves it.

Screw you, Ken. Did you think you could abuse your position as Secretary of State to squash the demands of 60,000 Ohioans who said they wanted another choice on the ballot, and get away with it?

Typical Conservative hypocrite: We fight a war in Iraq to "bring Democracy to Iraqis", meanwhile, we restrict Democracy here at home by denying voters the choices they are asking for.

It takes a Conservative to understand THAT logic.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sound Money and the Empire

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. The books that I’m currently digesting have, ironically, been centered on the economics of money and monetary systems. I hope to write more lengthy review of some of these, which include Murray Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money, and The Case for A 100% Gold Dollar, and Andrew White’s Fiat Money Inflation In France. Each of these books lay out the foundations for a monetary system based on a sound medium of exchange, namely gold, and illustrate by historical example the detrimental and deleterious effects of “fiat” currency – the very monetary system we are now blessed with.

Well, wouldn’t you know it… just this past week, Ann Berg wrote a short article on further expounding upon how our government policies – namely our warmongering and imperial pursuits – are following the historical pattern, and will surely lead to the demise of the dollar, and all of its stagnating effects on American prosperity.

Although rarely remarked upon, the number of monetary systems the world has seen in the past one hundred years has totaled no less than five – the gold standard, dirty floats, pound sterling, Bretton Woods, and floating or sometimes pegged (1) fiat currencies. Every one of these systems (except the last) collapsed because of war and war debt. The main argument for the continued reign of the dollar, despite the prolonged, costly invasion and occupation of two countries, is the strength of the U.S. economy. But logic and history suggest otherwise: dollar hegemony prevails because the dollar-centric fiat monetary system and the rapid rise of third world economies have insulated America from debt burdens.

After World War II, as the holder of 80 percent of the world's monetary gold, the U.S. crafted a quasi-gold standard by linking the dollar to gold at $35 an ounce. It pegged all other currencies to the dollar, making them indirectly convertible to gold. This Bretton Woods system solved the pesky problem of bank runs that had created a wave of global bank failures between 1931 and 1933 (starting in Austria) by making gold strictly a balance-of-payments mechanism. (Roosevelt outlawed gold coin ownership with the threat of imprisonment in 1933.) Although the initial problem of the dollar-centric system was a dollar shortage, the Marshall Plan spurred the
dollarization of Europe and Japan. The rapid economic revitalization of these regions fueled exports, resulting in their accumulation of dollar reserves.

When Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt, Britain was already in decline. Two wars had decimated its balance sheets, forcing it to cede its colonial possessions. Its costly embrace of wage supports, entitlements, and nationalization policies ruined its manufacturing and coal mining industries. The pound, fixed in 1924 to gold and the dollar at $4.82, declined in value to $2.80 by 1955. A month after the Suez debacle, the pound fell to $2.30. When Britain slapped currency controls on
third-country financing, it put the last nail in the coffin for its currency; a rising wave of dollars in European banks gave birth to the eurodollar market. That market, deemed a flash in the pan by some, allowed dollar deposits to be loaned domestically and internationally without burdensome regulation. Today, it reigns as the largest credit market the world has ever known.

Of course… the current dominance of the dollar is not something that is automatically going to last until kingdom come….

How the dollar got so big is no mystery. Once freed from the discipline of backing dollars with gold in 1971, the money supply increased thirteen-fold – an event forewarned by economists. One reason why this inflation doesn't show up in the Federal Reserve's numbers is that the U.S. exports much of its inflation. (China holds probably $600 billion in dollar reserves.) Without the rest of the world's absorption of dollars, which recirculate via cheap goods and low interest rates, the U.S. would have seen runaway inflation. Also the Federal Reserve – the supposed inflation watchdog – ignores a host of data signaling price appreciation. Spending more for food and energy? Too volatile to consider. Did your real estate tax just double? Doesn't count. Your new car more expensive than the last one? It's really cheaper due to the extra pleasure it affords. In other words, the Fed disregards about 40 percent of what the normal person spends money on.

The Fed also turns a blind eye to asset inflation. Ownership is good, even if increased valuations in stocks, bonds, and real estate are merely the result of the pumped-up supply of greenbacks. How does the Fed create extra money? In a magical act called "deficit-backed financing," (
4) it buys Treasury notes from banks or other institutions and simply makes an offsetting credit to them out of thin air. (5) Thus, an anointed committee, creating money and poring over spending data gleaned from consumers' diaries, has replaced gold's automaticity with a sugar-coated economy that keeps the consumer spending and foreigners financing both public and private debt. The dollar, as much as any politician, lobbyist, or mercantilist, is the silent accomplice to the unaffordable pursuits of conquest.

However, the dollar's fault lines are showing.

The booming housing market that supported $600 billion in extra spending last year is coming to an abrupt end. Soft landing? Never have home buyers been more leveraged, procuring homes just by paying interest on the debt. Recently, California foreclosures were reported up by
from last year.

New jobs are increasingly coming from nontransferable service sectors at the low end of the pay scale. Cosmeticians, hairstylists, and nurses are the new American economy.

Pension liabilities and uncompetitive labor inputs are forcing companies to "buy out" their workers. Like the agricultural programs that paid farmers to set aside land, which resulted in the rapid export of U.S. soybean and wheat acreage to South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia, these programs accelerate America's decline as a productive economy.

Educational standards are rapidly sliding downhill. Some estimate that one-third of all high school students
won't graduate this year.

Asia is quickly increasing its consumption, meaning fewer dollars can be recycled into Treasury debt. This will cause interest rates and import prices to rise.

Finally, the whole structure of capital is changing. Corporations have record profits, but are keeping the money close to the vest, often buying back their own shares. As real investment opportunities are declining, the banking and financial houses have spawned a quadrillion-dollar industry around derivatives trading, enticing investors to hop onboard the commodity boom. However, as any trader knows, derivatives trading is a zero-sum game, and unlike capital formation, it produces nothing (other than profits and losses). Therefore, money flows are becoming increasingly cannibalistic.

Anytime some war pig wants to start elaborating how the war on terror is what America needs to survive, ask them what the historical record is for empires that seek to rule the world. Ask them when has Imperialism ever done anything but ruin a nation, destroy its culture, and set back human progress? My sense is, as someone once remarked about Rudyard Kipling, they don’t love America because we’re American, they love America because we are strong. But our faux “strength” is bound to fail sooner or later, and by continuing the fool’s errand of Empire, we are assured to become a destitute, impoverished footnote in the annals of human history.