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Liberty and Power



  • Israeli Foreign Minister Wants Palestinians Punished

    by Liberty and Power

     
    From the Middle East Monitor, September 22:
     
    Israel's Foreign Minister has warned Benjamin Netanyahu that the governing coalition will fall part if the Prime Minister doesn't take punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority for its decision to bid for independent statehood at the United Nations.

  • Peace Prize-Winner Obama Savages Somalia

    by Liberty and Power

    A human catastrophe is taking place in Somalia, the result of drought, famine — and the savage war conducted by the Obama administration, complete with a CIA training facility and prison....

    The catastrophe is often attributed to natural conditions, but neighboring areas are not experiencing the same threat.

    The difference is Obama’s war. In the guise of fighting terrorism the U.S. government, beginning under George W. Bush and continuing with a vengeance under the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama, has turned Somalia into a hellhole. If Americans knew what was happening in their name, they would hang their heads in shame. Or would they?

    Read the full op-ed: "Peace Prize-Winner Obama Savages Somalia" here.


  • Ron Paul Must Win

    by Liberty and Power

    On September 9th Sheldon Richman put up a post, Ron Paul and Immigration: A Speculative Theory, that reminded me very much of some conversations I took part in back when I was very active with the Montgomery County Maryland Libertarian Party. They revolved around the issue, were we a real political party or just a glorified debating society. At the time that was a legitimate question because our candidates had no chance of winning power and gathering 3% of the vote was considered a good outing. It is different with Ron Paul he can and must win the presidency in 2012. He is the only one running who will take us off the road to serfdom before it becomes too late to change our direction without massive suffering or even bloodshed.


  • Ron Paul MUst Win

    by Liberty and Power

    On September 9th Sheldon Richman put up a post, Ron Paul and Immigration: A Speculative Theory, that reminded me very much of some conversations I took part in back when I was very active with the Montgomery County Maryland Libertarian Party. They revolved around the issue, were we a real political party or just a glorified debating society. At the time that was a legitimate question because our candidates had no chance of winning power and gathering 3% of the vote was considered a good outing. It is different with Ron Paul he can and must win the presidency in 2012. He is the only one running who will take us off the road to serfdom before it becomes too late to change our direction without massive suffering or even bloodshed.


  • Limbaugh’s Creative Accounting

    by Liberty and Power

    I understand Rush Limbaugh has nominated George W. Bush for the next vacancy on Mount Rushmore because “the United States” has not been attacked since 9/11.  Okay, if you ignore the fact that more Americans have been killed in aggressive foreign wars since 9/11 than were killed on the day the World Trade Center and Pentagon were hit and that Osama bin Laden got what he was after: American imperial overreach and a financial hemorrhage that won’t be stanched.  


  • Influential Financial Economist Turns to Austrianism

    by Liberty and Power

     

    Thomas Mayer is the chief economist of Deutsche Bank Group and head of Deutsche Bank Research. He has an impressive background as a highly placed analyst in major private and public financial institutions. Which is to say, when he speaks, people are much more likely to pay attention and to give weight to what he says than they are when those of us on the lunatic fringe spout off.

    So, it is an event of considerable note that Mayer has recently given a speech in which he roundly condemns the major macroeconomic theories embraced since the 1930s and the government policies that have flowed from them.


  • NPR Morning Hit Piece on Ron Paul (Another Reason to Defund "Public Radio")

    by Liberty and Power

    NPR ruined my morning drive.  In typical fashion, it's morning blow-by-blow summary of the debate ignored Ron Paul (aside from a very brief mention that he was booed).  The focus was on Romney and Perry and Michelle Bachmann (who Paul now leads in national polls).   This was to be expected.  A reporter for NPR then hit a new low, however, in the post-debate interviews when he baldly stated that Paul had said that U.S.


  • One More Time: Consumption Spending HAS Already Recovered

    by Liberty and Power

     Commentators and pundits, some of whom ought to know better, continue to harp on the idea that the recession persists because consumers are not spending. Every Keynesian seems to believe that because consumers are in a dreadful funk, only government stimulus spending can rescue the moribund economy, given (to them, at least) that investors will not spend more because the Fed, having already driven interest rates to extraordinarily low levels, cannot use conventional policies to drive them any lower and thereby elicit more investment spending.

    People, please look at the data. They are conveniently available to one and all at the website maintained by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the outfit that generates the national income and product accounts for the United States.

    According to these data, real personal consumption expenditure recovered from its recession decline by the fourth quarter of 2010.


  • It Makes One's Head Spin

    by Liberty and Power

     

    President Obama’s jobs program calls for cuts in both sides of the payroll tax. That tax finances Social Security and Medicare. Social Security and Medicare are already taking in less money than they need to pay retirees. So they will have to cash in more of the Treasury IOUs left behind when previous surpluses were used to finance general expenditures. But the Treasury is also already running a trillion-dollar-plus deficit. So it will have to borrow more in the capital markets in order to pay back the Social Security and Medicare funds. Unless Obama makes up the lost revenue by changing the tax code. But then money will be withdrawn from the economy in the form of higher taxes so it can be put back into the economy through the payroll-tax cut. Somehow that’s supposed to stimulate the economy.

    Got all that? There’ll be a quiz later.


  • Ron Paul & Immigration: A Speculative Theory

    by Liberty and Power

    Ron Paul’s position on what I’ll call unauthorized immigration—or immigration sans government permission--is indeed strange. He calls for “secure borders” but opposes employer sanctions, Real ID, and a border wall (which he says could be used to keep people in as well as out). He also minimizes the importance of unauthorized immigration by saying it wouldn’t be such an issue if the economy were healthy (people are worried about jobs now) and the welfare state didn’t exist.

    That odd mix leads me to wonder if Ron Paul is actually for open borders but doesn’t want to say it. (He was for open borders when he was the Libertarian Party nominee for president in 1988.) True, there are arguments against my speculation. His website says, “A nation without borders is no nation at all,” he’s against birthright citizenship, and he opposes amnesty, which it claims “will only encourage more law-breaking.” (I oppose amnesty too. There’s no need to forgive people for doing what they have a perfect right to do.)

    But can one really be against unauthorized immigration if one opposes steps that seem necessary to even begin to stop it? Who wills the end, wills the means, it is said.


  • Labor Day: Not What You Think

    by Liberty and Power

    Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States, has the lowdown on Labor Day here. It's not what you think. Clue: President Grover Cleveland, who sent the military to Illinois, over objection of the governor, to break the Pullman strike, signed the bill. (Several workers were killed "at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals."
    [Cleveland] and its sponsors intended it not as a celebration of leisure but as a promotion of the great American work ethic. Work, they believed, was the highest calling in life, and Labor Day was a reminder to get back to it.

  • Regime Uncertainty: Pirrong Debunks the Keynesian Debunking

    by Liberty and Power

    As the idea of regime uncertainty has gained ground in recent years as a partial explanation of the economy’s failure to recover quickly and fully, economists and others invested in Keynesian thinking have begun to strike back. One such Keynesian debunking of regime uncertainty was offered recently by Gary Burtless and seemingly endorsed by Mark Thoma. Now, Craig Pirrong, an economist at the University of Houston, has debunked Burtless’s arguments.

    Pirrong uses options pricing theory to show why the Keynesians are missing the point of the regime uncertainty concept and why, even on their own terms, their arguments for disregarding regime uncertainty and simply pumping up aggregate demand are wrong.

    To adapt a familiar saying:  first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they embrace the idea and claim that they had it first. We are now passing through Stage II.


  • Yankee, Go Home!

    by Liberty and Power

    After the Japanese government surrendered to the Americans and their allies in 1945, the U.S. military occupied the Japanese home islands and ruled the nation for several years. In due course, however, Japan’s situation was normalized, and, moreover, in 1946 the Japanese adopted a new constitution that renounced war as an instrument of national policy:

    CHAPTER II: RENUNCIATION OF WAR

    Article 9:

    Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. 2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

    At that point, Japan no longer represented a threat, or even a potential threat, to the United States, apart from the threat that developed later that the Japanese would sell American consumers superior automobiles and consumer electronics, among other things.


  • One Man’s Waste Is Another Man’s Bonanza

    by Liberty and Power

    In a recently released report, the Commission on Wartime Contracting concludes that waste and fraud have consumed at least $31 billion and perhaps as much as $60 billion of the $190 billion or so that the U.S. government has expended in grants and contracts with private individuals and companies for work in Iraq and Afghanistan since fiscal 2002.  According to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The report faults poor decision making, vague requirements and a lack of training as the chief causes and says that the waste and fraud could have been avoided with better oversight and safeguards.”

    To which I am inclined to respond, not bloody likely.

    Think about it: $30 billion is a helluva lot of money. At my current rate of earning, I will have to work more than 300,000 years to earn this amount—and it’s entirely possible that I will not last that long. Of course, what is called “fraud and waste” is not a sum of money that simply evaporated in the hot desert sun. Aside from the small amount literally lost, every dollar of this sum ended up in someone’s pocket.


  • Michael Lind’s False Alternative

    by Liberty and Power

    Michael Lind writes at Salon.com: “Having denounced liberals as crypto communists for half a century during the Cold War, the American right now routinely accuses the center-left of being fascist.” Lind goes on to wonder why “American conservatives and libertarians” have avoided discussion of their own “heroes” who seem to have been soft on fascists. He specifically mentions Ludwig von Mises’s remarks about the Italian Fascists in the 1920s (in his book Liberalism) and F. A. Hayek’s and Milton Friedman’s alleged approval of Augusto Pinochet’s “free market” dictatorship in Chile.


  • Op-ed: Federal Reserve Grabs New Powers

    by Liberty and Power

     

    While inflation hawks understandably keep a close watch on the Federal Reserve’s money-creation activities, an equally worrisome Fed activity is taking place right under their noses. Under cover of addressing the financial crisis and recession, the Fed has become the central allocator of credit.

     

    As San Jose State University economics professor Jeffrey Rogers Hummel points out in The Independent Review (Spring 2011), Fed chairman Ben Bernanke “has so expanded the Fed’s discretionary actions beyond merely controlling the money stock that it has become a gigantic, financial central planner.... [T]he Fed that emerged from the crisis is no longer the same as the Fed before the crisis.”

     

    Read the full op-ed, "Federal Reserve Grabs New Powers."