Monthly Archives: January 2009

Chávez Needs Cash — FAST!

Back in October, I posted on a little problem appearing in Venezuela. The government’s spending requires very high oil prices to keep the books balanced, and $40 oil is not exactly close to that target.

So what does Venezuela need? Quick money:

President Hugo Chávez, buffeted by falling oil prices that threaten to damage his efforts to establish a Socialist-inspired state, is quietly courting Western oil companies once again.

Until recently, Mr. Chávez had pushed foreign oil companies here into a corner by nationalizing their oil fields, raiding their offices with tax authorities and imposing a series of royalties increases.

But faced with the plunge in prices and a decline in domestic production, senior officials have begun soliciting bids from some of the largest Western oil companies in recent weeks — including Chevron, Royal Dutch/Shell and Total of France — promising them access to some of the world’s largest petroleum reserves, according to energy executives and industry consultants here.

Their willingness to even consider investing in Venezuela reflects the scarcity of projects open to foreign companies in other top oil nations, particularly in the Middle East.

First, he’s going to auction off the fields. Then, the companies who actually have technology will develop them. Finally, when prices have risen and he’s feeling saucy, he’ll re-nationalize them.

Any oil company that trusts Chávez, at this late date, won’t get much sympathy from me when he changes course again.

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Supreme Court Takes Middle School Strip Search Case

More than a year ago, I wrote about an Arizona middle school student who was strip searched by school officials after being caught with Advil, a legal non-prescription, over-the-counter pain reliever, in her possession.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and determine whether her parents can pursue a claim against the school district:

The strip-search case was brought by the mother of Savana Redding, who in 2003 was an eighth-grade student at a public middle school in Safford, Ariz. Another student, found with ibuprofen pills in violation of a strict school policy, said Savana had given them to her.

School officials searched Savana’s belongings, made her strip to her bra and underwear, and ordered her, in the words of an appeals court, “to pull her bra out to the side and shake it” and “pull out her underwear at the crotch and shake it.” No pills were found. The pills that prompted the search had the potency of two over-the-counter Advil capsules.

A trial judge dismissed the parent’s case against the school officials, ruling that they were immune from suit. After a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that decision, the full appeals court agreed to a rehearing. By 6 to 5, a larger panel of the court reversed the decision, saying the suit could go forward against the assistant principal who had ordered the search.

“It does not require a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old child is an invasion of constitutional rights of some magnitude,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the majority, quoting a decision in another case. “More than that: it is a violation of any known principle of human dignity.”

Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, dissenting, said the case was in some ways “a close call,” given the “humiliation and degradation” Savana had endured. But, Judge Hawkins concluded, “I do not think it was unreasonable for school officials, acting in good faith, to conduct the search in an effort to obviate a potential threat to the health and safety of their students.”

“I would find this search constitutional,” he wrote, “and would certainly forgive the Safford officials’ mistake as reasonable.”

The more important question, though, is what business school officials had in conducting a strip search to begin with. Isn’t that something that should have been done by a police officer with a search warrant issued on probable cause ?

The War on (Some) Drugs & The Prison Industrial Complex in Perspective

Good Magazine’s “Jailbirds”

The Marijuana Policy Project’s “The War on Drugs in 100 Seconds”

Hat Tip: Matt Kelly @ change.org “Criminal Justice”

Depends on What the Meaning of the Word “Torture” Is

“As I’ve said before, the United States does not torture,” said President Bush in 2006.  “It’s against our laws and it’s against our values.”

The AP brings us the latest episode of the other half of the story:

“We tortured Qahtani,” Crawford said, making her the first senior Bush administration official to say that aggressive interrogation techniques had crossed the line.

“His treatment met the legal definition of torture, and that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution, she said.

Al-Qahtani in October 2006 recanted a confession he said he made after he was tortured and humiliated at Guantanamo.

The alleged torture, which he detailed in a written statement, included being beaten, restrained for long periods in uncomfortable positions, threatened with dogs, exposed to loud music and freezing temperatures and stripped nude in front of female personnel.

As the aftermath of Gitmo begins, Andrew Sullivan provides one workable definition of the word “torture:”

The definition of torture is when the victim has no effective choice but to say something, true or false, to end the ordeal. You can bring a victim to that point of surrender of his or her soul and will in many different ways.

In the meantime, some people partially responsible for 9/11 may never be prosecuted because of the irresponsible, illegal and immoral acts of the soon-to-be previous administration.

Today’s Blog Post…

…is brought to you by the letter “E”

“E” for education, that is.  While education isn’t one of my hot-topic items, two interesting articles arrived in my inbox around the same time this morning.  First of all, Garry Reed identifies a key problem:

Last September the state of Maine gave their kiddos a lasting lesson. They tossed out the test results of a writing exam because 78 percent of the nearly 15,000 eighth-graders who took it blew it.

The state educrats decided that the test was flawed. They couldn’t blame the kids for being little know-nothings since that might permanently damage the darling’s tender little psyches and completely obliterate their self-esteem. And they obviously couldn’t blame the state’s public teaching corps since the teachers union could get the state’s professional public education administrative corps kicked out of their jobs.

So the problem had to be the test itself. And when the test is bad, you toss the results.

Jim Lesczynski discusses one solution over at the Daily News: homeschooling.  Specifically, he dispels some common misperceptions about home-educated children:

I am always surprised when people ask me whether home-schooling is legal. Yes, I tell them, home-based education is permitted in all 50 states (although the degree of regulation varies greatly).

The most prevalent misconception is that home-schooled children lack socialization and are inadequately prepared for “the real world.” Not only is this untrue, but I contend that home-schoolers receive a far richer and more varied socialization than other students. This is especially true in a city like New York, with its museums, theater and multicultural population serving as the best training ground for healthy social behavior. And thanks to home-schooling support networks, home-schoolers participate in their own sports leagues, clubs and theatrical troupes.

The socialization myth is followed in popularity by the notion that all home-schoolers are religious fanatics. I do not know if that is true in other parts of the country – although I doubt it – but it is certainly not the case in New York City. My children are friends with other home-schoolers who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim and atheist. Their parents have myriad reasons for home-schooling – some have kids who are medically fragile, some want to build close bonds with their children, and others are libertarians who philosophically oppose government education. None of them has indicated to me that they don’t want their children to learn about evolution.

If home-schooled children routinely perform better than government-educated children, why do parents of home-schooled children have to pay for both the education of their kids and the education of the kids who go to government schools, too?

Fanning Freedom’s Flames

Thanks to Brad and the rest of the folks here for affording me the honor of writing at a website which I’ve read nearly daily for years. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make some contributions to what I consider a really good blog.

As I am frequently involved in a wide range of political activities, my hope is to be able to provide a bit of inside scoop about the people, events, legislation, organizations, etc. with which I’m involved.  In the meantime, I’ll try to provide my two cents about current events and how they relate to the freedom movement.

My political philosophy:  I’m as opposed to bailouts of the automobile industry today as I would have been to a bailout of the buggy and carriage industry some 110 years ago.  I’m a military veteran opposed to any form of involuntary national service.  I’m a sports fan opposed to government-funded sports stadiums and arenas , or any federal meddling with the NCAA Bowl Championship Series.  I enjoy a fine cigar and feel restaurant owners should have the right to determine smoking practices within their own business premises.   Of course, I’d feel the same way even if I didn’t enjoy cigars.

The law should apply equally to all, but we would certainly benefit if we eliminated a significant portion of current laws from the books.

In other words, I don’t want the government in my wallet, my bedroom…   …or my holster.

While I write at several other websites about other topics, my goal is to help fan the flames of freedom at The Liberty Papers.  I hope you’ll enjoy the ride as much as I probably will.

You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Former Police Officer to Face Murder Charges in BART Shooting

San Francisco Chronicle:

Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer arrested on suspicion of murdering an unarmed passenger on an Oakland train platform early New Year’s Day, waived extradition at a Nevada hearing and will be returned to Alameda County sometime today…

[…]

The ex-officer is being held in connection with the shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward who was lying facedown after being pulled off a BART train by police investigating a fight.

[…]

The shooting, which was recorded by passengers in videos widely circulated on the Internet and television, prompted public outrage, and some viewers said that the shooting appeared to be an execution. Some city and community leaders have joined protesters in denouncing BART’s handling of the investigation.

The videos below show the shooting in question from two separate vantage points. The first video was taken from a passenger inside the train using a cell phone video camera.

WARNING: This video is disturbing.

This second video, also taken from a cell phone, was taken by someone who was on the platform at the time of the shooting. This perspective does a better job of giving some insight to the chaos surrounding the event. Unfortunately, the camera’s attention is taken by another person being arrested as Johannes Mehserle fatally shoots Oscar Grant.

While I understand that these videos only tell part of the story and that the police officer should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, I can’t for the life of my understand why he felt the need to draw his weapon and fire. Yes, the suspect was apparently resisting arrest but it appears that the officers had control of the situation and at no point does it appear that Grant presented any realistic threat warranting lethal force.

Some speculate that Mehserle intended to reach for his tazer but accidently reached for his sidearm. Even if this were the case, I have difficulty believing that this situation even warranted the use of a tazer.

Soon this case will be in the hands of a jury. Between these very disturbing videos and the number of witnesses just a few feet away, it certainly does not look too good for the former police officer.

Is Naming Your Child “Adolf Hitler” Child Abuse ?

Apparently, in the State of New Jersey the answer is yes:

Authorities in New Jersey removed 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell and his two young siblings from the care of their parents, according to a published report Tuesday.

The state’s Division of Youth and Family Services took the boy, as well as his sisters — JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, 1, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, 9 months — from Heath and Deborah Campbell, according to LehighValleyOnline.com.

(…)

Holland Township Police Chief David van Gilson told LehighValleyOnline.com that he didn’t know why the children were taken, but added that his office had not received any complaints of abuse.

And if there’s no actual abuse, then what business does the State of New Jersey have taking these children from their parents ?

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

On June 23, minor-league baseball’s Brooklyn Cyclones will become the Baracklyn Cyclones.

Now, discounting my internal BS meter that suggests that this could be a slight hoax (albeit not one that I care to spend much time fact-checking), I see that they’re apparently minor-league when it applies to semantics as well. One of the festivities:

Universal Health Care: Free Band-Aids to the first 1,000 fans

The first 1,000? That hardly seems universal, now doesn’t it? I’d call that “rationing”.

Hat Tip: Hit & Run

Administrative Notes

Two main things:

1. I’ve changed the “Contributors” blogroll to make a distinction between currently active contributors, and those who (for whatever reason) no longer have the time or inclination to post on a regular basis. This is part of a wider effort, to become a little bit more consistent in our output… Which brings me to:

2. Welcome Stephen Gordon, the newest contributor to The Liberty Papers. Stephen has a long history with the libertarian movement, but I’ll let him speak for himself when he puts an introductory post up in the next few days.

We’re working internally on finding ways to improve The Liberty Papers in a more general sense, and we hope to become a bigger force for liberty in the future. As always, if you have suggestions, I’m happy to take them.

Security theater and online predators

Maybe, just maybe, lawmakers around the country, including here in Georgia, have overreacted with regards to internet predators:

The Internet may not be such a dangerous place for children after all.

A high-profile task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem.

The Internet Safety Technical Task Force was charged with examining the extent of the threats children face on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, amid widespread fears that older adults were using these popular Web sites to deceive and prey on children.

Here in Georgia, legislators are taking extraordinary steps to “protect” children from online predators.

A new law that went into effect at the beginning of the year requires anyone labeled as a sex offender to turn over all online usernames and passwords:

Georgia joins a small band of states complying with guidelines in a 2006 federal law requiring authorities to track Internet addresses of sex offenders, but it is among the first to take the extra step of forcing its 16,000 offenders to turn in their passwords as well.

A federal judge ruled in September that a similar law in Utah violated the privacy rights of an offender who challenged it, though the narrow ruling applied only to one offender who had a military conviction on sex offenses but was never in Utah’s court or prison system.
[…]
State Sen. Cecil Staton, who wrote the bill, said the measure is designed to keep the Internet safe for children. Authorities could use the passwords and other information to make sure offenders aren’t stalking children online or chatting with them about off-limits topics.

Staton said although the measure may violate the privacy of sex offenders, the need to protect children “outweighs a lot of the rights of these individuals.”

“We limit where they can live, we make their information available on the Internet. To some degree, we do invade their privacy,” said Staton, a Republican from Macon. “But the feeling is, they have forfeited, to some degree, some privacy rights.”

Lawmakers are already using regulatory takings to force these individuals out of their homes, without any compensation whatsoever. I guess they shouldn’t have any privacy either, nor the presumption of innocence.

Politicians want to give the appearance of “doing something,” many times without any regard for personal rights and liberties. There is a line that a legislature cannot cross when it comes to privacy. The Fourth Amendment protects the rights of all individuals, including those who have paid their debts to society, to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Legislatures cannot continue to look the other way and cry “judicial activism” when courts strike down constitutionally questionable laws relating to sex offenders, which has happened in November of last year and as recently as last month, and could very well happen with this new law.

H/T: Reason

Why Is This Upbeat News?

So, reading an article about weak earnings and Wall Street’s concern over what January will bring, do you get the sense that this was thrown in there without thought?

There was some upbeat news. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the trade deficit fell to its lowest level in five years. The deficit narrowed 28.7 percent to $40.4 billion in November from $56.7 billion in October as demand for oil dropped by a record amount.

For the sake of argument, one can stipulate that the mercantilist understanding of economics, where trade deficits matter quite a bit, is correct. In that case, a bit of upbeat news would be either that the trade deficit shrunk due to increasing American exports, or that it shrunk due to replacement sales of foreign-made products with American-made products.

A negative spin on this news, though, would simply be that Americans are unable to consume, and that consumption (and likely production) of all goods and services has declined, which is an indication of a shrinking economy. After all, the fact that Americans are able to buy a lot of foreign-made products is a sign of our affluence (and for worldwide demand for US Dollars), and if that has disappeared, it is not a positive development.

A neutral spin, of course, would be to recognize that– in nominal dollar terms– the price of oil has fallen sharply. Thus, even if we were importing the same amount of oil as a few months ago, the nominal value of the trade deficit would likely fall. That is a positive development for American consumers (because less of our money must be spent on oil/gas), but is not as meaningful in the trade balance discussion because it doesn’t signify that we’re producing more oil domestically.

So this line is nothing more than a throwaway “trade deficits are bad, and they are shrinking” statement. And they wonder why journalism is in the shape its in.

Quote Of The Day

Over at Reason: Hit & Run, Nick Gillespie on the regulation of the internet:

One trend that’s making a comeback with the Obama ascendancy is the need for smart folks not to regulate the Net per se, but to, you know, come up with better rules that will help make sure that everything that’s so super-duper about cyberspace stays that way

A classic argument for regulation is when something in the structure of the market leads to negative consequences. In the case of the internet, that’s not a valid argument*, because the internet is extremely dynamic, quite popular, and constantly meeting new needs of its users.

So what’s the argument for regulating the Internet? “If we don’t regulate now, it could become a lot worse!” Oooh, scary! I happen to believe that if you regulate now, you’re guaranteed to make it worse.
» Read more

Chavez Tries To Mask Currency Devaluation

Down in Venezuela, the low oil prices have been particularly punishing to Hugo Chavez. Faced with a crisis where his government programs are far more expensive than his revenues, he’s taken the path expected of any tin-pot dictator or Federal Reserve Chairman — he’s going to devalue the currency (though taking pains to hide it):

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he won’t adjust the oil-exporting country’s pegged exchange rate amid a plunge in prices for crude. Instead, seeking to maintain his popularity, he may devalue the currency by sleight of hand.

The government is already cutting its sales of dollars at the rate it established in 2005, forcing travelers abroad to turn to a parallel, unofficial market where U.S. currency sells at a 61 percent premium. Venezuelans need government authorization to get dollars at the official rate.

“What’s essentially going on is a surreptitious devaluation,” said Russell Dallen, head trader at Caracas Capital Markets, a unit of BBO Financial Services Inc., a Caracas-based brokerage and asset management company. “They’re pushing more people into the unofficial market, so that’s forcing a devaluation on more people.”

Chavez is desperately hoping for a turnaround in oil prices (which isn’t entirely misguided, IMHO), and he’s betting the farm on it.

Chavez and Rodriguez have said oil may be poised to rebound. In any event, Chavez says his socialist political project can survive low prices, as it did in 2001 and 2002. On New Years Eve he unveiled plans for $100 billion in projects over the next four years.

“His mouth is writing checks that the oil price doesn’t allow him to cash at the moment,” said Dallen, the trader at Caracas Capital Markets.

It wasn’t long ago that many of us claimed that Chavez’ Revolución was entirely dependent on expensive oil, and that even at expensive oil prices he’d be hard-pressed to keep it up. Oil-rich socialist regimes who spend too much on domestic affairs while neglecting development of new oil fields tend to be self-limiting. It seems Hugo’s gotten himself in a bind, though, as the global economic situation is placing wholly unexpected pressure on his plans.

Hugo is waiting for the reversal in oil, and it may come. The question will be whether he can hold out long enough to see it.

The New Journalistic Socialism?

It’s no secret that dead-tree journalism has been on a significant slide lately. The product is faced with a dynamic new entrant to the market (the Internet), and it seems as if the “new media” is making the old obsolete.

In many industries, this would be a signal that it’s time to start finding newer and better ways to compete. A worthwhile journalist and the newspaper that employs those like him would find ways to distinguish themselves from the new competitors, and find a new (if different) niche that they could fill. The electric bulb didn’t put candle-makers out of business; they now litter our malls with franchises sporting aromatherapy jasmine candles on decorative saucers.

Competition is a difficult, uncertain process. For those of us in industries where it is fast-moving, like myself in the tech industry, it is that difficulty and the thrill of competing that keep us coming back for more. For some, though, the thrill of competition is to be feared. They’ve existed without it for so long that they’ve forgotten how to win. But they’ve found a better way — you don’t need to win when you have force on your side:

So the time is ripe for rethinking the First Amendment as a positive call for non-market support of a meaningful journalism.

It looks like we’re going through a painful transition from analogue to digital newspapers, from print to Internet. A comprehensive piece of legislation–let’s call it The News and Information for Democracy Act of 2011–could help lubricate the transition, determine whether there are common or collective approaches that would make the transition smoother, and possibly provide some transition support and supplement the working of “the market” with a sense of what the path should be from here to there.

Here’s an example: bring down the price of the Kindle or Sony Reader to under $25 and make the devices universal delivery systems for local and national papers; have each Kindle default-programmed to receive one of several competing national digital papers and one local paper, building in an annual fee for a newspaper fund that is billed to the holder of the low-cost or free apparatus.

I’ll admit — for the current crop of journalists, the advent of web-based reporting with an uncertain income stream certainly makes for a pretty scary time. That doesn’t justify socialism, though, any more than it justifies the candle-makers’ petition to block out the sun.

Yes, the business of journalism is changing. That may mean that it won’t support the numbers of journalists currently in the world. In a world where writers can reach an international audience with the stroke of a key, there may not be room for duplication of effort. But as long as there’s news, there will be a need for journalists, and as long as there’s readers, there will be an income stream (whether through paid subscription or advertising). The current business models are certainly not going to survive intact, but very few business models last anywhere near as long as that which has supported journalism.

It may mean that the business gets smaller, leaner, and more competitive. It may mean that it becomes much more highly specialized, or more local. It could mean — with the expansion of current “citizen journalism” — that journalism becomes more distributed and the way to earn a living is to be, like Glenn Reynolds, an aggregator which exists purely to separate the wheat from the chaff. It may mean any of these things, or countless others I haven’t even considered. It doesn’t mean, however, that you can simply replace my tax dollars with my subscription dollars and call it a wash.

Hat Tip: Reason Hit & Run

Kevin Drum — Why Can’t We Have It All?

Kevin Drum is looking at the benefits of massive fiscal stimulus as well as tax cuts… And he wonders why we don’t do both?

Stimulus spending can (we hope) help keep the economy afloat over the next couple of years, but then what? When the economy starts to recover, it will certainly be helped along if bank balance sheets are in better shape than they are today. Likewise, it will be helped along if consumers have paid down some of that credit card debt and put a few dollars aside. Right? We can’t keep running a negative savings rate forever, after all.

So: what’s wrong with government spending to stimulate the economy now, combined with tax cuts and bank recapitalizations to help get the economy in shape for recovery a couple of years down the road? This isn’t so much a suggestion as a question. Does this make sense, or is there some fundamental misconception at its core? What say the economists?

What’s wrong? I guess it’s reductio ad absurdum time.

If fiscal stimulus is good, and tax cuts are good, why don’t we simply spend more and eliminate taxes entirely?

Drum misses a key point: money has to come from somewhere. We can tax for it, we can borrow for it, or we can print it out of thin air. But it has to come from somewhere. Each way that you obtain that money has negative consequences.

So why can’t we do it all? We can. It’s just replacing a visible tax with an invisible, inflationary tax. The GDP growth, on paper, would probably look fairly impressive. Unfortunately it would be in ever-devaluing dollars.

Quote Of The Day

From Ronald Bailey at Reason – Hit & Run:

“Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.”

Saying something like that is a good way to piss off your average left- or right-winger. Heck, it’s a good way to make the average human’s head explode, because the idea of interconnected complex systems that arise without conscious plan is entirely unfathomable to most of them.

Another Permanent State of Emergency

Many people have expressed a hope that Barack Obama will be an improvement over George Bush and that he will roll back some of George Bush’s excesses.  They see in Obama a man who understands nuanced argument, who at least acknowledges that those who oppose his policies can have good reasons and arguments for doing so.  However, those who are so hopeful are doomed to have their hopes dashed.  Barack Obama may give of good vibes, but a review of his policy papers show nothing more than a few crumbs of freedom thrown to the people.  Make no mistake, under Barack Obama’s leadership, the federal government will seize more wealth, violate more liberties and wreck the economy more thoroughly than George Bush did.  The Obama administration will permit, nay encourage, the looting of the treasury by their cronies to a degree that not even the Bush administration dared to.  Reading his policy aims, I see that he offers us no quarter, no accommodation.  He demands that the American people hand over more of the wealth they create, and threatens them with more pervasive monitoring and violence in order to ensure their compliance with his edicts.  He wishes to rework society – to impose his vision of how society ‘ought’ to be organized – using the state security apparatus to impose his dreams.

In every policy proposal, one sees the same theme, the expansion of government, in size, in scope and power.  Typical is his proposal as to how the government will begin respecting civil liberties:  rather than ordering the justice department to respect civil liberties in the court system by voluntarily complying with historical precedents governing government power, rather than announcing his intention to rip out the listening rooms used by the NSA to eavesdrop on the communications of the citizenry, he announces his intention to create a ‘civil liberties board’, with subpoena powers.  If the attorney general of the United States lacks the power to enforce respect for civil liberties, or even worse, is disinclined to respect them, how will the addition of this board alter the calculus?  No, this board will provide sinecures to political allies and something to point to when questioned about his respect for civil liberties while allowing the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security to continue the business as usual, that of exercising their powers lawlessly and without limit, in furtherance of the public and private aims of the officials staffing them.

Nowhere in his policies does he announce his intention to relinquish control of anything that the government currently controls.  That which the Federal Government controls today, the government will continue to control under the new administration.  Much of which is currently out of its control today they will seek to bring under its control.

According to the Obama administration, the current economic crisis warrants expanding government spending well beyond George Bush’s record-breaking levels.  Only in passing does he acknowledge the need to raise money for this spending, which will have to be either through increased taxation, borrowing or via the printing of new money.   The U.S. economy will not provide enough in taxes or in loans to pay for this spending.  It is incapable of it.  Thus, we will see the Federal Government borrowing from anyone who will loan it money, and when those sources of funding dry up, from the Federal Reserve, which pays for the bonds it purchases with newly printed money.  The ‘inflation rate’, so called, already near 10% according to the calculation method in use in the 1970’s will rise to much higher levels.  In the meantime the standard of living will stagnate, and in all likelihood decline.  Nor is there any plan to end this spending once the economy exits the crisis.  This, like the Global War on Terror, is yet one more open-ended emergency.

And when these policies fail to have their intended effects, as unemployment continues to soar and prices continue to rise, it is inevitable that the Obama administration will blame people who it sees as standing in the way of their policies.  The Obama administration will be tempted to go after bankers, intellectual opponents, industrialists, and corporate offices in exactly the same manner as when FDR excorciated bankers and industrialists.  And, like Wilson, FDR, Nixon, Clinton, and many others, the Obama administration will be tempted to use the state security apparatus against these enemies, citing the economic state of emergency to justify it. So now the U.S. will not only be under a permanent state of emergency against external enemies, it will be in a state of emergency.  This time the enemy won’t be people living a continent away…  It will be us.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

GM’s Lutz Whines About Unfair Treatment

Are you kidding me?

General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said he is looking forward to having a “car czar” in place so U.S. automakers have someone sympathetic to its needs in Washington.

“We will have someone to talk to about the pain being inflicted on use [sic] for no unearthly [sic] reason,” Lutz said Sunday on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show.

Oh, “being inflicted on us”? That’s a questionably passive phrase, isn’t it? As if you were running a tight ship there at GM, but the business fairy decided for an unearthly reason to punish you?

Who’s fault is it that GM is failing? I’d say it’s GM’s fault. Unlike Honda and Toyota, you can’t seem to make a quality product in a profitable manner. Unlike BMW and Mercedes, you can’t convince dumb consumers that your low-quality product is chic. Your business model ensures that the overpriced cars that you do sell are done at a loss.

But hey, maybe if you examined why you use passive phrases like “pain being inflicted on us”, you might realize that perhaps you hold some culpability for the pain you’re in?

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