The virtual currency known as Bitcoin is beginning to become accepted by more and more businesses even beyond underground websites such as the recently shuttered Silkroad. Overstock.com is among the more ‘mainstream’ internet retailers to accept Bitcoin (Overstock.com sold $126k in merchandise in Bitcoin the first day of Bitcoin sales) and a few Las Vegas casinos have jumped on the bandwagon as well. No doubt there will be even more merchants participate in this experiment in 2014.
Many in the liberty movement are very bullish on what they believe is or will be an alternative to the dollar but there are a few notable skeptics within the movement. Among the high profile Bitcoin skeptics are Peter Schiff and Ron Paul.
Just over a month ago, Ron Paul expressed his skepticism of Bitcoin in his weekly podcast (Episode #43).
I’m suspicious. I don’t fall into the category and say ‘Hey, this is it. This is the solution. This is going to replace the dollar.’
One time somebody quoted me in the media saying ‘I believe that Bitcoin was going to destroy the dollar’ and that’s not quite my position. But the Bitcoin could be a participant in a process where the dollar destroys itself…or that is the Federal Reserve policy destroys the dollar. Then people have to leave the dollar and go into something else.
Ron Paul went on to say that he believes Bitcoin (along with any other medium of exchange) should be legal currency for those who wish to accept it as such but wondered out loud why the government hasn’t cracked down on Bitcoin in a significant way.
The reason I’m hesitant to say ‘Hey, this Bitcoin sounds like the answer’ is that it’s hard for anybody who knows a lot more about Bitcoins than I do to tell me what it really is. If I had to, and you had never heard of gold as money I could show you a gold coin and you could put it in your hand and you could feel it and then we could look at some history. That’s not the case with Bitcoin.
But right now the Fed hasn’t come down hard on Bitcoin so you wonder what’s going on. Why haven’t they? Because I am absolutely convinced that the federal government and our central bank does not permit, will not permit competition in currencies. They’re not going to let you and I mint some gold coins and put them out in circulation. You can go to jail for that. […] It must not seem at the moment to be a threat to the Federal Reserve and to our system.
Paul also expressed some doubts that Bitcoin could become a preferred medium of exchange with a crash of the dollar:
This is why Bitcoin is around is to offer an alternative [to a weak dollar]. […] I’m a skeptic on that but I certainly think it’s fascinating. I try to keep up with it the best I can but I would feel much better having some gold coins in my pocket than a little computer that I can carry around and recover my Bitcoin. I wouldn’t feel very secure doing that.
However one feels about Bitcoin, I think it’s important that Ron Paul’s views on the subject be reported accurately. I’m personally intrigued by Bitcoin and hope it turns out to be everything its supporters hope but I do think some skepticism is warranted (for the reasons Paul gave and more). I certainly wouldn’t put all my eggs in the Bitcoin basket but I wouldn’t worry about a little experimentation.
Step right up and enjoy the posturing, rhetoric, and antics of our congressional clown crew…
Over to your right you’ll see the amazing vocal endurance of Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz as he tosses red meat to the base…
… To be serious, there are a large group of people, who don’t understand why the rest of us consider what Ted Cruz did (a 21 hour “filibuster” of a motion in relation to items within a continuing resolution for funding the federal government for the next six months), both harmful to the country, and nothing more than grandstanding.
For them, it looks like Cruz was (in the composite words of many Americans on the right):
“Taking a brave and principled stand against the funding of a bad law that will harm our country.”
In reality, he was doing no such thing.
Cruz is being maligned by his own party because he was being a clown. This “filibuster” was nothing but a clown show.
It may be viscerally satisfying, but it’s idiotic. It will do absolutely NOTHING for the Republicans, of for those against Obamacare, except throw red meat to the stupider side of the base.
This is underpants gnomes strategy.
Step one: “Non-filibuster a piece of already passed legislation that I can’t stop by doing this… but that’s OK I wasn’t really trying to, really I was just trying to get media attention and attract donations from the less intelligent and aware side of my political base”.
Step two: … uh….
Step three: Electoral Victory?
“But, one brave man, standing up for what he believes in, can do amazing things. A small group of patriots can change the world, just look at the American revolution.”
No, they can’t. No guns involved in this one. No big foreign war distracting the occupying power. No actual fight going on among the actual fighters… just a series of bargaining and trading; while the rhetorical fight goes on among the spectators.
It may be emotionally satisfying rhetoric, but that’s all it is, rhetoric.
You are not a member of the patriotic few, bravely standing up against the despotic elite, risking all for freedom.
In fact, unless you support drug legalization, getting the state out of marriage…and almost everything else… giving up legislating morality and goodness entirely… You AREN’T EVEN ON THE GOOD GUYS SIDE.
You’re just another guy on the badguys side, who wants the badguys to tax the tea a little differently.
Oh and as “just another guy”, you actually aren’t on their side at all…
You’re a spectator rooting for your team from… not even the stands… from the comfort of your own home; with the game streamed lived via satellite into your living room.
“But what would you have us do? Just give up, let the Democrats run the country into the ground”
Nope… Not at all…
I’d have you stop assuming the rhetorical mantle of revolutionary patriot because it makes you feel good; and stop supporting things which reinforce that feeling, without actually DOING anything.
If you buy Ted Cruz’s stunt, you are perpetuating this crap.
If you want to actually do something… ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. Get involved with your political party on a local level. Get onto policy committees. Become a subject matter expert for the party on something you know, and use that position to help steer the party, and the politicians in the party, in the right direction.
That’s actually doing something. This thing with Cruz? It’s just something you can say you supported so you can feel morally vindicated while not actually doing anything.
“You’ll see… Cruz was right, this is bad law and we must stop it. Cruz will be vindicated, time will tell”
Well of COURSE he’s RIGHT, we all know that… it’s AWFUL law… even Jon Stewart thinks it’s bad law… but that doesn’t mean he was doing any good… or even try to for that matter.
Sure he’s increasing his own fundraising, and certainly he’s right about Obama care… but to be vindicated you have to have done or said something substantive, and then been proven right later.
How has he done that?
He’s hurt the Republican party badly with the center, and provided yet another target for mockery and ridicule… and to scare those who think this sort of thing is either stupid or crazy…
Yes, he’s increased his own fundraising… and tripled that of everyone on the left.
This is not some brave heroic last stand. This was a foregone conclusion. Obamacare would never, under any circumstances, be defunded. This wasn’t a filibuster. This wasn’t moral courage.
If it was a serious attempt to stop Obamacare, fine, that would be great. Even if it were a futile attempt, if it were even structurally capable of stopping it, sure… it wasn’t and isn’t.
It wasn’t really even a symbolic gesture.
It was pandering, to the lowest common denominator. It was Ted Cruz setting himself up to be the poster boy for the low information voters of the right.
And he knew EXACTLY what he was doing… By all accounts Cruz is a brilliant man.
“It doesn’t matter if he was doomed to fail, it was the right thing to do anyway. Standing up for what’s right is never wrong”
If that’s what he was actually doing, I wouldn’t be so irritated by this.
I’m irritated because this is what they do instead of something useful. “I supported Ted Cruz’s filibuster but those nasty democrats and RINOs passed it anyway”…
The people who believe this, don’t seem to understand that what Cruz did actually hurt us. Us being those of us who really fight against government overreach, and bad law.
It gave cover to the people who wanted to do nothing anyway, it encouraged a few whackjobs to make spectacles of themselves, and it INCREASED the morale and assumed moral authority of the other side.
Do you not realize how stupid and ridiculous this makes anti-obamacare people to the middle? How hysterical it makes them appear to the other sides donors? How this is a permanent harmful soundbite/video clip?
It’s idiots like this that made them able to paint Mitt Romney as an ultraconservative ultra right damn near American Taliban…
When in fact, he wasn’t conservative enough for a lot of people to bother even coming out, and they just stayed home rather than vote.
This is NOT a dedicated small group of principled people fighting against government overreach… That would be excellent.
This is the Republican equivalent of a college student “sticking it to the man” by wearing Che Guevara t-shirt an shouting about oppression and justice, out in front of the admin building.
“You don’t understand… Cruz is different… he’s the only one of the Republicans with the guts and the principle to stand up and do something”.
If he had actually done that, I would more than agree… I’d be cheering him on too.
But he didn’t.
If he were actually different… I’d be 100% behind him… Hell, I think he’s a good man, and in general he will probably be a good senator, though it’s a bit early to tell. If nothing else, he’s a LOT smarter than most Senators.
But really… other than that… he’s not much different than any other professional politician.
I’ve read the mans bio, read some of his speeches, hell I was even on a conference call with him and Marco Rubio at some party event during the campaign last year.
Yeah, he’s accomplished, and he’s got a hell of a back story (great family tale), but… what is it you think makes him so special?
He’s a smart guy, apparently a great legal mind, clerked for Rehnquist, editor of the Harvard law review… which are great things sure… but but I don’t see what you seem to see that makes him particularly exceptional among senators. He’s been a politician basically since law school; either full or part time.
He spent less than a year in private practice before going into an administration job, then less than 4 years out of the fedgov, where he ran for office twice, before going back to the fedgov.
He’s a professional politician.
I think he’s probably going to be a good senator (kinda hard to tell 9 months in), but I don’t see anything there that says anything other than professional politician… He’s a smart man and seemingly a good man… and those are great things… but he’s still a professional politician, and has never been anything but a professional politician.
I mean… he actually voted… in fact the senate voted unanimously 100-0… for the motion he was supposedly filibustering…
How can you even call it a filibuster if you’re going to vote for it?
So… In the next show, we have the “Government Shutdown”.
As of right now, the Republicans in congress have refused to sign any continuing appropriations bills that require the raising of the U.S. federal debt ceiling, and which fund Obamacare.
Therefore, the Republicans are trying to pull a repeat of 1996 and “shut down the government”; again to foster the illusion that they are taking a principled stand against excess spending and government waste etc… etc…
“Why can’t they just balance the budget, instead of raising the debt ceiling again… That’s not a solution, that’s just making the problem worse?”
That’s the question of a well meaning, intelligent person, looking at this problem from a rational perspective…
So it’s completely irrelevant to anything they do in Washington of course.
First thing, the whole “Defund Obamacare” spiel is, and always has been, a sham. It’s more redmeat for the base. It’s not going to stop Obamacare, never was going to, never could; and even if it could, the republicans couldn’t get it past the senate, or a presidential veto, or an override etc… etc…
It’s just PR.
The Republicans saw what happened to Mitt Romney. They know that a large portion of the electorate doesn’t think they’re conservative enough and so won’t bother to vote for them… This is how they’re trying to address that issue. Nothing more substantive than that.
This still leaves the debt ceiling issue… and of course, incurring yet more federal debt is a bad thing. We are already at more than 105% of GDP (of course, that’s far lower than most other nations, but it’s still quite bad).
However, since it is quite literally impossible for any continuing appropriation to be passed that doesn’t require increasing the debt ceiling… In fact, even without a continuing appropriation the debt ceiling will need to be increased (because of credit payments, entitlements, and other already legislated spending); the debt ceiling is GOING to be raised.
Either that, or an accounting trick will be used to do the same thing.
It’s not a solution. It’s a requirement of the circumstances.
Balancing the budget… that’s a joke; given that we haven’t actually PASSED a budget or OPERATED under a budget , since 1997. From 1998, the government hasn’t been funded with a passed budget, it’s been funded with omnibus spending and special appropropriation bills, and continuing resolutions.
In fact, since Obama was elected, we haven’t even managed to pass an omnibus spending bill, and have exclusively funded the government with special appropriations and continuing resolutions.
The reality of the “debt ceiling” is, the U.S. is NOT going to default on its credit payments, under any circumstances.
In the first place, a U.S. credit default would trigger a world wide economic collapse and long term depression the likes of which have not been dreamed of outside of dystopian fiction.
So yeah… that’s bad… let’s not do that.
Even if that weren’t true, the politicians in this country are not going to let people miss entitlement payments… which is the whole reason why we don’t have a budget in the first place…
Every politician in America knows that if they get blamed for their constituents missing a social security check, they are done… dead… never to be elected to anything, even dog catcher, again.
So, any threat not to raise the debt ceiling, or to have a true and complete government shutdown, really is just grandstanding.
Until we make serious cuts to entitlements, we are not going to have anything close to a balanced budget. No politician in this country who has actually managed to get elected and wants to be re-elected is going to EVER under any circumstances, vote to cut entitlements. Therefore we are never going to have a balanced budget again… or at least not until there is a real unavoidable crisis, where they can cover themselves by saying “we had to do it to save the country”, and their opponents can only look like irresponsible liars if they try to say otherwise…
Of course, if this country weren’t filled with economically and politically ignorant “citizens”, then perhaps the electorate as a whole would understand that we’ve long past the point at which such a crisis could be avoided, and that something really needs to be done right now…
Unfortunately, what looked like it was going to be the first major group of voters working for entitlement cuts in this country, the “tea party”; was quickly overrun by a huge number of these idiots who, completely un-self aware were saying, with complete sincerity “get the government out of healthcare and welfare… but don’t touch my social security and medicare”.
The politicians noticed this… Particularly the smart ones… Like, say, Ted Cruz.
I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.
Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra
In marking the passing of one of the staunchest defenders of capitalism who held high office, I thought it would be appropriate to post this video of Margaret Thatcher in which she defended her record against her Labour Party critics. In this video, her political opponents thought the income gap grew too much under her leadership. Listen to her answer. This is the sort of unapologetic defence of capitalism we need in leadership on this side of the pond.
Another interesting part of this video was her warnings against the idea of a central European bank and currency. It seems that she was quite prescient given the problems of the Euro.
The welfare state is a problem in America, there’s no question about it. When you have a country were nearly 49 million people are dependent on food stamps as of this writing, that is a problem. We libertarians as well as conservatives lament the growing welfare state because of what it is doing to the economic health of this country and the negative incentives (i.e. the moral hazard) to discourage people from working when it’s easier to get a check from the government. That being said, I think we libertarians could do a better job with the messaging on this particular issue.
Today’s episode of the Neal Boortz show is a perfect example of what I’m referring to. Boortz’s personality is that of a curmudgeon. Over the years he has referred to himself as the “High Priest of the Church of the Painful Truth.” I usually enjoy his blunt, non-P.C. style but sometimes I think he goes a little overboard when he calls people who are on one type of welfare or another “parasites” regardless of their individual circumstances. I missed the first part of his show (which is normal) but I tuned in about the time a caller who said the only government assistance he was receiving was food stamps called in. He went on to explain that he worked 3 minimum wage jobs at about 120 hours a week to support his 5 kids (I think that was the right number). After explaining his circumstances, he asked Boortz: “Do you think that I am a parasite?” Boortz responded “yes.” Boortz went on to criticize the man for having children he couldn’t afford to support and told him that perhaps since he still couldn’t support his children on his three jobs that perhaps he should give them up.
Taking the caller’s word at face value that he works 120 hours a week, I have to disagree somewhat on Boortz’s characterization that the man is a parasite. I also think that telling someone who really is trying to support his children but still coming up short and supplementing his income with food stamps to give up his kids is an unreasonable suggestion. How much would it cost taxpayers if every person who struggled with supporting their children put their children in the foster care system or an orphanage? We hear all the time from conservatives – especially social conservatives* that the ideal situation for raising children is a household with a mother and a father. I have heard some social conservatives say that the reason the state shouldn’t recognize gay marriage or civil unions is that the purpose of marriage is procreation. They also argue for the child tax credit and favorable tax treatment for married couples to encourage more people to have families**.
I don’t know to what extent Boortz agrees with these notions as he doesn’t seem to talk about these issues much. I do think there is something to say about children growing up in a stable environment, however. I haven’t done much research at all about the foster care system but from what I understand, it’s far from ideal. How many children in the foster care system find themselves in the criminal justice system whether on probation or incarceration versus those who are raised by at least one loving biological parent? I don’t happen to know the answer but I suspect that there are more of the former than the latter. Again I ask, how much would this man giving up his children possibly cost the taxpayers? I suspect it would be more than whatever he is getting in food stamps.
To some degree***, this man is a parasite but certainly not to the extent some people I have met are. There are the single dads who have too many children to too many baby mamas who don’t take responsibility for their children and have no shame about going on the dole. There are also far too many single moms out there who have made some very bad choices who basically marry the government. If anything, the caller is probably receiving less government support because he is working so many hours. Slacking is rewarded while trying to better oneself is punished – this in of itself is a major part of the problem, I think.
While I agree with Boortz in principle that one man’s need does not mean he has a claim on another’s money, there are more classes of parasites I think are even more offensive than poor people on welfare. I am much more offended by the corporate welfare and the welfare for the rich. I’m not talking about tax cuts or anything like that but subsidies. I’m talking about billionaire sports franchise owners who have their stadiums built by taxpayer dollars so they can pay millions more to their millionaire athletes. I’m talking about TARP, the auto bailouts, QE 1, QE2, QE 3 and other policies the Federal Reserve has used to make our dollars worth less and less every day. I’m talking about corporate lobbyists who write regulations in their favor to make it difficult for competitors to enter the market place. I’m talking about lawyers.
Yes there are more than one class of parasite bringing our economy down. When it comes to going after those who are using taxpayer money for their benefit, I think it’s high time we libertarians say women and children last.
Point of Clarification: It wasn’t fair to lump all lawyers together as parasites. Lawyers are necessary in our system to take out some of the parasites I mentioned above (the white blood cells, if you will). Like any profession, there are bad apples. When I think of parasitic lawyers, I think of the likes of John Edwards and the ambulance chasers on late night TV. There are plenty of heroic lawyers who truly fight for liberty and justice such as those at the Institute for Justice and The Innocence Project. I’m sure we can count fellow Liberty Papers contributor Doug Mataconis among them as well (though I know nothing about his work as an attorney, he’s a good person and I’m sure that’s reflected in his profession as well).
There is so much economic ignorance/stupidity in this video (below), I wouldn’t even know where to begin. John Maynard Keynes himself would probably be embarrassed by this video courtesy of the California* Federation of Teachers and narrated by the great economist of our time Ed Asner.
I don’t have much else to say about this video right now, it’s too easy (though feel free to rip it apart here…or defend it). Actually, I am in the planning stages of writing a book that challenges this sort of mentality (I’m shooting for a release date about May 2013). I’m hoping Liberty Papers readers will buy it; I will have discounts for Liberty Papers readers.
And now for your, um…enjoyment[?]: Tax the Rich: An animated fairy tale**
WARNING: This is 7 minutes and 50 seconds of your life you will never get back.
*Oh yes, the state of California which is being run by people with this kind of mentality! Yeah, their economic policies have been working great, haven’t they?