Category Archives: Fascism in America

Obamessiah Pisses Away More of Your Money

In news that shocks absolutely no one, the Obamessiah found yet another way to piss away some more American taxpayer dollars, this time on a “national service” bill.

President Obama on Tuesday signed a bill authorizing a major expansion of funding to federal community-service programs, marking a rare example of Washington bipartisanship.

The legislation reauthorizes the Corporation for National and Community Service – the government agency that runs AmeriCorps and other service programs – for the first time since 1996. It calls for a 25 percent increase in funding, giving the CNCS $1.1 billion for next year and almost $6 billion through 2014, if the money is appropriated by Congress.

The legislation is named for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, and it passed with strong support from both sides of the aisle – moving from proposal to passage in little more than a month.

“Programs like these are a force multiplier,” Mr. Obama said at the signing. “They leverage small numbers of members into thousands of volunteers.”

Currently, 75,000 Americans serve in AmeriCorps annually, and they train and manage some 2 million community volunteers. The legislation authorizes an expansion of the program over eight years to 250,000 people, which in turn will allow millions more Americans to volunteer.

There went the $100 million the Obamessiah saved.

Seriously, I thought the point of volunteering was doing something good while not expecting something in return. The United States government has no business paying “volunteers” to serve the volk.

What about those “fiscally-conservative” Republicans, well, they generally supported it. More than half the Senate Republicans and 70 GOP Congressmen supported this bailout of the Americorps, the remnants of Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”, and big government in general.

Remember these folks around election time.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Keeping What What We Make Away From the Tax-man

The furor over the Tea Party movement has been quite exciting.  While I love watching government officials and their sycophantic propagandists energetically denounce people for daring to suggest that people should be permitted to keep their earnings,  I, like others, think the protests – in and of themselves – are insufficient to meaningfully change the vampire economy that has seized the U.S. in its fangs.

The people protesting are not, however, wrong.   The basis of a free society is the independence of the people: their ability to choose how to conduct their lives, what professions they will pursue, where they will live, how they will order their lives.  The more resources a person has at their disposal, the wider the range of choices available to them. Freedom from taxation is as fundamental a human right as choosing whom we love.

The protesters are, however, seemingly oblivious to the real problem, the control the state has over the institutions of finance, banking and trade.   It is this control that not only allows the state to plunder without any limits, but also encourages people to acquire wealth through dishonest means – through rent seeking, wealth distribution, or other forms of special privilege.

If we wish to be a free people, we must build the institutions and the cultural habits that encourage individuals to amass these resources through peaceful commerce and production. The fundamental act by which people stockpile these resources is called saving. In a simple economy, such as an agrarian one, the importance of having people stockpiling seed-corn, or hay for feeding their herds during winters or periods of famine is obvious to everyone.

In a complex economy, people typically stockpile money, since there is a degree of uncertainty as to how those savings will be put to use in the future, and money is provides them with the most options when looking to consume savings to satisfy some present need. Unfortunately, people have stopped saving, largely because the current monetary regime makes saving a sucker’s game. A dollar stuffed under a mattress exponentially loses its value. A dollar deposited in a bank also steadily loses value, albeit at a lower rate; the bank typically makes up much but not all of the losses do to inflation by paying interest.

The story of the 20th and 21st centuries are, if nothing else, the capture of the banking system by the state. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to amass wealth that is securely theirs. Bank accounts can be confiscated. Their money can be held hostage via a banking holiday. Regulators can learn intimate details of the private affairs of individuals by reviewing the banks’ records.

Those of us who wish to reverse the trend towards an ever more powerful and intrusive state must take the lead to restoring the ability of people to stockpile savings.

How can we do this? There are several ways:

  • Create new forms of money that are easily stockpiled. This does not have to be gold and silver, but can be things like cell-phone minutes
  • Create new markets to trade without interference
  • Create new systems for storing forms of money safely

Building these institutions will not be easy. They cannot be imposed from outside. They cannot depend on some messianic leader to encourage their adoption. They must attract users who have no interest in the political agenda, but because they satisfy the users’ personal needs. It is important to bear in mind that this regime has existed so long that for most of us who are alive today have no idea that it could ever be otherwise. Furthermore, the public is the target of a pretty comprehensive propaganda campaign that pervades all forms of mass media that distorts history and aggrandizes the growth of the state. At this point, the vast majority of people are absolutely convinced that a free society is at best doomed to economic collapse and in all likelihood a violent, brutish, dog-eat-dog dystopia.

While I don’t have a particular “magic bullet” to restore the vital freedom to amass wealth without having to fear government confiscation or debasement, I do have some suggestions:

  • Accept as wide a variety of currencies and goods as payment as you can.
  • Likewise be prepared to proffer as wide a variety of goods and currencies as possible.
  • Store some of your savings in places that others do not have access to. Limit knowledge about the size of your savings on a strict need to know basis. Loose lips sink ships! (NB. Safety Deposit Boxes don’t count; FDR had his thugs systematically go through people’s safety deposit boxes throughout the country, confiscating the newly illegal gold) .
  • Do not cooperate with the state any more than your conscience, or willingness to engage in civil disobediance permits. Keep in mind, though, that principled non-cooperation with the state can easily lead to being thrown in jail, beaten, or even murdered.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for new ways of doing business, new products, and new marketplaces that increase your independence. When you find something, publicize it as widely as is appropriate.

In the end, the current system cannot last. The United States Government is consuming resources at a rate that is unsustainable. Using the collapse of other states as a guide, it is quite likely that its officers will wreck a large portion of the U.S. economy in their efforts to delay the inevitable. How destructive the collapse is, how vulnerable people are to the destructive edicts issued by government officials will be a function of how well we do in fostering the growth of alternate institutions. Shielding ourselves from harm is but a first step. If we wish to avoid experiencing that which Germans did 100 years ago - the destruction of an enlightened culture by a voracious predatory state leading to totalitarianism, death and war (see here for the illustrated version)- we must also figure out how to shield our neighbors too.

So I have a homework assignment for you, dear reader, what will you do to build the institutions that make it easier for you and your neighbors to keep what they make away from the tax-man?

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.

The Trouble with Involuntary Collectivists

… and in fact leftists of any stripe (and some on the far right for that matter), is that everything they believe is wrong.

Yes, I mean that directly, literally, and completely. Everything they believe is wrong. Incorrect. False.

Everything they believe in is wrong, because it all flows from absolutely wrong first principles, which can best be summarized as:

  1. If it makes me feel good, it must be alright
  2. If it makes me feel bad it must be wrong
  3. If I can get enough people to go along with me, we can do whatever we want, because we say so
  4. If someone is very intelligent, and gets a lot of people to agree with him, I should agree with him too or there’s something wrong with me
  5. If we want something to be true bad enough, no matter what, it is true, because we say so
  6. Anyone who disagrees with any of this is wrong and bad
  7. Everything we do is right because we say so, and anyone who disagrees with is wrong and bad; therefore anyone who wants to stop us is stupid or evil
  8. Anything goes so long as we get what we want

These are not principles at all of course; merely an attempt to rationalize doing what they want to do.

This, fundamentally, is evil, because it abnegates human liberty and the human spirit; and because it recognizes neither morality, nor ethics (one cannot call such notions ethics). Not only does it allow for the tyranny of the majority, it requires it. The will of the collective outweighs all.

Oh and never mind the inherent contradictions there. They are obvious and irreconcilable to a non-collectivist; but somehow not to a collectivist (though at least some distinction has to be made here between involuntary collectivists, and voluntary. The voluntary are still incorrect, but they aren’t forcing anyone else into it, so that’s OK).

Simply put, the coercive restraint of human liberty is inherently evil. Control of ones person, property, and behavior should be the exclusive province of the sovereign man. The only legitimate limitation of liberty is that which prevents transgression on the liberty of others, or which compensates those transgressed upon.

Collectivism purports to advocate for human liberty; but it does so through restraining it for the good of the collective? Only by giving up your freedom to all can you be free?

Doublespeak, and nothing more.

All they are really saying is, “Give up all your freedom and liberty to us, and we’ll LET you do, what WE think you ought to do, when WE think you should do it”.

It is entirely about command and control; just as is fascism, or any other kind of totalitarianism. They believe that if you give the “right” people, total control, then all the “right” decisions will be made, and everyone will be better off and happier.

This, frankly, is evil.

Intelligent leftists then spend all their intellectual energy creating increasingly convoluted, twisted, circular, and inductive arguments… no, to call them arguments gives them too much credit, they are in the main, mere tautologies; to justify what they believe in, and why they believe in it; even though reality shows again and again that their ideas are incorrect.

Amazingly, they often reach the same point as non-leftists do, by twisting their reasoning enough to reconcile their false first principles with the way the world really works. After all, at some point you have to say that an orange is an orange, don’t you?

And that really is the proof of the thing. Leftists ideas simply do not work. They are not true. They are false. Reality disagrees with them.

When your theory does not match the facts, you must change the theory. Reality doesn’t give a damn about your feelings.

The collectivist theory fails utterly. It doesn’t match the facts at all. Twisting both the theory and the facts out of all semblance to reality to “prove” your pet theory, does not make it true.

Individualism in a relatively loose collective (a society, no matter the size), is the natural state of man. We are social individuals, but we are individuals.

We may band tighter together at time, when it is to our advantage to survive; but we do so out of enlightened self interest, not of a collective nature.

We may sacrifice, so that others might live, or live better lives; but we do this for the benefit of other individuals, and for that which we believe in; not for the collective.

In all things, we are individuals.

Capitalism is what naturally happens when people get together freely to exchange goods and services.

Private property and competition are what naturally happens when people seek to improve their lives, and their situations.

Unless people are artificially restrained from doing so, their natural condition is one of competition, and markets.

Yes, there are those who will seek to gain advantage by restraining competition, gaining monopolies, imposing laws and regulations… but those are not failures of liberty, failures of markets, failures of capitalism; they are the failures of command and control.

Command and control will always fail. It cannot succeed, because in order to work the commander and controller must have perfect information and perfect reason. Such a thing does not exist. There is no perfect man, nor any perfect collective of men, and there cannot be.

Not only that, but humans by nature are both rebellious beasts, and greedy beasts.

Yes, many are content to be… even crave to be… controlled. Many crave to control others (even if it si only as part of a collective). This is proven to us more and more every day. It was proven quite convincingly just a few months ago; when the great masses voted for a “perfect man”, “the one”; the man on a horse, coming to simply sweep in and “heal us all”.

There are always enough however who are willing to take advantage, or gain a little extra comfort, or just get a bit ahead, a bit more power, a bit more advantage… On the other side of things, there are always enough who chafe at the yoke, who jump the fence… There are always enough who refuse to be controlled, that the “perfect” system will be taken down from within.

Collectivists, your very foundational ideas are evil and wrong. They don’t work. They are proven false every moment by the reality we live in. imposing them on us inevitably fails, and causes incredible misery, death, and destruction along the way.

Of course, this only makes them all the more dangerous. A man who is proven wrong at every turn, but who simply WILL NOT give up… well that is man who will do ANYTHING.

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

Homeland Security document targets most conservatives and libertarians in the country

Thousands of racists and terrorists rally at Cincinatti Tea Party

Thousands of racists and terrorists rally at Cincinnati Tea Party

Remember that now-retracted Missouri Information Analysis Center report which stated that small-government types (specifically Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin supporters) were potential terrorist threats? According to this new Homeland Security report, all it takes to fit the terrorist profile is to have general anti-government feelings or prefer local/state government to federal control over everything.

The federal Homeland Security Department document entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Environment Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” contains the following definition:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.  It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Also targeted in the report are veterans, folks anticipating additional restrictions to their Second Amendment rights, and those concerned about the loss of U.S. sovereignty.

This report implies that one harboring these sorts of views is a racist as well as a potential terrorism suspect.

UPDATE: Sorry for the delay in responding to questions about the authenticity of the DHS report.  We had a freakish storm last night which blew down a lot of very large oak trees in my neighborhood.  At the moment, we are cooking on propane and charcoal, are running a 3000 watt generator to keep food from spoiling, etc.  I just rerouted all of the home networking equipment and moved it so it can be powered by the generator, so I finally have Internet access again.

With respect to the report, I have no absolute proof it is legit, but I searched around the Internet and couldn’t find any site debunking it.  It came to me from a reasonably reliable source by e-mail.  It looks authentic and passes the sniff test of someone who has read far more than his share of government reports.

I figure that if this ends up being a hoax, it’s such a clever one that it is newsworthy in and of itself.  It’s probably legit, though.  Sometimes a blogger has to go out on a limb until such things can be absolutely verified.  That’s what’s so great about the Internet — we have an open source forum to investigate matters such as this.

If someone finds anything which verifies the authenticity of this document or indicates that it’s a clever hoax, please let me know.

UPDATE II: The AmSpecBlog has picked this up, as well as RedState, PoliGazette, Homeland Security Watch, The Other McCain, Independent Political Report, Moe Lane and Cold Fury.

UPDATE III: Michelle Malkin verifies the document here.  RedState’s Moe Lane writes in an e-mail: “Heh.  I figured that document was for real after I got shunted to the fourth office at DHS.  If it was fake they would have just said so.”

UPDATE IV: The White House responds:

The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.”

UPDATE V: A similar report seems to have been distributed by the Maryland National Guard.  This one specifically mentions Tea Party participants.

UPDATE VI by Brad Warbiany: We were getting quite a bit of hotlinking of the original PDF report (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc), and I have redirected that link to the main post.

When Did Maricopa County Become Red Square?

This seems even excessive for the Toughest Most Authoritarian Sheriff in America, Joe Arpaio:

Sheriff’s deputies and county Protective Service officers arrested two men and two women in the middle of the [County Board of Supervisors] meeting when they stood and applauded a speaker who criticized Arpaio.

Joel Nelson, Jason Odhner, Monica Sanschafer and Kristy Theilen all were charged with suspicion of disorderly conduct and trespassing, said sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Brian Lee.

Odhner is a member of the anti-Arpaio group Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, said the group’s director Raquel Terán. Nelson, Sanschafer and Theilen are members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The trio frequently has participated with MCSA members during the group’s anti-Arpaio campaign.

The crackdown brought the anti-Arpaio activist arrest tally to nine in the past four months.

Here’s the video of the incident:

But perhaps the disorderly conduct charges are legit. After all, public meetings have to have order right?

One might be able to accept this explanation until considering this:

A double standard clearly was in effect during the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday. At one point, public-transit advocate Blue Crowley used part of his public-comment time allotment to sing a birthday song to Kunasek. Kunasek blushed and several people applauded, but none was ordered to leave or threatened with arrest.

However, Kunasek, deputies and security officers refused to tolerate applause after the anti-Arpaio speech minutes later.

Don’t expect any apologies from Sheriff Arpaio for the actions of his deputies. He is THE LAW!

I WILL NOT OBEY

As I have said here before, I am a senior technical executive at a large bank.

As it happens, a bank that was forced at gunpoint, by the secretary of the treasury and chairman of the federal reserve, to accept TARP funds (as all the top surviving banks in the U.S were).

Let me be clear: We did not want TARP funds, or need them; but we, and all the other major banks, were told in no uncertain terms that we WOULD take them.

As obscene as that is, it is irrelevant to what follows; excepting that we did take TARP funds.

The United States House of Representatives recently passed a blatantly unconstitutional bill, placing confiscatory tax burdens on anyone making more than $250,000 and working for an institution that received more than 5 billion of TARP funds.

The bill was in theory specifically addressed at the false outrage over retention bonuses paid to AIG executives; and is targeted only to their bonuses.

In theory.

Of course, this would be an unconstitutional bill of attainder, which wouldn’t pass even the most cursory constitutional challenge; so it was re-written to be broader.

Broader of course means more people would be affected, and congress would be given more power to steal more money.

In fact, if you read into the implications of the bill; it could be used to levy a 90% tax on any income over $250,000, earned by any family making more than $250,000 per year, where either spouse is employed by an institution that received federal “bailout” funds.

It appears that the Senate, and the Obama administration are cold on the bill and that it will not pass, or be signed into law if it did.

I do not earn that much money; nor do my wife and I earn that much together (though in the next few years it is entirely possible that we will).

However, I have something important to say.

If congress should pass any such bill, and the president sign any such law, I WILL NOT OBEY IT.

I will not allow congress to tell me how much I can earn. I will not allow them to take my income because of the actions of others. If they attempt to make me do so by force, I will resist with force.

I will most likely die in the process, which I regret; but at some point a line must be drawn. The constitution must be respected, or it is meaningless.

Congress can make no law that is unconstitutional on it’s face. If such a law be passed, it is the duty of the president to repudiate it; and it must not be signed. If such a law is signed, it is the duty of the agents of the government to refuse to enforce it. If the agents of the state attempt to enforce it, then they must be resisted with force, at all costs.

Anything less is submission to tyranny, and the diminution of citizens, to subjects; or worse.

I have made clear in the past that I would resist police abuse of the constitution. I will resist congresses abuses no less. I will resist the presidents abuses no less.

Agents of the state cannot exceed the legitimate authority of the state. When they do so, they are criminals, and they must be resisted as criminals.

Normally I do not advertise where my lines are; but congress is now in the midst of a tantrum of self indulgence, overconfidence, and hubris not seen since reconstruction.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama, are pushing our nation headlong into tyranny and ruin; and decrying those who resist as racists, or reactionaries; simply for not wanting to be serfs.

I would suggest that we petition for the impeachment and prosecution (for conspiracy to deprive every resident of the United States of their civil rights) of any congressman who voted for such a bill; but I know it would do no good.

Government must be made to understand, WE WILL NOT TOLERATE SUCH ABUSE.

We will resist.

We will revolt.

We will not be made subjects, serfs, or slaves.

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

Abandoning the Rule of Law

The United States is a banana republic. The Jeffersonian ideal of a series of republics built upon enlightenment values of freedom and reason has died. It wasn’t a sudden death, like that which occurs in a car crash; where one can pinpoint to the second where death occurred. Rather it was a slow lingering death, with organ after organ gradually slowing, a long twilight that ended in the dark of a moonless night.

Some would argue that this is a melodramatic claim, made by some bitter conservative in reaction to the evolution of society, the rantings of a “dead-ender” in knee-jerk opposition to the inevitable and gradual improvement of society. We can test whether or not they are right by comparing the principles of a free society to those dominating the U.S. right now.

The Principles of the Rule of Law

First let us examine whether or not we live under a rule of law.

Joseph Raz described the rule of law as possessing the following properties:

  • Laws are prospective rather than retroactive.
  • Laws are stable and not changed too frequently, as lack of awareness of the law prevents one from being guided by it.
  • There are clear rules and procedures for making laws.
  • The independence of the judiciary has to be guaranteed.
  • The principles of natural justice should be observed, particularly those concerning the right to a fair hearing.
  • The courts should have the power to review the way in which the other principles are implemented.
  • The courts should be accessible; no man may be denied justice.
  • The discretion of law enforcement and crime prevention agencies should not be allowed to pervert the law.

Clearly most of these principles are currently violated, blatantly and routinely:

  • The list of retroactive laws are legion.  Two that leap to mind are the new tax on AIG bonuses, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act.
  • Anybody who has watched the legislative process in Congress closely would recognize that the laws are not only not stably maintained, but are changing bewilderingly often, with little notice and even less opportunity for people negatively affected by the law to present their case to legislators
  • The rules and procedures for making laws are anything but clear.  Witness this essay on the Master Resource blog concerning how the Federal government is going to establish regulations on CO2.
  • In an era when any prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich and make it stick, the nominal independence of the judiciary is meaningless. Furthermore, many of the judges in the U.S. legal system abrogate their independence routinely, witness the “deference to the executive” given in numerous critical cases concerning the limit of government power
  • The principles of natural justice have been thrown out of the window.  How can people contest the charges against them, if the evidence is kept secret from them and their lawyers?  How can a government that passes laws allowing contracts to be retroactively rewritten and used as the basis of fines claim to respect any natural law? How can a government that denies people the right to publish what they want, to own weapons for their own defense, to enter into contracts with anyone they want lay any claim to respecting natural justice?  How can a person obey the law, when even the legislators and the executive branch are ignorant as to what the law is?  How can asset forfeiture, where people who have not been convicted of any crime have their property seized by the government which then sells it or uses it for its own pleasure, be compatible with any notion of due process?
  • Nor are the courts accessible…  The laws and procedures of the legal system have become so byzantine that only an expert can navigate them.  And, sad to say,  a handful of people have been detained in a manner that was clearly designed to prevent them from reaching any court, and few people in government have protested.
  • There are two ways that law enforcement may abuse their discretion in such a way as to pervert the law.  One is to turn a blind eye to violations of the law, such as that which occurred in the 19th century when a group of white men murdered a black man.  This is out of fashion – with the famous exception of the “blue wall of silence“.  The other is to “charge stack” – to use its powers to detain and investigate to pursue people frivolously and maliciously  despite its foreknowledge that such an investigation would not in fact turn up a serious crime.   This abuse is systemic.  People are over-charged with tens or even hundreds of charges for a single act by prosecutors who hope to coerce a guilty plea out of a defendant facing hundreds of years of jail time. Often the frivolous investigations are directed against the family members or loved ones of the prosecutor’s target. Take the prosecution of Greg Anderson for his refusal to testify against Barry Bonds; prosecutors are investigating family members in an obvious attempt to coerce his testimony.  This is not a new problem, the IRS is notorious for this tactic.

Now that we have established that the rule of law is effectively dead, the next question to ask is whether or not the rule of law is worth defending?  One can even argue that the rule of law is some unrealizable ideal, laws don’t enforce themselves, they are enforced by men.  So why should we bemoan the failure to live up to some unrealizable ideal?  The answer is, of course, that how well the lawmakers, and law enforcers adhere to the principles of the rule of law is a necessary precondition of how wealthy, prosperous, and pleasant a society is.  All of the principles of the rule of law have at their root a governing set of axioms:

  • The law applies to all equally.
  • The law is not capricious – people can know beforehand which actions are lawful and which are not
  • The law is generated in a manner that allows all affected people to have a voice in crafting it, and that it is not produced by a special class of people for their own interests.

You cannot violate Raz’ principles without producing a society that fails to satisfy those axioms.  A society that applies the law differently to different people, or is capricous and unpredictable, where the laws are crafted for the benefit of some at the expense of others is a society that discourages productive activities and encourages predatory activities, one that is on the fast track towards tyranny.

Where to Now?

I am not concerned with pointing the finger of blame at any individuals or classes of people. Nor am I concerned with reestablishing the past. Murray Rothbard famously commented the the rot set in before the Treaty of Paris was signed. L Neil Smith pointed to the convention which wrote the U.S. Constitution as the moment the death began, calling it a coup. It is clear that the death began in the 19th century, and has been accelerating in the 20th. Merely dialing the clock back will not address the root causes of the death.

The root cause of the death is the fact that the vast majority of the U.S. populace is completely ignorant of what the rule of law is, and the dangers that accompany its abandonment.  Too many people are willing to make deals with the devil for their own benefit, or out of a desire to be left alone.  Too many people are interested in short-term gain to recognize how destructive these policies they accept, or even cheer at will be in the coming months.  Convincing them to change their ways is a difficult, and even quite likely an impossible task.

The change that must happen is not simply the election of a different president, or exchanging one political party’s control of Congress for that of another.  It is not a question of impoved ballot access laws.  Nor is it a question of storing a shotgun loaded with deer slugs in one’s closet.

What is required is a divorce.   Seccession.  Emigration.  Passive disobedience.  The construction of alternate institutions that bypass the state.

Such actions come at a price, people lose their income, friends, and even their families’ support.  But, as unprincipled government takes its toll, those losses will become less and less significant for larger numbers of people, and our numbers will grow.  The more the state takes, the more people will resist.  Four hundred years ago, monarchs whose treasuries had been emptied by the religious wars of the Reformation began selling charters to colonies in the New World as a means of raising money.  The flight of people to the New World, and the tax competition it trigerred led to the flowering of liberty and the spread of Enlightenment values.  If we lay the groundwork now, the coming collapse can be turned to our advantage.

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.

Name That Socialist

Today, a news story came out where a company planned on purchasing chicken processing plants and the government was going to match the private company’s bid dollar for dollar. This plan is proposed under the guise of saving jobs. Now let me give you a hint who this socialist leader is; he’s a national leader.

Is it Barack Obama’s latest “stimulus” plan? Is it Harry Reid? Is this Ed Rendell or some other big state Democratic governor? Could it be even Charlie Crist or Arnold Schwarzenegger?

If you guessed any of the above, you’re wrong. The person proposing to give the government 50% ownership of certain chicken processing plants is none other the guy who came in second in the CPAC straw poll, Louisiana Governor and Republican Party savior, Bobby Jindal.

From the Monroe News Star

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief of staff said the state has found a buyer for Pilgrim’s Pride’s northeastern Louisiana operations and that an offer was expected to be made to the bankrupt company Tuesday night.

Timmy Teepell said the buyer will put up $20 million and the state will match it for a $40 million offer.

“(Jindal) has agreed to match it dollar for dollar with the stipulation that the company must keep the work force intact for five years,” Teepell said.

Pilgrim’s chief executive Don Jackson said at 7 p.m. Tuesday that he had not yet received an offer.

“I stated from the beginning that we would be receptive to any meaningful offer,” Jackson said.

The company announced Feb. 27 that it will close the Farmerville processing plants and the support infrastructure in April because of a glut of chicken on the market.

So the man who railed in a boring, self-centered speech against Barack Obama’s big government agenda plans to have the State of Louisiana own 50% of chicken processing plants. At least Obama in his takeover of Citigroup is only buying 36% of it. Maybe Rush Limbaugh can see if this is what Reagan would’ve done.

One other disturbing aspect of this proposal:

Teepell would not identify the company that made the offer to Pilgrim’s Pride, but he did say the company’s chief executive contacted Jackson before deciding to make the offer.

Bobby Jindal likes to talk about he cleaned up the most corrupt state in the country and how he reformed Louisiana’s ethics laws and improved transparency. Well, he passed some unenforceable new ethics laws while at the same time fought any attempts to bring transparency to the governor’s office. This secretive way of conducting business is the norm for the Jindal regime.

America, if you elect Bobby Jindal president in 2012, you can expect more socialism and more of the shadow government. If this is what the Republican Party has to offer, they won’t be returning to power anytime soon.

UPDATE:Pilgrim’s Pride rejected the offer from the State of Louisiana to buy the plant.

“Gov. Jindal and (Pilgrim’s chief executive Don) Jackson spoke by phone (on Tuesday night),” Pilgrim’s spokesman Ray Atkinson said in a written statement. “Dr. Jackson explained to the governor that the offer for the Farmerville complex was below our requirements.

“It would essentially put Foster (Farms) in business at a cost of entry of $20 million, well below the real cost and at a level with which neither Pilgrim’s Pride nor the rest of the industry could effectively compete.

“Dr. Jackson did not rule out a possible sale, but noted that it would have to be at a price well beyond $40 million. He also reiterated that selling the facility would not address the fundamental problem facing our industry: an oversupply of low-value commodity chicken.”

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Quote Of The Day

Over at The Truth About Cars, Ken Elias looks at the latest requests for an autobailout:

This is bad craziness. Never mind the cost. Or the fact that the bailout is doomed to failure. Government money provided to private enterprise on this basis completely distorts the function of the marketplace. It rewards incompetence. It perpetuates incompetence. The bailout does nothing to address GM’s fundamental inability to sustain car brands with class-leading products. Nor can it. It is not the government’s responsibility to pick a winner in a free market. Nor is it the government’s responsibility to “save” a loser.

What he said.

The Brady Bill Was Only Step 1

Remember the “good old days” of the Brady Bill and the instant background check? It turns out that the gun grabbers in the 111th Congress no longer believe these gun control measures go far enough. Introducing perhaps the gravest threat to date against the Second Amendment: H.R. 45 Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009.

The primary goals of H.R. 45 are to license every firearm for every firearm a gun owner owns and regulate the buying and selling of firearms through licensed dealers. To apply for a firearms license, the applicant would have to provide the following:

SEC. 102. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS.
(a) In General- In order to be issued a firearm license under this title, an individual shall submit to the Attorney General (in accordance with the regulations promulgated under subsection (b)) an application, which shall include–
(1) a current, passport-sized photograph of the applicant that provides a clear, accurate likeness of the applicant;
(2) the name, address, and date and place of birth of the applicant;
(3) any other name that the applicant has ever used or by which the applicant has ever been known;
(4) a clear thumb print of the applicant, which shall be made when, and in the presence of the entity to whom, the application is submitted;
(5) with respect to each category of person prohibited by Federal law, or by the law of the State of residence of the applicant, from obtaining a firearm, a statement that the individual is not a person prohibited from obtaining a firearm;
(6) a certification by the applicant that the applicant will keep any firearm owned by the applicant safely stored and out of the possession of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(7) a certificate attesting to the completion at the time of application of a written firearms examination, which shall test the knowledge and ability of the applicant regarding–
(A) the safe storage of firearms, particularly in the vicinity of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(B) the safe handling of firearms;
(C) the use of firearms in the home and the risks associated with such use;
(D) the legal responsibilities of firearms owners, including Federal, State, and local laws relating to requirements for the possession and storage of firearms, and relating to reporting requirements with respect to firearms; and
(E) any other subjects, as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate;
(8) an authorization by the applicant to release to the Attorney General or an authorized representative of the Attorney General any mental health records pertaining to the applicant;
(9) the date on which the application was submitted; and
(10) the signature of the applicant.
(b) Regulations Governing Submission- The Attorney General shall promulgate regulations specifying procedures for the submission of applications to the Attorney General under this section, which regulations shall–
(1) provide for submission of the application through a licensed dealer or an office or agency of the Federal Government designated by the Attorney General;
(2) require the applicant to provide a valid identification document (as defined in section 1028(d)(2) of title 18, United States Code) of the applicant, containing a photograph of the applicant, to the licensed dealer or to the office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable, at the time of submission of the application to that dealer, office, or agency; and
(3) require that a completed application be forwarded to the Attorney General not later than 48 hours after the application is submitted to the licensed dealer or office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable.
(c) Fees-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Attorney General shall charge and collect from each applicant for a license under this title a fee in an amount determined in accordance with paragraph (2).
(2) FEE AMOUNT- The amount of the fee collected under this subsection shall be not less than the amount determined by the Attorney General to be necessary to ensure that the total amount of all fees collected under this subsection during a fiscal year is sufficient to cover the costs of carrying out this title during that fiscal year, except that such amount shall not exceed $25.

I haven’t had time to read the rest of the bill, but from this and the titles of the remaining subsections (i.e. Sec. 302 Failure to Maintain or Permit Inspection of Records, Sec. 304 Failure to Provide Notice of Change of Address, Sec. 405 Inspections, etc.) it’s probably much worse than I think. This is like a bad marriage between the Real I.D. Act and the Brady Bill.

If the Brady Bill was step 1 and H.R. 45 is step 2 what are we then left with for step 3 but the outright repeal of the Second Amendment and complete prohibition for individuals to own firearms?

Resist The Stimulus

Now that the members of the United States Congress have ignored the American people and are set to steal and borrow around $800 billion for a “stimulus” package which benefits left-wing special interests, political machines on the state and local level, and other vote buying programs in general; those of us who actually believe in the free market must continue to resist this plan to the end. Just because we have likely lost the fight in the Congress does not mean this fight is over. “Yes We Can” still defeat the stimulus or at least make it as costly to the Democratic party and the “moderate” Republicans who supported it as possible.

The battlefield, once the Obamessiah signs the bill into law, now shifts to the states who must decide whether or not to accept the “stimulus”. Here in the states, we can have more impact because governors of the states and our state legislators in most cases, are respsonsive to fewer people than our Congresscritters and are up for reelection before 2012. Therefore, we can have more success fighting this on the state level.

The plan now needs to be to call our state representatives and to call our governor offices and tell them to refuse to accept the money from the stimulus AND to refuse to implement any unfunded mandates and any other regulations that the “stimulus” calls for.

The second phase of the plan is to use our little rebates that the Obamessiah is giving us to fund the organizations that led the fight against the stimulus AND give money on top of that to fight the continued march toward socialism that the Obamessiah and the Democratic Party will lead us toward.

As an added bonus, your contributions to some, but not all of these organizations are tax deductible.

Americans for Prosperity

Cato Institute

Citizens Against Government Waste

Club for Growth

Heritage Foundation

Finally, in 2010 and 2012, vote the politicians that created this new mess out of power, if we still can.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

An Economy Is Not About Jobs

One of the bizarre fallacies propounded by President Obama, the Congressional leadership, and their intellectual enablers such as Paul Krugman, is the notion that society should be organized to give people jobs, and that if the supply of jobs is insufficient to meet the demand, the government should step in and create an additional supply through economic policies.

Walter Block, restating an argument made famous by Frederic Bastiat, points out that nothing could be farther from the truth.

The purpose of an economy is to align production of goods with demand, so that people have their desires to consume goods satisfied.  Dr Block points out that if we lived in a society where 30% of the population dug holes that were filled in by the other 30%, with the remaining 40% laboring to supply food, clothing, shelter and tools for the hole-diggers and hole-fillers, we would be far poorer than if that 60% were redirected to other forms of labor that produced things useful to the other 40%.

This becomes obvious when you consider a thought experiment.  If you ask people to choose between having a job, and having the enough food, clothing, shelter etc, they will choose the latter in a heart-beat.  People work primarily so that they can produce what they need in order to be comfortable, either by making the stuff they want to use directly, or making stuff that they intend to trade to other people for the stuff they want to use themselves.

Much of the proposed stimulus project is makework that is little better than hole-digging and hole-filling in.  Absent the stimulus spending, the people who will be employed under the stimulus project would have to find tasks to busy themselves with that produced goods and services that people were willing to pay for.  Instead of working to identify what unmet needs were most urgent and in the greatest demand, now they will coast, “earning” a paycheck, while working on either less profitable tasks, or even unprofitable ones, where the resources they consume are greater than the product they produce.

No doubt that some people would read the above paragraph and say, “Aha! But what if they can’t find anything to do?  What if they can’t find anyone willing to hire them, don’t know how to subsistence farm, etc!  What, Mr Free-Market Anarchist, should they just hurry up and die – making sure that they starve to death out of sight?”

At first, this seems like a powerful argument, until one considers what percentage of the population is actually unemployable?  I would expect that they number no more than 5% of adults, perhaps 25 % of the entire population adding in the elderly and young children.  And, these people are probably unemployable even under a government make-work project.  Even if there was a massive shortage of workers, they would be unemployed and dependent on charity.  Rather, most of the people employed under any job-generation scheme will be able-bodied.

Nor will the able-bodied be unable to find work.  We humans live in a universe of scarcity.  We always have unmet needs, we want more shelter, better food, better cars, better streets, better entertainment etc.  Many of these needs are not met not because humanity lacks the raw materials or the land needed to realize these needs, but because there aren’t enough people around to satisfy them.

The only way to find out which of these unmet needs are th emost urgent is via the price system.  People will pay more for labor that is needed to satisfy more urgent demands and less for labor that satisfies less urgent demands.  The higher wages will act as a signal to the unemployed who can do the job to start doing the job.

The temporary unemployment that accompanies recessions occurs becasue the price system requires the passage of time to reach an approximate equilibrium.  Essentially, in a recession, people who were producing things that were not in heavy demand stop that undesired production and spend some finite period of time looking for othe rthings to do.  Simmilarly prospective employers need time to figure out where the shortages are, or to identify opportunities to start expanding production again.

By attempting to sabotage this feedback system, the proponents of the stimulus plan are setting the stage for long-term stagflation at best, and a future crash at worst.  Not only are they shifting the problem of what to do with the unemployed into the future, they are encouraging, though false price signals, people to abandon productive pursuits in favor of the make-work projects being promoted by the state.  If, for example, the state promotes the construction of dams, then people who otherwise would have chosen to become farmers or mechanical engineers or home builders will instead gravitate to civil engineering.  They will then form a political group which strives to keep the emergency programs going indefinitely, much as farmers continue to agitate for the price supports borne from the “emergency” of the Great Depression, of the California Prison Guards’ Union agitates against the repeal of anti-drug laws.  This would be bad enough if government official were to attempt, in good faith, to guess what the unmet needs in greatest demand were.  When one considers the inevitable corruption and rent-seeking that accompany the establishment of such emergency programs, the true scope of the danger to the economy presented by the stimulus project becomes clear.

Barack Obama has been in office less than a month.  The early signs are that he will prove to be a bigger disaster than George Bush.

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.

So, we’re not all going to drown, or be killed by hurricanes?

This is the single best, and clearest, explanation of the Rationalist Position on global warming I’ve Ever Seen

Key line: “So, why don’t we ever talk about the suns contribution to global warming? …Well, because we can’t regulate it, tax it, or make it feel guilty for what it’s doing“.

Got it in one there friend.

There’s no profit, political gain, or power to be grabbed from acknowledging the real causes, and real effects of whatever global warming there actually is. So, the interested parties simply ignore all that, shout down anyone who disagrees with them, and go about seizing as much power as they can, in a disorderly fashion.

From “What You Oughta Know“, a website with videos explaining an assortment of general, and sometimes esoteric knowledge.

Oh and here are the links he mentioned in the video:

Pacific Research Institute:
the documentary, more information

Reid A. Bryson – scroll down for ice cap article

Solar Activity: A dominant factor in climate dynamics – scroll down read sections in blue

BBC’s The Great Global Warming Swindle

Other possible causes for global warming

Oh and just for fun, here’s the same sites take on “Liberals vs. Conservatives“… which is really a pretty solid explanation of the foundations of minarchist positions:

And a great take on the bailout:

“Because there is no disaster that immediate, decisive, wrong action cannot make worse”

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

The Unselfaware Irony of Fascism

Eric Arthur Blair famously said “The word FASCISM has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies
“something not desirable.
“.

In this he was referring (among other things) to the tendency of those on the left to call anything which restricted their tendencies or desires in any way fascists; which in such usage has been the preferred cavil of liberals and leftists since the 1940s.

Sadly, most of those making such imprecations don’t understand the true definition of fascism: a belief in the supremacy of the state and it’s leaders, over that of individuals; elevated to a level of blind enforced obedience and popular obeisance.

Fascism, for all intents and purposes, is the worship of the state, and of the “Dear leader”. Critically, when instituted it is always instituted by a majority, or a very strong minority, of willing subjects (I cannot call them citizens); who are looking for the government to “heal all their ills”.

Pledge of Allegiance Becomes Pledge to Obama

By Alan Gray, NewsBlaze

A parent in the Clark County School District of Las Vegas, Henderson area reported January 27th that his son, who is in 1st grade, came home yesterday saying that he didn’t want to go back to school anymore.

When asked why, the boy said that during the Pledge of Allegiance the teacher put up a large image of Obama next to the flag.

Thinking that the boy might be exaggerating, the man asked his son if he was sure, and suggested that by “large” he might mean an 8×10 photo of the president. The boy apparently said “No, it is a large picture of Obama and when we are done, the teacher turns off the image.”

The same thing was not done for President Bush last year.

After investigating this morning, the other parent reported that what the boy said was true.

At least three of the five classrooms have an overhead projector and as the children stand to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, the teacher turns on the classroom overhead and a full body image of Obama, with six U.S. flags behind him, comes up about 4 feet away from the flag that hangs on the wall. The screen is apparently around five feet by six feet.

In the image, President Obama appears to be staring straight out with no facial expression, just a serious look. All of the kids in each class faced the President, instead of the flag that hangs in the corner.

15 years ago, I swore an oath to defend this country, and our constitution. Not our president, or our government; but our constitution. The president is our commander in chief; but our loyalty, our duty, our honor; is owed to the constitution, not to the president.

10 days ago, President Obama swore a similar oath; not to defend our government, or our leaders; but our nation, and our constitution.

America is an idea, not a man, or a government. That idea is expressed, however imperfectly, in our constitution; and those of us who chose to serve, be it in government, or the military; swear to defend that idea.

Isn’t it ironic, how the only serious proponents of fascism today are militant islamicists, and western leftists; the very people who, in form at least, rail against fascism… which they are most often accusing US of?

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

Bush Was a Dictator – And the U.S. Government Is a Dictatorship

A dictator is a monarch who is both law-maker and law enforcer, who also acts as final judicial arbiter in cases, and is not legally liable for his actions.

By such a standard, George Bush was a dictator.  He claimed the power to ignore the legislature, and to arbitrarily rewrite the law – citing the U.S. Constitution’s appointment of the president as the “Commander in Chief” of the United States Army and U.S. Navy as justification.  If the Congress passed a law he didn’t like, he refused to enforce it.  If it failed to pass a law he liked, he enacted it anyway. He successfully suppressed the courts’ power of habeas corpus throughout most of his term, effectively wielding the power to seize anyone off the street and to detain them arbitrarily with no review.  And, despite his many violations of the law, he never faced any credible threat of legal sanction.

Many of his supporters argue that since George Bush stepped down willingly at the end of his term, he was no dictator.  But a what characterizes a dictatorial government is how the leader controls the government, not how he got into power or left it.  A Roman appointed to the office of Dictator during the years of the Republic had his term expire after only a year, yet during that year no-one would argue that during that year there was no dictatorship, even though they often stepped down willingly at the end of their term. Nor do they have to come to power through violent means: witness Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Fuhrer by the German Parliament via the Enabling Act, which was all nice and legal and regularly renewed by parliament.

While many people have been outraged by Bush’s arrogation of power, there was been no serious attempt by the judiciary and the legislature to rein him in.  The judiciary did, very late in the game, start to protest against his more outlandish legal theories justifying his unilateral actions, but for the most part they deferred to the president.  In Congress, a few gadflies started impeachment proceedings, but they never amounted to anything.  To the contrary, throughout his presidency the other branches bent over backward to defer to this claim of authority.

Since he has taken office, President Obama has been busy issuing new directives limiting the power that he and his subordinates claim.  Many see this as an end to the unitary executive.  But, this personal arrogation of power is very similar to the homeowner allowing a friend to crash on the couch.  It can be rescinded at any time.  In the absence of any movement in the legislature or the judiciary, it merely amounts to the dictator announcing his intention to stay his hand, rather than a permanent abdication of power.

Furthermore, he has continued legislating by fiat, the latest of which is his executive order designed to force improvements in fuel efficiency.  Regardless of  whether one feels that this is a good or bad idea,  one must admit that the power to enact such a major change in government policy, which will likely impose billions of dollars in compliance costs, when on the shoulders of one man, is dictatorial.

In many ways, the U.S. has become the most dangerous kind of dictatorship – a democratic one.  While dictators are often quite violent and, well, dictatorial, they sometimes  do to take a long view, since they expect to experience the long-term consequences of any misrule.  On occasion, dictators can even be pretty decent,  recognizing that a hands-off approach will increase their power far more quickly that a hands-on approach.  I can think of no better example of this phenomenon in action than that of Singapore.

In the U.S., on the other hand, the rulers can only expect to stay in office for less than a decade.  Rather than worrying about long term consequences, they are far more likely to be concerned about how to maximize their use of the office in the short period they hold it. Rather than worrying about the long term health of the nation, under a democratic (the system of government, not the political party) dictatorship of limited duration, we expect to see decisions that are focused on a smaller time scale.

When the Roman Republic collapsed and was replaced by the imperial system, the old forms of the republic were maintained.  The senate appointed consuls and voted on legislation.  However, for the next few centuries, political power resided in the hands of the Emperor, who was named Dictator by the Senate.  While early emperors like Augustus had fairly sound economic policies, the history of the empire is a sad tale of failed economic policies creating new crises, of poorly though out intervention begetting stronger interventions, each multiplying the devastation of the unintended consequences of its predecessor.

The republican system of government is not completely extinguished in the United States,  It is, however, all but dead.  Absent a dramatic sea-change in the attitude the American people towards their government, we will increasingly be at the mercy of popularly elected dictators, who are not restrained by any significant limitation on their powers.

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.

The “Oklahoma 3″ Set Free, Paul Jacob Responds

Oklahoma’s political prisoners have been set free!

Left to Right: Paul Jacob, Susan Johnson, and Rick Carpenter A.K.A. "The Oklahoma 3"

Left to Right: Paul Jacob, Susan Johnson, and Rick Carpenter A.K.A. The Oklahoma 3

Paul Jacob released the following statement in response to the charges being dismissed on January 22, 2009:

Today is a great day for justice, for freedom of speech and the right to petition one’s government. It is a great day for Rick Carpenter, Susan Johnson, and me—now known as the Oklahoma Three.

The charges brought against us by the attorney general have now been dismissed. They should never have been brought in the first place. We did not break the law and, as we all now know, the law itself is unconstitutional.

Our prosecution has sadly had a chilling effect on Oklahomans, who want to reform their government and to hold it accountable through the petition process. My goal throughout this ordeal has been to encourage Oklahomans and Americans everywhere not to let their rights be eroded through fear and intimidation. Today we have won a victory.

But the battle to protect citizen rights is far from over.

As President of Citizens in Charge, I look forward to working with all Americans to see the voter initiative process triumph over attacks from politicians. The will of the people should always prevail over the desires of politicians.

Related Posts:
Paul Jacob, Susan Johnson, and Rick Carpenter: Oklahoma’s Political Prisoners
Paul Jacob Tells his Story at the Libertarian National Convention

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.

Obama’s Terrible Stimulus

During the recent presidential election, I found myself unfortunately defending Barack Obama from charges that were absurdely false (ex. Obama’s a foreigner, Obama’s a Muslim, Obama’s a terrorist) than demonstrating how absolutely terrible an Obama presidency would be for country and for individual liberty. Fortunately, Obama is demonstrating through his policy proposals how dangerous he is. The first example of his dangerous presidency is his so-called “stimulus” plan.

Obama calls his economic “recovery” plan the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan”. His plan calls for a series of new spending programs on everything from roads (to nowhere) to “green collar jobs” to another series of tax rebate checks.

Why is Obama’s plan terrible?

Obama’s plan is terrible for many reasons. The first obvious reason is that the country really cannot afford any new spending after blowing at least $8.4 trillion (in an overall economy of $13.8 trillion and shrinking) in bailouts for Bush and Paulson’s friends in the financial sector. The second reason is that very little of this new spending is actually permitted in the U.S. Constitution. The Federal government cannot “invest” in “green collar jobs” or any other type of jobs for that matter. The Federal government has no Constitutional role in education spending (which is another part of Obama’s “plan”). Thirdly, the areas where you can argue a legitimate duty of the Federal government, highway construction, is prone to abuse and wasteful spending through the earmarking process (which is the currency for corruption).

What about Obama’s tax cuts?

The tax cuts are probably the worst aspect of the plan. The left, including Barack Obama, were absolutely right to oppose the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and again in 2003. The Bush tax cuts were short sighted and were flawed economic thinking. Most importantly, the Bush tax cuts were paid for by borrowing instead of cutting spending. Which leads me to Obama’s tax cut plan which allows businesses to write off up to $250,000 in losses in 2009 and will give another rebate check of $500 for singles and $1000 for families. Obama suffice to say is not proposing any spending cuts (which are desperately needed if we are going to avoid a Weimar Germany-style financial collapse through hyperinflation) to pay for these reckless and irresponsible tax cuts.

Tax cuts are not good for individual liberty unless government spending is reduced along with it. Instead what usually happens is the LBJ-Bush-Obama economic theory which is we can cut taxes (temporarily) to appease the mob while we can borrow our way out of any financial shortfall the government finds itself in. When taxes have to be raised to pay for borrowing, the tax increases are higher than the money actually returned in the tax cut.

Overall the Obama “stimulus” plan is result of over 70 years of terrible economic thinking in the US which brought us “New Deal” type of mild socialism on the left and “supply-side” borrow and spend on the right.

The only viable economic alternative is the free market where role of government is limited to protecting the borders from invasion; enforcing laws protecting life, liberty, and property from force and fraud; and generally not much else. This is the only alternative to what’s facing us (lost liberty, hyperinflation, and the road to tyranny).

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

2008 Guide To Government Waste

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has published a guide giving a snapshot of the most wasteful programs enacted by the Federal government this year. The programs highlighted total a little over $1.3 billion (which is small potatoes in a year where the budget deficit is hovering around $1 trillion).

Some of the programs highlighted are:

National Drug Intelligence Center – Pennsylvania ($39 million)
In 1992, Congress created, the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown to collect information on drug activity around the nation. Since then, though, it has been labeled a “boondoggle” and, according to U.S. News and World Report, “been rocked by scandal, and been subjected to persistent criticisms that it should have never been created at all.”76 Attempts have been made in recent years by the Department of Justice to shut down the center because of concerns related toduplication, overlap and wasteful spending. None of this stopped Congress from awarding NDIC $39 million in 2008.77 One former NDIC director said, “I recognized that a lot of reports were [awful], poorly written, poorly researched, and, in some cases, wrong.”

This program is a snapshot of the entire War on (some) Drugs. By the way, the Congressman for Johnstown, Pennsylvania just happens to be John Murtha.

Kanjorski Center Parking Garage ? Pennsylvania ($5.6 million)
That the Kanjorski Center, a 32,000 square foot office building in Pennsylvania, has stood completely empty since 2005 did not prevent Congress from trying to funnel $5.6 million in transportation money to add a large parking garage to it.83 Officials at the Department of Transportation opposed the project, noting that current law prohibits the department from funding parking garages unless they serve mass transit needs – and this parking garage would not meet the test. Angered by the rules, one local congressman is fighting to keep the project alive, saying, “I don’t think the rule should have any attention paid to it. Because in Congress we have our own rules.”84 When challenged by a reporter that the parking garage is costly to federal taxpayers, he replied, “For the community, it is free money.”

Paul Kanjorski, a corrupt Congressman who was reelected in November, has found yet another way to steal from taxpayers.

Field Trips for School Teachers – Illinois ($918,600)
Field trips aren’t just for students anymore. Teachers from Illinois were given a grant of nearly $1 million by the Department of Education Teaching U.S. History program for vacations in the name of “continuing education.” Upcoming outings are planned for New York City, while past trips to New Orleans, Boston, California and Washington, D.C. were paid for with federal funds. High school teacher, Chris Johnson, a veteran trip?taker, feels that excursions to other cities help to give teachers “ownership” of the material they teach. “I’m a better teacher today than before I started these trips,” he said.

Government workers taking yet another taxpayer funded junket.

2010 Decennial Census Bailout – ($210 million)

Since 2004, the Census Bureau has embarked on an effort to bring the 2010 Census into the 21st Century, but wound up in the 18th Century. One of the significant challenges facing the Census is the collection of information from 300 million Americans entirely by pper and pencil. To do so, the Bureau awarded a $600 million contract to the Harris Corporation to develop handheld computers that would help census takers collect data electroically. The devices were problematic from the start, and although they rely on basic technology found in nearly all cell phones, the agency was never able to get them working properly. When asked in 2006 whether it would be appropriate to have a backup plan in case the handheld computers did not work, then?director Louis Kincannon responded, “They will work. They have worked. You might as well ask me what happens if the Postal Service refuses to deliver the census form.”93 Despite enormous cost overruns, the devices will only contain half of the functionality originally intended. As a reward, Congress gave the Census Bureau a $210 million bonus in the form of an “emergency” bailout.94 $800 million later, the 2010 Census will still be collected, not electronically but by paper and pencil, just like the first census over 200 years ago.

$800 million pissed away just to count people.

Billings Mustangs Minor League Baseball Stadium – Montana ($328,300)
In 2008, the Billings Mustangs – a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds – moved out of Cobb Field and into its new home, Dehler Park. While constructing the new stadium, which cost $13 million, came in under budget and completed its first season of operations, the federal government is sending the team a check for $328,300. Funds will come from the Community Development Block Grant program despite the fact that local citizens fully funded the stadum with municipal bonds and more than $2 million in private donations, making federal money unnecessary. “But I have plans for it,” insists Mike Whitaker, director of the park. He would like to use at least $100,000 of the extra cash to put up a foul ball net that the stadium does not need, “We feel we need to put netting along North 27th Street, even though it’s not required.”

 
Now the Federal government is getting involved in building stadiums…

Senator Coburn has some solutions for fighting government waste:

1.Eliminate programs that do not work. Federal programs do not often disappear, but that does not mean they all work well. If a determination is made that a program is not achieving results, it should be eliminated.

Federal programs are power, for Congressman to buy votes and for bureaucrats to run citizens’ lives. I do not see the government giving up this power anytime soon.

2.Eliminate or consolidate duplicative existing programs. Those that duplicate existing government programs and are no longer needed and should be eliminated.

See item 1.

3. Eliminate earmarks. Earmarks, otherwise known as “pork,” are pet projects that members of Congress single?handedly direct, often to bring home money to their district. While that might seem like a good idea, or even a congressman’s job, the earmark process is corrupt, wasteful and non?transparent. Tax dollars are routinely directed into questionable projects, as seen in this report, which benefit lobbyists, special interest groups and the well?connected. They are not required to have a meritorious purpose or to demonstrate results, and should be eliminated.

The problem with earmarks, as Senator Coburn writes above, is not the amount of money given (which is quite small in the big picture), but the fact that earmarks are often the currency of corruption.

The rest of the items are:

Implement stronger transparency measures. Transparency in government should allow the taxpayer to know how every penny of federal money is spent. The advantages of this are obvious, and include the accountability brought to officials who know that poor spending decisions will be found out and penalized. Taxpayers should be able to track every federal expenditure on loans, grants and contracts down to the penny.
 
Conduct more congressional oversight. Congressional oversight and hearings provide an opportunity to exert Congress’ “power of the purse” on the actions of the government. Oversight should ensure money is spent wisely and in line with objective performance standards. Members of Congress should be held accountable for how tax dollars are spent, and they in turn should agencies accountable for how they spend tax dollars.

End automatic budget increases. Too often, Congress increases the budget of every government agency without regard to the previous year’s performance. This practice must end with resources being directed only to those programs performing well and not to those that fail, as well as to only those programs that are true national priorities.

Require Performance Metrics for All Programs. Many federal programs operate with objectives that are illdefined or nonexistent. Every program should be given performance metrics that are measureable and enforceable.

All of the above require an informed and engaged citizenry that believes in liberty or at the very least an efficient government. That is something we do not have in this country. Until that happens, abuses like ones outline above will continue..

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Ted Stevens, William Jefferson, Rod Blagojevich, And The Corruption Of State Power

In light of yet another example of the eternal truth that power corrupts, and absoulte power corrupts absolutely, Steve Horwitz wonders why we’re still talking about handing yet more power over to the government:

I simply do not understand how those who are in favor of giving government all of these new powers because they sincerely believe that doing so will work out the way their blackboard designs intended can keep a straight face. What kind of cognitive dissonance must it take to believe that the people YOU are handing power over to are “not like” Ted Stevens or Rod Blagojevich? How deeply must one be in denial or engage in rationalization to believe that they are “different?” How blind must one be to think that trillions of dollars in bailout money won’t go to the highest bidder (as the lobbyists line up on K Street…) in a process different only in its wink-and-a-nod courtesies than Blagojevich’s auctioning off of a Senate seat?

For me, the key insight of public choice is the same insight that underlies Austrian economics: it is the institutional framework that is the key to understanding the choices people make and the unintended outcomes they produce. As I said to a class last week: “Governments can’t act like businesses because businesses only act like businesses because they operate in the institutional environment of private property, monetary exchange, and competition.” In the same way, getting politicians to stop selling off their power isn’t a matter of ethics or psychology, rather it’s about changing the rules of the game such that they do not have as much power to sell. Unfortunately, the current bailout mania is changing those rules in utterly the wrong direction.

Look at it this way: the bailouts are already becoming just a legal form of the essentially the same behavior for which the governor has been indicted.

Why should we ever accept “Oh, but he’s different” as an answer to the claim that explicit bribery and selling off power are just a less subtle form of politics as usual?

The examples of Ted Stevens, William Jefferson, and, now, Rod Blagojevich make clear that the answer is that we shouldn’t.

We shouldn’t trust the Treasury Secretary with unrestricted, unreviewable authority to spend $ 700 billion in taxpayer funds.

We shouldn’t trust a “car czar” to oversee a government-run auto industry in a manner that gives priority to making a profit rather than being politically correct.

For the very reasons that the Founding Fathers enunciated 232 years ago, we shouldn’t trust government with the power we seem all to willing to give it.

There are lessons that can be learned from the political scandals that we’ve seen over the past few years, but I doubt that most people will recognize them.

H/T: Hit & Run

Cross-posted from Below The Beltway

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