Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ron Paul on FOX Business News

Responding to a Ron Paul Hater

Well, it looks like I have engaged a tough battle with fellow blogger John Scotus over the past few days, largely in response to his claim that Ron Paul blames the United States for the 9/11 attacks.  While I am not going into that topic specifically, largely because it is an emotionally charged topic where both sides rarely see eye-to-eye much like the abortion debate,  I am going to address something else.  In his comments, John stated that he believes Ron Paul is not “honest, principled, credible, or sane”.  When I asked him to clarify, he made the following comment:

As pointed out elsewhere on this blog, when Ron Paul ran the House seat in the 1990s he claimed that Ronald Reagan was supporting his candidacy. He was caught in this lie when Ed Meese flew out to Texas to confront him. In his recent campaign, he has personally backed away from this claim. However, many of his supporters are still making it, and he has done nothing to clear the air. This is dishonest. Consequently, most people are under the impression that Ron Paul supported Reagan’s presidency (not true), and that Reagan gave an overall endorsement of Ron Paul’s policies (also not true). Since he is running on Reagan’s coattails, if he were honest he would clear this up.
Then we have the issue of the newsletters produced under his name which were full of racist remarks. His denials about not having authored or known about them are simply not credible.

Let me start off with the first claim, where Ron Paul used the sacred cow of Ronald Reagan improperly.  Ron Paul ran for Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  It was in 1982 that Ronald Reagan endorsed Ron Paul’s candidacy for Congress.  He stated as follows:

Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first. We need to keep him fighting for our country.

The was largely due to a tough primary that Ron Paul was facing due to his isolationist or non-interventionist views.  As typical of Republicans even in those days, they were attacking him for being weak on defense and not supporting our troops.  This is not surprising as the more things change, the more they stay the same.  It is always the Buckley conservatives who accuse their rivals as being weak on national defense when they refuse to endorse, support, or create foreign offenses with our military.  In other words, if you do not support engaging in wars, regardless of whether or not there was Congressional approval, you are weak on defending the United States from foreign attacks.

Anyways, when Ron Paul received this endorsement, he won his seat in Congress.  One could argue that this was merely a sitting President ensuring that an incumbent in Congress secured his own seat from a challenger within his own party.  The Tea Party should take note of this as a Republican President will make it harder to get Tea Party candidates into Congress.  Remember when President George W. Bush endorsed Arlen Spector for Senate?

At the end of President Reagan’s second term, Ron Paul had become disgusted with the growing deficit spending and President Reagan’s own weakness in reigning in spending by cutting funding.  He had line-item veto back then, so it would not have been too difficult to balance the budget, unless the Democrats had a supermajority in both Houses of Congress.  Regardless, Ron Paul had gone to Congress in order to stop the runaway spending, which had picked up pace recently due to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society and President Richard Nixon’s abandonment of the gold standard.  Frustrated with his lack of success and appalled that the supposedly fiscally conservative Reagan had overseen large deficit spending and increased national debt, he said this in 1988 when he ran for President as a Libertarian party candidate:

Ronald Reagan has given us a deficit ten times greater than what we had with the Democrats. It didn't take more than a month after 1981, to realize there would be no changes.

Of course this probably left a lot people a little sore within the Republican ranks, despite it being a verifiably true statement.  Numbers do not lie, after all.  But to turn around and attack the Republican party for this and run against them was probably incredibly insulting despite the fact that his Presidential campaign went nowhere in 1988.  You have to understand too, that at this time, the USSR had yet to be toppled by its own weight of ineffective economic planning, so Ronald Reagan’s legacy had yet to be established.

Flash forward to 1996 where Ron Paul is running for Congress again as a Republican (on a side note, the Republican leaders endorsed a former Democrat turned Republican Trojan horse over Ron Paul).  During the course of his campaign, he recycled Ronald Reagan’s endorsement of him from 1982.  Ronald Reagan himself was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease by this time, so it obvious that the endorsement came at an earlier time.  I have not seen the campaign ad that Ron Paul used at the time, but apparently then Texas attorney general Edwin Meese confronted him on it because Ron Paul was apparently an enemy of the sacred.  Out of respect and probably realizing that it was a little dishonest for his part, Ron Paul stopped using the holy words of Ronald Reagan.

Now, to the matter at hand, which is that Ron Paul remains dishonest in John’s eyes.  However, he clearly states that only Ron Paul’s followers have been using the holy endorsement and not Ron Paul himself.  So by extension, because Ron Paul and his campaign staff are not going out to every forum, blog, and editorial that cites Ronald Reagan’s endorsement of him and telling them to cease and desist, this somehow makes Ron Paul dishonest?  Talk about stretching the worm to fit the hook.  Essentially, what we have here is a lack of a rational claim.

I would further note that all these followers who cite Ronald Reagan’s endorsement are not lying or being dishonest.  Ronald Reagan did endorse Ron Paul and they often cite his statement accurately.  Just because they do not cite when it happened, that does not make it any less honest or true.  In short, his whole dishonesty claim is, at best, a fallacy, and, at worst, a complete and utter failure of rational thinking.

Now, as to the racist statements made in a newsletter.  It takes some digging to find the facts, because often times the charge of racism results in a guilty until proven innocent mentality within just about every media circle in existence today.  Just ask Trent Lott who said nothing remotely racist but ended up being crucified for it despite his various pleas for forgiveness from the likes of BET (and honestly, what does that say of the integrity of people when they do not forgive someone who apologizes?).

The back story behind this incident is odd.  Apparently, between 1985 and 2001, Ron Paul set up a media corporation called Ron Paul & Associates.  This company published the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Survival Report.  Lew Rockwell was the editor of these publications and it appears that the publications allowed a lot of leeway in what was printed.  This is not surprising considering the kind of content that you will find on Lew Rockwell’s own website where he often reprints some of the most oddball articles at times (nothing racist as far as I know).

Apparently, between 1989 and 1993, there were about fifteen articles within one of these publications which featured some blatant racist comments.  I have had trouble finding these articles on the Internet, so there is no way for me to really know what was said exactly at this time.  I suppose that does not matter a whole lot.

None of the articles had a byline and Lew Rockwell stated that there were about seven or eight freelance writers.  I guess their mistake was not requiring a byline for the writers as there is no way any kind of nasty content would have gotten in the newsletters.  I am certain that Lew Rockwell’s responsibility in the newsletter was minimal as he probably was doing other things as well at this time.

This does not exonerate either Lew Rockwell or Ron Paul for the content of their newsletters.  When you are at the head of an organization, you take responsibility for the actions taken by those who work for you.  At least, that is what men of integrity do.  In any case, Ron Paul himself has said the following regarding the whole mess:

When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.

Indeed, this is not the words of man who lacks integrity, but one who is willing to admit a failure in administration of his own affairs.  He made a mistake in not paying more attention to what was written in his name and he has owned up to it.  But he was working as an OBG/YN at the time and held a minority share in the company.  I suppose after failing big in the Presidential election, he decided to focus on his own private affairs again and wanted little to do with public life.  In any case, he has owned up to his mistake, forgetting that politicians never retire from or leave public office; they merely do other things related like media publications or operate lobby firms.

The only lack of credibility I can sense is that Ron Paul will not give us the name of the person(s) responsible for the racist content between 1989 and 1993.  He has stated that at the time he was not paying attention and I am wondering how he lacks credibility in this regard.  It seems to me that he has made a credible statement with regards to what happened, owned up to his mistakes, and moved on.  How unfortunate that others cannot.

With regards to his supposed lack of principles, I have this to say: Ron Paul has nearly always voted based on his principles rather than voted along party lines.  His Congressional voting record is one long string of principled votes, even voting against his own party when he believes they are wrong.  To say he lacks principle is disingenuous at best.

And about his sanity: seeing as how you cannot be insane to run a country but would have to be insane in order to run for political office, it is kind of Catch-22 situation.

Often times, when we dislike someone intensely, we focus on the smallest flaws and exploit them stating that this proves our discontent with that person is valid.  It would seem that John Scotus and others who trout out these tired arguments are seeking to validate their own distaste for Ron Paul and validate them using the flimsiest of excuses.  I have no problem with people opposing Ron Paul based on his stances on the issues as that is the perfectly legitimate discourse of politics.  At the same time, I have witnessed what I can only refer to as deranged hatred of all things Ron Paul coming a significant portion of conservatives who openly state that an Obama presidency is preferable to a Paul presidency.  I have seen not just on John Scotus’ blog, which has refrained from hurling insults, but on various conservative forums as well.  It is amazing how much vitriol and  outright poison is spewed in opposition to Ron Paul, something they often accuse liberals of doing.

The fact is, I do not expect any acknowledge from these people for what I have written here.  I just believed that what was stated merited an extensive response which had to be longer than a few short paragraphs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Michele Bachmann on the East Coast Earthquake and Hurricane

Rabbi Levin, you're wrong! Government spending caused it, not homosexuals!

“I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."-Michele Bachmann


Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

Homosexuality & Earthquakes: A Rabbi Speaks Out!

Dear Uncle Jim, apparently, you were right... Fighting For Morality!

Ron Paul 100% For the People, 100% Constitutional

Keynesianism Is The Economics Of State Power

It should be obvious to everyone but the most dedicated adherent of Keynesianism that the stimulus did not accomplish its end. The combination of outright spending by Congress, the desperate schemes to reflate the housing market, the attempt to transfuse bleeding firms with other people’s money, and the creation of trillions in artificial money, has not done a thing to lift the US economy.

Actually, the reverse has been true. All these efforts have prevented the adjustment of economic forces to the post-boom world. And all the resources that the stimulus consumed were extracted from the private sector, for we must always remember that government has no resources of its own. Everything it does must come from the hides of private producers and the citizenry in general, in the future if not immediately.

It’s tedious that we had to learn this lesson yet again, for it was only 38 years ago that we experienced yet another collapse of the Keynesian paradigm. The color of the theory was a bit different in those days. The fine-tuning operations of the government were supposed to operate according to a fixed model in which there was a tradeoff between inflation and recessionary unemployment. If unemployment got too high due to slow economic growth, their solution was said to be simple: reflate and deal with the costs. If unemployment then became too low in recovery – leading to an "overheating," as the parlance of the time put it, the answer was to deflate.

The point of this simple trade-off was to boil down the opaque notions of Lord Keynes to their central-planning essence, and to avoid the endless legislative tangles that plagued the New Deal years. The Keynesians had claimed that FDR’s experiment in countercyclical policy was not well planned and not scientifically administered, which is why it didn’t go as planned. Thanks to the postwar clarity of the new, simple model, Keynesians would get it right this time.

They certainly got their way in terms of policy. In 1971, Richard Nixon had abolished the last vestiges of the gold standard, finally untying the dollar from any relationship to physical gold and setting it loose to float like a kite on a string – or maybe without the string. It was supposed to be the Keynesian ideal. No more fetters. No more of the barbarous relic. No more limitations on what the scientific planners in government could or could not do. Now they could act to bring about the socially optimal combination of inflation and unemployment. Nirvana!

Now keep in mind, here, that this was a testable proposition. If there was a trade-off at work here that the government could manage, what we would not see would be, for example, unemployment increasing at the same time as inflation. Mostly we had not seen this in the past, it is true. During the Great Depression, prices kept falling (and thank goodness for that, for this was the only saving grace of the entire period). There was a slight uptick of inflation in the mid-1950s but it wasn’t enough to set off alarm bells.

Then came 1973-1974. Unemployment was high and rising from 4 to 6 percent from the recession lows – and, yes, that was considered high in those days. At the very same time, inflation rocketed upward into the double digits. Thus was born the inflationary recession. This was an animal that was not supposed to exist, according to the model as understood at the time.

Writing in an essay now featured in his giant collection Economic Controversies, Murray Rothbard explained:

This curious phenomenon of a vaunting inflation occurring at the same time as a steep recession was simply not supposed to happen in the Keynesian view of the world. Economists had always known that either the economy is in a boom period, in which case prices are rising, or else the economy is in a recession or depression marked by high unemployment, in which case prices are falling. In the boom, the Keynesian government was supposed to "sop up excess purchasing power" by increasing taxes, according to the Keynesian prescription – that is, it was supposed to take spending out of the economy; in the recession, on the other hand, the government was supposed to increase its spending and its deficits, in order to pump spending into the economy. But if the economy should be in an inflation and a recession with heavy unemployment at the same time, what in the world was government supposed to do? How could it step on the economic accelerator and brake at the same time?

The answer, of course, was that government and its policymakers could do no such thing. This was when panic set in, and every cockamamie theory known to man was employed to reduce unemployment and inflation at once. But there was a problem. The policy makers are always and everywhere loath to admit fault for anything. Surely it is not monetary policy that is to blame, they said. Instead, it was the greed of businessmen, the voraciousness of the consumer class, the panic of the general population – anything and everything was at fault except the government itself.

So while the Keynesian paradigm had obviously failed, who in government was willing to take responsibility for this failure? No one. Therefore matters only became worse, and the inflationary recession became a way of life for Americans, all the way to the outrages of the late 1970s that finally swept Ronald Reagan into office.

Reagan campaigned on an anti-Keynesian platform. He even talked about re-instituting a gold standard. He said he would cut taxes and let the economy work. Those promises amounted to nothing, but there did seem to be some consciousness at the time that government was not capable of forever leaning against the market winds. The real credit, of course, goes to Carter-appointee Paul Volcker. As head of the Fed, he engineered an actual reduction in the money supply, and broke the back of the crisis. Think of him as the anti-Greenspan or the anti-Bernanke.

Greenspanism-Bernankeism reigns today, and that is the true tragedy of our times. The Fed, the Treasury, the president, the regulators, and the Congress have done everything possible to reflate, stimulate, stabilize, and counter market forces. As expected, they have lost the battle. Unemployment is still outrageously high, and inflation is working its way up yet again. But there is an even more serious problem. In the course of stimulating the economy, the Fed has created incredible amounts of fake money that it has stuffed in the vaults of its best friends in the banking industry. And those phony reserves seem now to be leaking out to cause horrific waves of price inflation.

Those who blame Obama for this might consider whether any Republican but Ron Paul would not have done exactly the same thing. The Obama prescription for economic recovery was actually started under George Bush – in exactly the same way that Hoover was the first New Dealer. The problem is the man in the White House, to be sure, but he is not the only problem. The core issue is that 1) we have a monetary and banking system that is socialistic and therefore used by the power elite to enrich themselves at our expense, and 2) the policy elite clings to the Keynesian pretense that government is capable of waging a war against market forces. That, and the fact that Keynesianism empowers the elite, is why this pathetic and dangerous history keeps repeating itself.

In the market economy, there is a long-run tendency for errors to be corrected and replaced by different practices that uplift the people. In government, there is a long-run tendency to keep trying the same thing again and again, no matter how often or how badly it fails. Keynesianism is, after all, as Joseph Salerno points out, the "economics of state power." And that guides us to the foundational problem: the monopoly entity that rules and devastates society for its own benefit.

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. - The Many Collapses of Keynesianism

republished under the following notice: Copyright © 2011 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Questions for the Republican Candidates

Since there are many pompous jerks out there who believe that they have the right questions to ask all Republican presidential contenders, this pompous jerk has a few of his own:

  1. Given that the combined total expenses of the military, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid match the total amount of tax revenue, do you think those spending initiatives should be off the table when reforming Federal spending?  Explain why or why not.
  2. Since 2008, the Federal government has engaged in several stimulus initiatives designed to create economic growth.  Do believe that these initiatives have helped, hurt, or done nothing to nurture economic growth?
  3. The Department of Defense has lost over 1 trillion in tax dollars over the past decade.  What do you plan on doing to reform this agency so that taxpayers’ money is not wasted?
  4. In general, what is your plan for dealing with departments and agencies who have lost money or have money that is unaccounted for?
  5. Have you taken any college courses on economics?
  6. Have you read any books on economics independent of your scholastic activities?
  7. Describe the role of the Federal Reserve in our current monetary system.
  8. Of all the Founding Fathers, who do you most identity with and why?
  9. If elected, how you would go about creating a balanced budget within your term in office?
  10. What is the objective of the Iraq War?
  11. What is the objective of the Afghanistan War?
  12. What is the objective of the Libya War?
  13. In general, what is the objective of the War on Terror?
  14. Considering that the War on Drugs has, by and large, not made many changes in the overall drug use of our youth, are there any changes you wish to make to this program?  Describe these changes.
  15. How is the Gross Domestic Product calculated?
  16. Are you a person of faith and how has that faith, or lack thereof, shaped your political beliefs?
  17. If a heterosexual couple gets married in a standard church ceremony but does not apply for a state-issued marriage license, are they living in sin as defined by the Bible?
  18. Should departments who have failed in their stated objectives be publically audited?
  19. Do states have a right to nullify Federal laws which are unconstitutional?  Do they need validation from the court system?
  20. Do states have a right to secede from the United States?
  21. Are there any amendments in the United States Constitution which you would like to see repealed?
  22. Should our tax code be reformed?  If you think it should, how would you reform it?  If you think it is fine the way it is, state your reasons for believing so.
  23. The United States currently ranks lower than expected when it comes to education.  What kind of reforms would you make to the system in order to raise the education standards here in America?
  24. When is the President allowed to authorize the use of military force?
  25. Before becoming a politician, what was your primary profession?
  26. What is your view of personal financial debt?
  27. Historically, massive immigration has often lead to massive shifts in culture and beliefs.  Given this historically verifiable fact, what is your stance on immigration and what do you plan on doing about it while it office?
  28. Are you pro-life or pro-choice when it comes to abortion?  If you are pro-life, what actions would you take with regard to our current abortion policies?
  29. How would you interpret the Tenth Amendment into public policy at a national level?
  30. If a Federal court issues a ruling that is unconstitutional, does the executive branch have an obligation to implement it anyway?  Likewise, if Congress passes an unconstitutional law, does the executive branch have the obligation to implement it?

That is all the questions I can think of for now.  Perhaps there will be more later.

Keynesian Economics for Dummies (i.e. Conservatives)

I can’t possibly cover the scope of Keynesian Economics with one post, or even a series of posts. I don’t even agree with the Keynesianism school as a whole, so I would have little interest in delving into every aspect of the ideology. Some aspects of Keynesianism (monetary policy comes to mind) are also too complex for a layman like myself to understand (or care to learn about), and I doubt I could convey in a meaningful way anything that I just learned, anyhow.

However, the most common complaints against Keynesianism come from conservatives, and they are generally regarding policies which are empirically proven to successfully do what they aim to do. The complaints come in the form of general opposition to government market intervention.

The labor market in particular gets a fair share of attention, especially in these times of high unemployment. Keynesianism is said to suggest that the government essentially pay people to dig ditches, and then pay people (the same ones or different ones) to fill those ditches back in.

This is a time tested strategy. It seems stupid, but the mechanism is quite simple to understand. The government has created jobs where there were none before, and after the ditches have been filled in, those people now have job experience, even though there is no product to show for their labor.

In theory, no utility is supposed to be created under these programs, because if the government pays people to, say, grow corn, the corn would have to be destroyed at the end of it, or it would distort the corn market and hurt private corn growers. A similar principle is at work behind subsidies; the government sets a minimum price floor and will buy a product at the price, which artificially raises the marketplace price for that product.

We got a lesson in what happens if you try to provide a benefit through these programs when Reagan introduced us to “government cheese.” Basically, the government was buying cheese in order to artificially raise the price of cheese, and then all that cheese would just sit in warehouses rotting. Reagan thought, “Why not give it to poor people?” A noble idea, and perhaps the most liberal-esque thing he ever did, but it created a fiasco in the cheese industry because people were able to get cheese for free, which devalued cheese in general.

The beauty is, we don’t have to worry about this inefficiency in real-world applications of Keynesian labor economics, thanks to externalities.

Externalities are costs or benefits not transmitted through prices that affect people who did not have any involvement in the transaction. When power companies spew pollution into the air, that is an externality paid by all of us. When a company dumps chemicals in the water, it’s the same thing. Really, any form of pollution is an externality. Some externalities are positive, and this is where Keynesian economics comes in.

The classic example of a Keynesian labor project is road construction. No one is out building roads privately. Sure, it happens, but it’s not a very large-scale operation, and it is generally accepted (outside of Fox News) that without government intervention, highways in particular would not exist. When a government pays a construction company to build or repair roads, it creates a demand (and means of paying) for labor that did not exist before. And rather than just digging and filling in ditches, the end result is a positive externality which provides a benefit for the nation’s citizens and economy.

Other projects, like mass-transit and monument construction, are also remarkable in their ability to stimulate a stagnant labor market. These policies helped pull the US out of the Great Depression. Even war (and the related military industrial complex) operates on Keynesian principles, whereby ditch digging and filling is replaced by bomb making and dropping.

This is sort of the dilemma in Keynesianism: the government has the ability to stimulate economic growth in many ways, including war-mongering. And it works, so it almost seems to justify war. And yet, I generally disagree with the military application of Keynesianism, and prefer only to reserve the use of deadly force for purposes of self-defense. There are so many better ways of applying our tax dollars than by creating an artificial industry of war.

In fact, there are many things we as a country could be doing with that money. Healthcare comes to mind, but suppose you find the idea of not letting poor people die of preventable illness to be appalling. There is another industry that, like road construction, can provide a national benefit that we sorely need to succeed.

In an effort to pinch pennies, those on the right continue to demand education funding be cut, despite under-performing students and financially-strapped school systems. If the government doesn’t fund education, there aren’t others lining up in the wings to take over. Religious private schools get a lot of attention, but trust me: you don’t want our future children’s education in the hands of churches, and that’s not even taking into account that without public schools, only a lucky few could afford a school that costs as much in yearly tuition for K-12 as an out-of-state college.

These are the things our taxes should be going towards: educating our fellow citizens, building the means of transportation that make travel possible in our vast nation, maintaining parks, cleaning environmental spills and accidents, even etc. Yet, many of these things are getting done, while a large chuck of our money goes towards paying people in the arms industry, who are given our hard-earned tax dollars in order to build something we intend on exploding over individuals we know little or nothing about.

It’s a real shame that some of the best ideas can be used to do such stupid and horrible things.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bob Chapman On QE3 And Gold And Silver - "September And October Are Going To Be Dreadful"

What Would Happen? #2

What would happen if we didn't have to go #2 anymore? We could probably get rid of our toilets, for one thing. For urinating, you could just go out to the backyard and piss on the lawn, like your dog does (or do it in the bathtub). I guess toilets might still come in handy for women, and for those who need them to throw up in after a night of partying...

But I'm thinking, if I didn't have to take a shit anymore, I wouldn't give a shit at all.

One Hot Blogger

No, you're not gonna get to see a picture of me in a bikini! Still, I'm hot. The weather should start a cool down by tomorrow, but in the meantime, I'm suffering in the heat. And it's very hard to blog when it's both hot and humid, as it has been here for the last week. But just think, in a few days I'll be one cool blogger (well, cooler, anyway).


An attempt to draw all the buildings in New York by James Gulliver Hancock,
an illustrator originally from Australia currently based in Brooklyn, New York.

The Chrysler Building


Shine Like the Top of the Chrysler Building!

In the classic musical Annie there's a great line imitating Miss Hannigan during the "Hard-Knock Life" number that I always think of when I'm mopping the house:"You'll stay up until this floor shines like the top of the Chrysler Building." The image of how that landmark sparkles in the skyline is actually a great motivator for me.-Casa Quickie: Shine Like the Top of the Chrysler Building

Tallest building in the world (May 1930-April 1931)

Ron Paul on Fox News Sunday

Question of the Day: What Do You Think of Emergence?

"Every resultant is either a sum or a difference of the co-operant forces; their sum, when their directions are the same -- their difference, when their directions are contrary. Further, every resultant is clearly traceable in its components, because these are homogeneous and commensurable. It is otherwise with emergents, when, instead of adding measurable motion to measurable motion, or things of one kind to other individuals of their kind, there is a co-operation of things of unlike kinds. The emergent is unlike its components insofar as these are incommensurable, and it cannot be reduced to their sum or their difference."-G. H. Lewes

Here is the Wikipedia entry on the subject: Emergence.

And a theistic view:

'Emergence' is a totemic word amongst materialists (whether they claim to be "theists" or claim to be 'atheists'); that is, (they believe that) the word has Magickal Powers to solve, by its mere utterance, the logical difficulties of, and contradictions inherent in, materialism.-Iliocentrism: Emergence, Again

Lew Rockwell Talks About Man of Peace Ron Paul on AntiWar Radio

AntiWar Radio

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The 2 Arguments

Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence

Foreign Policy is Domestic Policy

Another thing that bothers me about conservatives in general: their failure to see the link between foreign policy and domestic policy.  This usually becomes apparent when you see what they say about Ron Paul.  In general, conservatives agree with Ron Paul 90% of the time (to paraphrase prominent conservative Sean Hannity).  But they would rather vote for someone with whom they agree with 75% of the time, like Mitt Romney, because apparently there is still fear rather than reason being the primary driving force in foreign policy.

The fact is, the more wars and overseas conflicts we engage in, the more enemies we will create and the more freedoms we will lose here at home.  The fact is, there were no Al-Qaeda militants in Iraq nor was Saddam Hussein willing to sell weapons to them.  But they were there after we toppled Saddam’s regime.  And of course Saddam’s loyalists forces were going to work with them because they needed the manpower.  It was the whole enemy of my enemy is my friend scenario.

Yes, I am aware that Iraqi agents met with Al-Qaeda in Europe at one point, but I have yet to see if any kind of mutual alliance came from it.  Since the United States and other NATO allies spend most of the 1990s monitoring Saddam, I am sure he was looking for people who could help get the monkey off his back.  Given that Al-Qaeda never joined up with them, it seems to me that Saddam probably considered them too dangerous to work with, until he lost his power.

Considering it has now been a decade of war on terrorism which has been waged on Afghanistan, Iraq, parts of Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and various other places, do you feel safer or freer from your government?  I feel like what used to be a minor annoyance is now a major pain in my rear when it comes to the progress of government encroachment.  Have you noticed how the police and various non-law enforcement agencies have gotten more militant?

Last year, our military budget was around $689 Billion.  The only other program that exceeds this is Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Combined, the cost of those four programs is 2.1 Trillion, which is about what the Federal government gets in tax revenue, considering the economic depression.  This entirely excludes the domestic law enforcement and homeland security budgets, as well as the foreign aide and State Department expenses, such as elaborate embassies we build in various third-world nations.  All in all, it is quite clear that everything needs to be cut, that we cannot just simply exclude military and entitlement spending from our budgets.

The fact is, the United States’ domestic agenda is tied directly with our foreign agenda.  While you can separate these issues out for classification sake, they are intricately linked together.  We have lost our ability to board an airplane in the country without showing off our genitals to some stranger in a back room and having our luggage searched, where TSA agents have been known to steal from it in the past (Neal Boortz, a solid supporter of the War on Terror, has had stuff stolen in this way).  I personally refuse to use an airplane, unless I absolutely have to, which is sad because I was planning a cruise with my wife around Christmas.  Now, instead of boarding a plane and going south, we will have to drive or take a bus to Baltimore and board one there.

On top of that, even non-law enforcement agencies have started to crack down on things.  The Department of Education conducted a SWAT raid for a person who was delinquent on her student loan.  ICE has been shutting down websites for copyright infringements, which has nothing to do with immigration or customs enforcement.  And the IRS had ordered a whole lot of automatic shotguns for some reason.  Meanwhile, Janet “Shoulder-Pads” Napolitano has decided to classify war veterans and Ron Paul supporters as domestic terrorists.  The Federal court system has upheld many cases where police have entered people’s residences without a warrant.  Do not look to the court system to protect you from the government is the lesson here.  I am sure I am just scratching the surface here, of course.

How does this all link to our foreign policy?  It is simple: the culture of war is one that spills out everywhere.  In war, you have an enemy who you must target and take out quickly.  What we have domestically is a group of government technocrats who view civilians as either part of the system, sheep to be managed, or dangerous enemies to be squashed.  They do not consider themselves to be servants but masters and anyone who defies them will be punished.  The government culture is the us versus them culture and they practically brag about it all the time.

Because of the many years of warfare mentality, the government no longer views us as people to serve but people to control and direct.  I know conservatives will just blame this on Left-wing policies, but it was Left-wing policies of warfare which got us this way (see Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, and LBJ’s war policies).  In fact, one of the best things the Left ever did was enter us into a state of constant war.  The Republicans have just recently been all too willing to carry on since 1955.

I want true freedom from government, but it will not happen so long as the United States government’s insane foreign policies are left in place.  If conservatives had any sense, they would follow suit.  Fortunately, given the Ames poll and various other things I have seen, it looks like many conservatives are waking up to this simple truth.

Looting Libya -Oil!

The race for Libya's vast oil wealth is gathering momentum. States who worked together during massive NATO airstrikes, are now working against each other in the battle to secure lucrative energy contracts

Western Oil Companies To Get Libya's Oil

Saturday Morning Comic

I wish I had better skills (any at all would be nice) when it comes to drawing. I really want to draw comics, but that isn't my expertise (this blog is about all I have to show for my entire life). I'm always getting fantastic ideas that would best be expressed in comic form, but alas (yes, ALAS) I don't have the ability to execute those ideas (well, I could try to draw them, but that really would be executing them). Why was I given such a desire without the talent to exercise it? Is this another proof that there is no God? Or is God just a mean, cruel monster? I know you can learn to draw, maybe, but you have to admit some have more natural ability in some areas than others.

Anyway, on to someone with more talent than me.

For more of the work of the artist represented by the comics above, check out Drawing A Blank

h/t Pleated-Jeans

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lovecraft Friday

Today we watch “The Outsider”:

I wonder what kind of trees those were…

From Around The Web: August 26th, 2011

I have a lot of pictures that I think are funny, but they require some explanation or a brief caption in order to fully appreciate them.

Like this one is cute:

But it's even funnier when you realize that Knitler is the leader of the Knotsies.

This next one is also a bit amusing (I bet this guy has commented on SE before):

Something tells me the neighbors generally do it for him.

This next one is something every Big Lebowski fan is familiar with:

That is how I feel when I'm the 50th comment on a three day old blog post. You know what I'm talking about... on blogs other than this one.

This next one isn't funny at all initially, more of an image of hardship:

But I found it humorous when I realized this guy is hauling ass.

Okay, most of these are horrible puns, but not this one:

Let's be honest. If I had one of these, I wouldn't be writing this.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CIA, NYPD Spied On Muslims After 9/11

Victor Sperandeo on Ben Bernanke

Having one man control the money supply of 311 million Americans is itself a fantastic and unreal notion. When you then consider the effects of the U.S. Dollar on the remaining 6.6 billion people on this planet, the idea becomes unimaginable.

Meet Ben Bernanke: the dollar's whimsical "Philosopher King," and the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. He is arguably the most powerful person in the world, with powers far surpassing those imagined when his position was created. Who knew the Fed Chairman could become so influential?

Well, perhaps there are some who foresaw the potential. In the Communist Manifesto​, Karl Marx​ listed ten absolute principles for overturning capitalism. Number five on his list is the most relevant when discussing the Federal Reserve: "Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly."

Even the early Communists acknowledge this as a path to destruction, to say nothing of the Founders. Who does King Ben answer to? He is not an elected official. Where does a man who makes multi-trillion dollar bets and has control of the world reserve currency and its printing presses get such authority?

Read More: The Fed's Philosopher King

Cholesterol Lowering Foods

For patients resorting to medicine or low-fat diets to lower their LDL -- or “bad” cholesterol levels -- researchers say there is a more efficient way.

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nina's Hippity Hop

Finally they make adult-sized hippity hops, like what I had as a kid. After 35 years, I'm bouncing again.-Nina Paley

Hippity Hop 26 In. Pink Hop Ball

“Intellectual Property” Is Theft

Without copyright law, art would not exist! Without patent law, inventions would not exist! Without real estate law, land would not exist. Without marriage law, love would not exist.

Free culture activist Nina Paley, in a recent cartoon, parodies the philosophy behind “intellectual property.”

EUNICE: “Copying a song instead of buying a copy is stealing!”

MIMI: “Doing for yourself what you could pay someone else to do is stealing!”

BOTH: “Competition is theft!”

Unfortunately, Nina was preempted by reductio creep: The tendency of real world irrationality to outpace our ability to make fun of it.

In 2005, the French bus company TSE sued a group of cleaning women who’d previously taken the bus to work, arguing that carpooling was unregulated competition that deprived the bus company of revenue. Although that specific case was thrown out, the principle it illustrates — a legal guarantee of rents from a monopoly on the right to do something — is at the heart of capitalism (as opposed to the free market).

Throughout history, propertied classes have relied primarily on artificial scarcities of material resources to extract a surplus from labor. With the help of state-enforced artificial property rights, a ruling class can control great concentrations of land and capital. These monopolies prevent competition from driving down the price of capital and land to their natural values. Thus the means of production are artificially scarce and expensive, and labor is forced to pay tribute for access to them.

Today, however, the imploding cost of production means that concentrated ownership of land and capital is becoming less and less effective as a means of rent extraction. The desktop revolution has reduced the cost of setting up a “publishing house” or “music studio” a hundredfold. Micromanufacturing with open source desktop CNC tools will soon do likewise to the cost of a factory. Intensive raised-bed horticulture grows many times more food per acre than mechanized agribusiness. In fact most “farming” is a real estate investment in which the government pays rent for the “farmer” to hold land out of use!

In this age of abundance, when the falling cost of machinery and exploding efficiencies of extracting value from inputs threaten to make control of physical resources worthless as a source of rent, rents accrue mainly to “property rights” like the right to do certain things, or criminalizing competition from more efficient ways of doing things.

Under old-style capitalism, rents were extracted by using artificial property rights to restrict access to physical opportunities for production. Now that the cheapening of physical means of production has made this strategy untenable, the ruling classes must instead charge rents on the right to produce with one’s own physical resources.

In today’s global economy, profits from old-style subsidies and artificial scarcities of physical resources haven’t exactly disappeared. Foreign aid and World Bank loans still provide subsidized infrastructure for offshored production. Third World landed oligarchies still nullify traditional peasant property rights and steal land for cash crop production in collusion with subsidized Western agribusiness interests. Thanks to compliant local governments, and the use of World Bank debt slavery to pressure the noncompliant — not to mention legacy titles from outright theft in colonial days — extractive industries make enormous profits mining and logging on ill-gotten land. Half of Big Pharma’s R&D is taxpayer funded, and billions of dollars of high-tech R&D is subsidized with refundable tax credits.

But most profits come from immaterial property in the right to make or do a certain thing. Because of patents it’s illegal to make a physically identical knockoff of an iPhone and sell it for a fraction of the price without all the embedded rents on artificial property. Copyright makes a CD of Word cost $200 instead of ten bucks like an Open Office CD. ”Intellectual property,” exactly like your grandfather’s tariff, is just a restriction on who has the right to sell a thing in a particular market. IP performs the same protectionist role for transnational corporations that tariffs once performed for national industrial corporations.

The majority of TNCs’ profits are from royalties or licensing fees. The most profitable industries in the global economy are those with business models based on IP: Pharma, biotech, entertainment, software. Patents give Western corporations a lockdown on the latest generation of production technology, effectively relegating Third World countries to supplying cheap raw materials and sweatshop labor. Trademark and patent laws enable corporate headquarters to outsource actual production to job shops in China or Vietnam, while charging a 1000% markup in retail outlets.

Intellectual protectionism apologists tell us ignoring patent and copyright monopolies is theft. It’s not. It’s legitimate free market competition. “Intellectual property” is theft.

-by Kevin Carson: Criminalizing Competition under Creative Commons

At the end of a hard day...

Ron Paul: "I'm Afraid There Will Be People In The Streets Like In These Other Countries"

Question of the Day: Best Shift?

What? It's back? Yes, the Question of the Day returns!

"That's a great shift! If you don't mind getting up early!"

My girlfriend made the above comment after I informed her that I would now be leaving work at 3 in the afternoon instead of 6. I've been on a late shift, leaving work at 6, 7 or 8, since I started my current wage slavery position several years ago. I did once work a morning shift (5AM to 2PM, actually) at another job, and got used to getting up so early. Now I have to get used to it again, and worry about my alarm clock not working. You don't realize what a pleasure it is to get up without an alarm to wake you until you're forced to be out of bed at an obscene hour.

However, my first day on my new shift I was amazed the amount of extra time I had after work to do things. I love it, but I still don't like getting up so early.

The question today is, which do you prefer, getting off from work early, or sleeping in a little longer in the morning?

Horror Park!

Of course, the real "Horror Park" is Washington, D.C.

The Horror Park

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jeffrey Lord Gives Typical Criticism of Ron Paul

So I am listening to Jeffrey Lord on Jerry Doyle’s show today.  The interview focused on his latest article about how Ron Paul is a liberal because of his non-interventionist foreign policy stance.  I’ve read over the article and while I am not going to quote it here, because it is long and I have already linked to it, I want to point out some things about it that were predictable from Ron Paul opponents:

  • Almost predictably, Mr. Lord trots out the anti-Semitism argument.  If you oppose bombing foreign Muslim children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, and Somalia, you must hate the Jews.  Never mind that none of these bombings are constitutional considering they are not about national defense and no official declaration of war has been declared.  I have yet to hear Ron Paul declare that it is the Jews who are behind United States foreign policy.  I will acknowledge that some of his supporters are openly racist, but by and large the non-interventionist stance has nothing to do with race and more to do with the constitutional limitations of foreign policy.
  • Jeffrey Lord does his best to cite liberal Republicans who share the same views as Ron Paul does with regards to not intervening in World War I and World War II.  While there is a lot to get into with regards to both, let me just turn Mr. Lord’s logic on his face.  If Ron Paul’s stance on foreign policy matches that of liberal Republicans who opposed those wars, then the conservatives of today are more like the progressive liberal Democrats of last century such as Woodrow Wilson, who entered World War I to spread democracy to Germany, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Both Presidents who presided over these wars were extremely Left-wing which would make modern “conservatives” like George Bush more akin to progressive liberals than conservatives.
  • Most of what he bases his accusations on is based on people who have supported Ron Paul rather than Ron Paul himself.  Granted, there are many anarcho-capitalists, minarchists, and libertarians who make up Ron Paul’s support.  Frankly, I am glad to see that these Americans have a voice in one of the major parties rather than being relegated to some no name third party.  And I thought George W. Bush was trying to create a big tent?  I guess the far Right has to use the back door and different water fountains in that tent.
  • Mr. Lord cites the Monroe Doctrine as an example of the United States’ history of intervention in foreign policy and as a founding father.  I do not recall James Monroe as being a prominent member of the Founding Fathers and from what I understand, the Monroe Doctrine was not used to interfere militarily in the affairs of Central and South America until progressive Republican President Teddy Roosevelt.  On a side note, read up on Teddy Roosevelt’s death and the tragedy that befall this warmonger’s idealism.  In any case, the United States was, by and large, not intervening until the progressive movement took hold in the ranks of power.
  • Mr. Lord cites Alexander Hamilton and his role in the creation of the first central bank as an example of a Founding Father who Ron Paul overlooks.  Too bad he forgot that most other Founding Fathers overlooked him as well since Hamilton was in favor of establishing a monarchy here in the United States our the post-colonial, pre-Constitution nation.  Hamilton was nothing short of a Statist but he was trusted as Treasury Secretary largely because he was good at financial matters.  Keep in mind also that the United States existed and prospered without a central bank for over eighty years, that the Federal Reserve was established to stop nasty depressions, and that it oversaw the Great Depression.  It is foolish to support the Federal Reserve given that more and more Americans are looking into it and questioning the value of it.
  • Finally, Mr. Lord runs through a list of conservatives who Ron Paul supporters have labeled as not conservative.  Again, though, Ron Paul himself has merely taken support from people who have otherwise not had a voice in any of the major parties for several decades now, so of course you are going to get some unconventional views.  Besides, if you trace the conservative movement before 1955, it was largely a non-interventionist movement.  It was William F. Buckley, Jr. and Brent Bozell, Jr. who hijacked it and made into the warmongering movement it is today.

I am not going to apologize for Ron Paul.  I have my own disagreements with him, mainly his immigration views and his earmarking of President Obama’s stimulus spending.  However, I find that I agree with him more often than not and that his foreign policy tends to represent mutual respect and courtesy for other nations while at the same time allowing for defense against aggression.  When you consider that Israel has 300 nuclear bombs and that if Iran even sneezed fallout in their direction there would be massive repercussions, then you can better understand by Congressman Paul was less concerned with Iran getting a nuclear weapon.  By and large, Iran has never been an aggressive nation and most of its actions have been defensive actions, although on a much lower scale than our “defensive” actions.

The fact is, a President who can go to war without Congressional approval is, fundamentally, a dictator.  If you can engage in military action with impunity and without limitation, then you have the perfect recipe for a thug.  Look at what President Obama did with Libya.  Congress told him to stop and he ignored them.  And all the while, conservative fools like Mark Levin were scrambling to justify it because they know they would painted as hypocrites or partisan hacks if they opposed it.

In any case, Jeffrey Lord has done well to remind me as to why I do not consider myself conservative anymore and has reinforced why I have no political label.  I have always be wary of many of the conservative arguments, largely because many of them are emotion-driven like their liberal opponents, and when I brought to light many of the contradictions, I was hit with insults instead of further instruction as to where I was wrong.  I support Ron Paul because he has been consistent throughout much of his political career and because he shows the most respect for the Constitution, a tired, old piece of paper when it comes to liberals and domestic policy as well as conservatives when it comes to foreign policy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

$1.2 Trillion In Secret Loans From Fed

Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits.
By 2008, the housing market’s collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret.-Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion From Fed

Staggering numbers, analysts say, which bring into perspective just how out of control banks, corporations and financial institutions were -- during the worldwide economic meltdown.

Half of the biggest borrowers were foreign banks.


Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

The Political Vacuum

There is a huge ideological divide between politicians and voters. There are clear causes, but the fact remains that most voters simply have no opportunity to vote for a candidate who represents them.

Part of the problem is caused by the very nature of our two-party system. You can’t encapsulate the ideologies of over 300 million people into Brand A and Brand B. Not everyone likes Coke or Pepsi. Some people like RC Cola, or Dr. Pepper, or tea, or coffee, or apple juice, or even just plain water.

For a country that demands grocery stores with hundreds of different kinds of beverages, cable TV with hundreds of different channels, and vibrators in every shape from a small egg up to a full fist… we are woefully lacking in variety when it comes to politics.

The parties have played to this disparity to great success, especially Republicans. I say this because I notice a far greater ideological gap between most Republicans and their elected officials than I do between most Democrats and their elected officials. I say this largely based on the fact that I have never heard of a reasonable Republican politician being elected during my lifetime, and yet I meet reasonable Republicans all the time.

I hear Democrats being called the “big tent” party from time to time, but I find that the people who are Democrats support all of the same initiatives, though they may not all apply to them personally. Most are pro-choice (even the men), pro-immigration (even white liberals), pro-gun control (even the gun owners), anti-war (even the soldiers), anti-rich (even the kids of rich people), and whatever else I missed. There are some people who don’t agree on an issue or two, sure, but it’s nothing like I see among Republicans.

For Republicans, this is almost reversed. From what I can tell, I have never met a Republican who wouldn’t have been happier just electing a Democrat (and I base this on record, not rhetoric). In fact, I meet Republicans all the time who are just as liberal as any Democrat I’ve met, in that they are essentially Democrats with one issue as the sole exception (like a lot of Democrats, actually). Often, that issue is seen by the Republican as being of the utmost importance, so they vote for a Republican who then goes off and does all the other stuff they didn’t support, as well.

There’s so many kinds of Republicans, compared to the almost zombie-like clone army that is the Democratic Party. This is sad, because the Republican party is monolithic in its voting record. Since the Reagan administration, Republicans have stuck together on just about everything, and this loyalty has paid off for them in that all of their initiatives seem to pass, despite public outcry (I don’t expect a bunch of dithering, candy-ass Democrats to stop them).

There isn’t one issue I’ve seen that I haven’t met, not just a few, but many Republicans who oppose what is a primary pillar of the Republican Party. This must be frustrating for Republican voters, because if your most important issue is fiscal responsibility, you probably won’t get it at all (Republican politicians are not fiscally responsible for anything besides trillion-dollar debts), and yet you have to endure attacks on abortion and opposition to gay marriage, both of which are issues I know many Republican voters would flip parties on.

I’ve met many who identify with being on the right who understand that global warming is happening (one even helpfully pointed out that “climate change” isn’t liberal rebranding of a failed idea, but is actually from the mouths of Bush-era press secretaries, specifically concocted by Frank Luntz, conservative spin-man). I’ve met people who identify as conservative who oppose violent interventionist foreign policy and the buildup of the military industrial complex (hell, it was Republican president Dwight Eisenhower who coined the term, “military industrial complex”).

It’s mind-boggling, really, that such an ideologically diverse group of people manage to elect the most backwards, brain-dead bullshit artists I have ever seen. Republican politicians make me wonder if perhaps it’s a good thing that America is on its way down. I wouldn’t trust most Republican politicians with running a lemonade stand for a day. By the time I got back, dozens of customers would be suing me for lead poisoning and they would have run off with all the money.

At least a Democrat would have stuck around and apologized when they fuck up. You gotta love Democrats. They’re like Republicans, only they have a conscience. It doesn’t make them do the right thing, but you can at least tell they feel bad about it afterwards. Republican politicians are like some idiot who takes a shit in the pool, loudly takes credit for it, and is proud of it enough to tell people about it for years afterward. Show a little shame, at least.

The solution is simple, if you ask me. We need more political parties. Three. No, not three political parties, three new political parties, to go along with the shitty two we already have.

What three should they be? Stick around, and the next time I’m bored, I’ll tell you. Or, better yet, tell me what you want from a political party. Or don’t, and bitch about what I come up with on my own. That’s the beauty of interactive blogs.

Music Monday: The Kills

I retired Music Monday at my other blog recently, partially out of a frustration with the sorry state of video sharing, and partially because I felt like it was not a well received series of posts on an atheist-themed blog… especially since most of the music I posted was by people in some sort of religion, and I even featured songs that mentioned pro-religious topics or views.

I never got that concept, not listening to someone’s music because of their religious or political views. I like the Charlie Daniels Band, despite their southern sympathies. I like music by Scientologists like Beck, or Muslims like Busta Rhymes. I just can’t ignore a catchy tune, even if it’s got a superstitious message behind it.

It’s as foolish as trying to write off the greatness of Michelangelo’s “David” on the grounds that the subject is a mythological hero. And atheists are especially cruel towards Christians, while being somehow fine with Jewish, Muslim (sometimes), or especially ancient Greek or Roman cults. I think it would be best to just leave religious prejudice out of all things art.

Then there are bands I know little or nothing about, like the Kills. I know the male/female duo who formed the band are British and American, respectively, but I don’t know much of anything about their religion or political views, nor do I try to tease such ideas from their music. Instead, I try to let music drown out those more dire concepts from time to time.

What a horrible thing it would be… to let something you enjoy get ruined by something you take so seriously.

To set some sort of precedent and switch things up, I think I’ll take a stab of making some sort of colorful simile for each band I feature. So, here it goes…

The Kills sound like Nico-era Velvet Underground being raped at a Riot Grrrl concert.

I swear, they sound better than I just made them out to be. These will get better over time… because now they can’t get any worse.

Social Security Disability In Big Trouble

Applications are up nearly 50 percent over a decade ago as people with disabilities lose their jobs and can't find new ones in an economy that has shed nearly 7 million jobs.

The stampede for benefits is adding to a growing backlog of applicants — many wait two years or more before their cases are resolved — and worsening the financial problems of a program that's been running in the red for years.-Social Security disability on verge of insolvency

Let me get this straight. Many of these people were capable of working until the economy went bad and they lost their jobs, which means they are still able to work, they just can't find work, which makes them no different from other jobless Americans, but how then can they be considered "disabled" in the context of this boondoggle program? Wasn't it supposed to be for people too disabled to earn a living on their own, by working?

Higher Electric Bills, Courtesy of the US Federal Government

Over the next 18 months, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize a flurry of new rules to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants...

The regulations...will cost utilities up to $129 billion and force them to retire one-fifth of coal capacity. Given that coal provides 45 percent of the country’s power, that means higher electric bills, more blackouts and fewer jobs.-Getting ready for a wave of coal-plant shutdowns

Thanks, Obama! By the way, hope you're having a great vacation while the ordinary American suffers directly because of your actions on behalf of the ruling elite.

Ron Paul: Liberty is More Important Than the Illusion of Safety

If it weren’t for the welfare state for the rich, we wouldn’t need welfare for the poor

Living as I do in Arkansas, I’m privileged to read the commentary of Bradley Gitz, a conservative columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette who occasionally makes libertarian noises. I wish there was a Thomas Sowell Award For By-the-Numbers Regurgitation Of Republican Talking Points, so I could nominate Mr. Gitz.

In his column of July 31, Gitz notes the tendency of welfare states to push themselves to bankruptcy. He quotes the old saw, attributed in urban legend to 18th century Scottish historian Alexander Tytler, that democracies only survive until “voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.”

Politicians shower the general public with unearned benefits, rather than telling them to “find jobs, work hard, and save;” you get a lot more votes for having “compassion” than for being “cruel and heartless.”

Reading Gitz, you’d get the impression that the main beneficiaries of the welfare state are working people and the poor. But genuine welfare for the poor, like TANF and food stamps, barely amounts to a CBO rounding error. Adding up the so-called “defense” budget, two unfunded wars, “national security” spending on DHS, CIA, DOE and NASA, and interest on debt from past wars, the bulk of the federal government’s budget goes to welfare for the Military-Industrial Complex.

Indeed, the dominant feature of the American polity is welfare for big business and the rich. This welfare consists of a wide array of government interventions into the market to enforce artificial scarcities and artificial property rights.

These interventions include patents and copyrights. They include enforcement of absentee title to vacant and unimproved land, which has never been altered by human labor — the only legitimate means of appropriating land in a free market (in fact, the government pays landowners tens of billions to hold land out of cultivation). They include enforcement of entry barriers to free competition in the supply of credit. And they include enforcement of regulatory cartels, mandated artificially high capital outlays, and all sorts of other entry barriers.

The cumulative effect is to make land and capital artificially scarce, impose overhead costs and other penalties on self-employment, and raise the price of the means of production and subsistence relative to the price of labor. As a result, government intervention shifts income from those who work to those who live off the rents of artificial property rights and artificial scarcity.

That’s welfare for the rich. Every time a consumer pays $200 for a CD of MS Windows or Word, when the free market price absent copyright would be $10, she’s taxed on behalf of Bill Gates. Every time she pays $200 for a prescription that would cost $10 without patents, it’s government redistributing her wealth to Pfizer. Every time a tenant pays an extra $100 in rent because untold hundreds of millions of square miles of land are closed to development, she’s subsidizing a handout to the landlord.

The problem is that this welfare state for the rich shifts income from classes with a propensity to spend to classes with a propensity to save and invest. The rentier classes have far more investment capital on their hands than they can find productive outlets for, because there’s insufficient demand to fully utilize existing productive capacity. So government resorts to things like the perpetual warfare state, the drug war and prison-industrial complex, and boondoggles like the Interstate Highway System, to use up surplus capital and productive capacity and stave off depression. The financial sector grows steadily, and becomes increasingly prone to speculative bubbles, as investors seek outlets for excess capital.

The welfare state for the poor was actually created to solve the problems created by the welfare state for the rich. New Deal programs like Social Security and AFDC were promoted by “socialists” like GE head Gerard Swope and the Business Advisory Council in order to put a floor under aggregate demand. Government-enforced monopoly and unequal exchange redistribute wealth upward with a backhoe, and then the welfare state for the poor gives back some of it with a teaspoon.

If it weren’t for the welfare state for the rich, we wouldn’t need welfare for the poor.

-Kevin Carson Welfare State for the Rich

Quote of the Day: True Treason

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. (emphasis added).-definition of treason that is contained in Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

The only Americans who were ever guilty of treason under this definition would have been Abraham Lincoln, his cabinet, the "Civil War" Congress, the Union Army command, and all army volunteers from the Northern states during the War to Prevent Southern Independence. Waging war against the Southern states was the very definition of treason under the U.S. Constitution.

Lincoln rhetorically redefined treason to essentially mean criticism of himself and his government. This has always been the preferred definition of treason by American statists, beginning with Daniel Webster, who attempted to redefine it as such in his famous debate over the nature of the union with Senator Robert Hayne of South Carolina. Lincoln simply adopted Webster’s subterfuge while subverting the Constitution with his war.-Thomas DiLorenzo (Is the Fed Treasonous? )

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Post of the Moment: Social Democracy Is Communism By Other Means (Discuss)

I have other posts planned for today, so don't think I'm going to leave you idiots alone after this one. I will try to leave this at the top of the blog a little while to see what response it gets. This is an unusual "post of the moment" but hey, you've to try new things, right? I could have just stolen the post outright, but this makes it look like I'm not so blatant a thief.

The original post is by our good Canadian friend and fellow blogger The Commentator

So again, the question under discussion is: Is Social Democracy Communism By Other Means?

Super Bonus! (don't you just love the fact that you get more value for your blog reading time here at SE) Kevin Carson: We’re All “Social Democrats” Now

Matt Yglesias, some time back, summarized Bruno Bezard’s resume (“ Where Socialism Lives,” Think Progress, April 18, 2010). Besides senior posts at various economic and industrial policy ministries and the Treasury, he held directorships at the France Telecom Group, Renault, Air France-KLM, and France Televisions. “Try to imagine,” Yglesias asked, “an American having Bruno Bezard’s official biography.”

Well, I can imagine someone — namely Tim Geithner — whose resume includes Secretary of the Treasury, along with a string of posts at Treasury, the Fed, the IMF, and the Council on Foreign Relations. I can imagine his predecessor, Hank Paulson, having both Treasury Secretary and Goldman-Sachs CEO on his resume. A lot of Treasury Secretaries seem to have toiled in the vineyards at Goldman-Sachs, come to think of it.

I can imagine someone like Jeffrey Immelt, whose resume includes Chairman at GE and Chairman of the Council of Jobs and Competitiveness (Immelt, by the way, is among the contenders to replace Geithner). On the other hand if Jamie Dimon takes Geithner’s spot, he’ll have Treasury Secretary and CEO of JPMorgan Chase on his resume.

And I can imagine — although listing them would take a year’s worth of columns — the same people endlessly shuffling back and forth between third-tier positions at USDA and FDA and the C-Suites at Cargill, ADM, Monsanto, Merck, and Pfizer.

So what’s Yglesias’s point? That some of the corporations on Bezard’s bio are — or were once — state-owned? Frankly, under state capitalism — whether of the fake “social democratic” version or fake “free market” version — distinctions between “public” and “private” are largely nominal.

Center for a Stateless Society Director Brad Spangler once used the analogy of a stickup. The state is defined by the political means to wealth — a zero-sum game for getting wealth at others’ expense. Now, if a mugger holds you up at gunpoint, and his unarmed accomplice collects your money, who’s the robber? Just the gunman? Or the gunman and bagman together, acting as a team?

In this analogy, the nominally “public” member of the team — the actual state apparatus — wields the gun. But the “private” members — the giant corporations and banks — control the state and benefit directly from its coercion on their behalf. When the Fortune 500 get the major portion of their profits from state subsidies, state-enforced artificial property rights and regulatory cartels, and the state apparatus itself constantly exchanges personnel with senior corporate management — well, is it more accurate to say that the corporations are a component of the state, or that the state’s an instrument of corporate power?

If “public servants” with both government and corporate positions on their resumes is the mark of “socialism,” then America is “socialist.” European-style “social democracy” is government-corporate collusion; American-style fake “free enterprise” is just the reverse.

A freed market is what I want. But the American system of cowboy capitalism — falsely called “the free market” by Dick Armey and his ilk — is no closer to a genuine free market than is Franco-German social democracy. The only difference is that in the American system all the welfare goes to the rich. When folks like Armey complain about “socialism,” what they really mean is too much of the welfare goes to the poor.

But the label “social democracy” is just as deserving of scare quotes as “free enterprise.” The European system’s just run by smarter capitalists, who know that long-run stable profits require avoiding political destabilization from polarized wealth or a general public too poor to buy their stuff. That’s not “socialism;” it’s a system run by smart capitalists.

You know what real socialism would be? A genuinely freed market without the state-enforced artificial scarcities, subsidies and privileges that big business currently enjoys. In a freed market, all the benefits of increased productivity from technological progress would be socialized through market competition. In a freed market, competition would flush the embedded rents on artificial property and artificial scarcity out of the price of goods, and drive price down to production cost. In a freed market, labor would receive its full product instead of paying tribute to the rentier classes. In other words, socialism.

As a market anarchist, I want both totally free markets and genuine socialism — not a choice between fake “socialism” and fake “free markets.”

By Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society under Creative Commons

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