I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.- Thomas Jefferson.

debt clock

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Elizabeth Schulte doesn’t decide who belongs at Occupy

October 28th, 2011
Some pontif over at socialistworker.org named Elizabeth Schulte has published a diatribe titled “Ideas that don’t belong at Occupy” that’s making the rounds. In it she explains why welcoming libertarians into the Occupy Movement is counterproductive. Not only is this vitriol contradictory and factually incorrect, It’s also divisive, destructive and vindictive tripe and I hope people summarily reject it. She’s got an opinion. She thinks socialism is the way to help the poor. That’s fine. There’s lots and lots of socialist Occupants. But conflating libertarianism, Ron Paul, the Tea Party and Herman Cain and drawing a big circle around mainstream conservatives and the liberty-minded Occupants on the ground is just intellectual laziness at best and ad hominem at worst. If Ms. Schulte wants an ideologically pure movement that excludes everyone she disagrees with than the Occupation is not for her.
She begins:
The right wing is responding to the Occupy Wall Street movement as you’d expect–displaying all their contempt for ordinary people.
That’s called “poisoning the well” and it’s a logical fallacy where an ad hominem attack is made preemptively to prejudice an audience and discredit or ridicule a target. In other words… the facts themselves don’t support her thesis alone. She needs some nasty rhetorical devices to drive the point forward.
She writes:
At many Occupy encampments, you’ll find some right-wingers with a lot in common with Herman Cain. These are libertarians.
Now, I’m not a Libertarian Party member, but I am a philosophical libertarian, and all that means is that I accept the Non Aggression Principle which essentially means that it is inappropriate to use violence to solve non violent problems. If the Occupy movement doesn’t accept the Non Aggression Principle then we need to stop calling it a non-violent peaceful movement. Libertarianism is not “right-wing” and her reliance on the left-right paradigm only causes further division. The Occupy movement is a post-ideological movement. It needs to abandon the left-right paradigm or it will fail. There are plenty of Democrats responsible for this crisis in Congress and plenty of leftists trading on Wall Street.
She trots out these quotes from Herman Cain, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks,” and, “If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself,” as if any libertarian anywhere if flying a Cain flag in the Occupy Movement. This is down right deceptive. She describes libertarian Occupants as having an “obsessive focus” on closing down the Federal Reserve, but even the most cursory Google search would tell you that Cain is a shill for the Federal Reserve. He’s a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and he has publicly stated, “Some people say that we ought to audit the Fed. Here’s what I do know. The Federal Reserve already has so many internal audits it’s ridiculous.” What sense does it make to characterize those who want to abolishing the Fed with a politician who doesn’t even think it should have any independent oversight? Is she just ignorant or is this a deliberate attempt to misrepresent libertarian Occupants?
She cites some opinion poll from Time Magazine which suggests that more people support the Occupy Movement than the Tea Party. First of all, the Tea Party and libertarians are not the same thing. Whatever it was at the beginning, there’s not a lot of libertarianism left in the Tea Party anyway, and I doubt many of the libertarian Occupants are moonlighting at Tea Party rallies. But even if they were that’s just another logical fallacy. It’s called argumentum ad populum. Opinion polls are irrelevant. Popular opinion doesn’t get to exclude people from the Occupy Movement. That’s not how the movement works.
She complains:
“The Occupy protests are still treated in much of the media as a ‘fringe’… The actual fringe–the Tea Party–got the rapt attention of the corporate media, while it took weeks for them to report on the Occupy protesters.”
This is just mind boggling. She’s complaining that it took weeks for the Occupy Movement to get media attention when the Tea Party movement started in 2007 after months and months of media blackout of the Ron Paul Revolution. It’s specific purpose was to organize a day of donations, called a “money bomb,” so large that it could not be ignored by the media. Since then the Tea Party has evolved and mutated into what it is now, but it’s been four years. The Tea Party didn’t start out as a media darling. Can the Occupy Movement avoid getting hijacked in the general election like the Tea Party did? Can they avoid selling out to corporate media and political parasites? I hope so, but let’s see where the Occupy Movement is after years, not weeks, before we start drawing comparisons to media coverage of the Tea Party.
Then of course there’s Ron Paul. You want to associate libertarianism with Ron Paul… that’s fine. I don’t mind. I don’t agree with Ron Paul enough to support him, but I support those who support him.
She writes:
“Some people think Occupy activists should view the libertarian presence as a positive thing–that we should reach across the left-right divide and welcome Ron Paul supporters into our movement.”
You don’t have to welcome Ron Paul supporters into the “your” movement because it’s not “your” movement. Libertarians are here whether you “welcome” us or not. You have no authority to uninvite us.
She goes on:
“Does giving their ideas a place in the movement show our ability to embrace all kinds of people?“
You don’t “give” our ideas a place in the movement. We OCCUPY a place in the movement. Then she trots out all this garbage about Ron Paul, and Rand Paul, and the Tea Party and acts like it’s all the same thing. I don’t want to spend a lot of time defending Ron Paul point by point, but here’s something I will not let pass. You don’t get to call Ron Paul, or anyone else, racist because you don’t like their immigration policy. I think free people should cross free borders in free countries freely but disagreeing with me is not racism.
She writes:
“Ideas like those espoused by Ron Paul and his libertarian supporters, such as opposition to government social programs, are the opposite of what the Occupy movement is about.”
She neglects to mention that the movement has no set goals. That’s part of it’s charm. But she goes on.
“For instance, Paul is in favor of eliminating the federal Department of Education and allowing individual states to decide what kind of education they deem appropriate for children, and how much funding to devote to it.”
Imagine the horror… allowing people to make decisions about their lives at a local level. For shame! I support abolishing the Department of Education, and I don’t care if that’s not a left friendly position. I have zero confidence in the ability of the state to educate impressionable children about itself. Does that mean I should pack up and go home? I guarantee you all of these social anarchists, if they are consistent in their thinking at all, wouldn’t support government school, and they are some of the core organizers.
She goes on and on. Paul’s position on Social Security. Paul’s position on bilingual education. Paul’s position on abortion. But she never points out that the libertarian Occupants out in the street now aren’t Ron Paul. We think for ourselves. We have different ideas. We are individuals, not a collective in intellectual lockstep with Ron Paul.
She writes:
“Anyone who knows the history of the civil rights movement knows what Paul’s talk about ‘states’ rights’ really means–allowing racism and segregation to thrive… Paul’s line of thinking would have applied to the debates about the abolition of slavery a century and a half ago.”
Is she for real? So I guess everyone who thinks California has a right to legalize marijuana is pro slavery because it’s a states’ rights argument?
She chastises Paul’s opposition to minimum wage mandates. Let me give you a scenario, and this is not a hypothetical situation. This is my situation right now. I am activist on a shoe string budget with a full time job and a modest salary. I would love to be standing in front of a bank all day handing out pamphlets promoting the Occupy Movement and Silver Circle and other things, but I don’t have the time. I could hire a panhandler to do it for me. I could certainly afford to pay him more than he’s making now, or at least more than I ever did as a panhandler, but I can’t afford to pay him minimum wage. It’s an economic impossibility for me. It would be a net benefit for both of us, but it would be a crime to hire that person. So which is better? Should I break the minimum wage law, or should he remain unemployed? People need to understand that unemployment is high because we are in a recession and hiring people at wages employers can afford is a crime.

She repeats the typical refrain.

“We need more taxes on the rich and corporations, with the money devoted to helping workers and the poor, by increasing the quality of public schools or providing an effective social safety net.”

That’s fine. Lot’s of people have that opinion. She’s certainly entitled to it. You know, I used to believe in the progressive income tax, and social security, and minimum wages laws and all sorts of examples of central economic planning. I understand that it is emotionally gratifying to take those positions and feel like you’re doing something to help the poor. But if you really care about the poor, as I think we all do, it’s really incumbent upon you to occasionally step back assess the success and failure of those programs. At some point you have to admit that they have accomplished exactly the opposite of their stated goals.

Taxes and regulations are meaningless unless they are enforced by the state. Enforcement requires state aggression. Aggression activates the amygdala. The amygdala triggers the hording instinct. Ergo, raising taxes and regulations triggers hording, not redistribution. There is a fundamental flaw in the way we look at economics and human action. It is not possible to legislate greed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reflections on Education

Reflections on Education

Mises Daily: Friday, October 28, 2011 by

[Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943; 2007)]

Our system was founded in all good faith that universal elementary education would make a citizenry more intelligent; whereas most obviously it has done nothing of the kind. The general level of intelligence in our citizenry stands exactly where it stood when the system was established. The promoters of our system, Mr. Jefferson among them, did not know, and could not know, because the fact had not been determined, that the average age at which the development of intelligence is arrested lies somewhere between twelve and thirteen years. It is with intelligence as it is with eyesight. No oculist can give one any more eyesight than one has; he can only regulate what one has. So education can regulate what intelligence one has, but it can not give one any more. It was this unforeseen provision in nature's economy which wrecked the expectations put upon our system. As for raising the general level of intelligence, the sluicing-out of any amount of education on our citizenry would simply be pouring water on a duck's back.
Aside from this negative result, I saw that our system had achieved a positive result. If it had done nothing to raise the general level of intelligence, it had succeeded in making our citizenry much more easily gullible. It tended powerfully to focus the credulousness of Homo sapiens upon the printed word, and to confirm him in the crude authoritarian or fetishistic spirit which one sees most highly developed, perhaps, in the habitual reader of newspapers. By being inured to taking as true whatever he read in his schoolbooks and whatever his teachers told him, he is bred to a habit of unthinking acquiescence, rather than to an exercise of such intelligence as he may have. In later life he puts this habit at the unreasoning service of his prejudices. Having not the slightest sense of what constitutes a competent authority, he tends to take as authoritative whatever best falls in with his own disorderly imaginings.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Foreign Influence — The Anglo-American Establishment

In Roosevelt's case, a foreign government clearly influenced and literally worked secretly and directly with him to cause the US to enter World War II in complete violation of President Washington's warning in his "Farewell Address" against allowing the influence of foreign governments to control American policy. This is still a major problem today with America's foreign policy. American political leaders have not only ignored President Washington's warning about the dangerous influence of foreign powers, but they have also ignored his excellent advice that we should avoid permanent entangling alliances, such as the United Nations and NATO. Washington advised us to have as little political connection with other governments as possible, while having trade relationships with all and without preferential status. Mises and President Washington are not advocating isolationism; they are advocating global trade with all nations.
President Washington warned emphatically against getting involved in the quarrels of Europe. Under President Clinton, the US readopted the Wilsonian foreign policy of crusading throughout the world as its policeman by disguising imperialism with the term "humanitarianism," a policy that involves American armed forces in matters which have no relationship to real American interests or the defense of the American people and their homeland. Many members of Congress are now calling for the draft again in order to have enough soldiers to be the world's policeman.
Charles Beard, the famous historian, warned that we would lose our freedom if we adopted a policy of "perpetual war for perpetual peace,"[11] and it was one of our Founders, James Madison, who warned that, "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."[12] War necessarily concentrates political power into the hands of a few — especially the president — and diminishes the liberty of all.

Reclaiming the Dream of Our Founders

If Americans are to reclaim the dream of our Founders and have peace and prosperity instead of war and welfare, we must understand the ideas and institutions that promote those conditions. Americans must appreciate and adopt the free-enterprise system and reject the private-enterprise system. Since the beginning of the 20th century, we have been on a collision course with disaster by following political leaders who got elected and maintained their power through the war and welfare system of politics.
Americans will never reclaim the dream of their Founders if presidents like Lincoln and Roosevelt are held up as examples of "great" presidents. We must impeach those presidents who ignore that the Constitution grants the war-making power exclusively to Congress, and certainly impeach those who mislead Congress into a declaration of war with false information.
Americans need to oppose and destroy the "imperial presidency" because of what it has already done and will do to our country and to our individual freedom. The first step toward that goal is to recognize Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt for what they really were: American Caesars.

Private Enterprise Compared with Free Enterprise

Another interesting comparison of the situations affecting the decisions of Lincoln and Roosevelt is that economic interests of an elite few played a major role in the decisions of both presidents to instigate a war. It is doubtful that either Lincoln or Roosevelt would have wanted to disclose the influence of these economic interests to the public in a congressional hearing where the question of war was to be decided upon. The study of the history of wars indicates that economic factors have always played a major role in starting wars, but rarely are these economic factors disclosed to the public as the reasons.
Many businessmen and bankers believe in private enterprise but do not believe in free enterprise. In Lincoln's case, the private-enterprise capitalists wanted Lincoln to have a war in order to prevent the South from establishing a free-trade zone with a low tariff. They wanted Lincoln to protect their special interests by keeping the tariff high, while still forcing the South to remain in the Union to pay the tax.
These types of people want a partnership between private enterprise and the government, which is the essence of fascism and the cause of many wars. In the case of Roosevelt, he was greatly influenced, even controlled at times, by the Anglo-American establishment, which was composed of prominent businessmen and bankers who owned or represented large economic interests, both domestically and globally. They also wanted a partnership with government to protect their private businesses and economic interests, especially from formidable industrial and commercial competitors like Germany and Japan. Today the economic establishment in America is much larger than just the Morgan and Rockefeller interests but is just as active in trying to influence government, especially the foreign policy — primarily through the president to further their economic interests.
Ludwig von Mises made a clear distinction between private enterprise and free enterprise. Mises wanted a complete separation of the economy from the government, just like separation of church and state, which meant no regulation or control by the government but also no partnership with or help from the government, either economically or militarily. In the free-enterprise system, if any business or any bank wants to transact business globally, it must do so at its own risk and without the help of the government.
There would be no foreign aid, especially no aid to prop up dictators in order for them to do business with any particular economic interests. There would be no war in order to create a devastated area like Bosnia or Yugoslavia that needs to be rebuilt by American businesses who have the political influence to get these foreign contracts. Mises thought that separation of the economy from the government was necessary in order to produce peace rather than war.
A major contribution of Mises and the Austrian School of economics is to show that government intervention and regulation of the economy is the actual cause of the boom-and-bust cycles, while a free market is very stable and self-correcting in a short period of time. Furthermore, Mises showed that coercive monopolies are created by government and not by the free market. Therefore, the economy does not need government regulation or control to stabilize it and will function better by being completely separated.
Mises's other recommendation, seen in the following statement, is to reduce the size and power of the central government in general in order to protect individual liberty:
Durable peace is only possible under perfect capitalism, hitherto never and nowhere completely tried or achieved. In such a Jeffersonian world of unhampered market economy the scope of government activities is limited to the protection of the lives, health and property of individuals against violence or fraudulent aggression.[9]
Mises goes on to state that
All the oratory of the advocates of government omnipotence cannot annul the fact that there is but one system that makes for durable peace: a free market economy. Government control leads to economic nationalism and thus results in conflict.[10]
This complete separation of the economy and the government is what Mises meant by "perfect capitalism," which promotes peace and prosperity rather than war and welfare.

Lincoln and Roosevelt, Little ceasars

Mises Daily: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 by

It is interesting to compare Lincoln and his treachery in causing the Southern "enemy" to fire the first shot at Fort Sumter, resulting in the Civil War, with Roosevelt's similar manipulation causing the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., a well-known American "court historian," has written the definitive defenses for both Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding their reprehensible behavior in causing their respective unnecessary American wars. He clearly documents the unconstitutional behavior of both and offers great praise for the same. He attempts to justify the actions of both presidents on grounds that they were acting during a "crisis" pertaining to the "survival of the American government," and that their unconstitutional actions were thereby made "necessary." Schlesinger has stated that "Next to the Civil War, World War II was the greatest crisis in American history."[1] His defense of these two "great" presidents is as follows:
Roosevelt in 1941, like Lincoln in 1861, did what he did under what appeared to be a popular demand and a public necessity. Both presidents took their actions in light of day and to the accompaniment of uninhibited political debate. They did what they thought they had to do to save the republic. They threw themselves in the end on the justice of the country and the rectitude of their motives. Whatever Lincoln and Roosevelt felt compelled to do under the pressure of crisis did not corrupt their essential commitment to constitutional ways and democratic processes.[2]
Schlesinger, however, recognizes the terrible precedents that were created by these presidents' violations of the clear constitutional restrictions on their office:
Yet the danger persists that power asserted during authentic emergencies may create precedents for transcendent executive power during emergencies that exist only in the hallucinations of the Oval Office and that remain invisible to most of the nation. The perennial question is: How to distinguish real crises threatening the life of the republic from bad dreams conjured up by paranoid presidents spurred on by paranoid advisers? Necessity as Milton said, is always "the tyrant's plea."[3]
Let us add to John Milton's statement a more specific warning by William Pitt in his speech to the House of Commons on November 18, 1783: "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants."[4]
Finally, it is instructive to compare the circumstances for Lincoln at Fort Sumter with those for Roosevelt at Pearl Harbor. In neither case was there an actual "surprise" attack by the enemy. In fact, there was an extended period of time, many months prior to the "first shot," in which both Lincoln and Roosevelt had ample opportunity to attempt to negotiate with the alleged "enemy," who was desperately trying to reach a peaceful settlement.
In both cases, the presidents refused to negotiate in good faith. Lincoln sent completely false and conflicting statements to the Confederates and to Congress — even refused to talk with the Confederate commissioners. Roosevelt also refused to talk with Japanese Prime Minister Konoye, a refusal that brought down the moderate, peace-seeking Konoye government and caused the rise of the militant Tojo regime. Both Lincoln and Roosevelt repeatedly lied to the American people and to Congress about what they were doing while they were secretly provoking the "enemy" to fire the first shot in their respective wars. Both intentionally subjected their respective armed forces to being bait to get the enemy to fire the first shot.
Also, a comparison of circumstances clearly shows that both Lincoln and Roosevelt had ample opportunity to present their arguments and the question of war to Congress as the Constitution clearly required them to do. In fact, Congress in both cases was desperately trying to find out what the presidents were doing, and in both cases the presidents were hiding evidence from them. In Lincoln's case, Congress probably would not have declared war for either the real reasons Lincoln went to war or for those he used only for propaganda. Similarly, Roosevelt could have presented the question of war to Congress and attempted to persuade Congress and the American people that we needed to join Soviet Russia and Great Britain to fight tyranny in Germany.
This might have been embarrassing to the Roosevelt administration in light of the fact that Congress may not have wanted to declare war and join with Soviet Russia, which was already one of the greatest tyrannies the world had ever known, while Germany was Russia's main enemy. A majority in Congress surely were aware of the dangers of Communism, while Roosevelt never seemed to grasp the total evil of Stalin or Communism. Roosevelt gave Stalin everything he wanted throughout the war and referred to this mass murderer as "Uncle Joe." The wartime conferences at Teheran and Yalta clearly demonstrated Roosevelt's complete and secret capitulation to Communism in Russia and China.[5]
Before World War II started in Europe in 1939, it was widely known that Stalin had already murdered more than ten million innocent, unarmed people, three million of whom were Russian peasants he killed between 1928 and 1935. Communism believed that private property was the main source of evil in the world, and therefore he took the privately owned land from these self-sufficient people.[6]
Also, in the period from 1936 through 1938, Stalin murdered millions more during his reign of terror after the "show trials," purging from the Communist Party those he thought were disloyal.[7] Hitler, on the other hand, before 1939, and primarily from June to July 1934, had murdered fewer than one hundred in his purge of the Storm Troopers.[8] This is not to defend Hitler, or to deny that he was evil, but a comparison of these two murderers and tyrants (as Stalin and Hitler were known in the period from 1939 to 1941), shows that Roosevelt could hardly have asked Congress to declare war and to join with Stalin and Communism yet still argue that he was fighting a noble war against tyranny.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What the 'Taxing the Rich' Rhetoric Really Means

by Michael Bargo Jr.

By Michael Bargo Jr.
When I was in college, I took a course in clinical psychology. One day, the professor shared an experience he had with a paranoid schizophrenic patient. In one of his first months working at a mental hospital (as they were then called), he met with the patient in his office. The patient said, "Well, I don't feel comfortable talking to you because there is a hidden microphone in this office." "Where is it?" my professor asked. The patient responded: "It's hidden in the doorknob." The professor then took apart the door knob, laid all the parts out on his desk, and said to the paranoid patient, "See, there's no microphone hidden here." The patient looked at the parts, looked up at the ceiling, and insisted, "It's up in the light bulb!"

The point of this story is that there's nothing you can do to allay the paranoid thoughts of a paranoid schizophrenic. Those analysts who address the "tax the rich" and "the rich must pay their fair share" rhetoric are facing the same issue: those who use this rhetoric will never acknowledge the tax rates paid by the rich, accept the facts, and respond with the words, "oh, I didn't realize that the top 15 percent pay seventy percent of the income taxes. Never mind!"

They will persist with their rhetoric forever. The reason is that the rhetoric is driven not by the numbers of who pays how much in taxes, but by a desire to build a public relations foundation, an image. Those who don't respond to real facts don't care what the real facts are. The "tax the rich" slogan was not begun after a careful analysis of IRS data in the first place.

Here are some of the clues: those who say "tax the rich" almost never say "tax only the rich." Or "let's increase taxes on the rich andlower the taxes on everyone else." The real goal of this strategy is to raise everybody'staxes. The United States already has thehighest corporate tax rate in the Western world. If the president and his supporters really believe that corporations are greedy and will do anything to avoid paying taxes, then they would expect corporations to respond to higher tax rates by leaving the U.S. and opening up businesses in other countries. And in fact, that's what has already occurred; it's one of the reasons why the U.S. has lost jobs. If President Obama were really convinced that corporations are greedy, he would use their greed against them and lowertheir tax rate, bringing them here to open up plants and employ more Americans. That the Obama supporters' rhetoric is not consistent with their caricature of corporations as driven by greed is not hypocritical; indeed, it's very revealing.

The real function of the "tax the rich" mantra, then, is not to tax the rich and create jobs, but to break the resistance working voters have against tax increases. By enabling the federal government to appear to "tax the rich," voters are fooled into thinking that Democrats will tax only the rich, whereas in reality they are raising taxes on everyone, particularly those who accept the "tax the rich" rhetoric. Democrats have escaped criticism for this strategy for several reasons. One is that most in the news media have fallen for the rhetoric. They know very little about economics, and they probably don't do their own income taxes. They studied "communication" and speech in college, not to mention makeup and hair. They don't have the background or knowledge to understand the big financial or economic issues. Another reason is that they don't think through the consequences of the progressive tax policy.

Additionally, the largest cities in the U.S., and therefore the largest news markets, are controlled by Democrats. Anyone hoping to work for a newspaper or TV news station in these cities cannot attack Democrats in a substantive way. They will be labeled as conservative and extremist. Consequently, these local news outlets attack corruption only on the edges, seeking out someone whose brother-in-law received a small contract with a city department, for example. The big macro-level corruption issues and enabling rhetoric are carefully avoided.

The real reason why city governments need so much tax revenue is because their exorbitant pensions and benefit programs have skyrocketed, as many baby boom-age government employees have retired, and the retired are living longer. There is not enough money in the bank accounts or investments of the "rich" to pay for it all. And the progressives know it. They must collect from every citizen, regardless of whether they are rich or not. And to keep this ruse functioning, they must constantly convince voters that they are on the side of the "working people" and against the rich -- that they are wearing Robin Hood's feathered cap, taxing the rich to give to the poor. In reality they are taxing the rich and the poor, and keeping the money themselves. Public-sector unions give campaign contributions to get pensions the average "corporate" worker has never received.

The remarkable thing is not that progressives continue this rhetoric, but that the electorate continues to buy it. That's why progressives continue it, after all.

If the tax rate placed upon the wealthiest 1% of income earners were increased, the wealthy would act to shelter their incomes and send the money offshore. Again, though, trying to clarify this point to a progressive is akin to trying to explain things to the paranoid.

Official: Obama Owns Three Largest Deficits Ever

Bob Beauprez

The 2011 budget deficit for the federal government is $1.299 trillion according to numbers just released by the U.S. Treasury. That is the second highest deficit in history. In fact, Barack Obama now has the dubious distinction of the three highest deficits all happening on his watch.
From the Hill:
The U.S budget deficit for fiscal year 2011 is $1.299 trillion, the second largest shortfall in history.

The nation only ran a larger deficit for the 2009 fiscal year, which included the dramatic collapse of financial markets and a huge bailout effort by the government. The nation's deficit that year was $1.412 trillion.

This year's deficit is slightly higher than fiscal year 2010, when the nation ran a $1.293 trillion deficit. Fiscal years run through Sept. 30.
Obama will likely make it four in a row one year from now as his own budget shop is estimating a $1.1 trillion deficit for 2012.
The 2009 deficit still holds the record at $1.412 trillion. In 2010 the deficit reached $1.293. In just three years, more than $4 trillion of red ink has been added to the debt. The government's fiscal year ends September 30.
Prior to the Obama Administration, the largest nominal deficit ever recorded was $458 billion in 2008, the last year of the Bush Administration. That is barely one-third of each of the Obama Administration's dubious deficit records.
Barely a month into office back in 2009, the ever-confident Obama promised "to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office."
That looks like yet another promise he won't be keeping.
From CNN.com:
"I refuse to leave our children with a debt they cannot repay," he said in remarks opening the one-day summit at the White House. "We cannot and will not sustain deficits like these without end. ... We cannot simply spend as we please."

from John Hawkins

Our country could fix its problems if the rich paid "their fair share!" Many people incorrectly believe that the rich are getting by without paying taxes and if we somehow forced them to pay their "fair share," all of our problems would be solved.
That's simply not true.
We already have the most progressive tax code of any western nation, which isn't exactly a shocker when you consider the fact that 47% of Americans pay no income tax at all while we have the 2nd highest corporate income tax in the world and "taxpayers with at least $100,000 in adjusted gross income each year account for 12% of the tax returns, 49% of the income and 75% of the taxes."
In other words, the "rich" are paying through the nose already and setting all notions of fairness aside, it’s impossible to loot enough from them to pay off our deficit and debt, much less finance any new spending.

"In fact, in 2006, the Census Bureau found only 2.2 million households earning more than $250,000. And most of those are closer to the Lubbock city manager than to Carlos Slim, income-wise. To jump from the 50th to the 51st percentile isn’t that tough; jumping from the 96th to the 97th takes a lot of schmundo. It’s lonely at the top.
But say we wanted to balance the budget by jacking up taxes on Club 250K. That’s a problem: The 2012 deficit is forecast to hit $1.1 trillion under Obama’s budget. (Thanks, Mr. President!) Spread that deficit over all the households in Club 250K and you have to jack up their taxes by an average of $500,000 — which you simply can’t do, since a lot of them don’t have $500,000 in income to seize. Most of them are making $250,000 to $450,000 and paying about half in taxes already. You can squeeze that goose all day, but that’s not going to make it push out a golden egg.
….Every time you raise the threshold for eating the rich, you get a much, much smaller serving of meat on the plate — but the deficit stays the same. The long division gets pretty ugly. You end up chasing a revenue will-o’-the-wisp." — Kevin Williamson
Even if Obama were to get his way and Republicans agreed to pass all the new taxes that Obama wants, it wouldn't make a significant dent in our deficit THIS YEAR -- much less get the deficit under control long term, pay off the debt, or fix our long-term problems with Social Security and Medicare that are dragging our nation towards insolvency.

Monday, October 17, 2011

When the system is utterly corrupt and unfixable, it is our right to revolt. Thomas Jefferson made that clear over two hundred years ago:

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Fascist Threat

Mises Daily: Friday, October 07, 2011 by
[This talk was delivered at the Doug Casey conference, "When Money Dies," in Phoenix on October 1, 2011.]
"There isn't anyone around who is willing to stand up and say, "I'm a fascist; I think fascism is a great social and economic system.'"
Everyone knows that the term fascist is a pejorative, often used to describe any political position a speaker doesn't like. There isn't anyone around who is willing to stand up and say, 'I'm a fascist; I think fascism is a great social and economic system."
But I submit that if they were honest, the vast majority of politicians, intellectuals, and political activists would have to say just that.
Fascism is the system of government that cartelizes the private sector, centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers, exalts the police state as the source of order, denies fundamental rights and liberties to individuals, and makes the executive state the unlimited master of society.
This describes mainstream politics in America today. And not just in America. It's true in Europe, too. It is so much part of the mainstream that it is hardly noticed any more.
It is true that fascism has no overarching theoretical apparatus. There is no grand theorist like Marx. That makes it no less real and distinct as a social, economic, and political system. Fascism also thrives as a distinct style of social and economic management. And it is as much or more of a threat to civilization than full-blown socialism.
This is because its traits are so much a part of life — and have been for so long — that they are nearly invisible to us.
If fascism is invisible to us, it is truly the silent killer. It fastens a huge, violent, lumbering state on the free market that drains its capital and productivity like a deadly parasite on a host. This is why the fascist state has been called the vampire economy. It sucks the economic life out of a nation and brings about a slow death of a once-thriving economy.
Let me just provide a recent example.

The Decline

The papers last week were filled with the first sets of data from the 2010 US Census. The headline story concerned the huge increase in the poverty rate. It is the largest increase in 20 years, and now up to 15 percent.
But most people hear this and dismiss it, probably for good reason. The poor in this country are not poor by any historical standard. They have cell phones, cable TV, cars, lots of food, and plenty of disposable income. What's more, there is no such thing as a fixed class called the poor. People come and go, depending on age and life circumstances. Plus, in American politics, when you hear kvetching about the poor, everyone knows what you're supposed to do: hand the government your wallet.
Buried in the report is another fact that has much more profound significance. It concerns median household income in real terms.
"The fascist economic model has killed what was once called the American dream."
What the data have revealed is devastating. Since 1999, median household income has fallen 7.1 percent. Since 1989, median family income is largely flat. And since 1973 and the end of the gold standard, it has hardly risen at all. The great wealth-generating machine that was once America is failing.
No longer can one generation expect to live a better life than the previous one. The fascist economic model has killed what was once called the American dream. And the truth is, of course, even worse than the statistic reveals. You have to consider how many incomes exist within a single household to make up the total income. After World War II, the single-income family became the norm. Then the money was destroyed and American savings were wiped out and the capital base of the economy was devastated.
It was at this point that households began to struggle to stay above water. The year 1985 was the turning point. This was the year that it became more common than not for a household to have two incomes rather than one. Mothers entered the workforce to keep family income floating.
The intellectuals cheered this trend, as if it represented liberation, shouting hosannas that all women everywhere are now added to the tax rolls as valuable contributors to the state's coffers. The real cause is the rise of fiat money that depreciated the currency, robbed savings, and shoved people into the workforce as taxpayers.
This story is not told in the data alone. You have to look at the demographics to discover it.
This huge demographic shift essentially bought the American household another 20 years of seeming prosperity, though it is hard to call it that since there was no longer any choice about the matter. If you wanted to keep living the dream, the household could no longer get by on a single income.
But this huge shift was merely an escape hatch. It bought 20 years of slight increases before the income trend flattened again. Over the last decade we are back to falling. Today median family income is only slightly above where it was when Nixon wrecked the dollar, put on price and wage controls, created the EPA, and the whole apparatus of the parasitic welfare-warfare state came to be entrenched and made universal.
Yes, this is fascism, and we are paying the price. The dream is being destroyed.
The talk in Washington about reform, whether from Democrats or Republicans, is like a bad joke. They talk of small changes, small cuts, commissions they will establish, curbs they will make in ten years. It is all white noise. None of this will fix the problem. Not even close.
The problem is more fundamental. It is the quality of the money. It is the very existence of 10,000 regulatory agencies. It is the whole assumption that you have to pay the state for the privilege to work. It is the presumption that the government must manage every aspect of the capitalist economic order. In short, it is the total state that is the problem, and the suffering and decline will continue so long as the total state exists.

The Origins of Fascism

To be sure, the last time people worried about fascism was during the Second World War. We were said to be fighting this evil system abroad. The United States defeated fascist governments, but the philosophy of governance that fascism represents was not defeated. Very quickly following that war, another one began. This was the Cold War that pitted capitalism against communism. Socialism in this case was considered to be a soft form of communism, tolerable and even praiseworthy insofar as it was linked with democracy, which is the system that legalizes and legitimizes an ongoing pillaging of the population.
In the meantime, almost everyone has forgotten that there are many other colors of socialism, not all of them obviously left wing. Fascism is one of these colors.
There can be no question of its origins. It is tied up with the history of post–World War I Italian politics. In 1922, Benito Mussolini won a democratic election and established fascism as his philosophy. Mussolini had been a member of the Italian Socialist Party.
All the biggest and most important players within the fascist movement came from the socialists. It was a threat to the socialists because it was the most appealing political vehicle for the real-world application of the socialist impulse. Socialists crossed over to join the fascists en masse.
This is also why Mussolini himself enjoyed such good press for more than ten years after his rule began. He was celebrated by the New York Times in article after article. He was heralded in scholarly collections as an exemplar of the type of leader we needed in the age of the planned society. Puff pieces on this blowhard were very common in US journalism all through the late 1920s and the mid-1930s.
"When you run out of everything else to spend money on, you can always depend on nationalist fervor to back more military spending."
Remember that in this same period, the American Left went through a huge shift. In the teens and 1920s, the American Left had a very praiseworthy anticorporatist impulse. The Left generally opposed war, the state-run penal system, alcohol prohibition, and all violations of civil liberties. It was no friend of capitalism, but neither was it a friend of the corporate state of the sort that FDR forged during the New Deal.
In 1933 and 1934, the American Left had to make a choice. Would they embrace the corporatism and regimentation of the New Deal or take a principled stand on their old liberal values? In other words, would they accept fascism as a halfway house to their socialist utopia? A gigantic battle ensued in this period, and there was a clear winner. The New Deal made an offer the Left could not refuse. And it was a small step to go from the embrace of the fascistic planned economy to the celebration of the warfare state that concluded the New Deal period.
This was merely a repeat of the same course of events in Italy a decade earlier. In Italy too, the Left realized that their anticapitalistic agenda could best be achieved within the framework of the authoritarian, planning state. Of course our friend John Maynard Keynes played a critical role in providing a pseudoscientific rationale for joining opposition to old-world laissez faire to a new appreciation of the planned society. Recall that Keynes was not a socialist of the old school. As he himself said in his introduction to the Nazi edition of his General Theory, National Socialism was far more hospitable to his ideas than a market economy.

Flynn Tells the Truth

The most definitive study on fascism written in these years was As We Go Marching by John T. Flynn. Flynn was a journalist and scholar of a liberal spirit who had written a number of best-selling books in the 1920s. He could probably be put in the progressive camp in the 1920s. It was the New Deal that changed him. His colleagues all followed FDR into fascism, while Flynn himself kept the old faith. That meant that he fought FDR every step of the way, and not only his domestic plans. Flynn was a leader of the America First movement that saw FDR's drive to war as nothing but an extension of the New Deal, which it certainly was.
But because Flynn was part of what Murray Rothbard later dubbed the Old Right — Flynn came to oppose both the welfare state and the warfare state — his name went down the Orwellian memory hole after the war, during the heyday of CIA conservatism.
As We Go Marching came out in 1944, just at the tail end of the war, and right in the midst of wartime economic controls the world over. It is a wonder that it ever got past the censors. It is a full-scale study of fascist theory and practice, and Flynn saw precisely where fascism ends: in militarism and war as the fulfillment of the stimulus-spending agenda. When you run out of everything else to spend money on, you can always depend on nationalist fervor to back more military spending.
In reviewing the history of the rise of fascism, Flynn wrote,
One of the most baffling phenomena of fascism is the almost incredible collaboration between men of the extreme Right and the extreme Left in its creation. The explanation lies at this point. Both Right and Left joined in this urge for regulation. The motives, the arguments, and the forms of expression were different but all drove in the same direction. And this was that the economic system must be controlled in its essential functions and this control must be exercised by the producing groups.
Flynn writes that the Right and the Left disagreed on precisely who fits the bill as the producer group. The Left tends to celebrate laborers as producers. The Right tends to favor business owners as producers. The political compromise — and it still goes on today — was to cartelize both.
Government under fascism becomes the cartelization device for both the workers and the private owners of capital. Competition between workers and between businesses is regarded as wasteful and pointless; the political elites decide that the members of these groups need to get together and cooperate under government supervision to build a mighty nation.
The fascists have always been obsessed with the idea of national greatness. To them, this does not consist in a nation of people who are growing more prosperous, living ever better and longer lives. No, national greatness occurs when the state embarks on building huge monuments, undertaking nationwide transportation systems, carving Mount Rushmore or digging the Panama Canal.
In other words, national greatness is not the same thing as your greatness or your family's greatness or your company's or profession's greatness. On the contrary. You have to be taxed, your money's value has to be depreciated, your privacy invaded, and your well-being diminished in order to achieve it. In this view, the government has to make us great.
Tragically, such a program has a far greater chance of political success than old-fashioned socialism. Fascism doesn't nationalize private property as socialism does. That means that the economy doesn't collapse right away. Nor does fascism push to equalize incomes. There is no talk of the abolition of marriage or the nationalization of children.
"No matter how much you may believe that you are free, all of us today are but one step away from Guantanamo."
Religion is not abolished but used as a tool of political manipulation. The fascist state was far more politically astute in this respect than communism. It wove together religion and statism into one package, encouraging a worship of God provided that the state operates as the intermediary.
Under fascism, society as we know it is left intact, though everything is lorded over by a mighty state apparatus. Whereas traditional socialist teaching fostered a globalist perspective, fascism was explicitly nationalist. It embraced and exalted the idea of the nation-state.
As for the bourgeoisie, fascism doesn't seek their expropriation. Instead, the middle class gets what it wants in the form of social insurance, medical benefits, and heavy doses of national pride.
It is for all these reasons that fascism takes on a right-wing cast. It doesn't attack fundamental bourgeois values. It draws on them to garner support for a democratically backed all-around national regimentation of economic control, censorship, cartelization, political intolerance, geographic expansion, executive control, the police state, and militarism.
For my part, I have no problem referring to the fascist program as a right-wing theory, even if it does fulfill aspects of the left-wing dream. The crucial matter here concerns its appeal to the public and to the demographic groups that are normally drawn to right-wing politics.
If you think about it, right-wing statism is of a different color, cast, and tone from left-wing statism. Each is designed to appeal to a different set of voters with different interests and values.
These divisions, however, are not strict, and we've already seen how a left-wing socialist program can adapt itself and become a right-wing fascist program with very little substantive change other than its marketing.

The Eight Marks of Fascist Policy

John T. Flynn, like other members of the Old Right, was disgusted by the irony that what he saw, almost everyone else chose to ignore. In the fight against authoritarian regimes abroad, he noted, the United States had adopted those forms of government at home, complete with price controls, rationing, censorship, executive dictatorship, and even concentration camps for whole groups considered to be unreliable in their loyalties to the state.
After reviewing this long history, Flynn proceeds to sum up with a list of eight points he considers to be the main marks of the fascist state.
As I present them, I will also offer comments on the modern American central state.

Point 1. The government is totalitarian because it acknowledges no restraint on its powers.

This is a very telling mark. It suggests that the US political system can be described as totalitarian. This is a shocking remark that most people would reject. But they can reject this characterization only so long as they happen not to be directly ensnared in the state's web. If they become so, they will quickly discover that there are indeed no limits to what the state can do. This can happen boarding a flight, driving around in your hometown, or having your business run afoul of some government agency. In the end, you must obey or be caged like an animal or killed. In this way, no matter how much you may believe that you are free, all of us today are but one step away from Guantanamo.
"This nation, conceived in liberty, has been kidnapped by the fascist state."
As recently as the 1990s, I can recall that there were moments when Clinton seemed to suggest that there were some things that his administration could not do. Today I'm not so sure that I can recall any government official pleading the constraints of law or the constraints of reality to what can and cannot be done. No aspect of life is untouched by government intervention, and often it takes forms we do not readily see. All of healthcare is regulated, but so is every bit of our food, transportation, clothing, household products, and even private relationships.
Mussolini himself put his principle this way: "All within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State." He also said: "The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative."
I submit to you that this is the prevailing ideology in the United States today. This nation, conceived in liberty, has been kidnapped by the fascist state.

Point 2. Government is a de facto dictatorship based on the leadership principle.

I wouldn't say that we truly have a dictatorship of one man in this country, but we do have a form of dictatorship of one sector of government over the entire country. The executive branch has spread so dramatically over the last century that it has become a joke to speak of checks and balances. What the kids learn in civics class has nothing to do with reality.
The executive state is the state as we know it, all flowing from the White House down. The role of the courts is to enforce the will of the executive. The role of the legislature is to ratify the policy of the executive.
Further, this executive is not really about the person who seems to be in charge. The president is only the veneer, and the elections are only the tribal rituals we undergo to confer some legitimacy on the institution. In reality, the nation-state lives and thrives outside any "democratic mandate." Here we find the power to regulate all aspects of life and the wicked power to create the money necessary to fund this executive rule.
As for the leadership principle, there is no greater lie in American public life than the propaganda we hear every four years about how the new president/messiah is going to usher in the great dispensation of peace, equality, liberty, and global human happiness. The idea here is that the whole of society is really shaped and controlled by a single will — a point that requires a leap of faith so vast that you have to disregard everything you know about reality to believe it.
And yet people do. The hope for a messiah reached a fevered pitch with Obama's election. The civic religion was in full-scale worship mode — of the greatest human who ever lived or ever shall live. It was a despicable display.
Another lie that the American people believe is that presidential elections bring about regime change. This is sheer nonsense. The Obama state is the Bush state; the Bush state was the Clinton state; the Clinton state was the Bush state; the Bush state was the Reagan state. We can trace this back and back in time and see overlapping appointments, bureaucrats, technicians, diplomats, Fed officials, financial elites, and so on. Rotation in office occurs not because of elections but because of mortality.

Point 3. Government administers a capitalist system with an immense bureaucracy.

The reality of bureaucratic administration has been with us at least since the New Deal, which was modeled on the planning bureaucracy that lived in World War I. The planned economy — whether in Mussolini's time or ours — requires bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is the heart, lungs, and veins of the planning state. And yet to regulate an economy as thoroughly as this one is today is to kill prosperity with a billion tiny cuts.
"Have you ever noticed that the military budget is never seriously discussed in policy debates?"
This doesn't necessarily mean economic contraction, at least not right away. But it definitely means killing off growth that would have otherwise occurred in a free market.
So where is our growth? Where is the peace dividend that was supposed to come after the end of the Cold War? Where are the fruits of the amazing gains in efficiency that technology has afforded? It has been eaten by the bureaucracy that manages our every move on this earth. The voracious and insatiable monster here is called the Federal Code that calls on thousands of agencies to exercise the police power to prevent us from living free lives.
It is as Bastiat said: the real cost of the state is the prosperity we do not see, the jobs that don't exist, the technologies to which we do not have access, the businesses that do not come into existence, and the bright future that is stolen from us. The state has looted us just as surely as a robber who enters our home at night and steals all that we love.

Point 4. Producers are organized into cartels in the way of syndicalism.

Syndicalist is not usually how we think of our current economic structure. But remember that syndicalism means economic control by the producers. Capitalism is different. It places by virtue of market structures all control in the hands of the consumers. The only question for syndicalists, then, is which producers are going to enjoy political privilege. It might be the workers, but it can also be the largest corporations.
In the case of the United States, in the last three years, we've seen giant banks, pharmaceutical firms, insurers, car companies, Wall Street banks and brokerage houses, and quasi-private mortgage companies enjoying vast privileges at our expense. They have all joined with the state in living a parasitical existence at our expense.
This is also an expression of the syndicalist idea, and it has cost the US economy untold trillions and sustained an economic depression by preventing the postboom adjustment that markets would otherwise dictate. The government has tightened its syndicalist grip in the name of stimulus.

Point 5. Economic planning is based on the principle of autarky.

Autarky is the name given to the idea of economic self-sufficiency. Mostly this refers to the economic self-determination of the nation-state. The nation-state must be geographically huge in order to support rapid economic growth for a large and growing population.
This was and is the basis for fascist expansionism. Without expansion, the state dies. This is also the idea behind the strange combination of protectionist pressure today combined with militarism. It is driven in part by the need to control resources.
"I can think of no greater priority today than a serious and effective antifascist alliance."
Look at the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. We would be supremely naive to believe that these wars were not motivated in part by the producer interests of the oil industry. It is true of the American empire generally, which supports dollar hegemony.
It is the reason for the planned North American Union.
The goal is national self-sufficiency rather than a world of peaceful trade. Consider, too, the protectionist impulses of the Republican ticket. There is not one single Republican, apart from Ron Paul, who authentically supports free trade in the classical definition.
From ancient Rome to modern-day America, imperialism is a form of statism that the bourgeoisie love. It is for this reason that Bush's post-9/11 push for the global empire has been sold as patriotism and love of country rather than for what it is: a looting of liberty and property to benefit the political elites.

6. Government sustains economic life through spending and borrowing.

This point requires no elaboration because it is no longer hidden. There was stimulus 1 and stimulus 2, both of which are so discredited that stimulus 3 will have to adopt a new name. Let's call it the American Jobs Act.
With a prime-time speech, Obama argued in favor of this program with some of the most asinine economic analysis I've ever heard. He mused about how is it that people are unemployed at a time when schools, bridges, and infrastructure need repairing. He ordered that supply and demand come together to match up needed work with jobs.
Hello? The schools, bridges, and infrastructure that Obama refers to are all built and maintained by the state. That's why they are falling apart. And the reason that people don't have jobs is because the state has made it too expensive to hire them. It's not complicated. To sit around and dream of other scenarios is no different from wishing that water flowed uphill or that rocks would float in the air. It amounts to a denial of reality.
Still, Obama went on, invoking the old fascistic longing for national greatness. "Building a world-class transportation system," he said, "is part of what made us an economic superpower." Then he asked, "We're going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads?"
Well, the answer to that question is yes. And you know what? It doesn't hurt a single American for a person in China to travel on a faster railroad than we do. To claim otherwise is an incitement to nationalist hysteria.
As for the rest of this program, Obama promised yet another long list of spending projects. Let's just mention the reality: No government in the history of the world has spent as much, borrowed as much, and created as much fake money as the United States. If the United States doesn't qualify as a fascist state in this sense, no government ever has.
None of this would be possible but for the role of the Federal Reserve, the great lender to the world. This institution is absolutely critical to US fiscal policy. There is no way that the national debt could increase at a rate of $4 billion per day without this institution.
Under a gold standard, all of this maniacal spending would come to an end. And if US debt were priced on the market with a default premium, we would be looking at a rating far less than A+.

Point 7. Militarism is a mainstay of government spending.

Have you ever noticed that the military budget is never seriously discussed in policy debates? The United States spends more than most of the rest of the world combined.
And yet to hear our leaders talk, the United States is just a tiny commercial republic that wants peace but is constantly under threat from the world. They would have us believe that we all stand naked and vulnerable. The whole thing is a ghastly lie. The United States is a global military empire and the main threat to peace around the world today.
To visualize US military spending as compared with other countries is truly shocking. One bar chart you can easily look up shows the US trillion-dollar-plus military budget as a skyscraper surrounded by tiny huts. As for the next highest spender, China spends 1/10th as much as the United States.
Where is the debate about this policy? Where is the discussion? It is not going on. It is just assumed by both parties that it is essential for the US way of life that the United States be the most deadly country on the planet, threatening everyone with nuclear extinction unless they obey. This should be considered a fiscal and moral outrage by every civilized person.
This isn't only about the armed services, the military contractors, the CIA death squads. It is also about how police at all levels have taken on military-like postures. This goes for the local police, state police, and even the crossing guards in our communities. The commissar mentality, the trigger-happy thuggishness, has become the norm throughout the whole of society.
If you want to witness outrages, it is not hard. Try coming into this country from Canada or Mexico. See the bullet-proof-vest-wearing, heavily armed, jackbooted thugs running dogs up and down car lanes, searching people randomly, harassing innocents, asking rude and intrusive questions.
You get the strong impression that you are entering a police state. That impression would be correct.
Yet for the man on the street, the answer to all social problems seems to be more jails, longer terms, more enforcement, more arbitrary power, more crackdowns, more capital punishments, more authority. Where does all of this end? And will the end come before we realize what has happened to our once-free country?

Point 8. Military spending has imperialist aims.

Ronald Reagan used to claim that his military buildup was essential to keeping the peace. The history of US foreign policy just since the 1980s has shown that this is wrong. We've had one war after another, wars waged by the United States against noncompliant countries, and the creation of even more client states and colonies.
US military strength has led not to peace but the opposite. It has caused most people in the world to regard the United States as a threat, and it has led to unconscionable wars on many countries. Wars of aggression were defined at Nuremberg as crimes against humanity.
Obama was supposed to end this. He never promised to do so, but his supporters all believed that he would. Instead, he has done the opposite. He has increased troop levels, entrenched wars, and started new ones. In reality, he has presided over a warfare state just as vicious as any in history. The difference this time is that the Left is no longer criticizing the US role in the world. In that sense, Obama is the best thing ever to happen to the warmongers and the military-industrial complex.
As for the Right in this country, it once opposed this kind of military fascism. But all that changed after the beginning of the Cold War. The Right was led into a terrible ideological shift, well documented in Murray Rothbard's neglected masterpiece The Betrayal of the American Right. In the name of stopping communism, the right came to follow ex–CIA agent Bill Buckley's endorsement of a totalitarian bureaucracy at home to fight wars all over the world.
At the end of the Cold War, there was a brief reprise when the Right in this country remembered its roots in noninterventionism. But this did not last long. George Bush the First rekindled the militarist spirit with the first war on Iraq, and there has been no fundamental questioning of the American empire ever since. Even today, Republicans elicit their biggest applause by whipping up audiences about foreign threats, while never mentioning that the real threat to American well-being exists in the Beltway.

The Future

I can think of no greater priority today than a serious and effective antifascist alliance. In many ways, one is already forming. It is not a formal alliance. It is made up of those who protest the Fed, those who refuse to go along with mainstream fascist politics, those who seek decentralization, those who demand lower taxes and free trade, those who seek the right to associate with anyone they want and buy and sell on terms of their own choosing, those who insist they can educate their children on their own, the investors and savers who make economic growth possible, those who do not want to be felt up at airports, and those who have become expatriates.
It is also made of the millions of independent entrepreneurs who are discovering that the number one threat to their ability to serve others through the commercial marketplace is the institution that claims to be our biggest benefactor: the government.
How many people fall into this category? It is more than we know. The movement is intellectual. It is political. It is cultural. It is technological. They come from all classes, races, countries, and professions. This is no longer a national movement. It is truly global.
We can no longer predict whether members consider themselves to be left wing, right wing, independent, libertarian, anarchist, or something else. It includes those as diverse as homeschooling parents in the suburbs as well as parents in urban areas whose children are among the 2.3 million people who languish in jail for no good reason in a country with the largest prison population in the world.
And what does this movement want? Nothing more or less than sweet liberty. It does not ask that the liberty be granted or given. It only asks for the liberty that is promised by life itself and would otherwise exist were it not for the Leviathan state that robs us, badgers us, jails us, kills us.
This movement is not departing. We are daily surrounded by evidence that it is right and true. Every day, it is more and more obvious that the state contributes absolutely nothing to our well-being; it massively subtracts from it.
Back in the 1930s, and even up through the 1980s, the partisans of the state were overflowing with ideas. They had theories and agendas that had many intellectual backers. They were thrilled and excited about the world they would create. They would end business cycles, bring about social advance, build the middle class, cure disease, bring about universal security, and much more. Fascism believed in itself.
This is no longer true. Fascism has no new ideas, no big projects — and not even its partisans really believe it can accomplish what it sets out to do. The world created by the private sector is so much more useful and beautiful than anything the state has done that the fascists have themselves become demoralized and aware that their agenda has no real intellectual foundation.
It is ever more widely known that statism does not and cannot work. Statism is the great lie. Statism gives us the exact opposite of its promise. It promised security, prosperity, and peace; it has given us fear, poverty, war, and death. If we want a future, it is one that we have to build ourselves. The fascist state will not give it to us. On the contrary, it stands in the way.
It also seems to me that the old-time romance of the classical liberals with the idea of the limited state is gone. It is far more likely today that young people embrace an idea that 50 years ago was thought to be unthinkable: the idea that society is best off without any state at all.
"In the end, this is the choice we face: the total state or total freedom."
I would mark the rise of anarcho-capitalist theory as the most dramatic intellectual shift in my adult lifetime. Gone is that view of the state as the night watchman that would only guard essential rights, adjudicate disputes, and protect liberty.
This view is woefully naive. The night watchman is the guy with the guns, the legal right to use aggression, the guy who controls all comings and goings, the guy who is perched on top and sees all things. Who is watching him? Who is limiting his power? No one, and this is precisely why he is the very source of society's greatest ills. No constitution, no election, no social contract will check his power.
Indeed, the night watchman has acquired total power. It is he who would be the total state, which Flynn describes as a government that "possesses the power to enact any law or take any measure that seems proper to it." So long as a government, he says, "is clothed with the power to do anything without any limitation on its powers, it is totalitarian. It has total power."
It is no longer a point that we can ignore. The night watchman must be removed and his powers distributed within and among the whole population, and they should be governed by the same forces that bring us all the blessings the material world affords us.
In the end, this is the choice we face: the total state or total freedom. Which will we choose? If we choose the state, we will continue to sink further and further and eventually lose all that we treasure as a civilization. If we choose freedom, we can harness that remarkable power of human cooperation that will enable us to continue to make a better world.
In the fight against fascism, there is no reason to be despairing. We must continue to fight with every bit of confidence that the future belongs to us and not them.
Their world is falling apart. Ours is just being built.
Their world is based on bankrupt ideologies. Ours is rooted in the truth about freedom and reality.
Their world can only look back to the glory days. Ours looks forward to the future we are building for ourselves.
Their world is rooted in the corpse of the nation-state. Our world draws on the energies and creativity of all peoples in the world, united in the great and noble project of creating a prospering civilization through peaceful human cooperation.
It's true that they have the biggest guns. But big guns have not assured permanent victory in Iraq or Afghanistan — or any other place on the planet.
We possess the only weapon that is truly immortal: the right idea. It is this that will lead to victory.
As Mises said,
In the long run even the most despotic governments with all their brutality and cruelty are no match for ideas. Eventually the ideology that has won the support of the majority will prevail and cut the ground from under the tyrant's feet. Then the oppressed many will rise in rebellion and overthrow their masters.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government," ... "It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. ... Common interest (has) a greater influence than the laws of government."

Thomas Paine, the soul of the American Revolution