Archive for Guest Posts

Nevada Standoff a Symptom of Increasing Authoritarianism

us_public (2)By Ron Paul

The nation’s attention has for the past few weeks been riveted by a standoff in Nevada between armed federal agents and the Bundys, a ranching family who believe the federal government is exceeding its authority by assessing “fees” against ranchers who graze cattle on government lands. Outrage over the government’s use of armed agents to forcibly remove the Bundys’ cattle led many Americans to travel to Nevada to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience in support of the family.

The protests seem to have worked, at least for now, as the government appears to have backed off from direct confrontation. Sadly, some elected officials have inflamed the situation by labeling the Bundys and their supporters “domestic terrorists,” thus justifying any future use of force by the government. That means there is always the possibility of another deadly Waco-style raid on the Bundys or a similar group in the future.

In a state like Nevada, where 84 percent of the land is owned by the federal government, these types of conflicts are inevitable. Government ownership of land means that land is in theory owned by everyone, but in practice owned by no one. Thus, those who use the land lack the incentives to preserve it for the long term. As a result, land-use rules are set by politicians and bureaucrats. Oftentimes, the so-called “public” land is used in ways that benefit politically-powerful special interests.

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‘Everything we are told about deflation is a lie’

By Tim Price

[The Cobden Centre]

“The European Central Bank has given its strongest signal yet that it is prepared to embrace quantitative easing to prevent the euro zone from sliding into deflation or even a prolonged period of low inflation.”

- ‘Draghi strengthens QE signal’, Financial Times, April 4, 2014.

Yes, heaven protect Europe’s embattled citizens and savers from a prolonged period of low inflation. How could they possibly survive it ?

If history is any guide, probably quite well. As Chris Casey points out in his essay “Deflating the Deflation Myth,” the American economy during the 19th Century twice experienced deflationary periods of roughly 50 percent:

Source: McCusker, John J. “How Much Is That in Real Money?: A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States.” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Volume 101, Part 2, October 1991, pp. 297-373.

This during a period of “sustained and significant economic growth”. But just think of all those poor consumers, having to make the best of constantly falling everyday low prices.

In their research article ‘Deflation and Depression: Is There an Empirical Link?’ of January 2004, Federal Reserve economists Andrew Atkeson and Patrick Kehoe found that “..the only episode in which we find evidence of a link between deflation and depression is the Great Depression (1929-1934). We find virtually no evidence of such a link in any other period.. What is striking is that nearly 90% of the episodes with deflation did not have depression. In a broad historical context, beyond the Great Depression, the notion that deflation and depression are linked virtually disappears.”

In his 2008 essay ‘Deflation and Liberty’, Jörg Guido Hülsmann writes as follows:

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Another Phony Budget Debate

spendingBy Ron Paul

Anyone watching last week’s debate over the Republican budget resolution would have experienced déjà vu, as the debate bore a depressing similarity to those of previous years. Once again, the Republicans claimed their budget would cut spending in a responsible manner, while Democratic opponents claimed the plan’s spending cuts would shred the safety net and leave vital programs unfunded. Of course, neither claim is true.

The budget does not cut spending at all, and in fact actually increases spending by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The Republicans are using the old DC trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending. Only in DC could a budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent per year instead of by 5.2 percent per year be attacked as a “slash-and-burn” plan.

The budget also relies on “dynamic scoring.” This trick is where the budget numbers account for increased government revenue generated by economic growth the budget will supposedly unleash. The claims are dubious at best. Of course, reducing government spending will lead to economic growth. But real growth requires real cuts, not this budget’s phony cuts.

As important as reducing spending and balancing the budget is, focusing solely on budget numbers ignores the root of the problem. The real problem is that too many in Washington — and the nation as a whole — refuse to consider any serious reductions in the welfare-warfare state.

I have always maintained that the logical place to start reducing spending is the trillions wasted on our interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, there are still too many in Congress who claim to be fiscal hawks when it comes to welfare spending, but turn into Keynesian “doves” when it comes to spending on the military-industrial complex.

These members cling to the mistaken belief that the government can balance it budget, keep taxes low, and even have a growing economy, while spending trillions of dollars policing the world, and propping up some governments and changing others overtly or covertly. Thus, President Obama is attacked as soft on defense because he only wants to spend $5.9 trillion over ten years on the military. In contrast, the Republican budget spends $6.2 trillion over the next decade. That is almost a trillion more than the budget’s total so-called spending cuts.

If there are too many fiscal conservatives who refuse to abandon the warfare state, there are too many liberals who act as if any reduction in welfare or entitlement spending leaves children starving. I agree it is unrealistic to simply end programs that people are currently dependent on. However, isn’t it inhumane to not take steps to unwind the welfare system before government overspending causes a bigger financial crisis and drags millions more into poverty?

Far from abandoning those in need of help, returning the responsibility for caring for the needy to private charities, churches, and local communities will improve the welfare system. At the very least,  young people should have the freedom to choose to pay a lower tax rate in exchange for promising to never participate in a government welfare or entitlement program.

Last week’s budget debate showed how little difference there lies between the parties when it comes to preserving the warfare-welfare state. One side may prefer more warfare while the other prefers more welfare, but neither side actually wants to significantly reduce the size and scope of government. Until Congress stops trying to run the world, run the economy, and run our lives, there will never be a real debate about cutting spending and limiting government.

[The Ron Paul Institute]

What the State Fears

FnstBy Murray Rothbard

From Anatomy of the State:

What the State fears above all, of course, is any fundamental threat to its own power and its own existence. The death of a State can come about in two major ways: (a) through conquest by another State, or (b) through revolutionary overthrow by its own subjects?in short, by war or revolution. War and revolution, as the two basic threats, invariably arouse in the State rulers their maximum efforts and maximum propaganda among the people. As stated above, any way must always be used to mobilize the people to come to the State’s defense in the belief that they are defending themselves. The fallacy of the idea becomes evident when conscription is wielded against those who refuse to “defend” themselves and are, therefore, forced into joining the State’s military band: needless to add, no “defense” is permitted them against this act of “their own” State.

In war, State power is pushed to its ultimate, and, under the slogans of “defense” and “emergency,” it can impose a tyranny upon the public such as might be openly resisted in time of peace. War thus provides many benefits to a State, and indeed every modern war has brought to the warring peoples a permanent legacy of increased State burdens upon society. War, moreover, provides to a State tempting opportunities for conquest of land areas over which it may exercise its monopoly of force. Randolph Bourne was certainly correct when he wrote that “war is the health of the State,” but to any particular State a war may spell either health or grave injury.

We may test the hypothesis that the State is largely interested in protecting itself rather than its subjects by asking: which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely? Those against private citizens or those against itself? The gravest crimes in the State’s lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax. Or compare the degree of zeal devoted to pursuing the man who assaults a policeman, with the attention that the State pays to the assault of an ordinary citizen. Yet, curiously, the State’s openly assigned priority to its own defense against the public strikes few people as inconsistent with its presumed raison d’etre.

Republicans and Refundable Tax Credits

600px-Republicanlogo.svgBy Laurence Vance

The so-called Bush tax cuts were, unfortunately, set by Republicans to expire at the end of 2010. Although they were extended, with modifications, and then extended again, with more modifications, this Republican blunder has led—like so many of their other actions—to an increase in the welfare state.

The Bush tax cuts, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA), added a 10 percent tax bracket, set the tax rates of the others at 15, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent, increased the child credit to $1,000, lowered the long-term capital gains and qualified dividend tax rates to 15 percent, increased the Section 179 expense deduction to $250,000, gradually eliminated the “PEP and Pease” personal exemption and itemized deduction reductions, and gradually eliminated the estate tax.

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (TRUIRJCA) extended most of these provisions. Although the estate tax was revived, the Section 179 expense deduction was extended and increased.

But after this expired at the end of 2012, Congress passed, with the help of Republicans, the American Tax Relief Act of 2012. The six tax brackets were made permanent, but for those making over $400,000 a year ($450,000 for married couples), the top marginal tax rate increased to 39.6 percent. Additionally, the estate tax rate increased, the tax rates on long-term capital gains and dividends were raised on higher-income taxpayers, and the personal exemption and itemized deduction reductions were reinstated. But the worst thing about the American Tax Relief Act is its expansion of refundable tax credits.

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Ron Paul: Aid to Ukraine Is a Bad Deal For All

3134323442_52a9009ce7_oBy Ron Paul

 

Last week Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill approving a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia. The bill will likely receive the president’s signature within days. If you think this is the last time US citizens will have their money sent to Ukraine, you should think again. This is only the beginning.

This $1 billion for Ukraine is a rip-off for the America taxpayer, but it is also a bad deal for Ukrainians. Not a single needy Ukrainian will see a penny of this money, as it will be used to bail out international banks who hold Ukrainian government debt. According to the terms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-designed plan for Ukraine, life is about to get much more difficult for average Ukrainians. The government will freeze some wage increases, significantly raise taxes, and increase energy prices by a considerable margin.

But the bankers will get paid and the IMF will get control over the Ukrainian economy.

The bill also authorizes more US taxpayer money for government-funded “democracy promotion” NGOs, and more money to broadcast US government propaganda into Ukraine via Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. It also includes some saber-rattling, directing the US Secretary of State to “provide enhanced security cooperation with Central and Eastern European NATO member states.”

The US has been “promoting democracy” in Ukraine for more than ten years now, but it doesn’t seem to have done much good. Recently a democratically-elected government was overthrown by violent protestors. That is the opposite of democracy, where governments are changed by free and fair elections. What is shocking is that the US government and its NGOs were on the side of the protestors! If we really cared about democracy we would not have taken either side, as it is none of our business.

Washington does not want to talk about its own actions that led to the coup, instead focusing on attacking the Russian reaction to US-instigated unrest next door to them. So the new bill passed by Congress will expand sanctions against Russia for its role in backing a referendum in Crimea, where most of the population voted to join Russia. The US, which has participated in the forced change of borders in Serbia and elsewhere, suddenly declares that international borders cannot be challenged in Ukraine.

Those of us who are less than gung-ho about sanctions, manipulating elections, and sending our troops overseas are criticized as somehow being unpatriotic. It happened before when so many of us were opposed to the Iraq war, the US attack on Libya, and elsewhere. And it is happening again to those of us not eager to get in another cold — or hot — war with Russia over a small peninsula that means absolutely nothing to the US or its security.

I would argue that real patriotism is defending this country and making sure that our freedoms are not undermined here. Unfortunately, while so many are focused on freedoms in Crimea and Ukraine, the US Congress is set to pass an NSA “reform” bill that will force private companies to retain our personal data and make it even easier for the NSA to spy on the rest of us. We need to refocus our priorities toward promoting liberty in the United States!

[The Ron Paul Institute]

Pragmatism and Intellectual Property

5025541044_09ab3769ba_zBy Nathan Nicolaisen

Libertarians often argue over the pragmatism of intellectual property at the expense of the ethical aspect of restricting knowledge by force. The question posed in Butler Shaffer’s A Libertarian Critique of Intellectual Property is, “…by what reasoning can the state create and enforce such interests upon persons who have not agreed to be so bound?”[i]  This is the core of all voluntary interactions, and the question of whether or not intellectual property is profitable is not critical for the libertarian. Of course there will be winners and losers by granting IP rights to some at the expense of others, but Shaffer’s point is that it is wrong to enforce contracts upon those who have not voluntarily accepted the terms.  This crucial tenet of libertarian ethics is essential in understanding why so many libertarians are opposed to intellectual property.  Few people, and even fewer libertarians, if any, contend that inventors should not be rewarded for their efforts. Rather, the chief objection to intellectual property is that inventors may not use the force of government to prevent others from peacefully employing that knowledge.

Even if we ignore the ethical and moral objections, however,  numerous problems arise in the application of intellectual property laws. For example, how do we properly credit long-dead inventors for providing us with their discoveries?  Do we track down their offspring and pay royalties?  If it’s impractical to grant perpetual IP rights, then exactly how long should they last? Patent term length in the United States is twenty years while copyrights last seventy years after the last surviving author’s death.[ii]  What makes it right to grant patents for twenty years, but not nineteen?  What happens at seventy years that makes copyrights invalid at seventy years and one day?  The question seems trivial, but is nevertheless revealing.  If IP rights are truly rights, they must be inviolable and universal, unconstrained by time and place and not established by the arbitrary laws by the state.

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Triumph of The Permanent Warfare State

502px-Nagasakibombby David Stockman

From David Stockman’s Contra Corner. Remarks to the Committee For The Republic, Washington DC, February 2014 (Part 6 in a 6-Part Series) Go to Part 1.

After America’s earlier wars there occurred a swift and near total demobilization: the Union Army of 2 million had been reduced to 24,000 within months of Appomattox, and the 3 million called to arms by Woodrow Wilson was down to 50,000 within a few years of the armistice.

By contrast, the American Warfare State became permanent and self-fueling after World War II. So doing, it both catalyzed new extensions of Keynesian statism and monetary central planning and simultaneously flourished from their rise.

How Truman Lost the Battle To Contain the Warfare State

President Eisenhower famously warned about the dangers of the military-industrial complex in his 1961 farewell, but it was Harry Truman who first felt the sting of its political power. Truman was an old-fashioned budget balancer and made remarkable strides in the immediate post-war years toward traditional demobilization— cutting military spending from $70 billion to $15 billion by 1948 and balancing the Federal budget two years in a row.

Unfortunately, his government was still crawling with warriors—like Admiral Leahey and General Curtis LeMay and civilian hardliners like Secretaries Forrestal and Acheson—-who had thrived during WWII and were looking for new enemies to vanquish. Moreover, the unschooled haberdasher and machine politician from Missouri had made it far easier for them with his deplorable decision to drop atom bombs on an already beaten Japan.

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A Lifetime of War—Explained

760px-ACAV_and_M48_Convoy_Vietnam_Warby Kirkpatrick Sale

[LewRockwell.com, March 25, 2014]

A few days ago, my partner, turning from something about Afghanistan on the television news, said to me, “It seems there’s been a war going on as long as we’ve been alive.”

And we’re well into our 70s.

But think about it: she’s almost right.  This country has been at war, or at least has deployed troops, every year since 1940, when we were tots, except for occasional sporadic periods of quasi-peace amounting in all to about 18 years. Not our whole lives, but three-quarters of it.

Let’s do a little of the history.  In 1940 we deployed troops throughout the West Indies, to protect those countries and free British troops, and the next year we took over Greenland and Iceland militarily. The next five years saw world war, and after the war we had troops in Germany, Austria, Japan, and South Korea, sent troops into Greece in 1947, and used the Air Force for the Berlin airlift in 1948-49.  Then came the Korean War, Indochina, and Vietnam until 1975.  From 1960 on we sent troops to the Congo, Colombia (where they’re still at war), the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, and we invaded Grenada in 1983.

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US ‘Democracy Promotion’ Destroys Democracy Overseas

11879731476_415694913b_bby Ron Paul

It was almost ten years ago when, before the House International Relations Committee, I objected to the US Government funding NGOs to meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine. At the time the “Orange Revolution” had forced a regime change in Ukraine with the help of millions of dollars from Washington.

At that time I told the Committee:

We do not know exactly how many millions—or tens of millions—of dollars the United States government spent on the presidential election in Ukraine. We do know that much of that money was targeted to assist one particular candidate, and that through a series of cut-out non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—both American and Ukrainian—millions of dollars ended up in support of the presidential candidate…

I was worried about millions of dollars that the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its various related organizations spent to meddle in Ukraine’s internal affairs. But it turns out that was only the tip of the iceberg.

Last December, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland gave a speechin which she admitted that since 1991 the US government has:

[I]nvested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine…in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government.

This is the same State Department official who was caught on tape just recently planning in detail the overthrow of the Ukrainian government.

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