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Congressional Budget Update From Laurence Vance

800px-US_Capitol_west_sideBy Laurence M. Vance

According to the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the president must annually submit a proposed budget to Congress for the next fiscal year by the first Monday in February. Although he was late, as usual, President Obama did submit his budget proposal on March 4. But because Republicans control the House of Representatives, and politics controls everything, the president’s budget was, of course, dead on arrival. Although there is no reason why Republicans should object to Obama’s budget, they have now introduced their own.

Like last year, the rotten Ryan Republican budget is called “The Path to Prosperity.” And like last year, it is path toward, and a blueprint for, the welfare/warfare state.
In fact, everything I said last year about the previous rotten Ryan Republican budget can be applied to this year’s version of the rotten Ryan Republican budget. The six problems I pointed out were

  • One, it is too big.
  • Two, it is not balanced.
  • Three, it increases spending every year.
  • Four, it increases the national debt every year.
  • Five, it is filled with unconstitutional spending.
  • And six, almost everything House Republicans say about their budget is a lie.
The only things that have changed are the spending and debt figures—they are all higher.
The rotten Ryan Republican budget proposes that the federal government spend $3.664 trillion during the next fiscal year (2015), which begins on October 1, 2014, increasing to $4.995 trillion in fiscal year 2024. The rottenRyan Republican budget allows for a federal debt of $18.304 trillion in fiscal year 2015, increasing to $21.089 trillion in fiscal year 2024. Interest payments on this debt are projected to be $267 billion in fiscal year 2015, increasing to $659 billion in 2024. Defense spending, most of which is offense, interventionist, or empire spending, is to be $521 billion in fiscal year 2015, increasing to $696 billion in fiscal year 2024. The rotten Ryan Republican budget doesn’t achieve balance until 2024.
But in addition to being a blueprint for the warfare state, the rotten Ryan Republican budget is a blueprint for the welfare state. But don’t take my word for it. In “Setting the Record Straight” about the budget, we read:
On the current path, the federal government will spend roughly $48 trillion over the next ten years. By contrast, this budget will spend nearly $43 trillion.
On the current path, from fiscal year 2015 to 2024, spending will grow, on average, by 5.2 percent a year. Under our budget, spending grow, on average, by 3.5 percent a year.
The House Republican budget strengthens the safety net. Under this plan, spending continues to grow, but states have more flexibility to tailor government programs to their people’s needs.
House Republicans have a long-term solution to protect and strengthen Medicare

Under our budget, we still spend $600 billion on food stamps over the next decade. We will spend more than $3 trillion on Medicaid.
House Republicans plan to repair the safety net. Spending on these programs would continue to grow, but states would have greater flexibility to tailor them to their people’s needs.
It proposes better ways to provided housing, nutrition, and job-training assistance to families in need.
The budget increases spending on Medicaid over the next ten years, from $357 billion in fiscal year 2015 to $403 billion in fiscal year 2024.
This budget allocates an additional $410 million to veterans programs.
The proposed reforms ensure that we maintain the current maximum Pell award ($5,730) throughout each of the next ten years.
There is nothing in this budget that cuts Social Security.
Every argument Republicans make for the rotten Ryan Republican budget can be reduced to simply this: It is not as bad as Obama’s budget.
Twelve heroic Republicans voted against this rotten Ryan Republican budget (H.CON.RES.96): Paul Broun (GA), Rick Crawford (AR), Chris Gibson (NY), Phil Gingrey (GA), Ralph Hall (TX), David Jolly (FL), Walter Jones (NC), Jack Kingston (GA), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Tom Massie (KY), David McKinley (WV), and Austin Scott (GA).
I was disappointed to see that conservatives such as Michele Bachmann (MN), John Duncan (TN), Ted Yoho (FL), Randy Forbes (VR), Joe Heck (NV), and David Schweikert (AZ) voted for the rotten Ryan Republican budget.
Especially since Forbes and Heck voted against it last year. And what in the world is the “libertarian” Justin Amash doing voting in favor of this rotten Ryan Republican budget?
So, what is the lesson here?Republicans are welfare/warfare statists. They want to confiscate trillions of dollars from the American people and redistribute it in the form of government contracts or welfare. Then they want to increase every year what they take and what they spend. They want to further run up the national debt. They want to spend money on thousands of departments, agencies, grants, and programs that are not warranted by the Constitution. And they want to do all of this while proclaiming their fiscal conservatism, reverence for the Constitution, desire to cut spending, commitment to the free market, and belief in limited government. They are crooks and liars—just like the Democrats.

When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that Republicans are better than Democrats or not as bad as Democrats? When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that Republicans are the party that more closely follows the Constitution? When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that that they should vote Republican, and that a vote not for a Republican is a wasted vote? When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that Republicans can fix the economy? When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that Republicans have a path to prosperity? When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that Republicans would ever balance the budget? When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that Republicans actually believe in medical freedom just because they say they want to repeal Obamacare? When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that Republicans want to cut government? When will conservative Americans stop believing the lie that the Republicans Party is God’s Own Party.The Republican Party is pure evil (just like the Democratic Party). It is truly the party of Lincoln. It cannot be reformed. It cannot be taken over. It cannot be turned around. It cannot be made libertarian. It cannot be restored. It cannot be returned to its roots. (Why would anyone want to return it to its roots anyway?) It should be abandoned like a ship on fire that is sinking. There are no real differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties when it comes to foreign policy, the size and scope of government, the Constitution, individual liberty, private property, or the free market.

The only limited government Republicans desire is a government limited to one controlled by Republicans.
Paul Ryan maintains in the introduction to his budget that “Washington owes the American people a responsible, balanced budget.” Agreed. But the rotten Ryan Republican budget is certainly not it.Laurence M. Vance writes from central Florida. He is the author of King James, His Bible, and Its TranslatorsThe Revolution that Wasn’tThe War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, and Social Insecurity. His latest books are War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism and War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. Visit his website.

This article originally appeared at LewRockwell.com.

Class Begins Thursday: How the Government Wrecks the Economy

Register here. 

Writes Robert Murphy:

The fall of the Soviet Union should have spelled the demise of central planning, yet the socialist mentality thrives — albeit in a diluted form — in all governments in the so-called “free world.” No one explained the failures of pure socialism and of (the more moderate) interventionism better than Ludwig von Mises. Whether we want to understand why people are starving in North Korea, why minimum wage laws lead to teen unemployment, or what caused the boom and then crash in the U.S. housing market, the answer is in the Austrian School of economics. As the Obamacare disaster unfolds before our very eyes, it is critical for the average person — both adults and young people alike — to understand how economic science makes sense of these heartbreaking outcomes, and shows the way to solve them.

In this context, I am pleased to announce that on April 24, we will begin a six-week Mises Academy course that offers an introduction to the Austrian understanding of both pure socialism and of interventionism (or what is often called “the mixed economy” though Mises himself didn’t use that term). This course, titled “How Government Wrecks the Economy,” is the final installment of a three-part series that uses my Lessons for the Young Economist as the main textbook. (The first installment, “Action and Exchange,” gave an introduction to economic science and studied isolated individuals as well as a simple barter economy. The second course in the series, “Introduction to the Free Market,” explained money, comparative advantage, savings and investment, profit and loss, the stock market, and other topics in the setting of a pure market economy free from government interference. Both are available as independent study courses at the links provided, but they are not necessary to take the present course.) Specifically, in “How Government Wrecks the Economy” we will cover chapters 15 through 23 of Lessons for the Young Economist, finishing our coverage of the book.

Murphy is interviewed on this topic here:

New eBook: ‘The Gold Standard: Perspectives in the Austrian School’

unnamedNow in ebook format or paperback: The Gold Standard: Perspectives in the Austrian School

The world’s financial system is in a precarious state, and everywhere the cry is heard for reform. But a reform to what? More government created fiat money under a new name? The contributors to this notable anthology think not and argue for one particular sort of reform, a return to the gold standard. They all agree that a genuine free market would gravitate toward a gold standard.

Murray Rothard states that any commodity used as money must have value in a non-monetary use. Roger Garrison dismantles the objection that a paper money is cheaper, and less wasteful, than a gold standard. Joe Salerno untangles the web of international finance . By far the most effective political advocate of the gold standard has been Ron Paul, and here he summarizes his proposals for monetary reform. Other contributors include Richard Ebeling on Mises and the gold standard, Hans Sennholz on Carl Menger’s monetary writings, and Lawrence White on free banking and money.

The Gold Standard presents cutting-edge scholarship on the best and most effective monetary system. If you want to understand the gold standard, you need to read this book.

Imagine if We Had Free Prices!

If you were asked how we should go about achieving real economic growth throughout the economy rather than just certain sectors of it, what would you suggest?  Would you revisit the Keynesian toolbox and call for a really, really big stimulus instead of just another really big one?  Would you impose more controls on business, especially the financial sector?  Some people want to revive Glass-Steagall, the gem from the Depression era that was abandoned in 1999 — sound good to you?.  How about officially merging the Fed and the Treasury — i.e., turn “monetary policy” over to the government?  Perhaps you’d break out Sheila Bair’s plan to allow each American household to “borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest”? Her proposal was tongue-in-cheek, you say? Ms. Bair, the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, proposed a plan that in its essentials would be received enthusiastically by those in the know —  provided it was confined to special interests. But if it’s good for some, why not everyone?

“Look out 1 percent, here we come,” Ms. Bair trumpeted.

Many readers are familiar with the anecdote about a 1681 meeting between French finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert and a group of businessmen that included one M. Le Gendre.  Colbert, a mercantilist, was eager for industry to prosper because it would boost tax revenue . . . sort of a fatten-the-goose approach to economics.  When he asked how their government could be of service to the business community, Le Gendre famously replied, “Laissez-nous faire” — “Let us be.”

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Tolstoy’s Remarkable Manifesto on Christian Anarchy and Pacifism

225px-L.N.Tolstoy_Prokudin-GorskyI’ve just finished reading Leo Tolstoy’s remarkable book The Kingdom of God Is Within You. This was written in Russian and completed in 1893, but the Russian censors forbade its publication. It circulated in unpublished form in Russia, however, and was soon translated into other languages and published abroad. It had substantial influence on the course of history, perhaps most of all because of its influence on Gandhi.

The book is odd in several respects. In a purely literary sense, it is by no means a masterpiece, as Tolstoy’s great novels, written earlier in his life, were. In places it reads more like a set of notes for a book than as a polished work. For example, it contains many very long block quotations and much unnecessary repetition. However, Tolstoy’s mastery as a writer still shines in the brilliance of some of his formulations, especially in the second half of the book.

Odd, too, is Tolstoy’s own curiously uneven command of different aspects of his subject. In regard to the nature and operation of the state and the sociology of human interrelations in the socio-political order, Tolstoy’s clear-eyed insights cut to the quick. He makes even an analyst such as James Buchanan, who complained about people’s “romantic” views of politics and the state, seem utterly romantic. In contrast, Tolstoy’s understanding of economics was abysmal and leads him into foolish notions of the equivalence between state acts and capitalist acts. He seems also to have given no thought to what the consequences would be if his communistic preferences about the distribution of property were adopted in practice. Although he had excellent insights into the role of (what I call) ideology in the maintenance of the state-dominated social order, he entertained a view of how the dominant ideology was changing and would continue to change that seems to me completely lacking in contemporary evidence and utterly at variance with everything we now know about how ideology did change during the past century or so. He greatly overestimated the hold that Christian morality had on the souls of people in the West at the time he was writing, not to speak of later, even less Christian times.

Tolstoy is one of the most important Christian anarchists in history, yet his views on Christianity were anything but typical. For example, he regarded the various Christian churches as totally corrupt and as the propagators of false and spurious doctrines that only helped the dominant elites to retain their hold on political, social, and political power while oppressing the great mass of the people. Self-serving members of the upper crust were, in his eyes, willing to avert their eyes from the truth, especially the Truth of Christianity as expressed above all by the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon, indeed, seems to have amounted to not only the heart of Tolstoy’s Christianity, but to the bulk of it, as well. For him, Christianity was above all a commitment to love others as one’s self and to abstain from the use of force and violence, even in resistance to evil or in self-defense. Thus, as a Christian anarchist, he comes close to occupying a class of his own (though not quite all his own).

I plan to write at greater length about Tolstoy’s fascinating book for a future “Etceteras” feature in The Independent Review. Aside from its interest as a manifesto for Christian pacifism and anarchism, the book contains many anticipations of ideas later developed in economics and public choice, and it deserves much greater attention in these regards than it has previously received.

[Also posted at The Beacon.]

With Government Roads, the Customer Is Always Wrong

Car queue in the bad traffic roadBenjamin Wiegold writes in today’s Mises Daily:

By allowing for more than one provider, not only will each develop their own areas of specialization, but competition will help all providers figure out what works and what doesn’t in terms of the bottom line: maintaining happy customers.

The popular phrase “the customer is always right” applies quite well to the business world, but when it comes to the roadways, the customer, i.e., the average citizen, is typically wrong in the eyes of law enforcement and legislators. Whereas entrepreneurs in a market setting try to anticipate changes in consumer demand in advance and to solve potential problems before they become problems, bureaucrats simply resort to blaming those they are supposed to be helping, while they allow unsolved problems to compound upon one another.

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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Lew Rockwell Announces New Book on Anarcho-Capitalism

Today at LRC, Lew announced that a new book is in the works:

Never, ever, has there been so much interest in a truly libertarian society. Young people in this country and all over the world are flocking to the Rothbardian banner. No coincidence, at the same time. media attacks on us have never been so intense or so frequent. Politicians, who you might think would be content with their looting and killing, are vociferously denouncing anarcho-capitalists, because we worry them.

This is all great news, and why I want to tell you about my new book,  Against the State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto. In it, I seek not only to tell the truth, but to refute the lies. Best of all, I think Murray—to whom I’ve dedicated the book–would be saying, Attaboy!

In this work, I talk about why I am an anarcho-capitalist, and the evils of the State, from the war system to the war on drugs, from the assault on our civil liberties to the damage the bankers’ Fed does.

Why not “limited government”? The idea, I show, is as meaningless as the phrase. I also talk about how anarchy would work in a practical sense.

Is it ever morally justified to initiate violence or the threat of violence against the innocent? Of course, not, yet that is the State’s daily bread.

There are many great scholarly works on anarcho-capitalism, but I had something else in mind: a book of fewer than 200 pages that can serve as an introduction, and as a guide to further reading, in the freedom philosophy.

Read more. 

War and Time Preference: The American Army in Australia

Police crime sceneJohn McKerrow writes in today’s Mises Daily: 

Still, as important as the above explanations are, high time preference offers another reason for the conduct of American soldiers. The importance of time preference in understanding human action is nothing new to those who have some awareness of the Austrian School. Yet, among mainstream historians, whose knowledge of praxeology is limited, time preference is virtually unknown. The correlation between high time preference and crime, barbarism, and de-civilization is even more alien. This is not surprising given that there are very few studies that explore this correlation in any detail. Edward C. Banfield paved the way in his book The Unheavenly City Revisited, where he observed that:

The threat of punishment at the hands of the law is unlikely to deter the present-oriented person. The gains that he expects from the illegal act are very near to the present, whereas the punishment that he would suffer — in the unlikely event of his being both caught and punished — lies in a future too distant for him to take into account.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe expanded on Banfield’s insights in Democracy, the God that Failed:

While high time preference is by no means equivalent with crime … a systematic relationship between them still exists, for in order to earn a market income a certain minimum of planning, patience, and sacrifice is required: one must first work for a while before one gets paid. In contrast, specific criminal activities such as murder, assault, rape, robbery, theft, and burglary require no such discipline: the reward for the aggressor is tangible and immediate, but the sacrifice — possible punishment — lies in the future and is uncertain.

The Logical Progression of “Public Accomodation”

6728Jim Fedako writes in today’s Mises Daily: 

One implication of a positive right to service from a business is the derivative positive right toquality service. So, it is not just that Elane Photography must take pictures of the commitment ceremony, it is that they must take quality pictures, as well.

Now, if I were to walk into a shop and discuss my desire for photography services, only to end up in a heated argument with the owner, I would not attempt to convince him to serve me. Instead, I would find someone who is interested in doing a good job, not someone simply going through the motions while holding a grudge.

Inherent in the demand for service is the demand for quality — quality commensurate with the price, of course. Now, if I had some claim to the labor of someone else, it is fair to assume he would not welcome that claim and its implication of servitude. So it is not unreasonable to assume his efforts would be less than that exerted in a free exchange.