Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
From Lew Rockwell:
Grilling the Fed
by Ron Paul
Recently by Ron Paul: Advice to Geithner
United States House of Representatives, Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, Hearing on "Federal Reserve Aid to the Eurozone: Its Impact on the U.S. and the Dollar", March 27, 2012
The Federal Reserve has recently begun to engage in an ongoing bailout of the European monetary system. Under the guise of providing dollar liquidity to strained European financial markets, the Fed is creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air to prop up the euro. While still well under their 2008 peak, these latest dollar swap agreements are nonetheless a thinly-disguised bailout. Congress has been far too lenient in allowing the Fed to engage in unprecedented monetary policy operations without informing or explaining its actions to Congress. The American people need to understand the effects these actions have on the dollar so that the Fed can be held accountable. I hope that this hearing will get much-needed answers to the very important questions surrounding the Fed’s involvement in bailing out Europe.
For over 40 years, the Fed has been creating money out of thin air, propping up Wall Street while destroying the value of the dollar. This excessive money creation is what caused the financial crisis, yet just as a dog returns to its vomit, the Fed thinks that continuing to print money will somehow end the crisis. The trillions of dollars the Fed has created have eviscerated the purchasing power of American consumers, as anyone who has set foot inside a grocery store can see. While the government's official inflation rate is hovering around three percent, the original method of calculating the price index indicates that price inflation is over ten percent, which is more in line with what consumers are experiencing.
Despite a world awash in dollars, the Fed continues to view the cause of every financial problem as a dearth of liquidity. When the banks say they do not have enough money, the Fed unquestionably believes them and provides them with new dollars created from nothing. But a bank saying that there is not enough money is like a broke college student saying that there are not enough Ferraris. What he really means is that there are not enough Ferraris for sale at a price that he can afford. The same is true with banks; there are plenty of dollars available for banks to borrow, but the banks don't want to pay the going interest rate on loans, so they run to the central bank for cheap money.
Much of the Fed's intervention in the U.S. has been undertaken in an attempt to reflate the housing market. Rather than allowing house prices to fall so that supply and demand will re-equilibrate, the Fed has pumped liquidity into the system in an attempt to keep prices elevated. The federal funds rate has been kept artificially low for over three years now, and according to the Fed will be kept near zero for at least three years more. Because the Federal Reserve is so used to manipulating interest rates, it fails to see that interest rates are a price, the price of money and credit. While American banks may not be willing to lend dollars short-term to ailing European banks at 0.25 or 0.50%, you can bet that there would be a lot more dollars available to loan at 2, 3, or 4%. But in order for the markets to adjust and price loans at a market-clearing rate, the Fed needs to abstain from intervening to short-circuit this price discovery process.
The Federal Reserve has pumped trillions of dollars into the American financial system, with banks now holding $1.5 trillion of excess reserves at the Fed, money which is literally just sitting there. The Fed pays an 0.25% interest rate on those excess reserves, which lessens the incentive of the banks to loan those funds to anyone, regardless of how safe the loan might be. This leads to a lessened availability of credit both domestically and abroad, with the result that credit markets are more contracted than they otherwise might be. The Fed views this credit market contraction as having its root in insufficient liquidity, which it then attempts to counteract by creating more money.
This time around, the newly created dollars are being loaned through swap lines to the European Central Bank (ECB) in exchange for euros. The ECB loans the dollars to struggling European banks in exchange for collateral. Once those loans are repaid and the swap lines expire, the ECB returns the dollars to the Fed and takes back its euros. The interest rate on these loans is about 0.6%, so it is not surprising that American banks are keeping their excess reserves safe at the Federal Reserve. After all, why loan dollars to weak and risky European banks at 0.6% when you can get a guaranteed 0.25% from the Federal Reserve? So the dollar markets dry up and the Fed steps in to "fix" the problem it created.
We have to question what will happen if these loans from the ECB to European banks go bad. What happens if a major bank fails? If the ECB cannot return dollars to the Fed, does the Fed keep the euros it received from the ECB? Does it receive European government bonds, perhaps Greek bonds? Does it have recourse to the ECB's gold, as Chairman Bernanke alluded to last week?
Even more importantly, what is the impact of these programs on the dollar and on the U.S. economy? While the Fed seems to think that these swap lines eventually will be drawn back down to zero, what happens in the meantime? These hundreds of billions of dollars may be created out of thin air, but their effects on the real economy are anything but ephemeral. And the Fed has failed to consider the possibility that these swap lines may rise even higher than the $600 billion level that was reached in 2008. Given the still precarious position of European governments and the European financial system, it would not be surprising to see a few hundred billion dollars more being created to continue the bailout of the euro.
The Fed's continued intervention in financial markets creates a climate of uncertainty. For almost five years, financial institutions have had to wonder from one day to the next what the Fed will do. Will it continue with more asset purchases under its policy of quantitative easing? Will it bailout large firms in danger of collapse or allow them to fail? Will it allow markets to function or continue its intervention? In such uncertain times it is only natural for firms to sit back and wait to see what happens. And every action by the Fed, every attempt at stimulus, rather than placating that uncertainty, instead exacerbates it. The Fed's actions destroy markets, erode the earnings and savings of Americans, and sow the seeds for the next great crisis. I hope that this hearing is yet another step in holding the Fed accountable and will help both Members and the American people reconsider the necessity of a central bank.
|Peter Baklinski||Tue Mar 27 15:18 EST||Family|
TORONTO, Ontario, March 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Yesterday’s decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal that ruled as unconstitutional provisions in the law that prohibited brothels and living from the profit of prostitution has caused a firestorm of dissent from Canada’s leading advocates who champion the dignity of women and the strengthening of marriages and families.
In its decision Bedford v. Canada (Attorney General), the Court of Appeal found that Sections 210 and 212 (1) (j) of the federal Criminal Code that regulate prostitution were now suddenly “unconstitutional”. It suspended its “bawdy-house” decision for twelve months to give Parliament time to draft a new “Charter-compliant” bawdy-house provision. The overturning of the “living on the avails” of prostitution provision will take effect within 30 days of the ruling.
Father Raymond J. De Souza in an op-ed in the National Post that appeared yesterday criticized the constitutional bases for the prostitution case arguing that it is not plausible that Parliament “desired to protect the right to run a brothel as part of our fundamental legal liberties” when it guaranteed everyone in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms the “right to life, liberty and security of the person.”
“Section 7 now apparently includes the right to sell one’s body for sex in a licensed establishment fully compliant with safe drinking water standards and the requisite no-smoking signs,” he said.
“The naïveté of the Court of Appeal is this regard is astonishing”, De Souza continued. “The learned justices have a vision of professionally accomplished, commercially savvy young women, contemplating careers either as hookers or graphic designers, and concerned about the enforceability of contracts and provision of benefits. A few high-end prostitutes would benefit from no longer having to disguise their ‘escort’ services, but prostitution in Canada is not a high-end occupation. It preys upon the desperately poor, the drug addicted, the homeless, the mentally ill and other vulnerable women in the dark corners of society.”
The Post’s Catholic priest columnist argued that with the prohibition against brothels lifted, which he saw as “one of the few tools that law enforcement and social services could use to pry women out from a life that precious few of them would ever choose”, prostitution in Ontario will only increase.
“It’s simple economics: Reduce the barriers to entry and more firms will enter. As a public policy matter, it is also simple. At the margin, this judgment will ensnare women in prostitution who otherwise would not have been.”
REAL Women of Canada was “disappointed” in the decision and called the Ontario Court of Appeal “the most liberal court in Canada” for ignoring “the views of Parliament in this case”.
“Prostitution itself is inherently dangerous, no matter where it is carried out. Prostitutes should not be encouraged to engage in this activity by way of brothels or otherwise,” stated Gwendolyn Landolt, national vice president of REAL Women of Canada in a press release. The woman’s organization was an intervener in the case at both the Superior Court and Appeal levels.
“This Court partially upheld the lower court’s decision of Madam Justice Susan Himel to allow prostitutes to operate from legal brothels. It based its decision on the belief that this will reduce the risk of harm to prostitutes.”
Landolt pointed out that evidence from countries, such as Sweden, Spain, Australia and the Netherlands, indicate that the legalization of brothels only “increases the number of individuals involved in prostitution, both on the streets as well as in brothels.”
“The legalization of brothels in Canada can therefore greatly increase the risk of harm to prostitutes by assaults and even death, as more individuals will inevitably become involved in this activity.”
REAL Women of Canada has urged the Attorneys General that this case “be immediately appealed” to the Supreme Court of Canada so that Parliament may “ultimately decide the grave issue of the social policy on prostitution, not appointed unaccountable judges.”
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) was “deeply concerned” that the court’s decision not only “fails to protect women from exploitation, but could lead to a situation in Canada where the most vulnerable are put at greater risk of violence, exploitation and trafficking.”
“Here’s the decision in a nutshell,” said Don Hutchinson, vice-president and general legal counsel with the EFC: “The court gave the federal government twelve months to reform the provision against prostitutes operating out of brothels, massage parlours and other forms of common bawdy houses; which does nothing to protect the rank and file exploited women, men and children working on the street.”
Hutchinson explained that the court simply redrafted the ‘living on the avails of prostitution’ section of the criminal code so that it only applies to those who are doing so in an exploitive way. He said that this “accommodates the rare few” who have the capacity to structure a business with support staff.
“All of this was couched in the concept repeated page after page in the decision that, and I quote, ‘In Canada, prostitution itself is legal. There is no law that prohibits a person from selling sex, and no law that prohibits another from buying it.’”
Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF), which was also an intervenor in the case, was “disappointed in the decision”, which it says “ignores Parliament’s disapprobation of prostitution and the harms it causes both to prostitutes and our communities.”
Ruth Ross, CLF’s executive director and general legal counsel stated in a press release that there are some positive aspects to the decision.
“The court did not strike down the ‘living on the avails’ provision in its entirety but instead recognized its importance in protecting those who are exploited by prostitution,” she said.
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) commented that while the court’s ruling is “being touted as a success that will make prostitution safer, international evidence exposes this [as] myth.”
IMFC pointed out in a press release that the Netherlands legalization of prostitution caused a dramatic surge in new criminal activity. In the aftermath of legalized prostitution Amsterdam’s former mayor Job Cohen was forced to concede that “this is no longer about small scale entrepreneurs, but that big crime organizations are involved here in trafficking women, drugs, killings and other criminal activities.”
IMFC’s also argued that the court’s decision “belies the realities facing the vast majority of prostitutes in Ontario today”.
“A high percentage of prostitutes have drug and sexual abuse in their pasts. Many are coerced into prostitution as minors. Prostitution is inherently dangerous and the legal changes that are currently being made in Ontario will not change that.”
Andrea Mrozek, IMFC’s manager of research and communications said, “Above all, the law should not in any way, shape or form allow men to buy women’s bodies. There will be no equality in Ontario so long as we sanction that,” she said.
The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), which also intervened in the case is “disappointed with much of the ruling”.
Landolt from REAL Women called it “ironic” that the Court of Appeal stated in its decision that “prostitution is a controversial topic, one that provokes heated and heartfelt debate about morality, equality, personal autonomy and public safety; it is not the Court’s role to engage in that debate”.
“Yet the Court has done just that,” she pointed out.
To contact the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Ph: (613) 957-4222
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Ph: (613) 957-4222
Friday, March 23, 2012
From Personal Liberty Digest:
How To Buy Gasoline For 20 Cents A Gallon
March 23, 2012 by Chip Wood
Dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars minted before 1965 were 90 percent pure silver.
Has the price of gas hit $4 a gallon yet where you live? As I mentioned in last week’s column, several analysts predict that price will seem cheap before the year is out. Are you ready to pay $5 a gallon?
Some neighbors and I were reminiscing recently about how cheap things were back in “the good old days.” I mentioned that the very first credit card I got was for one of the gas-station chains. Back then, gasoline cost less than 25 cents a gallon.
Then I said something that stopped them cold. “Do you know that you can still buy gasoline for about 20 cents a gallon?” They were all positive there was a trick to my question… and there is.
My claim is absolutely, totally, 100 percent true — if you pay with dimes that were minted before 1965.
Back then, dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars were 90 percent pure silver. Today, those coins are commonly referred to as “junk silver.” But believe me, there is nothing junky about them.
These genuine silver coins are typically sold in bags with a face value of $1,000. If they were all dimes, that would be 10,000 of them. Each bag contains about 712 ounces of silver. A pre-1965 silver dime has about 1/14 of an ounce of silver in it. With silver now around $32 an ounce, one of those “junk silver” dimes is worth about $2.29. Selling two of them would buy you a gallon of gas anywhere in the country.
Remember when a loaf of bread cost 10 cents? Well, one of those silver dimes will still get you one of the fancy fresh-baked loaves in the bakery section of your local grocery store. One of the mass-produced marvels with more air than nutrients will cost half that amount.
My point is simply this: The value of the goods we buy every day hasn’t changed. A loaf of bread is still a loaf of bread — ditto a quart of milk, a gallon of gas or a suit of clothes.
The reason things cost 10 or 20 or 50 times more than they used to isn’t that they are that much more valuable today. It’s that our measuring stick, the U.S. dollar, is worth so much less. Back in our grandparents’ day, the dollar was not only backed by gold, but for most of this country’s existence the U.S. government promised that it could be exchanged for gold at any bank in the Federal system.
The Treasury also produced something called “silver certificates” that operated the same way, except that they could be exchanged for silver. And our government promised to keep enough gold and silver in its reserves to honor all of those commitments.
But that was then. Today, the U.S. dollar is an “I.O.U. nothing,” as a friend of mine likes to put it. Oh, it says it is backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States.” But let me ask you: When you look at the disaster that Washington has made of the budget process and our economy, how much full faith and credit do you have in the people running the show today?
And how much “full faith and credit” do you have in the pieces of fiat currency called the U.S. dollar that they are producing by the trillions? I hope the answer to both of my rhetorical questions is “very little” and “not much.”
Our Founding Fathers knew that gold and silver were real money. That’s why they put into our Constitution that only gold and silver could be used to create our coinage.
Sadly, we’ve allowed the powers that be to create “money” out of thin air, with absolutely nothing to back it. That is why the value of our currency has plummeted more than 95 percent in past 100 years.
But more and more Americans are learning not to put their “full faith and credit” in our politicians or the currency that they manipulate. Want to protect the purchasing power of your savings? Then I’d suggest putting them into things of real value. And for the past 5,000 years, nothing has preserved value better than the Midas metal and its less-expensive sister, silver.
Exchanging dollars for gold and silver could be the best investment you make this year. It certainly has been for the past decade.
Until next time, keep some powder — and some gold and silver — on hand.
Monday, March 19, 2012
FAIR Legislative Update March 19, 2012
FAIR Legislative Update March 19, 2012
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 3992today, a bill that would expand the E-2 visa program to include Israeli nationals. Leadership placed it on the suspension calendar, which has the effect of limiting debate and prohibiting amendments to the bill.
The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa program that temporarily admits foreign nationals to the U.S. to develop a business enterprise in which the alien has invested. (INA § 101(a)(15)(E)) The program, however, is restricted to foreign nationals from countries that have appropriate treaties with the United States. The legislation qualifies Israeli nationals for the E-2 visa by adding Israel to the list of foreign states granted such treaty status. (H.R. 3992 § 1; see Department of State Website for list of treaty countries)
The House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 3992 via voice vote Feb. 28. (House Judiciary Committee Press Release, Feb. 28, 2012) In doing so, Committee members ignored the E-2 visa program’s several flaws. They include:
These flaws make the program highly susceptible to fraud. Last month, federal authorities indicted a woman running a Laredo, TX financial and immigration services business for including fraudulent tax forms and false information about businesses and employees on visa applications. (San Antonio Express, Feb. 29, 2012)
According to Democratic aides, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to file a motion that would begin debate on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) this week. (CQ Today, Mar. 15, 2012) Although VAWA was created to increase protections for women suffering domestic violence and abuse, it has become the latest vehicle for the open-borders lobby to increase visas and grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
The version currently before the Senate, S. 1925 introduced by Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), contains provisions that could increase the number of U-visas by 34,000. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa in 2000 to allow aliens who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a victim of domestic violence, rape, or certain other crimes to obtain temporary legal status if they help law enforcement prosecute those crimes. (INA § 101(a)(15)(U); see also FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 6, 2012) An alien can obtain a U visa regardless of legal status, remain in the country for four-years at a time, receive work authorization, and become eligible for a green card after three years. (INA § 214(p); USCISWebsite on U visas) S. 1925 would increase the number of U visas by permitting the “recapture” of thousands of unused U visas from prior years. (CQ Today, Feb. 2, 2012)
Some Senate Democrats have made no qualms about using VAWA in a hotly contested election year to get more visas. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), for example, has said he wants to fast-track VAWA with the U-visa provisions so that Republicans would block it, enabling him to paint the party as anti-women. (Politico, Mar. 14, 2011) “If a party chooses to alienate the fastest-growing group of people in the country [Latinos] and the majority of people in the country, women, they do so at their peril,” Schumer said Wednesday. (Id.)
Republican leaders strongly objected to Schumer’s plan. “Nobody opposes the reauthorization of this legislation,” said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ). (CNN, Mar. 15, 2012) He told reporters: “If you follow the Judiciary Committee work on it, the questions had to do with the additions that have been made to this bill related to illegal immigrant visas…. I really resent the implication by some of my Democratic friends that if you’re trying to improve the bill that somehow you are for violence against women. That's reprehensible.” (Id., see also FAIRLegislative Update, Feb. 6, 2012)
Republicans said they may move their own bill once the issue heads to the floor. (Politico, Mar. 14, 2011) Stay tuned to FAIR as details unfold…
The Mississippi House of Representatives passed an omnibus immigration enforcement bill, H.B. 488, by a vote of 70-47 Thursday. (Fox News Latino, Mar. 15, 2012)
The bill, entitled “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act,” is similar to both Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56. The bill’s key provisions do the following:
The bill provides that its provisions do not apply to nonprofit, religious, or charitable organizations who provide immediate basic and human needs to illegal aliens. (§9)
Supporters of the bill explained their motivation to pass H.B. 488. “It's about the rule of law,” Mississippi House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson (R) said about the bill. (Fox News Latino, Mar. 15, 2012) “We want to say you're welcome here, we just want you to follow the proper procedures, the proper protocols.” (Id.)
However, the Southern Poverty Law Center has told Mississippi officials it will sue the state if the bill passes. “I would suggest that just because the state can pass that doesn't mean it's a good idea,” said Mary Bower, legal director for the SPLC. (CNN, Mar. 16, 2012)
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s spokesman said the Governor would not be deterred from supporting the bill by the threat of a lawsuit. (Id.)
The bill now heads to the Mississippi Senate, where it is expected to pass.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced it would be issuing new regulations on the 3 and 10-year statutory bars to admission within days. The announcement came during a stakeholder meeting regarding the agency’s 2012 priorities last Thursday.
Mayorkas claimed these five “strategic priorities” would “uphold the integrity” of the U.S. immigration system. They include: (1) Strengthening national security safeguards and combat fraud; (2) Reinforcing quality and consistency in administering immigration benefits; (3) Fostering organizational excellence; (4) Promoting citizenship and immigrant civic integration; and (5) Enhancing customer service and public engagement.
While these priorities seem innocuous on their face, once Director Mayorkas elaborated on them, it became clear that they would not uphold the integrity of the immigration system as he claimed. In particular, Mayorkas announced that the Administration’s proposed regulatory change to help illegal aliens skirt the statutory 3 and 10-year bars to admission would be published within days. (See USCIS Notice of Intent, Jan. 9, 2012; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Jan. 9, 2012)
The 3 and 10-year bar was created to deter illegal immigration and marriage fraud. It provides that an alien who has been in the U.S. unlawfully for 180 days to one year and leaves is inadmissible to the U.S. for three years; aliens unlawfully in the U.S. for a year or more who leave are inadmissible for ten years. (See INA 212(a)(9)(B)(i); 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(9)(B)(i))
The proposed rule would provide a provisional waiver of these bars to allow illegal alien relatives of U.S. citizens claiming to suffer an “extreme hardship” to stay in the U.S. while seeking a permanent waiver, rather than doing so from outside the country. (See FAIRLegislative Update, Jan. 9, 2012) The Department’s proposed rule will now allow an entire class of illegal aliens to apply for hardship waivers from inside the United States—undermining the very purpose of the law and guaranteeing reentry into the country.
Director Mayorkas denied that the provisional waivers were a form of amnesty. “All we are doing is making the process more efficient and more effective,” he said. (KPCC News, Mar. 15, 2012)
On Monday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, announced that former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce would be testifying before the Subcommittee for a hearing on state and local immigration enforcement efforts. (See Sen. Schumer Press Release, Mar. 13, 2012) Pearce was the chief sponsor and force behind Arizona’s tough illegal immigration law, SB 1070.
Pearce offered to testify in support of SB 1070 after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer declined Sen. Schumer’s request to appear. (See Sen. Schumer Letter to Gov. Brewer, Feb. 23, 2012; see also FAIRLegislative Update, Feb. 27, 2012) Pearce asserted that as the bill’s author, he was best suited to explain it to Subcommittee, “I know why it was written … I know every section of the bill,” he said. (Arizona Daily Sun, Feb. 29, 2012)
Gov. Brewer declined Sen. Schumer’s request to testify last month, calling it a “publicity stunt.” (The Hill, Feb. 24, 2012; see also FAIRLegislative Update, Feb. 27, 2012) Her spokesman explained that the hearing “doesn’t look like the most productive use of the governor’s time” given that she is scheduled to testify as a witness before the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of SB 1070 the very next day.
The Subcommittee hearing, “Examining the Constitutionality and Prudence of State and Local Governments Enforcing Immigration Law” will take place on April 24. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Justice Department’s suit against Arizona over SB 1070 the following day.
From Middle East and Terrorism Blog:
by Abe Greenwald
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2012
Obama’s Triumphal Statist Presidency
by Abe Greenwald
In the March/April issue of the Washington Monthly, Paul Glastris offers a long essay in defense of Barack Obama. Titled, “The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama,” it is, in its own way, the clearest and most helpful analysis of the Obama presidency that’s been written so far. Glastris’s main contention is that Obama has “gotten more done in three years than any president in decades.” Yet, “the American public still thinks he hasn’t accomplished anything.” He’s right:
Measured in sheer legislative tonnage, what Obama got done in his first two years is stunning. Health care reform. The takeover and turnaround of the auto industry. The biggest economic stimulus in history. Sweeping new regulations of Wall Street. A tough new set of consumer protections on the credit card industry. A vast expansion of national service. Net neutrality. The greatest increase in wilderness protection in fifteen years. A revolutionary reform to student aid. Signing the New START treaty with Russia. The ending of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Glastris has unwittingly created a glossary of radical statism as a defense of Obama. His own words: “legislative tonnage,” “reform,” “takeover,” “biggest stimulus in history,” “sweeping regulations,” “protection,” “vast expansion,” “Net neutrality,” “greatest increase” in still more “protection,” and “revolutionary reform.” To liberals, this is the poetry of paternalism but to the rest of America it’s a nightmare lexicon.
Glastris is equally candid about the long-term impact of these policies. “Some are structured to have modest effects now but major ones later,” he writes. “Others emerged in a crimped and compromised form that, if history is a guide, may well be filled out and strengthened down the road.” In other words, Obama initiatives that look measured or restrained today will only expand and calcify in time. He makes the comparison to FDR’s creation of Social Security. “Only in subsequent decades, as benefits were raised and expanded, did Social Security become the country’s most beloved government program.” Right, and only in decades subsequent to that did it become an unsustainable addiction that we can neither stop nor afford in its present form.
So, the case for Obama’s greatness goes as follows: He came to office with an array of statist notions. He forced “the sheer tonnage” of them upon the country. And he will leave the rest of the leftist dream’s fleshing out to that inexorable statist force-multiplier: time.
You start to see why Obama is okay being thought of as merely ineffective.
As for the foreign policy mentions, it’s a different matter altogether and one that Glastris never really unpacks after that paragraph. But even the administration now understands that its Russia policy is a disaster. And even if you approve the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” you must acknowledge that it’s been replaced with the catastrophic Obama-instituted military doctrine of “don’t win, don’t lose.”Abe Greenwald
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
From Town Hall:
In America, the federal government seems to control everything. Light bulbs, shoe leather, refrigerators, even the water strength in your shower. Your banker, your doctor, your lawyer, your computer all are regulated beyond belief. What is it in America that the feds can't control? The answer is simple: human nature. We need to eat, and we need to move about; and that means we will use the free market in order to do so, with or without the government.
Every capable human engages in market exchanges, even in those countries where it's illegal. Through all of history, humans have advanced civilization by building up the avenues of trade so as to increase their standards of living. When you buy a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas, you are freely choosing to engage in what remains of the free market. I emphasize "what remains" because when you buy bread, you are paying the local or state government a tax for a product that was baked under conditions set forth by the feds and one of the 50 states, and when you buy fuel for your car, up to one quarter of the cost of the fuel consists of state and federal sales taxes.
Sales taxes constitute a grand theft concocted by politicians and bureaucrats so as to provide them with a never-ending supply of cash they can use to bribe people for their votes. Sales taxes also make items we need more expensive. And they intrude upon our privacy. Think about it. If I want a loaf of bread and you are a grocer willing to sell me one, what business is that of the government? None. What involvement has the government had? None. What has the government done to add value to that transaction? Nothing.
The protesters on Wall Street seem not to understand that free trade is a natural right -- like speech, travel, religion, self-defense, privacy -- and is mutually beneficial to the buyer and the seller. That's why at the end of a transaction, each party says "thank you." We have both benefited. It's a win-win. I have food and fuel, and the seller has revenue. So how is it today that this natural and daily activity has become much maligned and exploited and hated by government elites?
As the global economies have collapsed in the past decade, nothing has been certain except for uncertainty. The world's central banks, drunk on power, loaded their people up with debt and then slowly guided their economies to destruction. That's the consequence of government control of the monetary system and means of exchange. Prices in an economy are like traffic signals, signaling where goods and resources should go and how fast. Central banks distort those traffic signals and even give the wrong signals. That's why we get crashes -- because of government traffic signals, because the government has taken "free" out of the marketplace.
But free trade does occur in the United States in some ways. The black markets are where people trade what they want for the price agreed on, free of taxes and free of government regulations, and at prices that are acceptable to the parties. Simply banning the transaction will not deter some portion of the population from attempting to acquire something -- whether it's bread, tobacco, drugs or guns -- that the government doesn't want us to have, at prices we are willing to pay. People will always trade what they have for what they want or need. That's human nature. That's a natural human right. The government cannot stop that. But, of course, governments have tried to stop the exercise of this right.
During World War II, for example, FDR and his cronies rationed sugar, leather, tea, tobacco, guns, coffee, fuel and many other items our parents and grandparents needed for everyday use. The stated purpose was that the troops needed these items and there was not enough to go around, so the feds would decide who got what and how much all these things would cost. But there was a black market for all these items, and there, the items were plentiful and the price was freely agreed upon. If the government had stayed out of the picture, the market could have existed in the light of day. We now know that FDR was as much interested in control of the population as in supplying the troops.
The government fears trade because it can't control it. The feds would do well to remember the historical truth that where goods and services don't move freely, armies will; and where goods and services do move freely, armies don't. And when the black market becomes more prosperous than the one the government regulates, it will be time to change the government.