Friday, December 31, 2010
Stumbling and Bumbling Toward Truth?
Musing About How I Found Libertarianism
by Wilton D. Alston
I really should have given this essay a better name. After all, it is about my journey toward libertarianism and therefore (hopefully) truth. It would have made sense to use something like "my journey toward the light" or something equally regal. Here’s the thing though. My journey toward libertarianism has been anything but smooth or regal. As a black person it seems to me that even though we have embraced any number of political/philosophical approaches, libertarianism is among the rarer. As such, my finding and embracing libertarian theory involves equal measures of luck and courage. Perhaps that is why I was asked to contribute this story! Either way, I feel honored and happy to do so. It is my firm belief that I am onto something that represents the best of logic, reason, and truth. However, I did not always think so.
Growing up in a small town in North Carolina, named Hallsboro, I had no contact with any people who called themselves "libertarians." As far back as I can remember, my folks and all my relatives voted Democratic, at least as far as I could tell. In fact, I don’t even remember when I first heard the term, "third-party candidate" but it was probably in college. In the portion of the South where I grew up, it seemed pretty clear which party was out to help you and which party was out to get you, particularly if you were a black person. Still though, certain things about my childhood – the fact that my paternal grandfather was a share cropper; the fact that my maternal grandfather owned a lot of land; and the fact that my father always seemed to be working – all had an effect on me. In retrospect, it was a combination of these effects that made me open to libertarianism even before I knew what it was.
Two instances in particular stand out in my mind as providing seeds of libertarianism that did not germinate until much later in life. The first such instance involved a phone survey that I answered while my parents were out. After all the normal demographic questions, the lady on the phone began to query me about my parent’s jobs and lifestyle. At some point she asked, "And what does your dad do for work?" At that exact moment my father was off on a job laying brick at some location. In fact, during almost any down time he could usually be found out doing something that would result in additional income for the family. To this very day he has at least two hustles that he uses to generate income. He was the original example of someone having multiple income streams in my eyes. So I said to her, "he’s a bricklayer."
Later, my folks and I were eating dinner and I recalled the story for them. When I got to the part about my dad being a bricklayer, my folks both laughed and corrected me. My dad, and my mom, were schoolteachers and had been so for years. I knew that, but somehow it escaped in that moment on the phone. My dad’s practice – always looking for an additional way to make money – rubbed off on me. To this day, I am always looking for a way to generate additional income. In fact, that point of view led me to experiences I will recount later – experiences that further forged my libertarian leanings.
A second instance of lessons I learned at home came during the school year. Our county, like many counties in that part of the South, offered a free lunch program at school. All one had to do was fill out a simple form and receive the free lunches. Most of the kids I knew got free lunch. I did not. In fact, when I brought the form home for my parents my dad went off on a tirade.
He didn’t yell at me, but his words have stuck in my mind for 30+ years anyway. He said something to the effect that he would rot in his grave before he would fill out a form to receive something he simply did not deserve. He was appalled at the number of people he knew to be financially able to afford lunch who were receiving free lunch instead. In my entire childhood and well into adolescence I can safely say that I never saw my father change his point of view on this seminal issue. If you can afford it yourself, lying to the state to get it for free is just lazy, shiftless, unethical, and borders on immoral.
Looking back on these two scenarios, I can see now how these working examples of the power and in fact the glory of taking care of oneself fueled me throughout life. That fuel remains plentiful in me to this very day, and it came from my parents. But despite the groundwork laid by those early experiences, I came out of engineering school at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, with a strong liberal bent. I was not exactly a socialist, but I could see how socialism: a) might work; and b) seemed fair.
In fact, now that I think about it, I remember a statement that my high school social studies teacher made in class one day. She said, "Socialism makes a lot of sense, on paper." Of course, I believed her! Clearly, or so I thought, the powers-that-be had unfairly secured much of their wealth at the expense of the poor. Just as clearly, drastic measures were warranted. (Maybe I had forgotten my father’s words. Luckily, they would return to me later.) Looking back, I would now assume that most recipients of a liberal education – particularly black folk – have been taught to feel the same way. Several events during my first year working for the Eastman Kodak Company conspired to shake the moorings of that belief system.
One such event occurred when I got that very first paycheck back in 1981. As a student, I had never really paid a lot of income taxes and as such, had rarely focused on those "other" boxes on most paychecks. When I got my first "real" paycheck that all changed. I literally yelled something along the lines of "what the heck?" and asked each of my office mates if something was wrong with my check. Breaking all manner of unwritten workplace customs, I actually showed my paycheck to each of them as I beseeched them for help and understanding. I wondered aloud what this "FICA" crap was and how anyone could just stand by and let that much of their hard-earned money be taken away, for whatever reason.
As I recall, they all had a good laugh at my expense. Being older, they were all too aware of the ubiquity of Social Security, which is what those "FICA" contributions supported. They dismissed my excitement for naïveté and life continued, as one would expect. I remained upset (and frankly, that has not changed much in all the years since) but I eventually realized that nothing could be done.
Later that year, or maybe the next one, I got into a heated discussion with another of my work mates, another black man, who in addition to being a technician in our design group, was also a local business owner. He and his wife owned a beauty shop in Rochester’s inner city. (By the way, this "inner city" was nothing like the horrible place that the mainstream media seems to know all about.) He also owned a few investment properties, as I recall. He was quite a character, and would become, in time, a mentor-of-sorts for me.
As I recall, we were discussing the plight of black folk one day at lunch. (For the uninformed, this is a topic that comes up many times per day whenever "upwardly-mobile" black people gather in groups larger than one.) As a loyal pseudo-socialist liberal, I had a strong view of the responsibility of the state with regard to the welfare of black folk. As an aside, although I saw the "logic" of socialism, I subscribed to Reason magazine beginning almost immediately after graduating from college. There was a conflict taking place in my mind and I’m not sure I even knew it.
Anyway, as I recall, our conversation involved some pounding on the table (long a staple of the angry black man) and some raised voices. I remember him smiling as I regaled him with all the reasons why black folk simply could not make it without help. Seriously, anyone with half a brain and any pride accepted the fact that we had been taken advantage of! Somebody had to pay! At some point in my rant, he uttered some words that I have not forgotten to this very day – and I don’t think I will ever forget them. He said, "I don’t want nobody’s help. Just get out of my way and I can do it myself!"
Those words sounded simple-minded then. Hell, they sound simple-minded now. As I fancy myself a scientist, the elegant simplicity of truth – as exemplified by Occam’s razor – appeals to me. That statement held one of those simple truths. Ironically, it was not until years later that it dawned on me that a similar sentiment, and in fact a similar statement would very likely have been made by either or both of my maternal (land-owning) grandfather and my father. All that working my dad did was because he was determined to make damned certain he controlled his destiny, versus being at the whim of a person for whom he simply tended land he did not own, which his father, my paternal grandfather had done for his entire life. Lessons well earned have a tendency to keep coming back like that I guess.
Little did I have any clue – even the faintest inkling – that I would one day be saying much the same thing to anyone who would listen, even going so far as to submit my modest musings to websites such as LewRockwell.com specifically so others could read them.
Bogus Beliefs and Hard Lessons
After those early debates with my would-be mentor, and even despite the shock of seeing all that cash vanish from my paycheck to parts unknown, life pretty much followed the standard course. I voted religiously, while lamenting the evilness of the Republicans and believing in the honest passion of the Democrats. In fact, I had a good-sized list of other standard beliefs, such as:
There was a distinct difference between the two major U.S. political parties. The Democratic Party was the party of tolerance and was lead by noble champions of the downtrodden wee folk. In sharp contrast, the Republican Party represented people who inherited their wealth or got it through nefarious means, plus some odd groups of hyper-religious intolerant modern-day witch burners.
The only thing wrong with the government was that selfish and/or incompetent people were accidentally voted into office by people who basically just needed a little more education so they could become smart enough to vote as I did.
The Civil Rights Movement, and most of American history for that matter, proved conclusively that government intervention was absolutely essential and would likely remain so for the foreseeable future.
Drug users only used drugs because of personal character flaws or as a way to flaunt their inherent scuminess and disrespect for the safety of others and the sanctity of the family. They deserved long prison sentences as punishment for being such losers.
No civilized society needed routine and widespread ownership of guns. In fact most private guns were owned by unsophisticated hillbillies or unredeemable criminals, or, Ku Klux Klansmen, who were typically drawn from one or both of the former groups. I wasn't interested in arming any of them.
Rather than further bore the reader with any (certain-to-be) long-winded explanation of how I came to ditch these bogus beliefs like so much old fruit, let me take another approach. In most things, the foundation is what is important. In my case, the foundation of my beliefs centered about essentially three things, which were:
The inherent unfairness of capitalism.
The historical reasons for the position of black folk in American society.
The proven ability of the state to provide the necessary changes and appropriate calibrations to the market for the good of all.
Getting involved in real estate investing did more to completely eviscerate these flawed foundational beliefs than I could have ever anticipated. Once that demise took place, it was just a matter of time before the others followed suit.
Out of the Frying Pan…
When I bought that first property I was certain of a few things. One, I could purchase real property with little to no money down. Two, I could structure those purchases, even on single-family homes, so that I had "positive cash flow" almost immediately. Three, given that I was a black person, my (likely) black tenants would embrace my logic, reason, and passion. Together we would march off into the sunset of wealth and independence! This happily-ever-after story would provide an example for all the greedy white people who had owned inner-city real estate before I came upon the scene. (I promise you, I am not making this up.) Actually, I wish I were making it up.
The deduction that, in retrospect, started me on my final approach to libertarianism occurred while I was a rental property manager and landlord, beginning approximately 5 years after taking that first job mentioned earlier. During this time I got to see not only how individuals interacted with free enterprise, but also how the government and the market interacted with those individuals. Additionally I got to see, first-hand, how government programs ostensibly designed to help the poor actually created a situation that locked people on welfare for generations. Capitalism wasn’t unfair – not allowing people a chance to participate in it was.
Look at is this way. In a genuine free enterprise or market-based situation, one generally receives feedback directly in response to actions he takes. This is how the entrepreneur knows what to keep doing and what to stop doing. In some cases, it even leads to the failure of a business. In the case of my tenants – people who received a substantial portion of their income via government agencies, and particularly in cases where a substantial portion of that income went directly to a service provider without the tenant’s action – little or no feedback was present. The main benefit delivered to my tenants was money, in the form of rent payments or rent subsidies. These payments could go on for years, and in fact, even across generations.
By doing this, the Department of Social Services (DSS) removed any semblance of feedback that a person might receive regarding what will, in most every case be their largest monthly financial obligation. By paying these payments without any interaction from the tenant DSS certainly made things more convenient for everyone. (As a recipient of these funds, I enjoyed getting those checks directly!) But, they also precluded the tenant from having to decide, on a monthly basis, how to budget her money with regard to competing bills, like rent, food, entertainment, etc. In effect, the tenant could just "blow" the money they received, because the most important item – their shelter – was taken care of without any action by them. Is there any doubt what would eventually happen if this money stopped showing up or if they had to make a decision themselves?
Lest anyone think this is the result of some inherent failing in the tenant or poor people in general, a closer examination of one’s own life reveals many of the same hidden-from-view scenarios. For example, if the water authority where you live suddenly stopped delivering potable water, what would you do? I’m willing to bet that most people would panic, with no idea what to do next, aside from going down to a local grocery store to stand in line, that is. Simply put, when something is delivered without our action or involvement, we come to rely on that delivery, sometimes despite what would otherwise be prudent. (In the transportation field in which I work this is known as "detrimental reliance" and is always a danger in automated safety systems.)
In the case of my tenants, the incentives were all screwed up. What little feedback that actually was offered came in the form of reduced benefits if one of these people went out and got a job to supplement their income. Given those incentives, I could understand why people stayed on public assistance versus getting a job.
Every so often, the DSS would, via some means I never quite understood, decide that they needed to "help" a welfare recipient move toward more personal-responsibility-based financial management. The first step in this process was always sending the rent money to the tenant, versus the landlord, and having the tenant pay their bills – including their rent – out of that money. It never worked.
In cases where the DSS sought to let the tenant pay their own rent – versus paying it for them – I never saw one tenant make the transition successfully. Not one. After years of having their rent paid for them, why would we expect anything different? In their attempts to "help" the poor, the state actually made everything worse. Regardless of the historical reasons why these people may have been poor, the state showed no ability to make things better. The state knew neither what to change nor how to change it.
In the aftermath of drawing these initial conclusions, I came to a larger conclusion that still fuels many of my beliefs today – if a person has never owned their own business, or done something similar, they have no idea how capitalism is supposed to work. At best, they're guessing, and it's easy to guess wrong. Giving a man a fish, no matter how well intentioned, or nutritionally-satisfying, will never teach him to fish for himself. In fact after sufficient time has passed, he will, almost without exception, forget that fishing was ever necessary. And even if he does not forget, his progeny – those who learn by watching him – have no chance to learn that which they have never seen practiced.
Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk
After all that, where am I now? How would I describe myself and my specific beliefs about libertarianism?
While I could generally be described as a libertarian, a more appropriate and more accurate designation would be market anarchist.
This means most importantly that I freely accept that the main problem with the current system of government is, in fact, that we have one. In direct correspondence to the old saying, "they lie when the truth would suffice," our politicians abuse the truth pretty much whenever they open their mouths to speak. The entire system is based upon one set of folks milking another set for as much as they can.
Most, if not all, laws that exist are the expression of some bureaucrat's power-laden wet dream or some lobbyist’s profit-seeking scheme. Government is fundamentally about force and violent (if needed) coercion. And don't get me started on the IRS. (They call him Uncle Scam for a reason, no?) If stealing – forcibly taking someone’s property and giving them nothing in exchange – is morally wrong for the individual, then it cannot be justified just because a bunch of guys who call themselves "the government" need some cash.
The most basic expression and most fundamental dogma in libertarian theory is the non-aggression axiom – the initiation of force is never justified.
I subscribe to pacifism as a dogma and am openly against warfare, particularly as it is practiced by the imperial empire known as America. (History has shown time and again that the only reason for a standing army is for imperialist advancement.) Still, I understand that self-protection may occasionally be necessary. I might therefore be best described as a "porcupine pacifist" in that I simultaneously decry aggression while having no compunction about advocating a citizenry chock-full of well-armed, well-trained individuals and families. From a black perspective specifically, history supports this premise. Anyone who has spent any time analyzing the inner city would have to be seriously delusional to think that disarming the law-abiding citizenry increases safety.
The general history of civilization and society supports the private ownership of guns. I think Cesare Beccaria, a legal theorist from the 1700's said it best, "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants." The logic of this is undeniable to me, and I find it amazing that people believe otherwise.
The mainstream political parties are inherently similar, barely avoiding being identical; therefore, spending any time debating about them is time wasted.
My best explanation of this belief occurs in my initial article for LewRockwell.com, entitled, "Where Have All the Black Libertarians Gone?" where I state:
"I do not doubt that on many of these "hot-button" issues [gay marriage, abortion, voting rights, social security, school choice (vouchers), national defense, welfare, affirmative action, etc.], the two parties seem different. If one judges by only these issues they might actually be different to varying degrees. Are the specific issues really that important in the grand scheme? Maybe. Should we not be just as concerned with the methodology for addressing them? Definitely. But if the two parties were substantially different, would we not see, in the aftermath of each election, noticeable and substantial upheavals in policy, law, and as a direct result, day-to-day life? And if we do not, were those ostensive differences really important?"
I continued with:
"Even if the two parties did actually have radically different ideas about right and wrong – and implemented radically different policies as a result – one key factor would remain the same. Those policies would be funded based upon coercion supported by the threat of violence. Basically, the state, as realized in every western "democracy" available for study, functions on principals closer to the Mafia than any utopian republic described by Plato. Simply put, they [the state] force all to contribute to their treasury, for the creation of products and services that no one has a choice about accepting, at a cost that always escalates. Nice racket."
The best means by which to right past wrongs are private, not via legislation.
One oft-debated area where being black and libertarian might come into conflict is over the issue of reparations. Few issues are so fundamental to a belief in personal responsibility and self-determination than that of a debt owed to one’s ancestors. Again, my current thoughts on this issue are clear from the article I mentioned above. To wit:
"The only method available to the state for securing money [is] – theft. Frédéric Bastiat, in his pamphlet The Law puts state-sponsored theft, which he refers to as "plunder" into scientific terms when he says:
"When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it, without his consent, and without compensation, whether by force or fraud, to someone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated and an action of plunder is committed."
"If someone stole something from you, having the state steal from someone different does not really solve the problem, does it? And if the state stole – or more accurately, allowed someone else to steal – something from your ancestors does it make sense for them to now steal something from everyone else and give it to you? Not so much."
So then, I embraced libertarianism not because it sounded interesting when I studied its theories. In fact, I have not, even to this day, read many of the books libertarians point to as seminal in their "conversion." (This is neither an attack on those books nor a suggestion for others. It is simply a statement of fact. And yes, my study of libertarian philosophy, including many of those "classics," continues. But let us be clear. The people from whom I learned had never heard of Murray Rothbard or Ludwig von Mises.) I embraced libertarianism because it best fit (by far) the conclusions I had already reached empirically. That should come as no surprise, since the truths upon which libertarianism rests were truths before there were any theories or high-sounding descriptions of them.
Those conclusions prompted me to begin my study of the more theoretical aspects, which further confirmed my initial thoughts. I can only hope that others will conduct their own honest investigation. I have little doubt that their conclusions will be similar. Allow me to end this trip down memory lane as I ended my first published libertarian article:
"To be completely free, secure, and happy, there are three things that concern me – life, liberty, and property. The state did not create them. The state can only take them away. There has been enough of that already. So unless I want to enjoy the fruits of income redistribution – which account for a major portion of the state’s budget, excluding national defense – there is not much left for the state to do on my behalf."
Indeed. Not much at all – like NOTHING.
December 30, 2010
Wilt Alston lives in Rochester, NY, with his wife and three children. When he’s not training for a marathon or furthering his part-time study of libertarian philosophy, he works as a principal research scientist in transportation safety, focusing primarily on the safety of subway and freight train control systems.
Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
"We need a libertarian Che Guevara," says libertarian activist Starchild, who makes a living as an erotic services provider.
Reason.tv's Tim Cavanaugh sat down with Starchild, who recently ran for San Francisco School Board as the Libertarian candidate, at the Libertopia 2010 conference in Hollywood. Their discussion covers topics such as the history of the libertarian movement, why San Francisco actually is a very libertarian city despite being named Reason.tv's Nanny of the Year, why libertarians need to look to groups such as the Black Panthers as models for political activism, and how Starchild managed to convert Tim Cavanaugh to libertarianism.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
From Becky Chandler:
HAPPY LIBERTARIAN CHRISTMAS--He was an enemy of the state prior to even being born. After his birth the homicidal agents of the state forced his family, to take the newborn child, and flee their country. Thirty-three years later the occupying imperial authority, and their local stooges, in a show trial, summarily found the young man guilty of treason and blasphemy, and executed him as an example to the sheeple.
The birth of Jesus Christ was the single most important political event in history—from that birth statism would receive its first defeat. When Jesus said render onto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s –-it is said that the people marveled. They were astounded because it was a revolutionary idea. Separation of the powers and authority of the state, from that of god, meant that the authority and power of imperial Rome, or any other state, was limited and secondary.
The concept of Western Liberty was thus born—the claim of the state to be man's savior was denied. For that act of treason (and it was treasonous) the State murdered Jesus, and declared war on his criminal followers.
Regardless of their personal religious feelings about the metaphysical nature of Jesus of Nazareth—all lovers of liberty should enthusiastically celebrate the day of his birth—for it is also a celebration of the birth of liberty.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Another example how so called "airport security" is a farce and how the TSA is really nothing more than a bully boy, A pilot for a major airline who posted videos on YouTube showing that airport security is nothing more than security theater is being punished by the TSA.
More from News10:
More from News10:
Three days after he posted a series of six video clips recorded with a cell phone camera at San Francisco International Airport, four federal air marshals and two sheriff's deputies arrived at his house to confiscate his federally-issued firearm. The pilot recorded that event as well and provided all the video to News10.Rest of story here.
At the same time as the federal marshals took the pilot's gun, a deputy sheriff asked him to surrender his state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon.
A follow-up letter from the sheriff's department said the CCW permit would be reevaluated following the outcome of the federal investigation.
The YouTube videos, posted Nov. 28, show what the pilot calls the irony of flight crews being forced to go through TSA screening while ground crew who service the aircraft are able to access secure areas simply by swiping a card.
"As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here," the pilot narrates.
William L. Anderson comments on Paul Krugman's distortions of Ron Paul's statements and beliefs:
The Smearing of Ron Paul
by William L. Anderson
When the Republicans retook the U.S. House of Representatives last November, it meant that Ron Paul would be in line to chair the subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve System. Despite the intense lobbying by Ben Bernanke and others who loathed the prospect of Rep. Paul being able to subpoena them to appear before Congress and then to ask them pointed questions about their secret operations, the Republican leadership still gave Rep. Paul his rightful position.
Obviously, the Usual Suspects on the Right and the Left are not happy, and today, I wish to concentrate on the attacks on Rep. Paul by another Paul, that being Krugman, who has deliberately misrepresented Rep. Paul’s positions in recent columns and blog posts. Krugman’s December 20 column called Rep. Paul a "zombie," and then proceeded to attribute false views to the congressman. All in a day’s work for the man whose name disgraces the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics.
Actually, Krugman’s smears began over the weekend when he first gave Rep. Paul a backhanded "compliment" for being consistent in his thinking, but then wrote that his ideas were "crazy." Wrote Krugman:
In a way, I almost welcome the frankness of someone like Ron Paul, who tells us that there’s no need for any kind of bank regulations. It’s crazy, of course – even Adam Smith called for bank regulations, comparing them to building regulations designed to prevent the spread of fires. But at least the guy’s consistent.
However, this is what Rep. Paul actually said:
"I don’t think we need regulators. We need law and order. We need people to fulfill their contracts." He added: "The market is a great regulator, and we’ve lost understanding and confidence that the market is probably a much stricter regulator."
What Rep. Paul wants is not government regulation, nor does he approve of "self-regulation," but rather he wants market regulation which comes about via profits and losses. For example, the banking crisis that came about in the fall of 2008 existed because consumers and investors were telling the banks they made wrong choices, and that they needed to pay.
However, Congress (with Krugman’s approval) intervened and then pretty much proceeded to nationalize the country’s financial system. As Austrians (and we count Dr. Paul among our number) have noted, this will not make the financial regime more stable and it certainly will not make it more solvent. It just makes the hole deeper and the Day of Reckoning even more sinister.
Krugman hardly was through. He then created another post for his blog in which he misrepresents Dr. Paul’s views on money. Krugman writes:
I used that term (paleomonetarism) – it’s probably not original, but who knows? – in a recent post about the increasingly obscure meaning of the money supply. The best example would surely be Ron Paul, who’s now going to have oversight over the Fed. If you read his stuff, it’s very clear: money is a well-defined quantity that the Fed controls, and inflation comes from – indeed is defined as – increases in that quantity.
What he means, I guess, is monetary base.
Krugman then goes on to compare the changes in the monetary base with the changes in the CPI in order to claim that Dr. Paul is wrong on money and wrong on inflation. Robert Wenzel deftly challenges Krugman in this blog post.
However, Krugman was just getting warmed up, and his December 20 column not only refers to Dr. Paul as a "zombie," but he repeats the "regulation" quote but this time fails to link Dr. Paul’s statements to the article in the Wall Street Journal from where the quote came. He writes:
When historians look back at 2008–10, what will puzzle them most, I believe, is the strange triumph of failed ideas. Free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about everything – yet they now dominate the political scene more thoroughly than ever.
How did that happen? How, after runaway banks brought the economy to its knees, did we end up with Ron Paul, who says "I don’t think we need regulators," about to take over a key House panel overseeing the Fed?
We can expect much, much more of this, and not just from Paul Krugman. Ben Bernanke has lots of friends in the media, and one can be sure that Bernanke will be the source of "anonymous" quotes that will denigrate Dr. Paul’s character and his understanding of money and the economy. For that matter, Bernanke was the chair of the economics department at Princeton when the university hired Krugman, so one can be sure that Krugman has Bernanke’s back.
Furthermore, one can bet that much of the banking and monetary establishment is going to try to destroy Dr. Paul’s character over the next two years, and given that the Washington media really does not care about facts and certainly not the truth, one can bet that every false rumor about Ron Paul will be bandied about by the mainstream media.
Of all people, Krugman understands that when an academic writer such as himself deliberately misrepresents someone by using a quote to push a point of view the other person does not have, he is engaged in fraud. This is the kind of fraud that at one time discredited someone to a point where his good reputation and sometimes his academic position were taken away from him.
Obviously, that no longer is the case. Krugman has signaled that he is quite willing to be a hatchet man for Bernanke and others and to insult and misrepresent what Ron Paul is doing and saying. That Bernanke and his Wall Street friends are willing to go along with this tells us much more about them than I really want to know.
(I would add that Henry Hazlitt, who was a much better economic thinker than Krugman ever will be, wrote columns for Newsweek for many years, yet never engaged in this kind of personal invective. Today, invective is about all Krugman and others like him understand.)
It is going to become even uglier than it is now, and the new Congress has not even been seated.
December 21, 2010
William L. Anderson, Ph.D., teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit his blog.
Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
From the Libertarian Party:
Government officials afraid of a full-body scan of their words should resign, says LP Chair
WASHINGTON - While Democratic and Republican politicians outdo each other with calls for the prosecution and even execution of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange for providing information to various news media, Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle says that free speech and freedom of the press must be supported unconditionally. Hinkle released the following statement today:
"In 1787, as the U.S. Constitution was being written, Thomas Jefferson wrote, 'Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.' His recognition of the critical need for a free press led him and others to demand a Bill of Rights, where freedom of speech and freedom of the press were listed in the very first amendment to the Constitution.
"In 2010, Democratic and Republican politicians alike are trying to destroy this precious liberty. The Obama Administration, which has already invoked the 'state secrets' claim in court more than any administration in history, has arrested Army Private Bradley Manning, alleging that he copied and leaked various documents, and is holding him in solitary confinement pending a military trial. Meanwhile, Republican presidential hopefuls are falling over themselves seeing who can sound the toughest. Mike Huckabee says that anything less than execution of the leaker is too kind. Newt Gingrich wants Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, declared an 'enemy combatant' so that he can be denied all due process. And Sarah Palin wants Assange hunted down like Osama bin Laden (perhaps missing the irony that bin Laden has not been caught).
"Even more ominously, companies which provided various services to WikiLeaks suddenly decided to end their relationship after receiving pressure from Washington. Amazon, PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard all suddenly felt that the activities of WikiLeaks, well-known to them for years, were illegal, absent any actual charges being filed for the violation of any law. When government officials start pressuring businesses in order to silence critics, tyranny isn't far off.
"Publishing documents provided by a government agent is not a crime. Embarrassing public officials is not a crime. Regardless of the degree to which the released documents are helpful or harmful, Assange and WikiLeaks are exercising their rights, and American politicians and government agents should stop threatening and harassing them.
"Freedom of the press is not a luxury, and the prospect of a government able to silence dissent and prevent the press from communicating unfavorable information about the behavior of government employees should frighten anyone who loves liberty. It is understandable that government officials who are lying to the public and covering up misdeeds want to keep their actions secret, just as a criminal doesn't want the police to find out about his crime. As Steven Greenhut of the Pacific Research Institute notes, 'If it weren't for anonymous sources and leaked information, the journalism business would serve as a press-release service for officialdom.'
"Private Manning deserves the presumption of innocence, due process, a speedy and fair trial, and decent treatment while in prison. If Manning revealed information which did not damage national security or result in harm to others, but instead revealed evidence of incompetence, corruption, or other illegal activities, then he should be able to raise that as a defense at any trial. Just as when Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and had his subsequent prosecution dismissed by the courts, an important principle is that information which is being kept secret to protect wrongdoing is not in fact legally and properly classified. A jury should be able to judge both the facts and the law, and to acquit Manning if the jury finds his actions to be justified.
"Two years ago, candidate Barack Obama praised the long tradition of information leaks by defending those who revealed Bush-era covert actions. 'We only know these crimes took place because insiders blew the whistle at great personal risk.... Government whistle-blowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.' Obama appears to have forgotten this statement, just as he has forgotten many other statements and promises he made while campaigning.
"Only a month ago, we were told by the Transportation Safety Administration that they should have the power to strip or grope us if we want to exercise our right of travel. In my view, any government official too embarrassed to handle a full-body scan of their words and actions should resign."
The Libertarian Party platform includes the following:
1.1 Expression and Communication. We support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology.
1.5 Crime and Justice. Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of harm to them selves. We support restitution of the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. We oppose reduction of constitutional safeguards of the rights of the criminally accused. The rights of due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must not be denied. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.
For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.
The LP is America's third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
RT reports on how the American intelligence/security bureaucracy uses fear in order to drum up political support and business.
With the U.S. already fighting in two wars, Yemen has been revealed as another possible front opening up. But there could be secret links between the countries that is feeding into the American media, which is now stoking fears that the Arab nation is a hotbed of terrorism. RT's Gayane Chichakyan reports.
Monday, December 20, 2010
The winner of Nanny of the Year: the City of San Francisco. From ReasonTV:
They touch our lives in so many ways, and Reason.tv acknowledges those who tell us that if it looks good, tastes good, or feels good, it should be illegal.
Live (to tape) from the fourth floor of the Sepulveda Center in Los Angeles, California--it's the 2010 Nanny of the Year Awards!
Over the past year, Reason.tv has recognized plenty of busybodies who relish minding other people's business, but who deserves to succeed 2009's winner (Meddlin' Mike Bloomberg), and take home the 2010 Nanny? Will it be the heartland mayor who sacked the Lingerie Football League? The Peach State pol who sued a man for growing a vegetable garden in his own yard? A member of the food police?
Remember, it's a dishonor just to be nominated. So get your awards season started off right, and tune it to the only show that delivers busybodies, babes, and bacon!
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
More from Allison Gibbs:
From Ayn Rand to Isabel Paterson, some of the most important figures in the modern movement for liberty have been women. So why aren't there more female libertarians today?
Reason.tv's Tim Cavanaugh sat down with Allison Gibbs, founder and executive director of the the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, at the Libertopia festival in Hollywood, California. Gibbs says that, although the pretentious and argumentative nature of the libertarian movement has been a turn off to women, she is optimistic about the future. She points out that LOLA is growing rapidly and notes that libertarianism is especially popular among young women.
More from Allison Gibbs:
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Even more from RTAmerica's Dina Gusovsky on the rise of Texas Congressman Ron Paul:
American media has tried to portray Ron Paul and his followers as angry, however is the mainstream media simply afraid of Ron Paul's political power? Even though Ron Paul will be 77 years old in 2012, he has been able to reach many of America's youth and revitalize their political involvement. Young Americans for Liberty political activist Nick Hankoff says in the upcoming Republican primaries, Republicans will talk about the future but Ron Paul will announce he is endorsed by the future.
More from RTAmerica's Dina Gusovsky on the rise of Texas Congressman Ron Paul:
Once shunned by the mainstream media, made fun of by establishment politicians, and questioned by political pundits, Congressman Ron Paul is finally getting the fifteen minutes of mainstream media fame that his followers say are so well deserved. In a recent NY Times profile, the Republican Congressman was quoted as saying that there is a "50-50 chance" that he will run again. His views on everything from domestic policy, to monetary reform, to US policy abroad are alternative, to say the least, but they seem to be catching on. His message is resonating even more with the rise of the tea party movement, and subsequently, the rise of Ron Paul himself.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Dina Gusovsky of RTAmerica interviews Iraq War veteran and radio show host Adam Kokesh on Texas Congressman Ron Paul's rise in influence over the last few years. Ron Paul is also an OB/GYN doctor.
Judge Andrew Napolitano and Professor Benjamin Powell take the pro freedom side in the debate over whether the government can dictate our food choices. Ellis Henican and Cheryl Casone take the pro authoritarian side. The debate was prompted by President Obama's signing of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a $4.5 billion bill that gives the federal government the power to lay down the rules for meals served in government schools. Michelle Obama stated that when it comes to feeding children “we just can’t leave it up to the parents.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Texas Congressman Ron Paul discusses his plans for the Federal Reserve on Bloomberg.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Jack Hunter comments on why conservatives should be championing WikiLeaks and defending its founder Julian Assange. Hunter says in part:
But the worst hypocrisy throughout this controversy has been in conservatives reflexively defending the government and attacking WikiLeaks. Since when have conservatives believed that Washington should be able to shroud any action it likes in secrecy and that revealing government’s nefarious deeds is tantamount to treason? Isn’t it government officials who might secretly work for corporate, ideological or transnational interests — and against the national interest — who are betraying their country?Read the rest here.
Interestingly, Wikileaks’ founder espouses the traditionally conservative, Jeffersonian view that America’s constitutional structure limits and lessens government corruption. Reported Time: “Assange appears to believe that the U.S. has not become ‘a much-worse-behaved superpower’ because its federalism, ‘this strength of the states,’ has been a drag on the combination of the burgeoning power of the central government and a presidency that can expand its influence only by way of foreign affairs.”
Sunday, December 12, 2010
From RT (Russia Today):
The pot should not call the kettle black - that's what Russia's Premier Vladimir Putin has said, rebuffing western criticism of Russian democracy. He says the arrest of the founder of Wikileaks website Julian Assange shows the West doesn't follow the democratic rules it preaches.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
From the Boston Globe:
In Boston, a city truck plowed into an apartment building owned by Ian Cotterell, knocking a hole in it and forced tenants out. Two days later, a city building inspector showed up and cited Cotterell for "structural defects" in the building including collapsed bricks and other "unsafe and dangerous" conditions, conditions created by the city's truck. The inspector ordered Cotterell to fix the building within 24 hours and also ordered him to appear in court.
From the Boston Globe:
The order noted that a Boston Transportation Department truck “drove into building,’’ but it also ordered Cotterell to fix the problems within 24 hours and appear in court.
“It’s unfair; the code violations I have because the truck made them,’’ Cotterell said last night by phone from the crash site, where crews worked to brace the building with steel beams and scaffolding and extract the truck.
City officials said that issuing citations to the landlord is standard operating procedure whenever a car crashes into a building, causing damage that makes it dangerous, and it is his responsibility to pay for any damages.
“Because it’s a city vehicle, the rules don’t change,’’ said Thomas Tinlin, commissioner of the city’s Transportation Department.
All actions have unanticipated side effects, but government acting through regulation or legislation is particularly adept at creating disastrous unintended consequences.
Great Moments in Unintended Consequences takes a look at three instances of epic government facepalm: Osborne Reef, Corn Ethanol Subsidies, and a particular clause in ObamaCare that is already doing more harm than good.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Texas Congressman Ron Paul on Freedom Watch with Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses tax reform, freedom of speech, journalism, and his appointment as Chairman of the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Will Potter, founder of GreenIsTheNewRed.com discusses WikiLeaks with Alyona Minkovski of Russia Today. Potter says politicians and journalists are enabling the loss of freedom of the press. Potter believes this repression will result in a backlash against the enablers.
Alyona Minkovski of Russia Today hits the nail on the head in describing the cowardice of the American media in regards to WikiLeaks. Minkovski points out that AP, Reuters and NBC in particular have decided to stop using the word whistleblower when talking about the WikiLeaks, after they've been calling WikiLeaks a whistleblower organization for months.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Texas Congressman Ron Paul comments on the latest revelations on the Federal Reserve and the continuing need for a complete Audit. Ron Paul states:
“In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. When truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.”
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
This month nannies banned beverages that mix booze with caffeine and one top official even hinted that the feds may disable cell phones in cars.
But this time top dishonors go to the heartland mayor who sacked the Lingerie Football League.
Presenting Reason.tv's Nanny of the Month for November 2010: Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett!
Friday, December 3, 2010
Texas Congressman Ron Paul discusses defense cuts on Morning Joe. Finally some Republicans besides Paul are talking about defense cuts, but is it anything more than idle rhetoric?
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Strange that no one in the mainstream media is concerned about things revealed by Wikileaks like the US lying about its involvement in Yemen. Apparently the violating of the Constitution and the killing of innocent civilians is no concern. Of course we have all the neocons from Sarah Palin to Joe Lieberman calling for the murder of Julian Assange. Again apparently no big deal.
Obama talks about improving education, but that is all it is, talk.
President Barack Obama is making his bid to be "the education president." At the start of NBC's recent Education Nation summit in New York, Obama appeared on the Today Show and touted what he claimed were a wide-ranging set of reforms to improve America's K-12 schools.
Yet Obama's education vision deserves an F for at least three reasons:
1. Money Talks. Obama says that the educational system needs new ideas and more money. Despite a doubling in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending since the early 1970s, student achievement is flat at best. But Obama is placing most of his bets on the money part. While he brags constantly about his Race to the Top initiative, in which states competed for $4 billion to fund innovative programs, he's spent more than $80 billion in no-strings-attached stimulus funds to maintain the educational status quo.
2. Choice Cuts. Candidate Obama said that he'd try any reform idea regardless of ideology. Yet one of his first education-related moves after taking office was to aid his Senate mentor, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), in killing a successful and popular D.C. voucher program that let low-income residents exercise the same choice Obama did in sending his daughters to private school.
3. The Unions Forever. The two largest teachers unions, The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, overwhelmingly supported Obama with their votes and their contributions. Some 95 percent of the groups' campaign contributions go to Democratic candidates and the NEA, spends more money on elections that Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Walmart, and the AFL-CIO combined. No wonder Obama's big talking point is that he wants to add 10,000 more teachers to public payrolls despite the fact that there are already more teachers per student than ever.
Reforming education may not be politically easy, but the solution is pretty simple: Give parents and students more ability to choose - and exit - schools. This works for every other sort of business and it works for higher education, too. There's no reason to think it wouldn't work for K-12 education.
And sadly, there's absolutely no reason to think that Obama will embrace that sort of change.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Soon everyone will need to dress this way to get through airport "security".
Tammy Banovac, clad in undergarments and sitting in a wheelchair, failed to pass the Transportation Security Administration screening process Tuesday when security officers detected traces of nitrates on her wheelchair.
Airport spokeswoman Karen Carney said the issue was resolved this morning and Banovac, 52, caught her flight out of the city at 7 a.m. after going through screening without incident.
Banovac did show up at the airport this morning in her wheelchair wearing her bra and panties again, Carney said. But Banovac had a change of clothes that she put on after being screened, Carney said.
She boarded her flight to Phoenix without incident. Carney said Banovac also had a dog with her, who left on the same flight.
Tuesday night Banovac said she chose to wear her underwear because of an unpleasant experience two weeks ago at airport security. She is typically hand-searched at airports because she uses a wheelchair, she said, and she felt violated by the more invasive searches employed at airports recently.
“If it happened anywhere else, it would have been sexual assault.”
Banovac said she was trying to board a flight to Phoenix on Tuesday when she was pulled aside at security for a more thorough search.
She said TSA employees told her equipment detected traces of nitrates, which are used in bombs, on her clothing and luggage. She said a TSA supervisor told her to leave the airport and “come back tomorrow” after more than an hour of hand searches and questioning.