Archive for the ‘Crony Capitalism’ Category

Change: We “Need” – Governed By Necessity

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Do Needs Trump Rights?

One of the most abused and over-used words in the English language is “need.” In all its forms, including “necessity” and “necessary,” there lurks a cruel despot willing to plunder, murder, and enslave any person at any time for almost any imaginable reason. “Need” in all its forms has been the excuse of tyrants throughout history.  It is used to seize those things that the needy want or wish, but cannot or will not themselves provide.  Once America accepted the cult of “need” as a driving rationale for government, it was inevitable that we would see the demise of our nation.  Now we have a President who has elevated the claim of “need” to supersede the assertion of rights.  Ours has become a nation of needs. Let me be clear to all those who use “need” as a bludgeon against your fellow man: You’re monsters, and your self-serving claims of “necessity” will not be forgotten, or forgiven.  “Need” is not a legitimate claim to anything, and until Americans understand this, there will be no chance to restore ours to a nation of rights.

I “need” a million dollars, or so I might claim. You might ask me for what purpose, but if I can’t tell you, or if the purpose is unsatisfactory in your estimation, it won’t matter at all so long as I can get some body of politicians to agree.  The framers of the constitution left in a number of loopholes through which despotism could slither, gaining direct access to our liberties in order to strangle them, one by one.  Your property?  It’s not yours if the government or some favored concern decides it “needs” your land, your chattel, or your money.  The political process now exists solely to rationalize and legitimize some person’s concept of “need” so that once codified in the laws of the land, it will become an unchallenged, irreversible claim for all times upon all persons residing within the nation.

One might claim a “need to eat.”  Everybody needs to eat, right?  Nevertheless, my “need to eat” doesn’t entitle me to walk next door to my neighbor and threaten him with bodily violence unless he feeds me.  His right to his property trumps my alleged need. It doesn’t matter whether I’m a starving bag of bones or a gargantuan tub of lard.  In any civilized society, where the rights of property are observed, a person making such a claim at gunpoint would be considered a criminal and prosecuted as such.  Why then do we permit a third party that profits from the robbery to carry it out without respect to property rights?  The government takes from your wallet, and places it in the empty wallets of others while taking a cut for its administrative troubles, all based on the generalized claim of need: “Everybody needs to eat.”

One might claim a “need to medical care.”  Here, the robbery goes farther and deeper, because the monetary costs of this “need” are not the only thing being redistributed.  Doctors and nurses have their pay capped under such a paradigm because the government claims the bargaining power of aggregated millions.  It can set the price for medical services at any level it likes, and the only choice those who are professionals in the field may do is to simply refuse to participate.  Worse, because government sits atop the heap in judgment of who is most needy or most “deserving” of the redistributed loot, government becomes the arbiter of who will live or die.  Death panels are not imaginary, but are instead a fact of life in a system that is permitted to pay for necessities while determining what those necessities may be.

Let me be perfectly blunt in explaining my position: Your need for a thing, whether goods or services, is not a legitimate claim upon my wallet.  Redirecting your need through a third party charged with meeting your needs at the expense of my bank account is no less evil.  One can claim anything as a need, but spreading the burden of such needs around doesn’t diminish the moral failure, but as Rand famously wrote, merely “multiplies the number of victims.” Rather than taking your whole monthly grocery bill from a single neighbor, you take some tiny fraction of a penny from millions of neighbors, with government at the enforcement arm of your protection racket.  Every person compelled by law to pay for your meal, your education, your medical care, your housing, your “Obama-phone,” or your utilities is right to view you and every person like you as a collection of mobsters, while seeing  government as the enforcers of a vast organized-crime syndicate made up of thugs.

Naturally, the concept of “need” isn’t restricted to individuals or classes of individuals. In 2008, when George W. Bush began the bail-outs that Barack Obama finished, it was all on the basis of a claim to need by vast corporate entities that had become “too big [to permit] to fail.” When Obama bailed out Chrysler and GM, again the claim was that the “need” had been great, and that we would trump the rights of millions of Americans to their wealth for the sake of a “need” by large corporations and trade unions.  The claim of necessity has ever been the tool of thugs and tyrants, and it has always served their interests first, and foremost.  At each instance, the claim of a critical need has been the driving force behind the actions, but it seems too few are willing to demand in response: “Need? By what right?”

It is easy to claim a need. Every person “needs” something.  The question must be: “By what right does one’s need confer a positive obligation upon others to fulfill it?” Unless and until the American people come to see “needs” as “high priority wishes,” the country will continue the moral cannibalism we now practice until such time as it devolves into the literal form.  This will require Americans to ask themselves some extremely consequential and deeply introspective questions about their own behaviors, and if there’s one thing our nation lacks, it is the will among its citizens to strictly critique themselves.  As Americans, our response to any claim of “need” by any person great or small should be met with a question: “By what right do you impose your needs as a claim upon others?”

Ours can be a nation of needs or rights, but it may not long suffer while attempting to be both.

Where Have You Been?

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Bits in the Wind

Being a less than enthusiastic fan of popular culture, I sometimes get dragged into conversations on subjects about which I know roughly nothing, and they frequently resemble something like this:  “Did you see [TV-Show] last night?”  Me: “No, I’ve never heard of it.”  Questioner: “Where have you been?”  The implication is that I’m some kind of a dolt because I don’t watch much of the pop-culture garbage being spewed out of television networks and movie studios.  It’s true, but only if your standard of reckoning is measured against knowing what had been on television last night.  In light of Edward Snowden’s disclosures, there has been a good deal of shock and a widespread sense of contempt for a government that is able and willing to spy on the intimate details of the daily lives of Americans.  Stories have been cranking out about the degree to which government is able to record all the daily activities of citizens, and the extent to which large corporations have climbed into bed with government to provide information on their own customers.  Perhaps it is because I have a little of the Devil in me, or perhaps it’s because I have this innate compulsion to say “I told you so,” but either way, to all those Americans who are breathlessly gobsmacked over the spying our government does on its own people, I can ask only: “Where have you been?”

Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is that in some form or fashion, this has been going on for years.  I fully expected that government would be in bed with every cellular provider and you should have expected it too.  After all, those companies have broadcasting facilities dotting the countryside, and just as you asked the government to do, these companies are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.  Is it really so incomprehensible that with a little twisting of licensees’ corporate arms, government would be given access to this data?  Every networking device in the country bears an FCC label, from the Network Interface Card in your computer to the routers and switches through which your Internet traffic passes.  These devices and anything like them are all subject to some form of regulation by the FCC.  Did you think that would never come back to bite you?  You didn’t know?  Where have you been?

From the moment government first put its claws into the regulation of communications, it was inevitable that the government would begin the process of controlling, managing, monitoring, and even shaping communications to its own ends.  It was a temptation too great to avoid, because those who seek power seek it for a reason: Control.  This is the nature of government, but it is the key element in building the sort of command-and-control structures that even now have become too large to be concealed in the shadows.  The sad, sickening reality is that in one form or another, you’ve asked for this, and in many cases, you’ve been driven into demanding it.

If you’re alive in 2013, for the span of your entire life, you have been told (and you have mostly accepted) that the government has a natural interest in regulating everything that goes over the air, or through public spaces.  You’ve accepted the notion that the Federal Communications Commission should have the unlimited authority to exert control on radio and television programming, and aghast at some of the content you’ve seen on the Internet in the past two decades, you’ve even asked the government to intervene in that medium as well.  Seldom does anybody question the primary premise on which all this regulation is based:  The government, acting on behalf of the public, must have effective ownership of all means of transmission through the public spaces with users, whether individual or corporate, are merely licensees in some form or fashion.  It needn’t have been true, and the fact is that this assumption has caused the aggregation of vast wealth into a few hands when it need not have been.  Just as we had “land rushes” sponsored by government to populate our Western landscape, we might just as easily have done something similar with frequencies in well-described locales, conferring ownership of airwaves rather than licensing of them.

Unfortunately, there will be no going back.  Every website you’ve ever visited has been recorded.  Every phone call you’ve placed or text message you’ve sent has been open to monitoring and recording, and it has grown to such an extent that now your electric meter may well record spikes in usage that denote a pattern of when you are home, when you’re awake, when you’re watching the TV, and when you’re microwaving your supper.  In some places, water metering devices can now reliably discern between a quick washing of the hands or a flushing of a toilet, and all of this information being gathered is said to improve the ability to serve customers.  Meanwhile, the US government builds alliances with corporations, mostly coercive in nature despite any carrots offered to sooth the blow, and those enticements to businesses include the sharing of government data that will be helpful in marketing to customers.  It’s very cozy, but it’s nothing new, and it’s been done this way since the advent of mass mobile communications and Internet access, and in truth, for many years before.

The disclosures provided by Edward Snowden should only really shock you if you’ve been doing as I’ve been accused when I can’t identify a movie actor: “Living under a rock.”  For decades now, it has been supposed that anybody who believed all this monitoring is possible was some sort of “conspiracy kook,” but the problem is that those of us in the technology fields have understood that this was a growing reality from which there could be no escape, in part because we have helped to build it. Others imagine that the bulk of information being captured is just so large that it is unmanageable, and that there is no possible way in which any sense can be made of it in a thoroughly threatening way, but if they believe that, I think they’ve significantly underestimated the ability of government to aggregate and correlate data.  Vast government server farms exist that are devoted to nothing but the accumulation and storage of this data, for eventual analysis and correlation.

One young woman recently asked me what good it would do the government to have all of this data on all Americans, and how it would constitute a threat to their privacy, since in her view, she doesn’t do anything unusual or threatening.  Frankly, knowing all I do about how government collects data, and how corporations are the continual source for so much of that information, I could not fathom how she did not see and understand the threats to her privacy.  In order to impress upon her how thoroughly oppressive this could become, I asked her to detail her day, and at each step along her daily course, I explained how that information could be used to build a picture not only of how she lived on a particular day, but would also provide a very good set of red flags that she had an atypical day.  How much information do you think is necessary when collected at the level of granularity now available to build a complete picture of your average day?  Once your “normal” daily routine is established, spotting anything out of the ordinary is not difficult.

What this means to the average citizen of the United States is that there are few ways to escape the “grid.” Do you work? Do you have a bank account? Credit cards? Cell phone?  Smart meter on your electric service?  Ditto for water?  Cable television?  Satellite?  Is your car recording driving data that can and will be used against you if there’s a mishap?  Now, add to this your medical records that will soon come to be under wall-to-wall Federal management, and then consider retailers able to link your purchases to all of these, and the picture that results should be shocking to every person:  There is virtually nothing that you may now do alone, and without company of some spying eye, whether direct governmental watching, or through a third party like your cell-phone company.  You can scarcely go to the bathroom without somebody knowing it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I will not pretend to you that I know much about popular culture, but I am intensely aware of technology and its use in tracking human activity.  There is virtually nothing we do in this modern frame that isn’t being collected as an event, analyzed, and categorized for later recall.  The reason this is possible is because for the most part, when you hear of the details, you shrug and go on, feeling helpless to do anything about it.  The truth is, however, that to a larger degree, it is born of our intellectual sloth.  To the degree we’re unaware, it’s only because we don’t want to know.

It’s 6am, and a light turns on.  It’s 6:05, and a toilet flushes and moments later, there are the connections necessary to check email on some distant server. The email is downloaded and read while a cup of coffee is consumed, the brewing machine having activated at 5:45am sharp in anticipation of your impending alarm, and then the television comes on, and a news channel is selected.  There is the running of more water, consistent with a shower, and then a burst of electric demand, indicating something being heated in a standard microwave.  There is some flipping of channels, and then there’s the first phone call of the day, and the first three text messages too, the first to the office, the other three in a hurried, playful exchange with a lover.  Then there’s another flush, because the spouse has arisen.  Another television pops on and another smart phone comes to life, as the earlier riser rushes out the door.  The central air kicks in because a door has opened and closed, the exchange of the warmer air outside triggering the thermostat, and thus recording the power spike as the compressor motor turns on.

An engine comes to life. Down the road it goes. Triangulation from the cellular towers in the vicinity record the strength of the signal from the driver’s phone, recording distance.  One tower knows only your distance from it.  Two towers with overlapping range fix your position to one of two possible points at the intersections of their coverage, and a third tower now finalizes location, permitting your speed and direction of travel to be recorded.  Overlaid on a map, this information can tell us if you were speeding, since on that stretch of roadway, the speed is set to 60mph, but you were moving much too quickly for that.  More texts come in, again from the lover, to whose home you’re speeding for a quick stop on the way to your job.  The conversation is noted, and the exact location of each device is recorded, and as the monitors watch, one device converges on the other.

The spouse calls to say “Don’t forget, we have a PTA meeting tonight.”  This too is recorded, and so is the sound of the driver saying, “Okay, talk to you later… Love you too… Bye…”  Another text comes in… “How long?”  The response: “5.”  The driver turns off the highway, and down a side-street, pulls into a gas station, using the ATM. Location for the transaction is recorded, along with the face of the banking customer.  No time for gas, have enough until later.  Just a minute away now.  A warm embrace, cellular networks respectively recording the correlation of locations on distinct devices complete with timestamps.  A few painfully short minutes later, back in the car, down the road, now running late for work because the driver tried to steal more minutes from the day than should be possible. The logging device in the car records a near-stop, as the driver artfully rolls a stop-sign.  A watching police officer falls in behind, the lights turns on, and a traffic stop is born. 

“In a hurry?” asks the officer.  “License, insurance, registration, please.” In a dispatch center miles away, the radio traffic between dispatchers and the officer buzzes with information.  License, license plate. Warrants?  Clean? Okay.  The officer compares the picture on his screen to the one on the license to the driver he’s just stopped.  Checks out okay – same person. “I’m letting you go with a warning, but watch those stops, okay?”  In a records management system, the completed event now registers time, date, location, make, model, driver, infraction, and links to the dash-cam video that would be used in defense against a civil suit if you had been unhappy about your treatment by the officer.  As it is, the driver is late, but in the hurry to get to work, a drivers’ license is dropped.

 The officer is understanding.  People are in a hurry in this economy.  When he gets a moment, he sends a terminal message to dispatch to look up the driver again, and see if there’s a listed number.  There is, a home phone number, and three seconds later, that phone rings.  A person answers, and in the background, the dispatcher can hear the sounds of children getting ready for school, and a breathless parent saying: “Dropped the license where?”  Meanwhile, a driver arrives at the office.  The missing license is finally noticed, but it’s too late to turn back.  It’s probably fallen between the seat and the door anyway.  One minute later, after explaining to the boss that except for an unfortunate traffic stop, the driver would have been on time, a cell phone rings.  It’s the spouse.  “Lose something?”  Having dropped the children at school, the spouse’s location is noted by a cellular network, as the car converges with another point on the map: A private investigator’s office.

So it goes. In barely more than two hours, a family is in danger of disintegration, a cheat is revealed, and all of it is recorded somewhere, waiting for somebody to notice the links. If you think this is impossible, think again.  If you think that the government hasn’t the capacity to sort and correlate all such data, you don’t understand the technology.  Any one of these tiny electronic transactions would be meaningless in most contexts, but in the aggregate, they can be used to build a fairly complete picture of a given subject.  Does the government need your cooperation?  How can they twist your arm if they do?  How can the institutions of government control you?  How can they manage you?  How much will you take?  What will cause you to bend? What can be exchanged for your silence or compliance?  This form of unlimited control of a populace has always been a subject of much speculation and fear, but now, we are on the cusp of its birth as a real, ordinary process of daily life.  We empower it.  We permit it.  We feed it, and we give our silent assent to all of it.  Mostly, we’ve permitted them to build it in utter contempt of our wishes to the contrary.  We’ve listened to the promises of safety and security, and we’ve permitted the governing class to use social programs as a facade behind which to build this vast network of command-and-control structure, with nothing so secret as to avoid detection.

After a brief stop at the PI’s office, it’s time to get on to the doctor.  That appointment has been nagging since it was scheduled.  Ten years and three children into the marriage, that same feeling is back, and while it’s not certain, somehow, chemistry being what it is, she knows.  The doctor beams at her. He’s delivered her three children, and the news is now noted that there is a fourth growing inside her, but the tears into which she bursts are not those of joy.  The children at school are going blissfully about their day, but she has a mortal decision to make. She knew her husband was stepping out.  That’s why she hadn’t let him touch her in months.  The cellphone chimes with a text as her best friend asks: “Well?”  She sobs uncontrollably, and rushes from the doctor’s office.  She calls him, his number concealed in her phone under “Pool Service,” he answers, not sure who she is, at first.  How could he?  It was just that once for her, and now she’s faced with what to tell him, whether to tell him anything, or what to do.  The phone signal tapers away.  He asks her “Well, what do you want to do?  I don’t want to be a father…”  A few minutes later, her cellular service records her arrival on the seedier side of town.  There’s a clinic there, and for an hour, she sits there looking at the clinic, but trying to see her future.  She does Internet searches, looking up terms like “abortion, adoption, divorce lawyer, marriage counseling, and Plan B.”

If you think the government can’t learn a great deal about you, even from much less dramatic information, remember that there are only really three things they need to know:  Name, time, location.  Associating those three attributes with any given event, also fixed in location and time, gives them all they need to know to build the most complete picture.  It’s a puzzle made up of multidimensional pixels, where time and location define four, but the color of the pixel reveals one more bit of the overall picture of you.  If you’re not frightened, you’re a fool.  If you think that you live a perfect, upstanding life, and that you are beyond reproach and much beyond the aims of any extortion or coercion, remember that all of this information is recorded, but there is nothing that says it cannot be modified to invent times, places, and events associated with you for which there had been no factual record.  Who would a court or a jury believe?  You, or the machine?  After all, what possible interest could government have in framing you?  What possible interest could any people prone towards freakishly controlling behavior have in managing you in a direction they find more appropriate to their own ends?

This is the searing question raised by Edward Snowden’s disclosures, but I it mystifying that it’s taken this long for the discussion to gain attention in the popular culture.  In our popular culture, it’s always the dark and sinister CEO of some corporation driving these monstrous “conspiracies” that now appear uncomfortably too much like the reality we are coming to know.  The question we never ask is: “If they’re pulling our strings, who is pulling theirs?”  If you’re the head of a multinational corporate entity, why would you cooperate with government?  A quid pro quo?  This for that?  What are these people buying with their cooperation with government?  Silence?  Coordination?  Profit?  Whatever your inclination, you can rest assured it will be all of these and more.  Do you need to eliminate or hamper a competitor?  Do you need to quash a earnings report?  Do you wish to preserve your reputation in front of the world?  What is your price?  How can you help us?

Naturally, such global-scale thinking needn’t be the sole function or motive of such systems as PRISM or those like it.  Sometimes, it’s about a broader, more general compliance among the populace, and if you don’t believe you’re the target of that, I can only repeat my earlier question: “Where have you been?”

 

 

 

 

 

“Boomtown” Hannity Special Reveals a Swamp Undrained

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

On Friday night, Sean Hannity aired a special presentation called “Boomtown,” featuring Peter Schweizer and Stephen K. Bannon.  The point of “Boomtown” is to expose the naked corruption of the rich and powerful who now hold sway over the Federal Government.  From crony capitalism to old-fashioned cronyism and nepotism in government, the two explained how thoroughly broken our Federal government has become, and how frequently its machinery is placed in service of the accumulation of vast wealth for those who are on the inside.  Cautioning viewers that these criticisms apply equally to Democrats and Republicans, their point was well made.  Here’s the video:

What one must conclude from this film is what Sarah Palin warned us during her speech at Indianola, IA:  Too much of Washington DC is corrupted by the kickbacks, the insider deals, and the special set-asides for lobbying corporations.  Many conclude that this means money must be gotten out of politics, but that cannot and will not happen.  Instead, in order to cure the problem, government must be gotten out of business, but as Bannon and Schweizer explained, that’s not going to be easy because so many there are so firmly invested in the process of using government and the law as tools of self-enrichment.

To change any of this, the American people will need to become informed in order to demand sensible changes resulting in a different culture in Washington DC, but the solutions will not be easy.  It is going to require leadership committed to reforming the way government operates, and for all the talk of people like Nancy Pelosi who in 2006 lamented the “culture of corruption,” even after four years of her tenure as Speaker of the House, the swamp she claimed her party would drain has filled to overload with shady, corrupt practices and widespread graft.  It’s a bipartisan problem, and this is why in the final analysis, Boehner and crew continue to go along with the President’s out-of-control spending:  Everybody is profiting from it in Washington DC, because while unemployment throughout the country remains nearly 8%, and home values continue to be stagnant or on the decline, in Washington DC, everything is booming because they’re collecting your money and spending money they’re borrowing with the American people held in bondage to make payments on their self-enriching excesses.

We may never get the money out of politics, but we will improve the trajectory of our country if we can get the government out of business by prohibiting to it the sort of corruptions that are now routine procedures in Washington DC. If we love our liberties, it is time to grasp the notion that a government vested with so much power to intervene in the free market is the inevitable birthplace of tyranny.

Liberty Needs Your Help in Coryell County Texas

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Justice Denied

From time to time, we all encounter stories about a corrupt institution of local government, and we wonder at the mindset that must lie behind the corruption.  As it turns out, in my own area here in Central Texas, there is at least one corrupt institution of government, and if there is any justice on Earth, the demons who have used their authority to demolish a lady’s life will be made to pay.  Sadly, the system is rigged against her, and naturally, the authorities involved have a corrupt media in their pockets.  What makes this story all the more frightening for me, personally, is the fact that I know the lady involved who has been the ceaseless victim of an attack by cronyism between a few private interests and a local government.  I will now share with you this story, in the hope that you will find a way to help her cause.  We mustn’t leave government or justice to the corrupt sorts who use it for personal vendettas or personal gain, but in Coryell County Texas, the law has become the servant of criminals.

You should know that in Central Texas, one of the counties in the region is Coryell.  Its seat is the city of Gatesville, and its largest town, Copperas Cove, is on the Western edge of the Fort Hood military reservation.  To travel from Copperas Cove to Gatesville entails a thirty minute drive on Highway 116, a roadway that runs  parallel to the Western boundary of the military reservation.  It is along this rural Texas highway that this controversy was initiated, and it was enacted by parties in the Copperas Cove vicinity, and otherwise assisted by officialdom in Gatesville.  Before telling you the details of the case, let me tell you about its primary victim, a lady I have known for a dozen years, who is remarkable both in her person, but also in her personal history.  Her name is Marijeta Medverec, and if there is any justice in Heaven or on Earth, Coryell County will come to bear her name.

Marijeta is an immigrant to the United States.  She was born and raised in what had been Yugoslavia, when it was a part of the Soviet Bloc.  She was among the first handful of female fighter jet pilots in her country, being one of the first women in her country, and indeed in the world, to exceed the speed of sound.   She was also the first female pilot in her home country’s “commercial” air service.  She was trained in martial arts. When her son had a congenital heart condition, the government would not allow her to travel to the West to get it fixed, so she did something astonishing and courageous:  She defected.  She left behind everything, including her family, and defected to the West.

She went to the United States.  She joined the United States Army as a private.  She did so because she knew that it would increase her odds of being stationed in Germany, from where she would eventually smuggle her family out.  She had seen the villainy of socialism, and as one of that system’s premier examples of what a human could do, she went on to do even more.  She became a physician’s assistant, and she went on to retire from the U.S. Army as a Lt. Colonel, a disabled veteran and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom who has seen and done more in her life than most of us would ever imagine.

Marijeta was not yet finished, however, as she decided she would have a horse farm and riding school in order to work with disabled children and anybody at all who wished to learn the rigors of horsemanship and good animal husbandry.  She bought a small piece of land just North of Copperas Cove, Texas, where our case begins, and on her small sixty-acre parcel, she began to bring the horses she had already acquired, and began to add to this with more animals, including charity cases, such as an old blind horse, nearly 30 years old, and some others, whose owners could no longer afford to feed them in our current economic travails.  She worked at least two, but usually three full-time jobs as a medical professional in order to pay the feed bills, the hay bills, the vet bills, and still keep everything else going.

To say Marijeta is a driven person is to understate the matter.  She is the sort of person whose life is a refutation to all who say “life is hard, it’s not my fault,” and she is the very picture of human achievement.  I am a person who thrives on work, and I disparage readily those who lay about and complain about their situation, but truly, I am a mere shadow of the sort of person Marijeta has been across the whole span of her fruitful life.  She is clever, engaging, disciplined, and compassionate almost to a fault.  In the dozen years I have known Marijeta, I have never known her to do wrong by any living thing, except perhaps herself.

More is the irony that in July of 2012, Sheriff’s deputies arrived on her property and seized all of her livestock.  The oafs trailered out her old blind horse, her mares, her gelding, her prized breeding stallion, as well as her cattle(ten head) and her goats(45) and donkeys.  They left behind her guinea hens, her dogs, and her cats.  All of this was done in a highly-publicized media circus orchestrated by the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office.  The claim was that some of the animals were in imminent danger of death from some sort of neglect or mistreatment.  That claim is an utter lie, but one might wonder how it could be that such a claim would come to be made in the first place.

Marijeta had a brief marriage to a person of local notoriety in the Copperas Cove vicinity, and that man has friends.  That man actually introduced Marijeta some years ago to the Sheriff’s deputy, one of his buddies, and the man who turned out to be the officer who initiated the investigation that resulted in this seizure.  The warrant for the seizure was issued by Justice of the Peace Coy Lathan, an elected JP who has served in Coryell County, but who is neither an attorney nor a scholar, as defined by the standard meaning of those terms.  The warrant would never have passed muster in a real court, which is presumably the reason it was sought in the JP court.  I suppose that if you want to do something really ugly to somebody, you ought to begin in a Kangaroo Court where the authority is on your side, and easily swayed to your cause.

More, the JP Court is limited in law to issues in controversy not to exceed $10,000.  Any dozen of her animals would cross that threshold, and yet to the Kangaroo court this went without delay, a County Attorney playing hatchet-man and pulling stunts in open court that might have gotten him a contempt charge in a civilized county.  Why could he get away with it? Because Coy Lathan is apparently unfamiliar with the rules of civil procedure governing the conduct of a hearing or trial in a court in the State of Texas.

The Deputy who initiated and conducted the investigation was one of only two witnesses for the prosecution, a prosecution for which no actual charge existed at the time of the hearing-turned-trial, although one was subsequently concocted to fill in the blank on the form.  The other witness was a “friend of a neighbor” who had been in the vicinity of Medverec’s property twice in the period of a half-dozen years.  On Medverec’s side were a number of witnesses, including a licensed, practicing veterinarian, who had examined the animals only a few days before the seizure(when Medverec got suspicious about the poking-around by the Deputy in question.)  Other witnesses included a skilled farrier, who is also a police chief and animal control officer in another jurisdiction.  There were roughly two hands-full of witnesses on Medverec’s behalf.  Medverec’s attorney actually asked what sort of plea he should be entering, since he didn’t understand whether this legal farce was hearing or a trial, and what were the charges if it was the latter.  She was not accorded the ability to request a jury trial.  She was deprived of all the ordinary civil liberties accorded to the accused, because upon the commencement of the procedure(?), she hadn’t been charged with anything.    There was not even a court-reporter present to make a permanent legal record of the hearing/trial/farce.

Yes, this is the state of justice in Coryell County, Texas.  You may have had your own dealings with the “good ol’ boys” where you live, but these are prototypes for the worst of the breed.

In the end, after hearing all the testimony, Justice of the Peace Lathan(a damnable heresy that he should hold such a title) said he would retire to consider the case, and that he would issue his decision the following morning.  His decision defied all law, all equity, and all logic.  He ordered Medverec’s horses returned to her, but ordered that the county would keep her goats and cows in order to satisfy the cost of the care of her animals.  He ordered that a veterinarian must monitor her animals regularly.  (As if this wasn’t already the case???)  What he did was to steal from Medverec.  That’s it.  It was official oppression, and when she lawyered-up, they got a bit worried, so they backed-off but they could not help it:  Lathan had to try to hide his idiocy or corruption(coin toss?) in issuing such a warrant, and in issuing such a seizure order, and if he didn’t do this, the county would be stuck with the bill for the animals’ care, that should never have occurred in the first place.

Of course, if you think this ended the controversy, you’d be mistaken.  Medverec knows a thing or two about government oppression, and she’s fought worse thugs than these.  She instructed her lawyer to file a suit, and she is currently figuring out if she is able to file an appeal at present, since it turns out that in the rush to get her horses home, she may have waived the ability to appeal. The rush to get her horses home was caused by the fact that her thirty-nine head were sharing a one-hundred gallon water trough that remained empty most of the time, and in this mass environment, her horses were becoming injured.  They also had injured her stallion, at one point during the seizure process, threatening to shoot him, and actually drawing their guns on her when she attempted to intervene.  I want you to consider the picture of a woman of slight build, stepping between armed official thugs and a horse, and the thugs drawing their guns on her.  That’s what Marijeta is up against.  These people who were there to seize her animals from alleged “imminent danger of death” ran over one of her goats, killing it, and injured her prized stallion, subsequently turning out a herd of horses into a barren pasture with insufficient feed, hay, water, and shade.  Who was the imminent danger to her animals?

Now come the stories of threats.  The rumor is that the veterinarian who had examined her animals and who testified on her behalf in the show trial has been told that he will get no more contracts with the county, particularly if he continues to testify on her behalf in any future court actions.  A neighbor shot one of her guinea hens, on her property.  During the hearing, she had windows smashed and tires slashed.  There is no point in reporting it to the authorities since it seems the authorities may be in collusion with the criminals.  I have begun to fear for Marijeta’s life, as the sort of thugs who clearly run that backwards county are the very sort who would kill to silence the truth.  The media is not covering this, since they would now look like idiots, having trumpeted the phony story from the outset.  The relation between local media and local authorities is incestuous, at best.  How did the media know to be at some remote property in Coryell County for the seizure pictures and footage?  They were tipped, but who tipped them?  There is only one answer:  A person or persons within the County government were seeking a propaganda decapitation strike. The media has many relationships with local government, and in our vicinity, it is clear one can trust neither.

I will be updating this story as more information becomes available.  In the mean time, I need your help.  We need to bring severe scrutiny upon Coryell County.  The cattleman’s association there has already seen the danger implicit in this action, and is agitating for the ouster of the Sheriff.  Others in the community have had similar things done to them, and they are now beginning to tell their stories  to the slim degree the media will cover it.

I’ve had the distinct privilege to know Col. Medverec for more than a decade.  She’s a first-rate horseman, and she’s a talented, dedicated medical professional.  She’s a workaholic, and she doesn’t deserve this treatment here in her adopted home.  This travesty should never be permitted, and it’s clear that so long as the current government of Coryell County, Texas is left in place, there can be no justice for its residents, and there can be no safety for their rights either.  I am absolutely floored by the corruption implicit in this entire case, and that it seems to have been concocted by cronies only makes it worse.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Coryell County, Texas, where crooks wear badges and black robes while retired veterans with livestock are understandably nervous.

I would ask readers to contact the Texas Attorney General’s office on Col. Medverec’s behalf.

Email Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

You can also attempt to contact Coryell County Judge John Firth, chief administrator of Coryell County, not that it will do any good.

Email Judge Firth

For my part, I am going to use every resource I can in the area to battle on Medverec’s behalf.  This is a crime being enacted under color of law, a.k.a. “Official Oppression.”  Marijeta is a proud woman, and she has not solicited any sort of financial support, but I am going to ask her how people can donate to her defense against this outrageous act of corrupt government.

Republicans in Congress Shafting Us Again

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Mmmm, Pork!

We shouldn’t even be having this conversation.  It shouldn’t be possible that with all our efforts in 2010 that the Republican majority in the House is even considering this bill.  We wanted Congress to get the spending under control, but instead, it seems as though many of the members we elected on the basis of getting the nation’s financial house in order are instead using the occasion of the Obama administration’s spendthrift ways as cover for more of the same.  The new farm bill is a scorched-Earth policy that heaps new debt upon the nation, reaching forward a whole decade(as if somebody could possibly know what will be needed in farming ten years in the future,) and makes pay-outs of subsidies invisible to the public.  In addition, it locks in Obama’s Food-stamps spending at nearly $80 billion per year.  Why would any Republicans, never mind alleged “conservatives,” go along with this? H.R. 6083 promises nearly one-trillion dollars in spending over ten years.  As an excellent article on Breitbart details, we’re shafted if this is the answer of Republicans.

Agricultural subsidies are popular in farm states, so that it’s easy to understand what’s going on.  This is the same sort of welfarism that the Democrats employ, and it’s clear that no small number of the farm state Democrats will join in the vote in favor of the bill. It’s also clear that a large number of Democrats will vote for the bill due to the locked-in SNAP/Food-Stamps spending levels.  For those less than perfectly familiar with the sort of thing government does in agriculture, consider the ethanol subsidies as one, but also consider the crop insurance program as another.  Both are harmful to our general economy, and both take from tax-payers to redistribute to others, but what they do most of all is to make our farmers dependent upon big government. More, by tying it up with the Food-Stamps/SNAP program, it Congressional “leaders” help to assure easy passage.

The crop insurance program is designed to basically pay farmers if the invest in planting subsidized crops that are ruined by weather, drought, or other natural condition that prevents them from recovering their investment in the planted crop.  This is a terrible idea because it does something nobody else in the market can rationally expect: It removes all risk from the activity, and actually encourages extraordinary risk-taking.  Fields that perhaps shouldn’t be put in production, or should be planted in something else are instead planted with a crop that the farmer may even expect to fail, but is indemnified because it is one of the insured crops.  Worse, the crop “insurance” isn’t really insurance, since in actuarial terms, the small “premium” isn’t near what the mathematics would demand in a free market for such an “insurance” if that were to be its actual goal.  It’s a scam, and the biggest beneficiaries are agricultural giants and politicians.

The effect of this program is to confound the free market, results in higher prices for consumers, and generally causes an expenditure of government funds that is not necessary or proper in any respect.  At the same time, other programs like the ethanol subsidy drive more corn into ethanol production, rather than into food production, meaning that consumers who want a can of corn or a sack of corn-chips are going to pay much more for them because the government is subsidizing the conversion of the food crop to fuel.  It’s extraordinarily wasteful, and yet if you tour those states and poll the farmers who benefit, you will have the virtues of ethanol extolled in such a manner that you will be led to believe it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and it is, for those in the program.  For tax-payers and consumers, it’s an unmitigated disaster.  Add to this the fact that the supposed driver for ethanol, “environmentally friendly fuels,” is nothing but another inefficient scam and what you have is a program with no factual merit, even if it were permissible under our constitution, which it is not.

As a farmer myself, I raise a non-governmentally-preferred crop, and as a result of various government tinkering in the marketplace as I’ve detailed elsewhere, it’s making my farm an untenable proposition.  While I and other non-favored farmers pay taxes, other farmers of favored variety consume them, and borrow from the future besides, as they join other welfare moochers at the government teat.  Of course, like any other welfare program, there is no pay-back, ever.  Temporary assistance becomes permanent subsidy becomes a way of life.  Now, so ridiculous has it become that in this bill, they are actually going to make the recipients secret so you can’t know whose bread is being buttered from the public trough.

I don’t know about you, but ladies and gentlemen, if this is the kind of country we want, we will soon have it in full as this is nothing more or less than naked socialism.  Some will hang upon the strict definition of the term, arguing that government doesn’t own the means of production.  Don’t they?  It seems to me that the most important features of ownership are use and disposition, and that responsibility follows naturally along with the two.  If the government takes all risk away, alleviating responsibility, and it chooses how the resources will be subsidized, effectively determining their use and disposition, though the deed to the farm may be in some citizen’s name, who is in fact running the farm?

Farmers were once a proud and independent lot, but many of them are now merely proud without the independence to support the pride they fiercely claim. Don’t get me wrong: There are still many farmers who produce unsubsidized crops, and who take their lumps accordingly, but that number is shrinking as the number of unsubsidized crops gets smaller and the number able to stand against the leviathan withers.  More, large agri-businesses are lined up at the trough, feasting more thoroughly than any, and there are interests now buying up huge swaths of land along and in flood-plains so they can profit from the crop insurance too.  Why do you think this is being made secret?  Do you think it’s so that Farmer John’s little claim isn’t public?  No, it’s so that Congressman So-and-so’s claim won’t be revealed, and so that Corporate Agriculture’s take from the system won’t be seen publicly.  If you wanted crony capitalism combined with the welfare state, you now have it in full even in agriculture.

That Republicans you elected in 2010 to fight all of this are now supporting it is terrible enough, but when we see freshman members like Kristi Noem(R-SD,) herself a rancher, joining hands with Democrats to further such legislation, you must know we are in terrible shape.  I can’t imagine how a person can campaign for office as a constitutional conservative, but then immediately ignore that when it comes to their own pet subsidies.   Doesn’t the hypocrisy bother her?  Dr. Susan Berry, writing for Breitbart, wrrote:

“A more constructive task for Rep. Noem, and other House Republicans, would be to work out a way to disentangle the food stamp program from the agricultural policies, and then begin to promote free market principles in agriculture. “

This may be optimistic because  the fact of the matter is that none in Congress want the matter disentangled.  By having it entangled and inseparable, members are able to seek cover behind their pet portions of the bill while swallowing the rest.  It is precisely the goal of these sorts of “bipartisan” acts of Congress to create a voting bloc larger than any particular interest in order to get them all through.  Welcome to “compromise,” DC-style.  Conservatives should be livid, and the large number of ostensible conservatives in the agriculture fields should be raising Hell, but many will not because they want to be able to queue up at the trough in secret too.  In 2010, or in 2012, if this is the answer our Republican Congress provides, I’d just as soon have Democrats.  At least they don’t pretend to be conservative.

Obama’s Well-Heeled Friends Splurge for State Dinner

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Where are the Collection Baskets?

You don’t get into a State Dinner hosted by the White House without an invitation, particularly when the guest will include somebody like Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron.   Unfortunately, there’s a twist to this, and it has gotten to be ridiculous:  The best way to receive an invitation from the Obama White House is to buy one.   Millions of dollars poured in for Barack Obama by virtue of the efforts of all his top campaign bundlers who were invited this latest State Dinner, and when you consider the laundry-list of the well-heeled, it’s small wonder that they didn’t hire a banker to print the invitations.  ABC News provided the list of guests and how much they had gathered for a chance at this affair, and as you might guess, it’s a list of the who’s-who of top Obama bundlers.

Here’s a sample:

  • Gerald Acker, Huntington Woods, MI – $200,000-$500,000 (Goodman Acker PC)
  • Mark Alderman, Bryn Mawr, PA – $200,000-$500,000 (Cozen & O’Connor)
  • Jean-Phillipe Austin, Miami, FL – $200,000-$500,000 (Physician)
  • Matthew Barzun, Louisville, KY – $500,000+ (Brickpath LLC)
  • Tom and Andrea Bernstein, New York, NY – $500,000+ (Chelsea Piers Mgmt)
  • Neil Bluhm, Chicago, IL – $200,000-$500,000 (Walton Street Capital)
  • Wally Brewster, Jr., and Robert Satawake, Chicago, IL – $200,000-$500,000 (General Growth Properties/Keller Williams Realty)
  • Jim Crown, Chicago, IL – $200,000-$500,000 (Henry Crown & Co)
  • John Crumpler, Durham, NC – $500,000+ (Hatteras Venture Architects)
  • Meredith  DeWitt, Harvard, MA – $200,000-$500,000 (Political Consultant)
  • Fred Eychaner, Chicago, IL – $500,000+ (Newsweb Corp)
  • Joseph Falk, Miami, FL  – $200,000-$500,000 (Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson)
  • Rajiv Kumar Fernando, Chicago, IL – $200,000-$500,000 (Chopper Trading)
  • John Frank, Bellevue, WA — $500,000+ (Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft,)

As you can see, you won’t get in with a “Benjamin” dropped in the basket to join this crowd.   Of course, it will be argued that all presidents due this, but I think that’s part of the problem.  For you and I, there is no hope of rubbing elbows with the rich and famous at one of these events, even assuming momentarily that our politics were ‘right,’  because it has become a game of buying access.  Worse, it’s buying access to foreign heads of state, and it leads one to wonder what else it might buy.  How many of these people or the organizations they represent will be the recipients of some government hand-out or other cronies’ deal?

With this sort of thing being routine, how can the American people this or any president claims to represent get any kind of say in their government?  The message is pretty clear: Bundle enough campaign contributions, and you get a seat at a well-placed table.  It’s another despicable abuse of the office, and I don’t care which party is doing it.

Blowing the Lid Off the Obama Bail-outs: B of A Hiding the Damage?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Where His Bread Is Buttered?

Bank of America has come under fire, and there is now a class-action lawsuit by borrowers who feel as though they are being cheated by the banking giant, and perhaps on behalf of a political agenda.  As has now become plain, Bank of America is using its internal bureaucracy to slow down the wheels long enough for Barack Obama to be re-elected, before the full scope of tax-payer liability is revealed in the whole bank bail-out scheme and mortgage modification scam put forward by the Obama administration.  Borrowers are complaining that they have brought their accounts current under the new modifications to their mortgages, but that the banking giant is keeping them in limbo in order to hide the truly damaging scope of the bail-outs.

You see, the deal isn’t done until each mortgage modification has made its way through the paper-shuffle at the Bank of America, but this is causing trouble for borrowers who have long since gotten their financial house in order and need to secure loans on such things as new cars.  They’re finding out that their credit reports still show the mortgages as overdue, despite the fact that they’ve complied with their agreements on the modifications to their mortgages, some of them longer than two years ago.  Why is it taking Bank of America so long to square things away?  The answer is simple, and political, and it comes down to more subterfuge on behalf of their favorite politicians.  You see, when these deals are finalized, they’ll show a loss, and it will be huge, and they want to be sure to minimize damage until after the November elections.

In the mean time, their now-current mortgage-holders are simply in limbo, and while we can argue that they might deserve a hit on their credit, they would get one anyway, but the truth is that these mortgage holders may have been only a month or two behind, and made the agreement as a stop-gap since so many were recently unemployed at the time.  They didn’t think this would drag on, or that two years later, their credit reports would show them as non-payers on their mortgages for more than two years.  Worse, Bank of America is in receipt of funds for this purpose under the Home Affordable Modification Program(HAMP)

In one case, the complaint against Bank Of America alleges:

“[Bank of America] has serially strung out, delayed, and otherwise hindered the modification processes,” leaving thousands of borrowers “often worse off than they were before they sought a modification.”

This is quite the enterprise.  Bank of America took $25 Billion from the US government in order to facilitate these modifications, and to date, they’ve actually sat on most of that money while tying up the loan modifications in red tape.  Worse, the longer this goes on, the worse the position of those now in limbo.  You might ask why they’d be interested in doing all of this, since they could simply modify the mortgages and move on, but that might be a sticky matter.  Bank of America would have to report large losses that would demonstrate the failure of TARP.  As long as all of these modifications are in limbo, they are neither losses nor does BofA need to disburse any of the $25 billion.  that makes a whale of a difference on balance sheets as reported to investors.

Another reason Bank of America may be keeping this “in process” is that the elections of 2012 are just around the corner, and BofA has made significant investments in the political arena.  A trip to OpenSecrets.org reveals that in 2008 alone, Barack Obama cashed in to the tune of nearly $400,000 from BofA contributors.  In 2012, Mitt Romney has received a fair amount of cash, as has Obama, from Bank of America-related sources.  Coincidence?  Possibly, but Bank of America has so many ties to so many high-ranking politicians, including our previous President that it’s hard to pin this down on a partisan basis.  It looks more like a ruling-class benefit, looking at the objects of political giving associated with Bank of America.

On Tuesday, a tweet came in from none other than Ann Barnhardt with a link to another story about Bank of America, and what the author over at market-ticker thinks of the institution, along with a track-back to what Matt Taibbi, an Occupy Wall Street member has to say about all of this.  At least in this context, Mr. Taibbi is correct:  Bank of America should be allowed to fail.  It’s been propped up and supported and kept afloat with your future tax dollars.  Worse, with politicians of both parties in its hip pocket, there seems to be no end in sight.  It makes it easier to understand how characters like Barack Obama, an anti-capitalist, and Mitt Romney, a self-described “capitalist” both supported TARP, an astonishingly anti-capitalist idea.  It also explains why we, the tax-payers, keep getting placed on the hook for the failures of these firms.

Unless and until we start paying closer attention to whom it is that funds our politicians, we are likely to see this same trend continue unabated.  What does it say about what we’ve let become of capitalism that these large institutions are able to purchase so much influence in our political system?  I don’t have a problem with donations, and I think they should be unlimited, but we voters are going to need to pay attention to the flip-side of that:  We will need to pay attention to the disclosures, and vote accordingly.  As I’ve reported previously, Bank of America along with Chase have moved some risky Euro-based derivatives into coverage by the FDIC.

This needs to cease, and I’m concerned that if we elect Mitt Romney, this will continue like a hand-off from George W. Bush to Barack Obama to Mitt Romney, and that it will continue unabated.  The large banks that are failing need to fail, and the American taxpayer has every reason to expect its government to be good stewards of their money, instead of putting good money after bad.  Here we have a company that has abused its customers in order to take money from the Federal government in order to assist them.  Whatever you may think of the HAMP program philosophically, it was implemented in law, and to see this sort of abuse continue is ridiculous, but to see it continued even longer to allow some politicians cover is a scandal about which we should all be concerned.

 

Mitt Romney Had Ethics Problems as Governor?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Well, Almost Anything...

This is the first I’ve heard of this, but if true, it’s troubling because it’s one more reason that experience in business really doesn’t translate to governance.  Right Across the Atlantic is reporting that Romney went on a trip while governing Massachusetts, paid by Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, that ultimately looked like a sort of crony capitalism deal, but Romney side-stepped it by going on vacation so that his Lt. Governor would sign the bill, relieving him of any ethics investigation worries.  In fact, the whole manner of the episode is troubling, and you should check out the article in its entirety.

The article closes with this additional nugget:

“Now, again, he’s using the same tactics against Gingrich, and as before, you would think he would know better. But given that members of Romney’s staff have lobbied for Freddie Mac, while he’s tried to rake Gingrich over the coals for that also, it would be a good guess to say he doesn’t care.”

On Sunday, I again posited the notion that it’s Romney’s time as governor we should be heavily vetting, as that has the most direct applications to his qualification to be the GOP nominee.  Apparently, others have begun to catch on.

The Coming Facebook Initial Public Offering – How Many Pols Will Profit?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

The Financial Times has put up an article about the coming initial public offering of Facebook stock, and as I read it, I wondered: “How many politicians will get fat[ter] on this IPO when it happens?  Going as far back as the early 1990s, I remember stories of how then Speaker of the House, Tom Foley, managed to get in on an unusually large number of IPOs.  It looked very strange, since getting in on initial offerings of stock is a highly lucrative segment of the market, but it’s harder than you might think, yet somehow, I think politicians must have an edge.

Of course, as Peter Schweizer has described in his book Throw Them All Out, we can easily guess that it has very little to do with luck.  Politicians seem to have an edge in virtually every department, but what we should realize about this is that they’re simply adept at working the system.  The insider information in which they trade enables them to make money in ways you and I cannot, and what’s worse is that if you and I behave as they do, it’s huge fines and jail for us little people.

As you watch Facebook go public someday soon, you might stop and wonder as you click through the pages which politicians are getting richer as you browse through those pages.

So Shocking, I’m Speechless – Video

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

"We didn't do any work with the government."

I realize this is a political ad, paid for by a SuperPAC, but frankly, I’m not sure what to say about this.  I am astonished. If this is substantially true, and so far, after ninety minutes of frantic research indicating that it is, I can conclude only that Mitt Romney shouldn’t be let within sight of the White House.  Setting aside any general misgivings about the Medicare program, this is simply unconscionable, and that he was able to carry this off, and disclaim all knowledge?  Unbelievable!   Watch this, and let me know what you think:

I guess it’s only “crony capitalism” if you’re permitted to do this by sanction of law.  What is it when you do this, but get to walk away, despite the illegalities?

A Few Words About a Word: Greed

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Caricature or Fact?

I think of all the words in the English language, the one we should live without for a while is the word “greed.” This word has so many vastly different meanings to so many people that it can mean anything and nothing, simultaneously.  It’s become much like the overuse of the term “Nazi” to describe anything and everything with which one might disagree in a moment of heated vehemence, and what it really serves to accomplish is to inject hyperbole and undue emotion into any argument.  Since there is no way to ban the use of a word(at least not in the US, yet,) I decided I might just as well give you my definition, so that on the rare occasion I toss it about, you will understand my usage.   Many consider the brand of “greed” as good as the mark of the beast, and properly defined, it might well be apt to view it in such light, but all too frequently, the word is used to smear something else, and frankly, I’m tired of it.

Greed is most commonly invoked at the thought of lust for money and wealth, but I submit to you that real greed is hardly confined to the gain of material riches.  I also submit to you that it is not merely the desire for riches that constitutes greed, but instead the desire for wealth in material or prestige to which one has no natural entitlement.   If you own a thing, and you came to own it by your own efforts, these are the fruits of your labors, and it was neither greed that gave them to you, nor greed that permits you to hold it.  It is your natural right to  your property that justifies your ownership, and no warrant of greed may be logically attached.

On the other hand, if you gain wealth by fraud or deception, or by theft most commonly of all, this along with your desire to keep it constitute actual greed.  A thief or an embezzler or a cheat is motivated by greed.  A person who demands the labors of others go to support him is motivated by greed.  In a civil society, this sort of greed is generally punished as crime, but no form of greed is greater than a society that collectively employs greed against a minority, however constituted.  Socialism, and indeed any form of statism is the greediest sort of system of all.  The notion that one is entitled to the fruits of a neighbor’s labors is abominable, and that there are laws to enforce it is the stuff of true greed.

Greed is commonly associated with the rich, but I tell you it is the manner in which wealth is gotten that answers the question as to whether there had been greed.  Was there coercion?  Was there monopoly or oligopoly?  Or was there merely the productive efforts of minds equal to the task of satisfying the wants of many people?

All too often, the word “greed” is substituted in place of another concept, precious to capitalism, called “rational self-interest.”  This is the motive power of capitalism, and it’s the reason most of you rise to work each day, toiling to earn your daily bread.  You do not work as a matter of charity to others.  You do not tote that barge or lift that bale in order to fill the bellies of your neighbors’ children, but your own.  The worst and most greedy amongst us are those who find one excuse after the other to lighten the burden of your wallet at the point of a gun in the interests of combating greed, and yet the truth is that none are greedier than these alleged agents of anti-greed.

You might well ask me what I had meant about those who seek an unearned prestige.  I will explain to you that these are the most dangerous of the lot, and none are more greedy than these parasites on human spirit.  These are the grand Utopians who claim not to want any reward for themselves, but instead seek your wealth as a matter of enriching their reputations as the doers of vast public good. If you wish to see a crowd of these in action, you need only tune in to C-SPAN when Congress is in session.  There, you will witness a freak-show of the greediest people on the planet, who hold in their hands the power to strip you of your wealth, all the while claiming the justification of some alleged “public interest.” Worst of all, as has recently come to light in such texts as “Throw Them All Out,” by Peter Schweizer, while they posture as the protectors of the downtrodden, they use the force of their legislation, and their inside knowledge about what it will do to markets in order to make profits they could not have made by any other means.  Who among you believes that most of these people so-engaged could make a fat nickel without the power over your purses and wallets, and the laws that govern your enterprises and corporations besides?

Of course, there are those who seek no immediate financial compensation for such efforts, but instead seek other forms of wealth, in the form of an undeserved prestige.  How many buildings, post offices, and lamp-posts in West Virginia bear the name of Robert Byrd?  He will have been in his grave one-hundred years, and still his name will curse the landscape of that state like a plague.  Sadly, some larger number of the people of that state afford him this prestige, because what he did to gain it was to redistribute money from others to their purposes and support.  Just as you can buy a good deal of welfare or votes, so too can you buy prestige in bulk with other peoples’ money.  The desire for that prestige is an insatiable greed that may stretch to the boundaries of one’s imagination, and more evil has been birthed by those seeking to build monuments to themselves in this fashion than by any pursuit of material wealth.

When people use the term “greed,” I listen carefully for the context, and the reason is simple: All too often, the term “greed” is thrown about with casual indifference to the actual meaning of the word.  When I see a businessman who has made his money by honest pursuit, the fact that he wishes to keep it or earn more does not describe greed, but when I see a petty shop-lifter who stuffs a pack of gum into his pocket at the check-out line, I know I am seeing the material form of greed in progress.   When I see a woman enjoying her retirement by spending some of her life-long savings and investments into something purely for her own pleasure or amusement, I do not see greed.  When I see men demanding a benefit to which they have no natural entitlement, I know I am seeing greed on a vast scale. When I see politicians offering the wealth of some to the pockets of others, in the name of some benevolent purpose he claims will be in the interests of all the people, I look at the ruined lives of the people from whom they will take the necessary cash, and know that I have witnessed a greedy monster.

When you hear the word “greed” you would do well to listen intently to discover the context and meaning of the speaker, so that you can discern his actual intent.  If what is being offered is really nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on property rights, you should run for the hills.  Statists love to use the word greed, because while many people have a sense of the word, few have spent much time considering its meaning.  A statist will argue that if you will not surrender your whole wealth and property and person to the state, it is because you are greedy, and the more wealth you obtain by natural rights, the louder their denouncements of your greed will become. Nobody is greedier than these, and the motive of their attack is to convince you to submit to their claims on your person.  These parasites know the difference between greed and rational self-interest, but they hope you do not.

Hannity Asks Palin About “Vulture Capitalism”

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Dumbfound by Michelle Obama?

Unfortunately, I missed this interview as it first aired, but aa reader forwarded me a link to the Youtube video, and I belatedly viewed it with great interest.  Sarah Palin was on Sean Hannity’s show on Wednesday night to discuss a range of issues revolving around the Republican nomination fight, and some of the issues that have been raised in the recent criticisms of Romney’s record at Bain, among other things.  I was interested to see what Governor Palin would say with respect to the questions about all of these things.

She was careful to draw a distinction between attacks on capitalism and capitalistic endeavors, and instances of such things as bail-outs to companies with which Romney is or was involved.  When Hannity pressed her on Perry’s characterizations of “vulture capitalism,” she redirected the question toward the larger subject of free market capitalism:

“I would hope that Governor Perry and the other candidates would shift gears a little bit and start talking about how important it is that we do embrace free market capitalism and fight against crony capitalism that is a problem in Washington DC, and kind of focus along those lines.”

Watch the whole interview here:

Palin also mentioned two unresolved issues with Romney that we need to consider is the release of Romney’s tax returns, and also the issue of his claims of 100,000 jobs created.  It’s a hard thing to take Romney seriously as he continues to withhold information that will be a bludgeon against him if he should be nominated.  She also mentioned that a portion of all of this was inoculation against future attacks, and that’s an accurate assessment.  By playing up these issues now, they’ll be “old news” later.

One of the funniest moments of this interview was when Hannity asked Governor Palin for her impression on Michelle Obama’s statement.  Her reaction was probably much like that experienced by many Americans who heard this, because it hints at just how thoroughly out of touch those in the Obama inner circle really are.

I think what I will take from this interview is that Palin’s focus on the importance of free market capitalism in drawing the distinction between Barack Obama and the eventual GOP nominee is going to be critical, and contrary to conventional wisdom, this may not automatically redound to the benefit of Mitt Romney as some may have assumed.  As I’ve noted, the fact that he was a businessman doesn’t necessarily make of him a capitalist, and the evidence is mixed, particularly considering his record as governor of Massachusetts.

Romney, Bain Capital, Bail-Outs and an Un-Aired Kennedy Ad

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Teddy Still Kicking Mitt Around

Back in 1994, when Mitt Romney was running for the US Senate in what would become a failed bid to unseat Senator Edward M. “Teddy” Kennedy, the Kennedy campaign put together one ad they didn’t air, and you probably haven’t seen. It covers the period of time when Mitt Romney was at Bain Capital, allegedly “saving the company” but what it reveals is something you might have guessed:  Bain Capital was the beneficiary of $10million in forgiveness from the FDIC.  In short, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation bailed out Bain Capital, and while you’ve been told what a swell businessman Willard “Mitt” Romney is, this un-aired ad from 1994 may tell us a bit of the truth:

Knowing this, it’s hardly any wonder that Mitt didn’t oppose TARP.  It’s hardly difficult to understand why he’s not against government bail-outs.  How could he dare be against them, having been the beneficiary of them?

I realize there are those who will argue that since this ad was put together by Teddy Kennedy’s campaign, it ought to have no bearing on the current race, because after all, Kennedy was a “big government liberal” in Romney parlance, but it seems back in the dark days when Romney took over the reins at Bain Capital, he wasn’t opposed to a little socialism either.

Say what you want about Mitt Romney, but if he’s the nominee, have fun with another four years of Obama, because while you may not wish to air Teddy Kennedy’s ad, you can bet Barack Obama’s outfit already has it updated and ready to go.  I can see it now, can’t you?

Dark, scary pictures, gloom and doom, and a narrator:

“Mitt Romney says he opposes most government bailouts of businesses, but did you know that in 1993, his company, Bain Capital was the recipient of $10 million in debt forgiveness from the FDIC?  At the same time, he profited from the deal.  Is this the kind of crony capitalism you want in the White House?  Tell Mitt Romney to keep his hands off your wallets, and tell the Republicans ‘No special deals.’ Help President Obama preserve change!”

Of course, since they’re liars, it will probably be embellished a good bit.

Nevertheless, if you nominate Mitt Romney, between this and Romneycare and a number of glaring scars on his record, there’s no chance he’ll beat Obama, but at least you’ll have had the privilege of the GOP’s “inevitable nominee.”

Good luck with that.

(Note: Video from a very left-leaning YouTube Member)

Does Money Corrupt Politics?

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Which is Corrupted: Money or Politics?

Many people believe that money corrupts politics.  It’s certainly an easy conclusion to draw from the evidence if you consider only the superficial aspects of the problem, but my argument is a bit different.  I don’t believe that money corrupts politics nearly so much as politics corrupts money.  Money is merely a symbol of value. It’s a token we use in place of a barter system, since it’s far easier to exchange.  When you work, you’re creating value, but it’s difficult to exchange the value of that work directly to those from whom you would like to purchase, so the people to whom you sell your labor pay you in money, and then you take that money to all the places you would like to spend it.  This is the nature of money.  It’s an efficient system of exchange and it works quite well, right up until the moment you insert politics.  Rather than spend our time on a question I think misses the mark, let us now examine how politics corrupts money.

If you earn your money by honest labor, whether by manual or mental exertions, you are creating new wealth.  If you consider a block of wood, and you carve it into something fantastic, whether practical or artistic, if somebody will pay you more than it had cost you in materials and energy, that net payment is both an assessment of the value of your time and therefore also your profit.  Some of us are able to turn very little time into huge profits, while others of us are able to make only minimal profits on our time and exertions because what we are producing is not so valuable to others.  That is natural, and normal, and must always be the case.  The maker of candles will never be rewarded as highly as the person who invents a light bulb or the electric generation system to power it.  The reason is simple:  Almost anybody can make a candle.  Workers who can do this are numerous.  The mind that can imagine a light bulb or a generator are rarer, and therefore, their efforts are more valuable. It is the market in which you sell that labor that decides its worth.

Here is where politics enters to corrupt money:  Because candle-makers are more plentiful than inventors, they have many more votes.   They can turn to the political class and demand laws to make their candle-making unnaturally more valuable.  Politicians can follow a number of courses in response to the demands of the numerous candle-makers:

  • They can enact a law making candle-making more valuable than it is in fact
  • They can enact a law making inventors’ efforts less valuable than they are in fact
  • They can steal money from the inventor and give it to the candle-maker
  • They can say “No, property is property, you have yours, and the inventor has his!”

Which of these do you suppose the politicians is least likely to do, since it will not satisfy all his candle-making constituents, and thus will lose him his next re-election?  Of course, this situation becomes a good bit more complicated when we add competing inventors.  Suppose somebody comes along with an invention to replace the ordinary light bulb. Let us imagine that unlike compact florescent bulbs, it has no toxic mercury, and it’s much more efficient at the same brightness. If it’s also less expensive than the ordinary light bulb, and is in all measures a superior product, the market will answer by making it the new leader, and it will become the new ordinary light bulb in short order.  Now, the manufacturers of the older style light bulb will descend on politicians to demand protection of their market.  Politicians can respond in a number of ways:

  • They can enact a law outlawing the new style light bulb
  • They can enact a law requiring the use of the old style light bulb
  • They can add extra taxes to the manufacturer of the new style light bulb, driving up its cost
  • They can give a tax break to the manufacturer of the old style light bulb, driving down its cost
  • They can do nothing at all, and ignore contributions from the manufacturers of the old style bulb

Which of these options is the politician unlikely to choose?  Now let us imagine that the new light bulb is actually a terrible idea.  Let us imagine that it is filled with toxic mercury, and that in the long run, you’ll have EPA hazards created in your home if one breaks, and that while they are slightly more efficient, they are also annoying, and the light is actually modulating at a very high rate, and while barely perceptible to you, your eyes lead you to constant headaches, and besides the high frequency buzzing drives your pets insane, because they can hear frequencies you cannot.  Let us now imagine what politicians might do, not on behalf of the old style bulb manufacturers, but on behalf of the new ones:

  • They can enact a law outlawing the old style bulb
  • They can give tax credits to purchasers of the new style bulb
  • They can do nothing and let the market decide and skip the opportunity of contributions

Which of these have politicians actually done?

Now some will tell me this is all well and good, and merely proves their point, in that the money offered to politicians corrupted them.  Instead, I will tell you this is a lie, and now I will be happy to explain it if you missed what has really happened over the course of this post: The law was used as an instrument of enrichment by already corrupt  politicians.  They had no money apart from their salaries and immediate benefits, but in order to have more money, either in their own pockets, or in their campaign war chests, they used the law, your law, in each and every case to skim money from the system for their own purposes.  What this has the effect of doing is to change the market, and to change what people do in the market.  That means you are changing the value of the labor and the value therefore of money irrespective of what the market might prefer.  What you have done is to use politics to corrupt money.

There is an economic law, “Say’s law,” that tells us something about natural economic function, and it is that a supply creates its own demand.  The inverse and equally true corollary of this law tells us that without a supply, there can be no demand.  (Demand as an economic term, but not as a human behavior.)  What does this mean in the question of politics and money?  It means simply that you cannot purchase that which is not for sale.  No candle-maker, no light-bulb inventor, and no manufacturer of any sort can purchase influence that is not first offered for sale.  This is not a question of corruption by money, but of money.  When the politician uses his position and his legislation to influence the markets, whether he takes payment from a player in the market, or instead merely profits directly by his previous purchases in the market, this is not a matter of money corrupting politics.  It is the much more deadly issue of politics being used to corrupt money.

In every way, this upsets the natural order of the market.  Things that the market would find worthless are suddenly made precious, by law, and things that had been precious are made worthless, or even illegal to possess.  Any such action commits a fraud on all holders of money everywhere and at once.  What else could be the meaning of a law that imposes on you the purchase of compact florescent bulbs, that cost many times their traditional competitor, the incandescent bulb?  Do you have any doubt that most of the politicians who supported this law did so in order to profit in some way from the law, your law?  Notice, however, the ordering of cause and effect, and this will tell you which has corrupted the other, money or politics:  Which came first?  The political action, or the monetary result?  How many of these elected thieves had invested in GE or other CFL producers, before the enactment of the law, knowing what gains their investments would see once they made a law banning the good old incandescent bulb?

I am sympathetic to those who believe, innocently, that money corrupts politics, but the truth is something else:  Politics is being used to corrupt money.  When people make money by graft, it is the money that is corrupted.  It is a form of counterfeiting money, and since money is just an expression of value, what you must see if you’re to have any hope of reversing the trend is that the reason our system is so corrupt is not because of money, but because of those who use the law, and the power of government to extort, coerce, and otherwise gain money they haven’t really earned.  This is because government is involved in far too many things, and I’d ask you to consider Bastiat’s view of plunder to understand it.  If you want to solve the problem, don’t seek to get the money out of politics, but instead get politics and politicians out of money and markets.  That’s a real reform that could save our country.

Frédéric Bastiat’s Nation of Plunderers

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Frédéric Bastiat

That’s what we’ve permitted ourselves to become, isn’t it?  Rationalize it in every conceivable way though we may, when we get beyond all of the petty justifications we spout in order to sound less monstrous, we have become a nation of plunderers.  There are exceptions, as with any generalization, but it cannot now be said that a majority of Americans have clean hands in the matter.  To some degree, greater or lesser, the blood of this fact taints most of us.  Some of you will know what I mean, but others may be less familiar with the concept.  I believe in informed consent, which means that to give one’s consent to an action, one must have full knowledge of the consequences, risks, and tribulations that may attend that action.  What I do not believe is that by ignoring the full facts, but still giving one’s consent in willful ignorance, one can somehow hope to evade moral responsibility for the results.  In his great text, The Law, Frédéric Bastiat, the great French economist, statesman, and author offered all of the reasons a nation must avoid transformation into a den of thieves and villains, though the robbery be legalized.  It is important to note that as the United States has been on a long and progressive march to precisely the sort of nation Bastiat lamented, most of our citizenry have accepted this devolution.

Our founders, imperfect though they may have been, understood clearly what Bastiat would tell us only a half-century later.  Though they were no longer alive to appreciate his works, appreciate them they would have because in them may be found some of their own ideas.  What the founders understood, but Bastiat made explicit, is that the only thing a government offers to its people is force.  By force, I mean the legal monopoly on power to coerce, compel, and even kill.  Strip all of the other dressings from the function of government, and this is all that remains.   Bastiat asked the question: In which purposes may that force be turned?  His answer was simply: “Justice.”  At this point, many become confused, because the term justice has been likewise demolished and diluted and demeaned to have virtually any and all possible meanings at once.  In Bastiat’s conception, justice was merely the protection of the rights of life, liberty and property, as well as the enforcement of compensations and punishment for the violation of same.  In short, Bastiat argued that government exists to create an objective guarantor of these simple human rights.   For students of American history, familiar with our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, this idea should be very familiar indeed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[74] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

How familiar would Bastiat’s words on the subject have seemed to our founders, and the framers of our Constitution?  Let us consider his thoughts on government’s purpose as laid forth in The Law:

Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

What Bastiat understood too well, as his own nation began its collapse into socialism, is that there can be no law that does not respect the rights of life, liberty and property without destroying the entire purpose of law.  Limited to these ends, but nothing more, the law serves all people equally, showing favor to none, but merely confirming the natural rights of all people.  His enduring argument is that a nation based on such an objective standard of law could flourish, and that its people would have none to blame but themselves for their particular predicaments or standing.  Of a “Just and enduring Government,” Bastiat wrote:

If a nation were founded on this basis, it seems to me that order would prevail among the people, in thought as well as in deed. It seems to me that such a nation would have the most simple, easy to accept, economical, limited, nonoppressive, just, and enduring government imaginable — whatever its political form might be.

Under such an administration, everyone would understand that he possessed all the privileges as well as all the responsibilities of his existence. No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack. When successful, we would not have to thank the state for our success. And, conversely, when unsuccessful, we would no more think of blaming the state for our misfortune than would the farmers blame the state because of hail or frost. The state would be felt only by the invaluable blessings of safety provided by this concept of government.

It can be further stated that, thanks to the non-intervention of the state in private affairs, our wants and their satisfactions would develop themselves in a logical manner. We would not see poor families seeking literary instruction before they have bread. We would not see cities populated at the expense of rural districts, nor rural districts at the expense of cities. We would not see the great displacements of capital, labor, and population that are caused by legislative decisions.

The sources of our existence are made uncertain and precarious by these state-created displacements. And, furthermore, these acts burden the government with increased responsibilities.

This is a monumentally important concept Americans must finally reconsider:  So long as government extends into all parts of every American’s life, no American is safe from the predations of other Americans.  So long as it is accepted that government’s duty is merely to guarantee the rights of individuals, the government is correctly limited, and it does no harm to any citizen.  Each citizen is then safe from predation, or as Bastiat calls it, “plunder,” because protecting people from plunderers, or punishing plunderers is the government’s only just purpose.  As Bastiat explains, man can live by only two basic methods: by his own ceaseless labor in creation of property(material wealth,) or by seizing the property(and wealth) of others.   That’s really all there is, and no exceptions exist in all the world.  What Bastiat noticed is that since people have a tendency to exert themselves to the least necessary extent, they will easily be convinced to engage in plunder by their own rationalizations, or the justifications provided by others.  This is the siren song of socialism, or indeed any form of statism, and Bastiat knew it well.  In explaining how plunder is to be prohibited by the law, he wrote:

It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.

Bastiat also understood what would happen when the law is turned to the purposes of legalized plunder.  When the proper purpose of law is to prevent or punish plunder, turned to the purpose of managing the plunder instead, the law becomes a great and vast evil from which no man is safe.  This is the reason our framers gave to us a Constitution that protected against plunder, even if the understanding of that Constitution has been perverted precisely to permit the very practice it had been instituted to prevent.  On the Results of Legal Plunder, Bastiat wrote:

It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

What are the consequences of such a perversion? It would require volumes to describe them all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking.

In the first place, it erases from everyone’s conscience the distinction between justice and injustice.

No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.

The nature of law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are “just” because law makes them so. Thus, in order to make plunder appear just and sacred to many consciences, it is only necessary for the law to decree and sanction it. Slavery, restrictions, and monopoly find defenders not only among those who profit from them but also among those who suffer from them.

Consider this carefully in examination of our own country, not as it was founded, but as it has come to be over the span of the last century of Progressivism, from both the left and the right.   His enduring prescience was to realize that such a system would of necessity destroy and obscure the differences between actual justice and all the fraudulent forms we’ve been offered in its place.  What else could be the meaning of such contrived notions as “social justice,” “environmental justice,” “economic justice,” “racial justice,” and any other contrivance and dilution of actual justice you can imagine?  Consider only one of these, for instance “economic justice,” by which the speaker intends to say that taking from one person to redistribute to another person or person(s) is a matter of justice.   Is it?  Or is it truly injustice?  If plunder is the determinant, then such notions are all only plunder dressed up behind a facade of some bastardization of actual justice.   As Bastiat notes, justice concerns itself only with the protection of life, liberty, and property.   With what does “economic justice” concern itself?  The answer is clearly: The collective violation of the rights of life, liberty and property.

Many will have noted that when Governor Palin began making use of the term “crony capitalism,” others began to notice the issue.  “Crony capitalism” is merely another form of plunder:  Use the law as an instrument to get from others that which you otherwise would not have gotten.   What it describes is a system in which plunder is not merely legalized, but normalized and institutionalized through the political process.  Two parties, a politician and a corporation, collude to the benefit of both by using the power of the politician to enrich both.  Is there any doubt but that this is the meaning of Solyndra, or any of the other “green energy/jobs” initiatives in which the current administration has invested our precious dollars?

This is ever the purpose of those who extend the meaning of justice from that which it is, to that which it is not.  How many plunderers do you know?  Are you a plunderer yourself?  Before you blanch at the suggestion, consider it carefully:  Do the things you may receive from government, directly or indirectly, spring from the plunder of the property and wealth of others?  In short, are they yours, in fact, or are they really the property of others bent to your purposes, or so-called “needs?”  You need not even have consented to it, at least not knowingly, and yet there you are tied as another perpetrator and victim in this institutionalized plunder.  Examine all the ways you are being plundered, but then examine more carefully all the ways in which you plunder others.

You might claim, as most will, that: “I had no choice, and besides, they plundered me, first.  Mine is just compensation for an earlier plundering of my property(wealth.)”  Let me ask you bluntly then: If your neighbor’s house is robbed, is it thus acceptable for him to rob the houses of his neighbors?  You would decry that suggestion, and tell me that “two wrongs do not a right make.”  I say to you the same, but that some robberies are given cover of legality does not excuse them.   You might say, for instance, that your situation is dire, and having been plundered all these years, you now have no choice but to resort to legalized plunder.  Is this your best offering against justice?  I am in that stage of life in which I am the constant victim of the plunder, but as a child, I was the beneficiary once too:  Did my parents pay directly for my education, or did they rely upon the plunder of their neighbors, many without children, to pay for said primary education?  I could offer that I was a child, but then I must admit that my daughter also received a public education for most of her schooling, and I might note that for one child, the taxes I paid might well have been roughly proportional to the benefit, but nevertheless, I cannot ignore the timber in my own eye on this matter.  Very few of us have unstained hands.

Yet, even if this is so, that we have nearly all participated to some degree, greater or lesser, does it excuse our continuing the practice?  Bastiat thought not.  He completes The Law with a brief suggestion, exhorting readers “Let Us Now Try Liberty:”

God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! A way with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.

Whatever else you may say about Bastiat’s work, we must admit he had been thorough, and we must acknowledge the wisdom of his position.  He knew what most of our founders and framers had known with respect to the purpose of the law, and why it must be kept to those vital purposes, but permitted no more.  In subsequent centuries, we have permitted the law to fall into disrepair, beguiled with promises of plunder, as we have been plundered, but there exists now a burgeoning front of Americans who have never lived by any means but plunder, from cradle to grave, and they expect it to grow and magnify.  Politicians, engaged in a different form of legalized plunder, have created this army of plunderers to excuse and offer cover for their own(as detailed by Sarah Palin, Peter Schweizer, and a number of others.)  Unless and until the American people recognize that these interwoven systems of plunder are the root cause of most of our discontents, our miseries and our pain, we will continue to suffer them until revolution begets even greater and more perverse systems of plunder.  None of us should think ourselves absolved, but let us take Bastiat’s words and restore justice in law.  That’s the only way we’ll save our nation.

Note: I would encourage readers to read The Law in its entirety.  I’d also encourage you to read Bastiat’s other works, translated here.

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number Four

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Is This How It Works?

Whatever we may do about the limiting of congressional terms, or the length of service of Congressional staff, one of the main reasons to tackle that problem is the revolving door between Congress and the lobbying interests in Washington DC.  Whether representing trade groups, corporations, unions, or other groups, the problem is that the lobbyists often know the lay of the land, both physical and political, better than many members of Congress.  Too often, members and staff leave those offices to become lobbyists, and with equal frequency, we find lobbyists becoming Congressional staff.  This cozy relationship will be ended only by doing something drastic:  We must enact a lifetime ban on lobbyists from serving in government, and government  officials or staff from going to work in the lobbying racket.

Once again, I can hear the squealing of all the pigs at the DC troughs: “You can’t do this to us!”  Yes, we the people can.  When most Americans think of politicians leaving office for the private sector, they think of them returning to work in some profession or field that takes them back home, away from Washington DC.  All too often, when politicians depart government service, where they land is in some lobbying firm.  This frequently applies to staff too.  For most Americans, this isn’t considered to be “private sector employment,” but instead merely “public sector looting.”  It’s part of what makes Washington DC stink of corruption, and most Americans suspect it is the reason we have so many complex and convoluted laws.  Naturally, the American people are right about that, but in most cases, they have only the a glimpse of how thorough the corruption is.

The other problem is that the American people have been conditioned to view lobbyists as the source of the problem.  They’re not.  Lobbyists are a symptom just like the runny nose, achy muscles and spiking fever that tells you you’ve been infected with influenza.  The virus is already there, and while you can treat the symptoms, and it will at least make you feel better, your body still must combat the illness or you’ll never recover.  Everybody harbors and image in their mind’s eye of some lobbyist, a briefcase full of cash, and some elected or appointed official waiting greedily to be in receipt of the loot.  The problem is, this isn’t what actually happens in most cases.  Outright bribery of that sort would be caught fairly easily, and the people involved would be dealt with under existing law.  It’s not to say this never happens, because it does, but that’s a fairly stupid politician or lobbyist who gets caught in that fashion.

Instead, there are other ways to enrich themselves, and most involve a kind of extortion racket, or kick-backs, or insider information to be used for personal profit.  Imagine you’re a business, and imagine  the business you’re in is one regulated in some fashion by the federal government(but which industry isn’t?)  Imagine that some politician introduces a bill that you know will effectively destroy your company, or make it easier for a competitor to displace you in the market?  Your inevitable response would be to play self-defense, and you would do that by lobbying Congress.  You might contribute to campaigns and parties, but in all cases, you’d try to make happy everybody who holds your business in the palms of their hands.  This kind of extortion racket is common, and what you discover is that the number of legal contributions “enticed” by this method is scandalous.

Naturally, this works the other way too, as a matter of offense.  Do you need a “competitive edge” in the market?  No problem for Congress.  They just pass a bill that either directly or indirectly fouls the business of your competitors, and “Bingo!” To ensure a Presidential signature, you make sure the provision is attached to the most popular legislation, or at least something certain to get the approval of those who run the show.

Imagine yours is a large concern.  One way to pay off folks for their good deeds on your behalf is to provide them information that will enable them to make a killing in the markets.  A bit of info here, and a little investment there, and before you know it: Instant Congressional millionaire.  Of course, the member just happened to “get lucky” in the market.  Consider how frequently members of Congress get in on the Initial Public Offering of stock in a company commencing public trading.  It’s obscene.  It’s not easy to get in on an IPO for most people, and insider information is frequently a good head-start.  Some have suggested that Congress ought to be forbidden from investing in things related to that on which they’re currently legislating, but the problem with this approach is that the Congress now legislates on every matter under the sun.

Apart from the ban on lobbying, there is something more we can add to this reform, and that is to require members of Congress and their staff to convert their investments into cash savings.  That way, as the value of the dollar goes, so goes the value of their savings.  Under such a regime, the Congress would have every reason to safeguard the value of the dollar by prudent fiscal policies, and you could bet they’d be eye-balling the Federal Reserve a good deal more closely.  Many suggest the use of blind trusts, but the problem is that most things called “blind trusts” aren’t really blind at all, as Governor Sarah Palin recently pointed out in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, all of these suggested reforms still only address part of the issue.  The biggest part of the problem is that Congress is involved too deeply in business at all levels, and in all respects.  This has become the biggest problem we face: As long as Congress can stick its nose into any business for any reason at all, to impose their notion of “regulating interstate commerce” as they see fit, under whatever outrageous definition they concoct, and with courts willing to interpret the Constitution that way, we’re in serious trouble.  It means they will always have some way to dig their claws into not only business, but also into our lives and our pockets.  We need a wall of separation between business and state at least as thorough as the one that’s been erected between church and state.  If we wish to save America, we’ll need to tackle this too.

 

 

How Corrupt Is Washington DC?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

It's Worse Than You Thought

After a number of shocking disclosures including Nancy Pelosi’s Visa investments, and continuing scandals involving the President’s crony connections, what is becoming increasingly clear is that they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.  So corrupt  has official Washington DC become that the people working there by and large do not see anything immoral in their behavior, since they may well have stayed within the laws.  Some are calling this “soft corruption,” but in truth, there’s nothing “soft” about it. That’s cold hard cash they’re raking in by virtue of insider information.  If you or I were to behave in the private sector as Minority Leaders Pelosi(D-CA) had behaved in her elected position, we would face imprisonment.  Of course, the larger problem is that Pelosi isn’t alone, and the corruption isn’t limited to Democrats.  As Big Government is reporting, Representative Spencer Bachus(R-AL) seems to have an uncanny ability to pick market winners with the most incredibly profitable sense of timing.  While his profits from the trading are small potatoes compared to Pelosi’s Visa profits, it’s indicative of how bad things have gotten.  On Sunday night, speaking with Stephen K. Bannon on his “Victory Sessions” radio show on KABC, Andrew Breitbart called for Bachus to resign.

How can we combat this?  These people have sworn an oath, and yet all too frequently, it seems the only allegiance they actually express isn’t to the people of the United States Constitution, but to their own wallets, and the purses of their cronies.  I believe we need to tighten up the laws on our Federal elected officials.  Peter Schweizer’s new book, Throw Them All Out, promises to reveal a number of instances of this pervasive corruption, and Spencer Bachus was just one of the people Schweizer’s book identifies as having serious problems.  The senior leadership of both parties in Congress have been playing this game for a long time, and this new book exposes the systemic breadth of the problem.  Throw Them All Out will be released officially on Tuesday.  Pelosi’s spokesman claimed that she’s not corrupt, and that the author of the book is merely a partisan attack dog, but if so, why did he go after Republicans too?

Since former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin began hammering on the issue of crony capitalism back in August, it’s become a more  visible issue.  Most people hadn’t really understood what all the fuss was about, or what the distinction between capitalism and crony capitalism really is.  They’re now learning. What can be done to curtail this sort of profiteering from elected office is another question.  Another complicated problem is how Congressional staff might also have access to confidential information, and thereby profit in the markets.  It’s difficult to know how we should draw the lines, and how to make rules difficult to circumvent.  After all, these are the people who write our laws, and if they can’t be trusted, neither can the laws they author be considered anything but suspect.  It makes one wonder about the political gamesmanship that goes on during crises, like the Debt Ceiling debacle of late July/early August: How might legislators have turned a profit from the wild gyrations of the market that they were effectively causing?  What about the S&P credit rating downgrade?  Who in Washington DC might have profited from that calamity?

These are all questions to which we must demand answers.  It’s not enough to simply pass campaign finance laws, because that hardly scratches the surface.  We must address the baseline of corruption that now seems to be the norm in our federal establishment, and it’s time we held our elected representatives to account.  If the people of Bachus’ or Pelosi’s districts don’t demand answers, it will provide us a new dilemma:  How can we defeat entrenched corruption when even the voters won’t eject their members of Congress?  We’ve seen this before.  It may well be time to do as Schweizer suggests:  Throw them all out. Now.

Here’s a nifty ad on the Pelosi Scandal:

Obama and His Crony Connections Run Wild

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

All The President's Friends

We’re all familiar with the story of Solyndra, and a number of the other firms connected to the Obama administration and the “Green Jobs” programs that have been little more than a slush fund for Obama’s donors. Now enter Siga Technologies, with controlling stock held by Ronald O. Perelmaan, longtime Democrat Party donor and Obama supporter. The Los Angeles Times is now reporting that Siga was given a no-bid contract worth nearly one-half billion dollars by the Obama administration, and that the circumstances of how that happened seem to be less than above-board.  While vaguely reminiscent of the Perry-Gardasil scandal, this is much larger and has even more far-reaching potential consequences.   The real scandal lies in the method by which the contract was secured.   The administration replaced its own lead negotiator in order to push this contract through.   From the LA Times article:

When Siga complained that contracting specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services were resisting the company’s financial demands, senior officials replaced the government’s lead negotiator for the deal, interviews and documents show.

When Siga was in danger of losing its grip on the contract a year ago, the officials blocked other firms from competing.

This is a clear sign of serious corruption, and along with other cases involving Barack Obama, it puts the lie to the meme that this administration pushed that it would be “the most open and ethical administration in history.”  Perhaps most stunning about this case, the drug in question hasn’t even been tested, meaning the tax-payers could be footing the bill for something that is completely worthless:

Siga’s drug, an antiviral pill called ST-246, would be used to treat people who were diagnosed with smallpox too late for the vaccine to help. Yet the new drug cannot be tested for effectiveness in people because of ethical constraints — and no one knows whether animal testing could prove it would work in humans.

What we have here is another Solyndra-like instance of tax-payer funds going to purposes of questionable or even seriously flawed merit, conveniently to companies closely tied to this administration.  When Sarah Palin raised the alarm about crony-capitalism, few outside the cesspool of Washington DC had any idea just how bad and how commonplace these sorts of tax-payer rip-offs had become.  Apparently, it’s much worse than all but the most wary observers might have guessed.

Meanwhile, ABC News is reporting that the administration knew they would face blow-back over Solyndra and other Energy Department loan guarantees and contracts.  CBS News’ 60 Minutes is supposed to be devoting its show on Sunday evening to the entire question of Crony Capitalism.  Given CBS’ tendency to be in the tank for Democrats, I expect them to downplay the matter, or at least spin it in some way favorable to Democrats and President Obama.

It’s what they do.

The Obama Who Taxed Christmas?(Updated)

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Ho Ho HO-bama!

I looked at my calendar, and it’s not April 1st, but it might as well be April 15th.  The Tax Man arrives in a red suit, with a twinkle in his eyes, but that isn’t old Saint Nick.  It’s Barack Obama, and this absurd man and his merry band of elves over at the Department of Agriculture have cooked up another new board to manage your lives, and help you appreciate Christmas trees by improving their image.  This is not a joke.  It should be, but it’s not.  Yes, Christmas tree producers will now pay a 15% surcharge on all of their tree sales, which they are of course going to pass along to tree buyers.  The good news is this will only apply to producers who sell five hundred or more trees per year.  Hurrah! More class envy, now among tree producers! Don’t worry, it’s all in keeping with the spirit of the season.

The Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board, the purpose of which is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)).  It’s all designed to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).

Do you believe this?  Other than in the Obama White House, I wasn’t aware there had been a problem with the image of Christmas trees.  For most Americans, I believe, the whole notion of the Christmas tree is rather a fun and happy tradition with which most associate things like family gatherings, family togetherness, giving, and sharing.  I’m not sure the image of Christmas trees has ever been in question amongst the American people, but this sounds suspiciously like a tax, and or a hand-out to somebody, dressed in the guise of government help to an industry that has been slowly losing business to its artificial competitors.   What we really need to know is who in Obama’s cabinet or among his contributors owns a Christmas tree farm somewhere.

This all raises another question:  Will they be applying this fee to artificial trees too?  It seems not, so it now begs the question: Will this be the basis for a move to extend government power to cover artificial trees too?  Surely, that’s outside the  purview of the Agriculture Department, since artificial trees are not grown, but manufactured.   Will this create an opportunity for the producers of Christmas trees to claim they are being unfairly singled out?

Why do we need such a board?  It sounds like just another way to create yet one more government commission or board that will provide jobs for a full-time staff and probably perquisites for members who will be buddies and pals of the Ag Secretary, or political contributors to this President.  Will this wind up staffed by members of the Muslim brotherhood?  Since this is specifically about “Christmas trees,” can non-Christians serve on the board?  Surely, this violates something or other with respect to the much ballyhooed “wall of separation” between Church and state.  Surely, this is a form of “respecting an establishment of religion,” a.k.a., Christendom. The other question is:  Will they also go after the producers of prayer rugs with a similar fee?  Somehow, I doubt it.

Mark my word: No good can possibly come of this.  You can read more of the particulars of this ridiculous “fee” here, at the Heritage Foundation Website. Nobody can convince me that this administration doesn’t hate America.

Update: Obama may hate America, but he’s also fearful of Americans, so he scrubbed the tax…for now.

Obama Administration Rejects Congressional Subpoena

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Obama Cover-up?

The Washington Examiner is reporting on the Obama administration’s rejection of a House Energy and Commerce Committee Subpoena for additional documents related to the Solyndra scandal.  Apparently, this president is above the rule of law.  Congress is carrying out its duty to investigate why tax-payers were effectively robbed of a half-billion dollars under the auspices of a “green energy” initiative.  The Obama administration is keen on hiding this entire fiasco, and now that the committee has looked at all the documents from other federal agencies, they need to look at documents related to the case from the White House, but as the administration’s response makes clear, there will be no further cooperation.  Clearly, his lawyers don’t believe they must respond to legitimate subpoenas for documents pursuant to the oversight role of Congress.  The lawyer is claiming executive privilege on behalf of Obama because the committee vote was along partisan lines, there is no need to answer it:

“I can only conclude that your decision to issue a subpoena, authorized by a party-line vote, was driven more by partisan politics than a legitimate effort to conduct a responsible investigation,” Obama’s counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, wrote in a letter to the top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce committee.

(read complete response here)

I want my fellow Americans to remember this.  Essentially, what you should understand is that you don’t need to worry about Obamacare, because it was passed by a party-line vote.  You needn’t sweat it. Just ignore it.  When the federal revenuers come to collect money from you pursuant to Obamacare, you just go ahead and tell them “Hey, I’m sorry, but that was passed by a party-line vote, so no thanks.”  See what that gets you.  Enjoy your jail cell.

The most important claim made by the Obama’s attorney, Kathryn Ruemmler, is that the committee’s subpoena was “overbroad” and thus interferes with the confidentiality interests of the executive branch.  This, from an administration that continues to make claims about its transparency. The problem is that this letter suggests that the party-line nature of the vote is what makes the subpoena invalid, but my question is:  Would the intrusions on the executive privileges of the Obama administration be less if this subpoena had been issued by a unanimous vote of the committee?  No. They’d still make the same claim.  Don’t be fooled by this partisan-ship claim of the president’s attorney.  This is all about hiding the truth.

For his part, Committee Chairman Fred Upton responded to this rejection in scathing language:

“We have been reasonable every step of the way in this investigation, and it is a shame that the Obama Administration and House Democrats continue to put up partisan roadblocks to hide the truth from taxpayers. Solyndra was a jobs program gone bad, and we must learn the lessons of Solyndra as we work to turn our economy around and put folks back to work. Our judicious and methodical work over the last eight months has garnered tens of thousands of pages of documents from DOE and OMB that have proven we are on the right track. Now, we need to know the White House’s role in the Solyndra debacle in order to learn the full truth about why taxpayers now find themselves a half billion dollars in the hole. The White House could have avoided the need for subpoena authorizations if they had simply chosen to cooperate. That would have been the route we preferred, and frankly, it would have been better for the White House to get the information out now, rather than continue to drag this out. Our request for documents is reasonable – we are not demanding the President’s blackberry messages as we are respectful of Executive Privilege. What is the West Wing trying to hide? We owe it to American taxpayers to find out.”

This is setting the stage for a conflict between House Republicans and the Obama administration on an unprecedented scale.  As usual, the Obama administration is obfuscating, obstructing, and otherwise attempting to thwart this investigation into the scandal arising from their approval of loan guarantees to the now bankrupt Solyndra, because this would likely reveal the depths of the crony capitalism inherent in the green energy  initiative.

So what will Congress do if the Obama administration ultimately tells them to pound sand, as it now seems certain to be the case?  I suspect with Speaker Boehner’s tepid leadership, nothing will happen, which is why the Obama administration is responding in this manner.  They know that Boehner simply won’t call for an impeachment, in part because Boehner will consider it pointless since the Senate will never take action on it, and in part because Boehner is afraid of controversy, and instead simply wishes to get along.

Enough is enough.  It’s time that Congress demands the President and his administration comply with the subpoena.  As usual, the response to the subpoena came late Friday after most Americans check out on news.  The Obama administration is betting that the House of Representatives is a toothless paper tiger.  Sadly, with leaders like Boehner and Cantor, they’re likely to have been right in that assessment.  Meanwhile, the American people are taking a beating at the hands of this administration, and its corrupt crony capitalism, which hands out favors to friends and big-money donors while stiffing the American people with the bill.

Barack Obama Led Occupation in Chicago in 1988?

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

 

Obama: Community Occupier

According to Joel Pollak, at BigGovernment.com, Barack Obama’s roots as a community organizer lead back to a time when he would have been leading the Occupy movement, and indeed took part in Occupation-style protests against banks.  Ladies and gentlemen, we must come to understand not only what is driving the Occupy movement but who is controlling the wheel. Back in 1988, Obama was part of the organizing force behind such protests in Chicago, but now, more than two decades later, he’s the President of the United States, and others are now fulfilling that role.  As Pollak reports in a separate article, it is now people like Lisa Fithian who act in the role once played by Barack Obama.  It seems that while organizers have changed, the  tactics in use are much the same.

This shouldn’t be particularly stunning to the readers of this blog, but what should shock you  is the unrelenting dishonesty inherent in the coverage that seems so incomplete among the so-called mainstream media.  There is a tendency to cover all of this up, and as Breitbart reported earlier in the week, there are elements within the Occupy movement who are simultaneously covering the event(s) while helping to organize them, putting a whole new meaning to the term “embedded journalists.”

There is nothing organic or “grass-roots” about this movement. It’s almost entirely a top-down endeavor being organized and led by people who have long and well-documented ties to the worst elements of Anti-American  and Anti-Capitalist sentiments, with delusions of revolutionary grandeur.  As Biggovernment.com further reports, the leftists directing this thing have a media strategy too, particularly for when dealing with news reports of violence among protesters. In a posting titled “What to do When the Media Says a Protester Attacked a  Cop,” the following advice is given:

  • 1) Challenge the assumption that the violent protester(s) are actually Occupy Wall Street protesters.
    The media move fast, they don’t believe it is their job to know who started the violence, just that it started. If someone looks like an Occupy Wall Street protester, they are an OWS protester, even if they are an editor from the Right Wing publication American Spectator who is at the protest specifically to discredit the movement.
  • 2) Scour all the footage and photos you can find of the instigators of the violence at the protest.
  • 3) Crowd-source the images and ask for help identifying them.
  • 4) Write a post about it on a blog with info on the person(s) and their background. 
  • 5) Contact the media and point out who that protest was started by.

Of course, this is an after-the-fact strategy, and says nothing of their role in any violence, and in fact attempts to disclaim it.  Any such mob action is going to have dire consequences, and these organizers know it.  Are there provocateurs?  Almost certainly.  The problem is that the provocateurs merely represent another faction of the operation at large.

Lastly, in what seems to be a good way to cap off this article, with more amazing coverage from Joel Pollak, it seems that some elements in the occupy movement are now taking to using human shields, just like Hamas.  In the same manner that other terrorist groups use the young, the old, and the infirm as human shields, apparently, this practice is picking up steam among the violent segment of the Occupy movement.

Honestly, I think those who have unwittingly been sucked into going along with this movement on the basis of an anti-crony-capitalism stance should reconsider.  They’re being used by radical and dangerous elements that do not intend any sort of reform, but instead are attempting to foment actual revolution. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: It’s time for the rank-and-file Occupy Wall Street folks to realize they’re being used, but worse, they’re being set up.  When this gets ugly, and it’s growing increasingly unstable daily, they’re likely to find themselves hung out to dry.

 

Occu-Pests Don’t Speak For Me

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Do They Speak for You?

I am tired of the notion that these people speak for the 99% of us who are not billionaires.  I’ve grown frustrated listening to their complaints, offered with feeble-minded attacks on wealth, money, and the general notion of capitalism.  There’s a problem with those who lead these Occupy efforts:  They don’t give a damn about this country, its people, or any of the things about which they pretend to care.  Instead, what interests them is cultural rape.  They intend to change this country without your consent, in its laws, in its culture, and in its economics.   The leaders of the OWS movement are simply predators, and while they claim that violence is against their principles, they incite it, they provoke it, and they use the poor misguided folk who are following them to act as their buffer.  BusinessInsider published an interesting piece on the larger aims of the Occupy movement, and I’m afraid the American people have no idea about how thoroughly these people have developed their designs on America.  They’re going to attempt to re-write your Constitution, while you sleep, and as you watch the latest news on the silly stories of the day.

They imagine themselves as a modern-day version of the framers of our current Constitution, laboring in secret to present us with a new Constitution, in order to save us from ourselves.  Let me state emphatically that if they manage to carry off this coup d’etats, I will oppose them, and violently, if need be.  Let me throw down a marker now, so that all may know my position:  If the Occupiers, their leaders and benefactors succeed in trying to foist on the great mass of the American people some foreign system of government, which it now seems is their clear intent, I will be among the counter-revolutionaries who they will be forced to kill.  Write it down.  Bookmark it.  I will not surrender to these people, because in the main, they do not have my consent, and they do not speak for me.  Ninety-nine percent?  My ass!

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like for you to consider what the Occupy movement really has in mind.  This isn’t about the typical complaints, and it isn’t merely about some bankers, some tax rate, or some scheme for  redistributing your wealth.  It’s much more insidious than that, and you need to know that when the poor schmucks who follow the lead of this manufactured movement wind up looking stupid on television, it’s not because the movement has no firm goals, as we all first thought, but because the rank-and-file Occu-Pest doesn’t know what those goals actually are.  In order to understand what it is that they’re going to attempt, you must first understand some history, and I’d beg of my readers to educate themselves with a sense of urgency.  The leadership of this movement is trying to create a bit of theater, in mimicry of a historical event, and you must understand its importance if you’re to have any hope of confronting them.  You in the Tea Party had better pay close attention, because many of you will already know this history, but I am going to show you how they intend to use the weight of history against you and your beloved Constitution. If you wish to know how they are going to attack you, you must know that the past is prologue.  You must know that none of this is really new, but the manner in which it will be done is novel.  Finally, I think we can begin to see what they intend, and for once, I think you ought to know it so that you can do something constructive in opposition.

First, I would like you to acquaint yourselves with the Committees of Correspondence.  These were shadow governments that our founders formed in order to confront the British empire.  These committees were used to oppose the British and essentially superseded the colonial legislatures.  This was the method by which we eventually arrived at the pre-revolutionary state that would lead to the Declaration of Independence and our ultimate separation from the British. It is important to understand that those who are leading the Occupy movement are attempting to carry out something similar, although their desired ends are much different.  They intend to use a seemingly democratic movement to undermine freedom via the state, and they intend a quiet take-over.  Many have referenced their intentions, but it’s clear that most don’t quite understand.

The first thing necessary to their movement is the claim to legitimacy.  This is the meaning of all of this “99%” garbage they’re throwing around.  The truth is, they don’t speak for one percent of one percent of one percent of Americans.  Nevertheless, this will be their claim, and they will try to establish the providence of that claim through the use of media.  As we’ve seen, many in the media are in bed with the Occupy movement, and in at least one case Breitbart has uncovered, they are the media.  Don’tbe surprised when you find that they are now going to claim to be of you, by you, and for you, the American people.  Last week, I reported to you their plan for a national assembly, and now here’s their plan for creating this illusion:

1. The Occupy Wall Street movement, through the local general assembly, should elect an executive committee comprised of 11 people or some other odd number of people that is manageable for meetings. Ideally this committee should represent each city in the U.S. that is being occupied.

2. The executive committee will then attend to local issues such as obtaining permits, paying for public sanitation and dealing with the media. More important, the executive committee shall plan and organize the election of the 870 delegates to a National General Assembly between now and July 4, 2012.

3. As stated in the 99% declaration, each of the 435 congressional districts will form an election committee to prepare ballots and invite citizens in those districts to run as delegates to a National General Assembly in Philadelphia beginning on July 4, 2012 and convening until October 2012.

4. Each of the 435 congressional districts will elect one man and one woman to attend the National General Assembly. The vote will be by direct democratic ballot regardless of voter registration status as long as the voter has reached the age of 18 and is a US citizen. This is not a sexist provision. Women are dramatically under-represented in politics even though they comprise more than 50% of the U.S. population.

5. The executive committee will act as a central point to solve problems, raise money to pay for the expenses of the election of the National General Assembly and make sure all 870 delegates are elected prior to the meeting on July 4th.

6. The executive committee would also arrange a venue in Philadelphia to accommodate the delegates attending the National General Assembly where the declaration of values, petition of grievances and platform would be proposed, debated, voted on and approved. The delegates would also elect a chair from their own ranks to run the meetings of the congress and break any tie votes. We will also need the expertise of a gifted parliamentarian to keep the meetings moving smoothly and efficiently.

7. The final declaration, platform and petition of grievances, after being voted upon by the 870 delegates to the National General Assembly would be formally presented by the 870 delegates to all three branches of government and all candidates running for federal public office in November 2012. Thus, the delegates would meet from July 4, 2012 to sometime in early to late October 2012.

8. The delegates to the National General Assembly would then vote on a time period, presently suggested as one year, to give the newly elected government in November an opportunity to redress the petition of grievances. This is our right as a People under the First Amendment.

9. If the government fails to redress the petition of grievances and drastically change the path this country is on, the delegates will demand the resignation and recall of all members of congress, the president and even the Supreme Court and call for new elections by, of and for the PEOPLE with 99 days of the resignation demand.

10. There will NEVER be any call for violence by the delegates even if the government refuses to redress the grievances and new elections are called for by the delegates. Nor will any delegate agree to take any money, job promise, or gifts from corporations, unions or any other private source. Any money donated or raised by the executive committee may only be used for publicizing the vote, the National General Assembly, and for travel expenses and accommodation at the National General Assembly ONLY. All books and records will be published openly online so that everyone may see how much money is raised and how the money is spent each month. There will be no money allowed to “purchase” delegate votes as we have in the current government. No corporate “sponsorship”.

(H/T Business Insider.com)

This is a continuing attempt to make all of this look organic, but more importantly, to legitimize it and to pretend that they speak with authority for the ninety-nine percent they claim to comprise.  In effect, they are trying to create the appearance of an analog to the 1770s and the Committees of Correspondence.  Of course, the next part of their plan is even more insidious, and it is to replace the US Constitution by methods not unlike those employed to replace the Articles of Confederation, except that they will have nothing like the support among the American people that supported revising our Articles of Confederation.  Back when it was first suggested that our first form of government (Articles of Confederation) be revised, that’s what the delegates had been tasked to do.  Instead, they crafted an entirely new constitution and presented it for ratification.  In some contexts, this might have been considered a treason, except that any such claims have been made moot by the subsequent ratification and adoption of our Constitution. Most Americans forget that George Washington was our first president under this current constitution, but that he was not the first President of the United States.  Under the Articles of Confederation, that was the presiding member of Congress, who happened to have been Samuel Huntington (March 1, 1781 – July 9, 1781.)  Most people don’t know this because they aren’t taught it, along with so much else in our precious history.

Once you realize what Soros and the others who are driving this intend, it becomes obvious what their methodology will be: They intend to speak on your behalf, and to trump up a movement to convince those in government that they are speaking on your behalf.  There’s only one way to prevent this, and you should fight against it with full resolve. Confront them by telling your representatives in Washington DC that the Occu-pests don’t speak for you.  Confront them by telling the media, loudly and often, that the Occupiers don’t speak for us.  They’re trying to capture the legitimacy born of their 99% claim, but you and I know they don’t speak for anything like the 99% they claim.  It simply doesn’t exist.  There is no overwhelming desire on the part of the American people to replace or radically amend the United States Constitution. I will consider all such radical propositions as they are: Acts of treason.  Also, be aware that this other phony movement, Americans Elect, exists to try to change the way we elect Presidents.  It’s full of Soros shills too, and as I’ve reported before, I cannot trust anyone or anything related to the aims of that man or the multitude of organizations he funds and backs and manipulates.

This movement is being manipulated for one ultimate purpose:  To destroy and replace the US Constitution.  There is nothing else but that goal.  I consider the people leading these Occupiers as fomenting insurrection, while actively plotting treason.  I realize many of the rank-and-file Occupiers don’t understand this, however there will come a point at which they will begin to endanger the Republic, and in their mindless, unthinking support of this Marxist movement, they are assisting to destroy the United States.  In the sense specifically, they don’t speak for me.  They don’t speak for ninety-nine percent, or anything near that number.  They are the loud and vociferous cacophony of ne’er-do-wells who have in largest measure contributed to our current state of presumptive decline.

Ladies and gentlemen, these people and their leadership do not speak for me.  They do not speak for anybody I know personally.  I don’t know any person who actually supports them.  I don’t know a soul who thinks we should ditch our Constitution, never mind by the dictates of some Marxist cabal of Soros flacks.  I don’t know one person, anywhere in my extended circle of friends and family who actually believes in anything the Occupiers are espousing.  None.  Maybe you do, but I’d like to know from my readers:  Do they speak for you?  Do they?  Is George Soros acting on your behalf?  Somehow I doubt it, but rather than make any assumptions, as the Occu-Pests have done, I’m not willing to speak for others.  If the Occupiers don’t speak for you, you should let your government, and the media, and every person you can find to tell them that fact.

They don’t speak for me, and I’d rather die than submit to the mobocracy they envision.

Another Downgrade on the Horizon?

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Worse This Time?

Leave it to Bank of America/Merrill Lynch to publish their fears of another credit-rating downgrade for the US government.  On Saturday, I brought you the story of how this very company is shifting some of its European derivatives over to its depository arms so that they will be insured under FDIC.  It’s a stunning development that an analyst for this very institution to  tell us they expect another credit downgrade, tells us something about how they believe that will work out for the American tax-payer that will now be on the hook for trillions. They don’t think it’s going to turn out well, I can assure you, but you can expect all sorts of hand-wringing excuses when the meltdown occurs.

In his dire analysis, Ethan Harris writes:

“We expect a moderate slowdown in the beginning of next year, as two small policy shocks—another debt downgrade and fiscal tightening—hit the economy. The “not-so-super” Deficit Commission is very unlikely to come up with a credible deficit-reduction plan. The committee is more divided than the overall Congress. Since the fall-back plan is sharp cuts in discretionary spending, the whole point of the Committee is to put taxes and entitlements on the table. However, all the Republican members have signed the Norquist “no taxes” pledge and with taxes off the table it is hard to imagine the liberal Democrats on the Committee agreeing to significant entitlement cuts. The credit rating agencies have strongly suggested that further rating cuts are likely if Congress does not come up with a credible long-run plan. Hence, we expect at least one credit downgrade in late November or early December when the super Committee crashes.”

Of course, part of the problem is that everybody is waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Europe stands on the verge of a complete meltdown, and our Federal Reserve has gotten us so deeply tied to the success or failure of Europe at this point that if Europe goes down, we will likely fall down too.  Several outlets are reporting that a number of European banks are on the brink, and that this will trigger a sell-off and panic unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time.

At the same time Germany’s Angela Merkel is chastising Italy over its debt of 120% of GDP, I wonder if she’d do us a favor and look at the US, which isn’t far off from that ratio itself, and tell Obama a thing or two while she’s at it.  Merkel is among those who are urging further austerity measures, and she’s right. The trouble is that leftists never tire of pitching their best Keynesian plans at these sorts of problems, pretending that if only they can borrow and print a little more liquidity, the problem will solve itself.  Naturally, that’s nonsense, and while everybody knows it, the spenders will never, ever admit it.

Ladies and gentlemen, we stand on the precipice and wonder why this is happening, but anybody who has ever learned the hard lessons of running on credit must begin to see the simple truth of the matter:  You cannot consume more than you produce on an indefinite basis.  This entire fiasco is the result of runaway governments spending our future into oblivion.  While we’re at it, we must also rein in the Federal Reserve as the policies now in force are merely multiplying the trouble.  One year ago, as they began to plan out QE2(Quantitative Easing, Round 2,) Sarah Palin warned the world.  She was mocked by Krugman, the purveyor of Alien Attacks and other nonsense dressed up as economics, while she was being berated for her stance by a host of others, but in the end, who has been right?  We mustn’t permit ourselves to suffer under this comfortable illusion any longer: There is no alternative but to dramatically slash government spending.  We must do it now, or there may be no tomorrow.

“All Restaurants Are Taco Bell”

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011
What Kind of Monopoly?

Drudge is linking the story about Google considering joining in on a bid for Yahoo.  Some are already beginning to raise a flag about monopoly, as the two Internet giants certainly occupy some of the same market space.  Of course, they might be interested in acquiring it just to slice it up and sell it off, or it could be that like so many things, Google has gotten so large that it wants multiple big-name brands to capture more of the market.  Either way, it’s not necessarily a monopolistic move, but many will already see it as such.  Part of the thing that makes a monopoly is government authority.  You may remember the silly, poorly-made movie starring Sylvester Stallone titled “Demolition Man,” in which the recently defrosted hero discovers that “all restaurants are Taco Bell.”  This was something enforced on the culture by government.  That is a coercive monopoly, which is the only sort that should cause you concern.

One of the problems is that people don’t understand the concept of monopoly, because what the popular culture tells them is that all monopolies are bad. Far be it from me to defend Google here, or in any instance, but I think it’s important that we understand what truly constitutes a coercive monopoly, as well as understanding how the concept has been oversimplified into the more generic and misleading term “monopoly.”

A monopoly is said to exist when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity.  For instance, if you patent a new device, and have sole rights to produce or license the production of the device, you have a monopoly.  If you own the last ham sandwich on Earth, with no expectation of there ever being more, you have a monopoly.  Look down at your keyboard. If you own it,  you have a monopoly on its use.  In this very obvious sense, a monopoly isn’t necessarily bad at all.  Copyrights are another form of monopoly, as are trademarks.  We could not long function as a society if there was no concept of property and no attendant “monopoly rights” of ownership.  As you can see, the concept is an important a vital part of a capitalist society.

Now let us turn to the much more specific and problematic concept of coercive monopolies.   This form of monopoly is a good deal different, and it’s the sort of which we should generally disapprove. Like patents, trademarks, and copyrights, coercive monopolies are granted and enforced by government, however, with these, there is nothing to prohibit another person from providing a substitute product or service.  When government creates a legal coercive monopoly, it freezes out substitutions, and it reduces the provider of the goods or services to one entity.  Consider the municipality that provides a public water utility, but prohibits the drilling of water wells.  Consider the public garbage collection service, while the city that provides it prohibits the use of alternative collection services, or requires that you pay the fees irrespective of your usage of the service.

Think of the public school system that collects your money, in most places based on the value of your property, whether you have children or not, and without rebate if you send your children to a private school at your own expense.  Notice that in this case, they are able to extort the money from you on the basis of seizing your property.  These are the sorts of monopolies with which governments empower themselves, but they also empower others as well.

Consider Major League Baseball, that gets a specific exemption from the anti-trust statutes under the law.  You can’t simply go set up your own baseball league.  This institution is protected by exemption from anti-trust laws, in specific legislation by Congress, under the assumption that it’s somehow too fundamental to American culture to permit competition.  Let me suggest that the idiotic legislators who passed this exemption failed to recognize something much more fundamental to American society: Competition.  The irony of protecting a competitive sport from external competition is mind-boggling.  If you’re a pro quality baseball player, you can either accept their rules or give up your career. This has been done in the main to restrict players from being able to negotiate.  If there was another league paying better, or willing to allow the player to decide the cities with which he would negotiate, the value of baseball players would escalate.  Some people think they’re paid too much already, but the fact is that they should earn whatever they can negotiate that the market will bear.

Of course, there are other sorts of monopolies that government rigs all the time.  Back in the 1990s, Bill Clinton put a huge swath of territory in Utah off-limits to coal mining, allegedly on the basis that it was to protect the environment.  It was also one of the only known sources of clean-burning coal in the world, the other being offshore.  Guess who had been buttering Mr. Clinton’s bread?  Yes, this sort of game is played all the time in Washington, where effective monopolies are created by legislation, and it’s part of the entire universe of crony capitalism that so many have been lamenting recently.

The government has enacted anti-trust laws advertised as being used to break up monopolies, or to prevent their formation, but all too frequently, this is just an excuse for intervention in the markets used to extort money from companies.  The most egregious cases of this are when government imagines a monopoly into existence so that they can squeeze money out of them.  Consider the case of Microsoft, that in the early 1990s became the dominant player in desktop operating systems.  At the time, Microsoft didn’t have a massive lobbying operation, and Bill Gates ran his company, but once he started to really beat his competitors badly, his competitors cried foul and turned to government for relief.  The problem is that Microsoft wasn’t really doing anything illegal, despite all the posturing by its competitors, and such laws as could be stretched to cover its actions were miserable ideas born of crony capitalism.

Several companies, all competitors, went to politicians and lobbied them to take steps against Microsoft.  It was a bi-partisan lynching, and after the affair, I believe it signaled the beginning of Microsoft’s market-share decline.  Bill Gates learned from the experience, as did his successor, and you can believe that Microsoft now employs plenty of lobbyists to plead its case before government. Did consumers benefit?  No.  So who did?  It didn’t save Netscape, which had been one of the complainers, and the truth is that Microsoft’s market share had been the product of great marketing, a very good product, and good, old-fashioned competition.  In the main, it had been what is termed a “natural monopoly.”   People simply preferred their products.  In the end, the only beneficiaries of this fiasco had been government and its officials, its regulators, and of course, all the lobbyists who now rake in cash.

When somebody complains to you about the monopoly some company allegedly enjoys, you’d be right to consider just what it is that the term means in the context proposed.  Not all monopolies are bad, and some are even vital parts of our economic system, but the ones with which we ought to be most concerned are those created in the cloakrooms in Congress, in the old executive Office building, and in the White House.  It never fails to be the case that it is this sort that subjects us all to the greatest perils.