Letter to the editor of the Daily Beacon, 11.09.09

I am not sure if this letter ever appeared in the U. of Tennessee student newspaper.  If it did, I missed it.

I am writing in response to Amien Essif’s November 9 column, “Media miss drama of demonstration”.  In it, he distinguishes the political environments of Europe from ours in the United States, and his distinction deserves further exploration.

Essif laments the quiet politics of U.S. citizens, and wishes there were frequent raucous protests.  In Europe, crowds of people partake in what he calls “real action.”  Going to work, minding your own business, and expecting the same of others is the American political tradition, but apparently these activities do not qualify as “real action.”

Then again, Americans have never walked en masse to the enlightened despot’s palace to request food, or travelled to the democratic tyrant’s outpost to request medical attention.  Even before the United States ratified a constitution to prevent those European follies, their citizens had begun a very different tradition.  That tradition began every time a group of colonists stepped off of a boat and into a vast wilderness, finding no postal roads, no gendarmerie, and certainly no royal granary.

In his journal, William Bradford, leader of the religious separatists that founded Plymouth colony, wrote that within a few months of landfall, half his company was dead.  Back in the Old World, the key to survival was “real action,” but rowdy demonstrations proved futile in the colony.  The harsh winter of Massachusetts Bay heeds neither protest nor prayer.

How did colonists survive?  They took the unreal action of providing for themselves, and in so doing began the American tradition of personal responsibility.  This tradition has endured through countless authoritarian regimes in Europe, all of which began with moral intentions for the greater good and “real action.”

Essif complains about “the uniquely American relationship to government, a strange concoction of cowardice and contempt,” and believes that “in Europe, the government is afraid of the people, while in the United States, the people are afraid of the government.”  This begs the question: what have the European governments done that makes them so fearful of their people?

The answer is that European governments have promised their citizens an end to fear, and an end to want, and their citizens believed them.  A digressive lesson for citizens and single women: if a man ever promises to bring an end to your fears and wants, you believe him at the risk that he will thereafter control you.  No government can deliver on those promises, and those that try not only exceed their true purpose (to defend natural rights) but act against it, by becoming instruments of plunder.

When government pursues its true purpose, the political environment is very calm.  Essif sees the absence of massive demonstrations as a negative; on the contrary, it is a sign that society is working well.  As Frederic Bastiat points out, “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.”

Our government has stepped outside of the boundaries of its purpose, but it has not been doing this as long or as extensively as its European counterparts, and the effects are not yet as visible.  While Americans were running their own lives and expecting the same of others, their leaders in Washington–perhaps envying European governmental power–were patterning their legislation on the unwisely set examples of Europe, and then destroying the constitution accordingly.  After more than a century of this insidious legal process, the American political stage is finally set for some “real action.”

Europeans demonstrate to their governments because their governments run their lives, and in all likelihood this will soon be true for us, and then Thomas Paine’s words will apply to America for the first time since before he penned them: “The enormous expense of government has provoked men to think, by making them feel.”

Sincerely,

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Two to watch for in 2010 Senate race

 Schiff

The U.S. government’s dramatic, corporate welfare response to the economic crisis has brought many Americans to the following conclusion: my Senator (regardless of party) is a big-government, special-interest-controlled goon who does not give a damn about me.  In an America spiraling further and further into the hellish abyss of corporate fascism, there are a couple of freedom-loving luminaries expected to run for Senate in 2010: Dr. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Peter Schiff of Connecticut.

Paul is a surgeon who brings a unique and insightful perspective to healthcare reform. His seat is particularly important to the cause of liberty, because the man he would replace is among the Senate’s staunchest supporters of free markets, Republican and baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning.  Bunning voted against all of the debt-propelling bills designed to fix the economy, which remains broken.  If either a Democrat or Paul’s Republican opposition, Harvard alum Trey Grayson, were to fill Bunning’s seat, the reliable vote against federal government interference in our personal lives will assuredly be lost.

Paul is expected to announce that he will seek the open seat on August 20th.  On that day, which is a planned “money-bomb,” I expect him to raise somewhere in the range of $250,000.  His total for the month of August will likely be somewhere in the range of $300,000, which despite national efforts, will leave his total far behind that of his Ivy League manufactured primary opponent, who has already raised more than $600,000, and boasts the support of the much maligned GOP leadership.

Peter Schiff hopes to replace Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut in 2010.  Senator Dodd has seen much face time in the media lately for three reasons: he chairs the Senate Banking Committee, which is overactive during economic downturns such as the present one; he was recently diagnosed with early and non-life-threatening prostate cancer; and he is strongly suspected of benefiting from improper mortgage practices–perhaps a political bribe.

Schiff is best-known for his remarkably accurate economic forecasts.  Several youtube videos, entitled “Peter Schiff Was Right”, have gone viral across the Internet, and have shown Schiff to be an economic genius.  On the other hand, Dodd has been an economic dunce over the past decade, defending policies and entities that economists across the political spectrum agree invited the economic crisis.  From an economic standpoint, the choice is a no-brainer: Schiff wins.  But in politics, being right does not guarantee victory, and Schiff knows he has a very tough fight ahead of him.

Like Dr. Paul, Schiff is expected to have a big fundraising day.  His is on August 7th, on which he hopes to raise $1 million.  In my opinion, that’s a pipe dream.  He will be lucky to raise half of that.

Despite fundraising concerns, both Paul and Schiff are forces to be reckoned with in the 2010 Senatorial elections for one reason: their message of limited government, free people, and free markets resonates with an American citizenry that is fed up with the federal government’s never-ending interventions into a society that never seemed very broken to begin with.

For further information or to lend your support to their campaigns, Paul’s and Schiff’s websites are: http://www.randpaul2010.com/ and http://www.schiffforsenate.com/ 

Keynes and the “intellectuals” v. America

Keynes destroys wealth

I wrote an email about John Maynard Keynes a couple of weeks ago that I want to share with you.  It was to my mother.  As a university instructor, she receives emails from intellectual colleagues of all fields, who often know little or nothing of economics, but strongly support Keynesian theories.  Such professors, living comfortably on the fringes of capitalistic prosperity, compare their salaries with the earnings of industrious geniuses around them, and blame free markets for their conditions, because they are too proud to blame themselves.  Mention to them that throughout history, where free markets are absent, famine and misery abound–that government noninterference produced the only society to ever avoid starvation for more than a century–and these intellectuals will not listen, for they are teachers and not learners, and in a planned society they imagine themselves to be the planners, and not the laborers.  But before they can plan, they must destroy the system that feeds everyone but makes them irrelevant: capitalism.  Their destruction is nearing completion, and they hope to take advantage of the ensuing collapse, become planners, and rule over the creative, industrious, and inventive energies within our society.

So backward are these educators’ attitudes, that they confused my educated mother (M.B.A. and J.D.) into thinking Keynes could be right.  I had to set her straight, but I could not blame her for being confused.  Even I thought Keynes was right until I started studying macroeconomics.  In my first college economics class, I answered one of my professor’s questions about recessions by accurately explaining Keynes’ theory of aggregate demand.  His response was, “they’ve got you brainwashed, don’t they?”  His firm criticism encouraged me to begin reading economic theory.  There was a time (in the 1960s and 70s) when almost every economist was Keynesian, but today Keynes’ theories are rarely taught without a healthy dose of skepticism.  This is because much of what happened in the economy of the 1970s and 80s appeared to prove Keynes wrong.  The longer I studied, the more I realized that, in America today, almost every economic barrier an individual encounters has been erected by government.  I realized that while private entities sometimes invest poorly, which hurts the economy, government often invests poorly, negligently, and with impunity, which hurts and may cripple the economy.

For any argument about suitable means to be valuable, parties must agree on suitable ends.  My end is the maximization of individual liberty.  I see this also as the maximization of justice.  I believe that every individual has rights to political and economic liberties, “life, liberty,” etc.  I believe the primary purpose of government is to protect those rights.  If that end cannot be agreed upon, then you will find my argument worthless, but knowing you to possess a liberal mind, I suspect you will gain something from my opinion.  The best economic means toward protecting individual liberty are, in my opinion, minimal taxation, fiscal responsibility, sound money, and government noninterference (peace would also help).  If his goal was to protect our rights (and I strongly suspect it was not), Keynes theory was wrong.  If his goal was to improve stability, Keynes was wrong.  If his goal was to improve justice, Keynes was wrong.  If his goal was to increase the control of the state over the everyday lives of individuals, Keynes was wrong, but successful.

Here is the email I wrote my mom:

“If in the first attempt to create a world of free men we have failed, we must try again.  The guiding principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century.”
– F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

After reading The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek’s criticism of J.M. Keynes’ General Theory, Keynes admitted, “morally and philosophically I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it: and not only in agreement with it, but in deeply moved agreement.”  Keynes was praising a book, morally and philosophically, that championed laissez-faire over his own theory.  It warned that Keynes’ theory would lead to the enslavement of all mankind (save a small governing elite), and Keynes agreed with “virtually the whole of it,” morally and philosophically.

Keynes was a unique figure, brilliant enough to recognize his own wrongs, and proud enough to refuse to set them right.  A supporter of eugenics, he was an arrogant man who always thought himself the most clever person in the room, and on this one point, it is likely that he was always correct.  His mind, however, was poisoned by the Old World belief that there must always be two classes of people, the rulers and the ruled, but Americans believe that these classes are neither natural nor necessary, and that every man is his own ruler.  Keynes knew his theory would be, on a free people, an immoral imposition, and even admitted its ability to increase economic instability (which it has done), but like a contemptible, soul-selling politician, he dismissed an economic system of justice, honesty, and freedom for “light and transient causes,” to become a ruler, gathering fortune and fame while providing the most efficient immediate remedy to those most in need; and while all this rottenness may be crafty politics, it is bad economics.

A good economist considers not only a strategy’s short-term effects on interested groups, but its short- and long-term effects on all groups.  To joke that “in the long run we’re all dead,” as Keynes did, is an assault on posterity, and indicates his intent to rob their liberties and fortunes for the sake of temporary splurging.  We know individuals that live beyond their means are destined to live beneath them, and this is no less true of nations.  Until now, U.S. production and national wealth have increased in spite of government, because capitalism is still operating to some extent, and because by luck, a slow waitress is handling the bill for all this “aggregate demand”.  I don’t expect the Department of Treasury will leave her a tip.

There is a lot of bad economics abroad, being taught in universities, being preached in the halls of Washington, and being recorded for wiser generations to lampoon.  As Louis XIV had his divine right, Paul Krugman has his Nobel Prize.  Bad economics tells us that the government must make us better off (limit our choices), inflate the currency (steal our savings), save the X industry (kill the Y industry, and harm everyone not closely related to the X industry), increase the minimum wage (increase prices), protect our industry with tariffs (limit choices and increase prices) increase credit (increase debt), increase public works (increase taxes), create more jobs (impossible), stop technology from stealing jobs (lose opportunity for increased standard of living), achieve “full employment” (instead of full production), bail out unions (tax all others), stop foreclosures (undermine the price mechanism that guarantees short recessions), increase the velocity of money (tempt hyperinflation), and give away “free” pensions, healthcare, houses, food, and money (remove all incentives for production).  But one thing we must never, ever do, under any circumstances (according to this “economics”), is save.  There is no rhyme to bad economics.  It cherishes credit, and although savings is the only true source of credit, savings is, in their muddled minds, the bane of all good society; the only use of savings is as actual wealth that, in the absence of a gold standard, the government can steal through inflation.

The economic ideas I prefer are what Barack Obama calls “the stale political arguments which have consumed us for so long,” which “no longer apply.”  By the context of this quote in his inaugural speech, it appears Obama is attacking arguments in favor of individualism, the philosophy of John Locke, upon which the United States was founded and became prosperous.  John Locke died over three hundred years ago, so–though collectivism is much older–individualism may now be called a “stale” argument, but this is totally irrelevant.  It matters not whether an idea is new or old, but whether it is right or wrong.  I believe that collectivism is wrong and individualism is right, and as it is better to repair a wrong than persist in it, I will halt discussion of contemporary leaders to return to the informative purpose of my writing you.

Bad economics insults reason, starving and torturing the mind, and causing anxiety; but good economics informs reason, satisfying the mind’s natural appetite.  I may feed that appetite with my own words, but others have prepared portions so tasteful as to make my own attempts bland.  Morsels to follow:

  • “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” – Adam Smith
  • “Dying industries absorb labor and capital that should be released for the growing industries.  It is only the much vilified price system that solves the enormously complicated problem of deciding precisely how much of tens of thousands of different commodities and services should be produced in relation to each other.  These otherwise bewildering equations are solved quasi-automatically by the system of prices, profits and costs.  They are solved by this system incomparably better than any group of bureaucrats could solve them.  For they are solved by a system under which each consumer makes his own demand and casts a fresh vote, or a dozen fresh votes, every day; whereas bureaucrats would try to solve it by having made for the consumers not what the consumers themselves wanted, but what the bureaucrats decided was good for them.  Yet, though the bureaucrats do not understand the quasi-automatic system of the market, they are always disturbed by it.  They are always trying to improve it or correct it, usually in the interests of some wailing pressure group.” – Henry Hazlitt
  • “It may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “The evil is inflation.  Its weapon of defense is an invisible vapor, the effect of which is to cause people to become economic alcoholics, afflicted with the delusion that they can get rich by destroying the value of money.” – Garet Garrett
  • “A government that has arrived at the ultimate goal of total power may dispense with inflation.  The power to command obedience enables it to achieve directly what formerly it could only achieve indirectly by inflation.  The consuming delusion is that because of what Americans were, this may not or cannot happen.” – Garrett
  • “Wealth brings with it its own checks and balances.  The basis of political economy is non-interference.  The only safe rule is found in the self-adjusting meter of demand and supply.  Do not legislate.  Meddle, and you snap the sinews with your sumptuary laws.  Give no bounties, make equal laws, secure life and property, and you need give no alms.  Open the doors of opportunity to talent and virtue and they will do themselves justice, and property will not be in bad hands.  In a free and just commonwealth, property rushes from the idle and imbecile to the industrious, brave and persevering.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Anyone who has observed how aspiring monopolists regularly seek and frequently obtain the assistance of the power of the state to make their control effective can have little doubt that there is nothing inevitable about this development.” – Hayek
  • “The money rate can, indeed, be kept artificially low only by continuous new injections of currency or bank credit in place of real savings.  This can create the illusion of more capital just as the addition of water can create the illusion of more milk.  But it is a policy of continuous inflation.  It obviously is a process involving cumulative danger.  The money rate will rise and a crisis will develop if the inflation is reversed, or merely brought to a halt, or even continued at a diminished rate.” – Hazlitt
  • “Government-guaranteed home mortgages, especially when a negligible down payment or no down payment whatever is required, inevitably mean more bad loans than otherwise.  They force the general taxpayer to subsidize the bad risks and to defray the losses.  They encourage people to ‘buy’ houses that they cannot afford.  They tend eventually to bring about an oversupply of houses as compared with other things.  They temporarily overstimulate building, raise the cost of building for everybody (including the buyers of the homes with the guaranteed mortgages), and may mislead the building industry into an eventually costly overexpansion.  In brief, in the long run they do not increase overall national production but encourage malinvestment.” – Hazlitt (1946, if heeded, we may have avoided current recession)
  • “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch its currency.  By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate secretly and unobserved an important part of the wealth of their citizens.  By this means they not only confiscate, but confiscate arbitrarily, and while the process impoverishes many it actually enriches some.” – Keynes
  • “As to the assumed authority of any assembly in making paper money, or paper of any kind, a legal tender, or in other language, a compulsive payment, it is a most presumptuous attempt at arbitrary power.  There can be no such power in a republican government: the people have no freedom, and property no security where this practice can be acted: and the committee who shall bring in a report for this purpose, or the member who moves for it, and he who seconds it merits impeachment, and sooner or later may expect it.” – Thomas Paine
  • “Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth.  Gold stands in the way of this insidious process.  It stands as a protector of property rights.  If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.” – Alan Greenspan
  • What is called economic power, while it can be used as an instrument of coercion, is, in the hands of private individuals, never exclusive or complete power, never power over the whole life of a person. But centralized as an instrument of political power it creates a degree of dependence scarcely distinguishable from slavery.” – Hayek
  • “You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal for anyone to offer him anything less.  You merely deprive him of the right to earn the amount that his abilities and situation would permit him to earn, while you deprive the community even of the moderate services he is capable of rendering.  In brief, for a low wage you substitute unemployment.  You do harm all around, with no comparable compensation.” – Hazlitt
  • “The question is not whether we wish to see everybody as well off as as possible.  Among men of good will such an aim can be taken for granted.  The real question concerns the proper means of achieving it.  And in trying to answer this we must never lose sight of a few elementary truisms.  We cannot distribute more wealth than is created.  We cannot in the long run pay labor as a whole more than it produces.  The best way to raise wages, therefore, is to raise marginal labor productivity.  This can be done by many methods: by an increase in capital accumulation–i.e., by an increase in the machines with which the workers are aided; by new inventions and improvements; by more efficient management on the part of employers; by more industriousness and efficiency on the part of workers; by better education and training.  The more the individual worker produces, the more he increases the wealth of the whole community.  The more he produces, the more his services are worth to consumers, and hence to employers.  And the more he is worth to employers, the more he will be paid.  Real wages come out of production, not out of government decrees.  So government policy should be directed, not to imposing more burdensome requirements on employers, but to following policies that encourage profits, that encourage employers to expand, to invest in newer and better machines to increase the productivity of workers–in brief, to encourage capital accumulation, instead of discouraging it–and to increase both employment and wage rates.” – Hazlitt
  • “‘Adequate’ relief will cause some men not to seek work at all, and will cause others to consider that they are in effect being asked to work not for the wage offered, but only for the difference between the wage and the relief payment.” – Hazlitt

“A malady… once known is half cured.” – Jefferson

Who are the true patriots?

Young Ron Paul

“Complacency and fear drive our legislation without any serious objection by our elected leaders.  Sadly though, those few who do object to the self-evident trend away from personal liberty and empire building overseas are portrayed as unpatriotic and uncaring.

Though welfare and socialism always fail, opponents of them are said to lack compassion.  Though opposition to totally unnecessary war should be the only moral position, the rhetoric is twisted to claim that patriots who oppose the war are not supporting the troops.  The cliche ‘support the troops’ is incessantly used as a substitute for the unacceptable notion of supporting the policy no matter how flawed it may be.  Unsound policy can never help the troops.  Keeping the troops out of harm’s way and out of wars unrelated to our national security is the only real way of protecting the troops.  With this understanding, just who can claim the title of patriot?  Before the war in the Middle East spreads and becomes a world conflict for which we will be held responsible, before the liberties of all Americans become so suppressed we can no longer resist, much has to be done.

I am assured that our course of action should be clear.  Resistance to illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of our rights is required.  Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes.  But let it not be said that we did nothing.  Let not those who love the power of the welfare-warfare state label the dissenters of authoritarianism as un-patriotic or uncaring.  Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security.  Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free society makes us unbashful in its promotion, fully realizing that maximum wealth is created and the greatest chance for peace comes from a society respectful of individual liberty.” – Ronald E. Paul, M.D.

Patriotism is not blind nationalism.  In my view, there is none more foolish than the man who pledges his whole life to a government, only because it currently rules the accidental location of his birth.  True patriots are not loyal to a land mass, a government, a person, or group of people; they are loyal to ideas–the ideas that nature and history prove righteous to their own reflection, such as self-government and individual liberty.  It is not only the flag to which true patriots pledge allegiance, but also the republic for which it stands: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Sadly, these simple lines, which we have recited for as long as we can remember, have nearly lost their meaning for most Americans.

Perhaps we are so long removed from the origination of a free society that we have forgotten its price.  Perhaps we have forgotten what freedom is: the absence of government coercion.  Perhaps we have forgotten that truly beneficial policies almost always stand on their own merit, without the aid of massive government enforcement agencies.  Perhaps we have begun to take liberty for granted, so we allow it to be chiseled away each year by just a few more taxes, just a few more regulations, just a few more unconstitutional spending programs, just a few more harmless potheads turned into untouchable felons, just a few more unwarranted surveillance operations, just a few more troops on our streets to suppress the political dissenters, just a few more unfounded arrests and detainments, just a few more unnecessary casualties in the never-ending war for universal authority, just a few more computerized balloting systems, and just a little bit more government control.  After all, most of us feel we can still go about our business uninterrupted by these controls and live adequately, if not freely.  I fear now that by the time we realize that this is no longer true, by the time our old friends and fellow citizens–educated, hard-working, freedom-loving people of integrity–are declared dangerous enemies of the state, it will be too late to change the authoritarian direction of our nation, and it will be easier for us to act nationalistic and tolerated, silent and unencumbered, compliant and alive, than to be honest and endangered, righteous and imprisoned, patriotic and dead.  The false patriots will have won, successfully driving freedom out of the only safe harbor it has ever known.  American freedom, having long treaded in tempestuous weather, is drowning in the vast seas of prosperity and contentment it produced.  Its only lifeline is We the People.

Open bailout opposition letter to Congress

Stolen from you by U.S.

“That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.” – Thomas Jefferson

There is a lot of hype in Washington this week, a lot of short-term thinking, but very little honest reflection and philosophically sound governance based on the long term prospects of the American economy.  Jefferson was right: our financial markets have fallen into a cycle of government dependence and therefore no longer discipline themselves.  The American economy has lived beyond its means; to deny this is to declare yourself ignorant and unfit to govern.  We have floated on a cloud of credit, and believed ourselves to be in heaven, and though we have ventured far from earth, the latest liquidity squeeze has allowed us to see just how far we must fall when our economy’s bill comes due.  Though the $700,000,000,000 proposal before you may indeed postpone the payment date, the American people will eventually have to pay dearly for living on money that has been given value–not by production–but by irrational faith, and you can be certain that every postponement will make that future payment more painful than it would be today.  Do not be convinced that there are no free market solutions to this crisis.  The unspeakable ideal of economic freedom will pump more liquid capital into our financial markets than the government ever could, and more importantly, the money generated by such a system would be sound and valuable.  The chronic risks of moral hazard and inflation this bailout poses far outweigh the risks of a brief credit crisis caused by market-liquidated debt.

We cannot become wiser before we admit that we have been foolish in the past.  Market interference was, in most instances, foolish.  The Community Re-Investment Act was foolish.  Taxing capital gains was foolish.  Turning over Congress’ constitutional money-coining responsibility to a private, secretive organization was foolish.  Encouraging irresponsible lending through never-ending taxpayer bailouts was foolish.  Artificially low interest rates were foolish.  Price manipulation was foolish.  Giving up on sound money was foolish.  Losing faith in freedom was foolish.  Ours, however, is not a fated existence.  Nowhere is it written in stone that we must remain foolish, or that we cannot obey Constitutional principles.  If, as Senator John McCain likes to say, you “came to Washington to change Washington,” now is your chance to realize your lofty dreams.  Crisis is the proper time for reform.  Now is the time to embrace real capitalism.  The American people should not be told to fear freedom, as they are being told now, but to embrace it.  The time has come for Americans to be rewarded for their own successes, and held accountable for their own mistakes.  The time has come for the ambitious legislators in Washington to stop fiscally abusing the children of this nation.

1994, 2000: Remembering the words of Goldwater and Reagan, American median voters want smaller government and balanced budgets, so they elect Republicans; in return, they receive the most rampant growth in government (and public debt) this continent has ever known.  2006: the median American voters want out of a conflict that is unrelated to their security or welfare, so they elect Democrats; in return, the war’s funding is not cut off but greatly increased.  2008: the American people want no taxpayer bailouts, they want to end the bubble-blowing policies of the Federal Reserve, and they want to stop the growing cycle of debt that has ruined a once free economy; in return, they are presented with the largest taxpayer bailout ever, a more powerful and secretive central bank, the largest economic bubble-blowing scheme ever contrived, and more debt than they can ever afford to pay off.

The blindfold has been removed from the American people.  They are awakening to a pattern that reveals self-government as a myth.  The extraordinary actions of the federal government are only serving to remove its mask, revealing its nationalist, socialist, imperialist, authoritarian, unresponsive, evil face.  We can accurately predict that, on matters of true importance, when a particular course of action is supported by more than 70% of the American people, their government will pursue the opposite course, pretending the people are a force of no consequence–an attitude to be expected of King Louis’ court, but not of a republic’s elected leaders.  I need not remind you of the French response to that attitude.  The United States government has lost so much legitimacy that it may not survive the latest proposal, should it pass.  The American people are well-aware of the truly criminal nature of any financial bailout; a huge one will both injure and offend them.  Moreover, it will not come without consequence; their lanterns are burning, their pitchforks are raised, and they are prepared to halt the criminal acts of this government, should it become necessary for them to do so.

Common Sense about religion

Paine

I am always troubled by the willingness of Americans to revise history so that it fits into their own worldviews.  To know history, one must first study history.  To comment about a historic figure’s philosophy and intentions, one must first read that figure’s own journals and publications.   To assert truth, one must first make sure that the assertion is true.  There are some falsely self-proclaimed intellectuals who make assumptions about a text rather than read it, and therefore characterize history ineptly.  Perhaps no American revolutionary figure has been exposed to more “intellectual” revisionism than Thomas Paine.  I recently read an example of this on intellectualconservative.com by Thomas Brewton.  Brewton writes:

“While Thomas Paine’s stirring prose helped to rally public opinion in support of the War of Independence in 1776, his later writings were 180 degrees out of synch with the Christian ethos that prevailed in the United States.

It was in those later writings after the War of Independence — The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason – that Paine expressed the sentiments which Mr. Ellis holds forth as the true values of 1776.

Paine’s social and political ideas were essentially the revolutionary and bloody socialism that afflicted the world in the 1789 French Revolution.

His The Age of Reason is an attack upon Christianity and all spiritual religion, a panegyric to the minds of intellectuals as the source of human perfection via the collectivized political state.”

Let me first tackle Brewton’s claim that Age of Reason “is an attack upon Christianity and all spiritual religion.”  I have read it, and it is a very spiritual book itself.  I do not know how Brewton would explain that a spiritual book is actually an attack on all spiritual religion.  I am not certain that I am right, or that Brewton is wrong: Judge for yourself whether or not Age of Reason is “an attack on all spiritual religion” by reading some quotes from it:

“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine.  He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.  Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.”

“The Church has set up a system of religion very contradictory to the character of the person whose name it bears.  It has set up a religion of pomp and of revenue, in pretended imitation of a person whose life was humility and poverty.”

“The Word of God is the creation we behold and it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.”

“It is only by the exercise of reason that man can discover God.  Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything; and, in this case, it would be just as consistent to read even the book called the Bible to a horse as to a man.  How, then, is it that people pretend to reject reason?”

“Do we want to know that God is?  Search not the book called the Scripture, which any human hand might make, but the Scripture called the creation.”

“The God in whom we believe is a God of moral truth, and not a God of mystery or obscurity.  Mystery is the antagonist of truth.  It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion.  Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself.”

“The only idea we can have of serving God is that of contributing to the happiness of the living creation that God has made.  This cannot be done by retiring ourselves from the society of the world and spending a recluse life in selfish devotion.”

“The creation we behold is the real and ever-existing Word of God, in which we cannot be deceived.  It proclaims His power, it demonstrates His wisdom, it manifests His goodness and beneficence.”

Some of those quotes certainly appeal to my own spiritual side.

Brewton–as one quickly learns from his website–believes himself to be the almighty authority on American perspective in 1776.  You would think, given the credentials he professes to have, he would be more familiar with Common Sense.  Brewton is a strong opponent of socialism, so I find myself in agreement with him on almost everything, but he misjudged Paine’s Common Sense.  To read the true authority on Common Sense, one must read the document itself.  Reading what someone else has written about it, as it appears Brewton may have done, provides no real education.  It is true that Rights of Man contained socialistic ideas that were nowhere to be found in Common Sense.  However, Brewton’s assertion that unlike Common Sense, Paine’s “later writings were 180 degrees out of synch with the Christian ethos that prevailed in the United States” is totally false.  Common Sense is a booklet that was extremely influential at the time of the American Revolution, and it does have a religious theme consistent with Paine’s later works.  In it, Paine bashes the idea that Christians are supreme, he paints Christians as cowards, and he advocates a strict separation of government and religion.  While Brewton’s assertions about Thomas Paine contained no evidence (understandably, as it is difficult to draw quotes from an unread text), I will provide an inexhaustive list of quotes from Common Sense below that clearly show the work’s religious ideas:

“This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

“The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.”

“As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensible duty of all government, to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.”

“The Almighty hath implanted in us these unextinguishable feeling for good and wise purposes.  They are the guardians of his image in our hearts.  They distinguish us from the herd of common animals.”

“without anger or resentment I bid you farewell, sincerely wishing, that as men and christians, ye may always fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right; and be, in your turn, the means of securing it to others; but that the example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed and reprobated by every individual inhabitant of America.”

In the last quote, Paine is specifically addressing the Quakers and other dogmatic Christian believers, who believed that the King had a divine right to rule America.  If the professors of the “Christian ethos” had their way in 1776, we would have a different term for Americans: British subjects.

Sifting through the crap

Crap

99.9% of everything you will ever hear from a U.S. politician or media pundit is total crap. I present to you five widely discussed issues that do not matter, so that next time you hear them on the radio or television, you can say to yourself “this is pointless conversation”:

  1. Energy policy: The energy industry is part of the economic market. It operates most efficiently on its own and requires no help from the government (unless there is a monopoly in the market). Anyone who thinks limiting our choices on energy is a good thing is delusional. Stay away from them. It is remarkable how many believe that people can be made better off by the imposition of limitations on their choices. Here’s how it works, honestly and simply: when (and only when) gas prices become too high, an alternative energy source will become dominant.
  2. Environmental issues: If your property is being damaged by another person’s (or group’s) pollution, sue them. If you can prove your case, you will win. Chances are, you’ll be one of many, and those who choose to pollute will soon stop because of the amount of expenses they are incurring from mounting lawsuits. There are no regulations necessary–just the simple legal protection of property.
  3. Illegal immigration: The leaderships of both parties have decided nothing will ever be done to stop this. In fact, they hope to someday unify Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. under a multinational government.
  4. Racism, sexism, feminism, anti-religious sentiments, and other prejudices: You are easier to control if you think along these lines at all. Whether you are practicing these or blaming others for doing so, you are falling right in line with what the status quo wants. You are focusing on an issue that does not matter, which works out perfectly for the people trying to make sure they can continue to steal money from you without your noticing.
  5. Islamofascism: This is a huge myth. If you think radical Muslims are about to take over the United States, you are wacko. You need to see a mental health professional and talk about your irrational fears.

From now on, if you hear one of these issues mentioned on the news or anywhere else, remember that someone is trying to entertain or bewilder you, and that nothing they say can swindle you out of a wise and well-reasoned vote. The list above is far from exhaustive.

Now that you know what sorts of issues don’t matter, here’s some that do: The Constitution, Bill of Rights, fiscal restraint, and sound monetary policy (the elimination of fiat currency). If your legislators are focusing more on the first list than this one, they need to be replaced.

You’re welcome.