Much is made of voting and elections in the US. But what if voting means very little, if anything? What if a permanent government is really in control of Washington that is not affected by elections? The existence of a "deep state" is no conspiracy theory. In fact members of the permanent government operate in the open. What can be done to bring back liberty and accountability?
By Chris Rossini
It seems like just yesterday that President Obama was pulling the wool over America's eyes with his final State of The Union address. In that speech, the president proclaimed that "on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight."
Of course, neither the original (and superior) Articles of Confederation, nor the U.S. Constitution give the federal government any authority to deal with "issues of global concern". Nor does the federal government have any powers to "mobilize the world," as if such a thing were even possible.
The real warnings from America's founders about not getting involved in entangling alliances and not going abroad looking for monsters to destroy have been tossed into the memory hole. American presidents (over the last 100 years especially) all pretend that they can solve "global problems," and pretend that they can get "the world" to act in concert.
Let's look at the latest regional problem that has been blown out of proportion to be pitched as a global problem: ISIS.
President Obama supposedly "mobilized the world" with a 65-nation anti-ISIS coalition. The U.S. government is so powerful and so persuasive that 65 nations got in line to achieve a common goal. Amazing! It makes for a good headline, doesn't it?
Well it should always be kept in mind that the U.S. government has mastered the art of false advertising. To paraphrase the great libertarian entrepreneur Lew Rockwell: 'Always assume that politicians are lying to you, and you'll rarely be disappointed.'
With that philosophy, you would not be surprised to learn that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter was recently in Switzerland complaining that many coalition parters are "not doing enough" and that others are doing "nothing at all"! Carter specifically placed blame on Sunni Arab nations.
Imagine that. Nations like Saudi Arabia (who ideologically are no different than ISIS) are going with the armchair approach! The U.S. has also recently tried to get Australia to commit more troops to the anti-ISIS fight, but the Aussies (smartly) said NO.
Isn't it fascinating to see how different reality is when it's compared to State of The Union speeches and mainstream media headlines? How very obvious that their entire purposes are to keep the fairy tale alive in American minds. Believe in the man behind the curtain, and your job of being an American taxpayer is fulfilled.
U.S. politicians (and their FCC licensed media) no doubt believe that they have to lie all the time. After all, it's American citizens who must lose their lives fighting in wars that they have no business being in. It's American citizens who must work hard to earn money, so that it may be flushed down the toilet of neocon delusions. And finally, it's American citizens who must continually lose their liberty as the fear mongering propaganda must get more and more extravagant in order to work.
"Global concerns"...."mobilizing the world"...It's all gibberish if you hear it out of a politician's mouth. America's founders were right. We better turn back from this philosophy of militarily dominating the world before it's too late.
Will Senate Majority Leader McConnell's plan to fast-track an open-ended war authority to the president sneak through without resistance?
By Ron Paul
While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.
The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.
President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.
It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week the media reported that the US military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the US would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the US is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the US military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the US military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.
The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with US backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn’t al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?
The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch’s power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people’s branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.
Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the US Constitution will be all but a dead letter.
Ron Paul returns with another edition of Myth-Busters! Christians are being persecuted in the Middle East, but they weren't under Hussein, Gaddafi and Assad. What happened? Is Trumps business success evidence that he'd be a good president? Where did "peak oil" go? Does Bernie Sanders think that people are no longer greedy when they enter government? All this, and much more...Don't miss it!
By Nick Giambruno
The carnage always comes by surprise, often on an otherwise ordinary Saturday morning…
The government declares a surprise bank holiday. It shuts all the banks. It imposes capital controls to stop citizens from taking their money out of the country. Cash-sniffing dogs, which make drug-sniffing dogs look friendly, show up at airports.
At that point, the government is free to help itself to as much of the country’s wealth as it wants. It’s an all-you-can-steal buffet.
This story has recently played out in Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, and Iceland. And those are only a few recent examples. It’s happened in scores of other countries throughout history. And I think it’s inevitable in the U.S.
I believe the U.S. dollar will lose its role as the world’s premier reserve currency. When that happens, capital controls are sure to follow.
This is why it’s crucial to your financial future to understand what capital controls are, how they are used, and what you can do to protect yourself.
Why Governments Impose Capital Controls
Think of the government as a thief trying to steal your wallet as you (understandably) try to run away. With capital controls, the thief is trying to block all the exits so you can’t reach safe ground.
A government only uses capital controls when it’s desperate…when it can no longer borrow, inflate the currency, tax, or steal money in one of the “normal” ways.
In most cases, governments use capital controls in severe crises. Think financial and banking collapses, wars, or chronic economic problems. In other cases, they’re just a way to control people. It’s much more difficult to leave a country when you can’t take your money with you.
Regardless of the initial catalyst, capital controls help a government trap money within its borders. This way, it has more money to confiscate.
As strange as it sounds, capital controls are often politically popular. For one, they are a way for a government to convince people it’s “doing something.” The average person loves that.
Two, a government can usually convince people that moving money offshore or investing in foreign assets is only for rich tax evaders or the unpatriotic. If freedom and private property matter to you at all, you know that’s obviously false.
How It Happens
For the unprepared, it’s like a mugging…
To be effective, capital controls have to be a surprise. Alerting people in advance would defeat the purpose. Weekends and holidays are the perfect time to catch people off guard.
Here are the four most common forms of capital controls:
1. “Official” Currency Exchange Rates
The government’s official rate for converting foreign currency to local currency is always less favorable than the black market rate (more accurately called the free market rate).
This applies to official prices for gold, too.
Getting the more favorable black market rate usually involves informal transactions on the street. Of course, this is technically illegal.
However, should you follow the law and exchange money at the official rate, it amounts to a wealth transfer from you to the government. The wealth transfer equals the difference between the free market rate and the official rate. It’s a form of implicit taxation.
2. Explicit Taxation
A government might impose explicit taxes to discourage you from buying foreign investments, foreign currencies, or gold. India tried this a few years ago by imposing a 10% tax on gold imports.
Another tactic is taxing money transfers out of the country…say 20% on any amount transferred to a foreign account. In this case, you could still move your money, but it would cost you.
Governments want you to hold your wealth inside the country and in the local currency. Ultimately, this makes it easier for them to tax, confiscate, or devalue with inflation.
3. Restrictions and Regulations
A government might restrict how much foreign currency or gold you can own, import, or export. It might require you to get permission to take a certain amount of money out of the country. The cap is often only a couple thousand dollars.
4. Outright Prohibition
This is the most severe form of capital control. Sometimes a government explicitly prohibits the ownership of foreign currencies, foreign bank accounts, foreign assets, or gold, or the moving of any form of wealth outside the country.
Capital Controls in the U.S.
The U.S. government has used capital controls before. In 1933, through Executive Order 6102, President Roosevelt forced Americans to exchange their gold for U.S. dollars. It’s no surprise that the official government exchange rate was unfavorable. The U.S. government continued to prohibit private ownership of gold bullion until 1974.
Today, with no conceivable end to the U.S. government’s runaway spending, sky-high debt, and careless money printing, I think it’s only a matter of time until the government decides capital controls are the “solution.” There’s no doubt statist economists like Paul Krugman would cheer it. All it would take is the stroke of the president’s pen on a new executive order.
Whatever the catalyst, it’s critical to prepare while there’s still time.
What Could Happen if You’re Too Late
Capital controls are almost always a prelude to something worse. It might be a currency devaluation, a so-called “stability levy,” or a bail-in.
Whatever the government and mainstream media call it, capital controls are a way to trap your money so it is easier to steal. Anything they don’t steal immediately, they box in for future thefts.
What You Can Do About It
The solution is simple.
Place some of your savings outside your home country by setting up a foreign bank account.
That way, no one can easily confiscate, freeze, or devalue your savings at the drop of a hat. A foreign bank account will help ensure that you have access to your money when you need it the most.
Doug Casey and I visited Cyprus a few years ago, right after the government imposed capital controls. We met numerous Cypriots who had seen the writing on the wall and had chosen to take action before the crisis.
By doing so, they kept their money safely out of the hands of a thieving government. While everyone else was forced to keep their money in the country, those who had moved their money ahead of time were free to do as they wished and were spared from the bank deposit confiscation.
There’s an important lesson here.
Despite what you may hear, obtaining a foreign bank account is completely legal. It’s not about tax evasion or other illegal activities. It’s simply about legally diversifying your political risk by putting your liquid savings in sound, well-capitalized institutions.
It’s becoming harder and harder to open a foreign bank account. Soon, it could be impossible. It’s important to act sooner rather than later - even if you don’t plan to use the account immediately.
Even without capital controls, it still makes sense to move some of your savings to a foreign bank where it can be kept safe.
This article was originally published at The International Man.
The Senate is expected to take up legislation to reform federal mandatory minimum sentence laws, but the measure is stalled on Majority Leader McConnell's desk. Republicans are split on the issue between reformers and "law and order" fundamentalists. Meanwhile, mandatory minimums have been emptying the treasury and destroying lives for more than 30 years.
Mises Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Mark Thornton joins the Liberty Report to discuss the real US economy beyond phony government statistics. Are things even worse than they are telling us?
By Paul-Martin Foss
Inflation-racked Argentina is preparing to issue larger-denomination banknotes to alleviate critical shortages of cash in the country. What a difference between the Argentine government and most other Western governments, which seek to crack down on the use of cash.
Argentina’s 100 peso note is equivalent to a little over $7, and with inflation in Argentina having run in double digits for years, the 100 peso note is becoming too small a denomination to facilitate cash transactions. Therefore the Argentine central bank will be issuing 200 and 500 peso notes this year, and a 1,000 peso note next year. While the devaluation of the peso and the issuance of larger denomination banknotes conjures up images of Weimar hyperinflation, it is refreshing that the Argentine authorities are at least trying to facilitate cash transactions rather than crack down on them.
Compare this to the United States, where the Secretary of the Treasury is required, under Section 16 of the Federal Reserve Act, to print Federal Reserve Notes in denominations of up to $10,000:
In order to furnish suitable notes for circulation as Federal reserve notes, the Secretary of the Treasury shall cause plates and dies to be engraved in the best manner to guard against counterfeits and fraudulent alterations, and shall have printed therefrom and numbered such quantities of such notes of the denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 $5,000, $10,000 as may be required to supply the Federal reserve banks. Such notes shall be in form and tenor as directed by the Secretary of the Treasury under the provisions of this Act and shall bear the distinctive numbers of the several Federal reserve banks through which they are issued.
In practice, however, the Treasury has not printed notes above $100 since 1945, and the Federal Reserve has not issued notes above $100 since 1969. The ostensible discontinuation of those notes was due to lack of use. However, now that inflation has eroded the value of Federal Reserve notes it makes more sense than ever to issue larger-denomination notes. The $20 Federal Reserve Notes that we receive at ATMs today buys the equivalent of what $3 would have purchased in 1969. And the $100 bill in 1969 would buy the equivalent of $646 today. It would make a lot of sense to begin printing $500 and $1000 bills again.
But due to the war on drugs and the war on cash, US authorities don’t want to issue bills larger than $100, as they claim it would only facilitate money laundering. By maintaining its policy of not printing notes larger than $100 and by increasing the reporting requirements on cash transactions, the Treasury has pushed more and more financial transactions into the electronic arena, where they are easier to monitor and control. The desire for control is ultimately driving factor behind the war on cash in the United States and in Europe. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Argentina’s new government immediately enacting policies that respond to consumer demands for cash. Let’s hope that President Macri is able to bring the central bank under control so that Argentina won’t need to issue any larger banknotes in the future.
This article was originally published at The Carl Menger Center.