By Jeff Deist
Today Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. American voters rejected the devil they know so well — Hillary Clinton — for the devil they don’t. Why they did so, and how Trump prevailed, is the biggest political story of our age. But the rejection of progressive hubris, what Friedrich Hayek called the “fatal conceit” of those who would presume to plan our lives, is at the heart of that story.
The Left views Trump’s election as an absolute calamity, despite his support for unions and protectionist trade policies, despite his identity as a New York elite rather than some despised red state politician, and despite his ambivalence toward the social issues that animate Christian conservatives. One would think Democrats would be relieved not to suffer an ideologue like Santorum or Cruz in the White House. Yet their hysteria and lack of self-awareness prompt them to attack the Electoral College, of all things.
Progressives bear direct responsibility for Trump’s victory. They grossly miscalculated in nominating Mrs. Clinton, an avaricious and humorless technocrat who utterly failed to engage ordinary people. They abandoned populist economic themes and union halls in favor of global trade deals. They stayed silent while the Obama administration spent two full terms at war. They excused Obama’s NSA scandals. They cheered the growth of an imperial presidency and an activist judiciary, both of which they are now shocked to imagine outside their control.
But worst of all, progressives have poisoned America with vicious identity politics and a deeply false narrative of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and privilege. How could a backlash not result? By demonizing history, religion, traditional families, and middle America, they deliberately politicized whole areas of life that should be off limits to government. Politics is war, but it is also sales.
Yet Trump represents no victory for conservatives. The political Right, despite installing an ostensible Republican in the White House and gaining seats in Congress, is in ideological tatters. It has no coherent ideology of individualism, capitalism, and opportunity to counter the progressive narrative of dependency and victimhood. Republican identity lies simply in being less progressive than progressives, in merely wanting to engineer society toward different ends. The GOP long ago forfeited any claim to limited government or constitutionalism, as demonstrated by the disastrous debt-fueled presidency of George W. Bush. Republicans remain deeply committed to interventionism and nation-building, a foreign policy doctrine that originated with leftwing radicals. They refuse to address entitlements, either structurally or in the more important sense of rejecting government’s role in healthcare and retirement. Most importantly, conservatives forfeited the wider culture: progressives now dominate academia, media, literature, performing arts, philanthropy, churches, synagogues, and boardrooms across America.
So what can Trump actually do, in the face of this political and cultural stalemate? That’s the wrong question. What matters is what he can undo, or at least avoid doing. The last thing we need is more laws, New Deals, or Contracts with America. What we do need is less political control of society, meaning less state involvement in the economic, cultural, and social issues of the day. Can Trump possibly choose forbearance over action, at least in a few key areas?
Let us offer three suggestions.
First, Trump should stand by his pledge to pursue an “America first” foreign policy. Both the Left and Right oppose this, which suggests it’s a very good idea. Voters plainly want an end to our intractable conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they don’t want another dollar or drop of blood expended to install western democracy in the sectarian Middle East. Trump must resolve to stay out of Syria, stop the saber rattling toward Iran, and reject the crazed calls for resurrecting a Cold War with Russia. He must refuse to normalize constant war as an acceptable feature of American life. By trusting his deal-making nature and refusing to start — or intensify — another conflict, Trump could shock the world by actually presenting a kinder, gentler America.
Second, Trump should get serious about the Federal Reserve. By purchasing Treasury debt, the Fed is the shabby enabler of a deficit-addicted Congress. Interest rates are too low, savers (especially seniors) are suffering, and business malinvestment is once again creating bubbles throughout the economy. Interviewing John Allison — the former BB&T executive who understands sound money — for vice-chair of the Fed was a good sign that Trump understands this (nominating former Goldman Sachs insider Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary, however, was tone deaf). The Fed is the biggest source of cronyism in the economy, and thus anti-Fed populism is both good policy and good politics. It’s time to dispel the myth that monetary policy can make us richer. For starters, Trump should pressure Congress to pass Senator Rand Paul’s Audit the Fed bill.
Finally, Trump should use his platform to continue attacking the illiberal code of political correctness. PC is not just another social issue, like abortion or marriage. It underlies all other issues, because it attempts to frame how we think and speak. The conscious manipulation of language is inherently authoritarian, and Trump’s reflexive disdain for PC comes from his better angels. Trump’s twitter feed can serve him well here.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Adam Dick
With Donald Trump set to become president tomorrow, many proponents of the US government refraining from intervening in other countries have their fingers crossed, hoping that a Trump administration will bring an improved US foreign policy. In particular, there is hope that Trump’s statements that he wants the US and Russia to have friendlier relations will mean the Trump administration will work to reverse the much increased tensions of the last few years between the nations — tensions characterized by harsh words, sanctions, and military deployments.
In this week’s Ron Paul Institute weekly email to subscribers, RPI Executive Director Daniel McAdams wrote about how Obama’s foreign policy turned out to be different than the one for which many peace supporters had hoped. McAdams also discussed in the email other matters, including Obama granting a commutation for whistleblower Chelsea Manning. (You can sign up here to receive free RPI updates.)
Read here the RPI weekly email beginning paragraphs, in which McAdams addresses Obama’s foreign policy and the last-minute escalation of confrontation with Russia that Obama is leaving for the incoming president to deal with:
It seems strange that this will be the last time I write you under the presidency of Barack Obama. I recall the slight ray of hope we felt when he took office, after eight years of the crazed neocons who ran Bush's White House. At the time, Dr. Paul had just finished his ground-breaking 2008 presidential run and so much had changed for us in the Congressional office. While we were legally separated from campaign activities, we felt the mist from the waves crashing on the shore of American political life. Ron Paul went from being a widely-admired and principled Member of Congress to the world-renowned ambassador of honest money and non-interventionism! A revolution was born!
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute.
This week a report was released stating that the richest eight individuals in the world have more wealth than everyone else combined. You're expected to perceive this as a problem, without putting thought into whether or not the mega-rich earned their money legitimately in the marketplace, or parasitically through government intervention. You're also expected to rally behind government redistribution efforts to fix this so-called problem. Ron Paul discusses on today's Myth-Busters.
By Ron Paul
Yesterday, I joined CNBC's Futures Now program to discuss the incoming Trump administration and why we can expect increases in both government spending and debt. We also touched upon the gold and silver markets as well. You can watch the brief clip below:
By Tyler Durden
Ever since 2012 we have warned that one of the biggest threats arising from the US student loan bubble - which is no longer disputed by anyone except perhaps members of the outgoing administration - is not that it is soaring at an unprecedented pace, that's obvious for anyone with the latest loan total number over $1.4 trillion, rising at a pace of nearly $100 billion per year, but that the government - either on purpose or due to honest miscalculation - was not correctly accounting for the true extent of delinquencies and defaults. Today, we finally got confirmation that, as speculated, the US government was indeed fabricating student loan default data, making it appear far lower than it was in reality.
An the WSJ reported overnight "many more students have defaulted on or failed to pay back their college loans than the U.S. government previously believed."
The admission came last Friday, when the Education Department released a memo saying that it had overstated student loan repayment rates at most colleges and trade schools and provided updated numbers. This also means that the number of loan defaults in various cohorts is far greater than previously revealed.
A spokeswoman for the Education Department said that the problem resulted from a "technical programming error."
And so, the infamous "glitch" strikes again.
How bad was the data fabrication? When The Wall Street Journal analyzed the new numbers, the data revealed that the Department previously had inflated the repayment rates for 99.8% of all colleges and trade schools in the country. In other words, virtually every single number was made to appear better than it actually was. And people mock China for its own "fake data."
According to an analysis of the revised data, at more than 1,000 colleges and trade schools, or about a quarter of the total, at least half the students had defaulted or failed to pay down at least $1 on their debt within seven years. This is a stunning number and suggests that the student loan crisis is far greater than anyone had anticipated previously. It also means that the US taxpayer will be on the hook for hundreds of billions in government-funded loans once attention finally turns to who is expected to foot the bill for years of flawed lending practices.
As the WSJ adds, this isn’t the first time data problems have affected the Education Department: a recent government report criticized how the department tracks information including the budgetary implications of student loan forgiveness. “This is a quality control issue with a Department of Education that has been facing criticism already for other data issues,” Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University. The department “needs to be regularly audited so these issues can be discovered sooner.”
There is another interpretation: as we reported yesterday, when we revealed that a Chinese province admitted it had fabricated fiscal data for the period 2011-2014, the reason the data were made up "because officials wanted to advance their careers." One can imagine that the career pressure for those government workers who would report, and be held accountable, for revealing the true picture of America's disastrous student loan bubble, would be likewise staggering.
* * *
Going back to the report findings, the student loan repayment rates were originally released in 2015 as part of the Obama administration’s College Scorecard, which followed an aborted attempt to rate colleges and tie federal funds to those ratings.
At the time, the Journal reported that at 347 colleges and vocational schools, more than half of students had defaulted or failed to pay down their debt within seven years. Those figures were based on students were supposed to start repaying loans in 2006 and 2007. In September, the Department released data tracking students who should have begun repayment in 2007 and 2008, and that number rose to 477. But with the updated number released last week, that number grew to 1,029. Worse, no college saw its repayment rate improve under the revision, and some schools saw their seven-year repayment rates fall by as much as 29%.
The worst offender was the University of Memphis which had one of the largest drops in its repayment rate following the recalculation. Previously, the Department said that 67% of its students were repaying loans within seven years of entering the repayment period. That number fell to 47% after the recalculation.
The University was not happy. In a statement, the school said it “was not contacted by or made aware of the data changes” from the Education department. “Given the magnitude of the numerical changes in the report released by the Department of Education, the University of Memphis will be challenging the accuracy of the newly adjusted data,” the statement said.
The far more dire implications, however, are for broader student loan market, because if the latest unfabricated data suggesting that loan delinquencies are rapidly rising toward 50% across most of America's colleges, then the US is facing a default problem of staggering proportions. Recall that back in December 2014, The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee forecast that in an aggressive scenario, as much as $3.3 trillion in student loans could be outstanding by 2024. Incidentally, that is the scenario that has captured the growth of student loans since it was presented.
Apply default rates of 40-50% to this number, and the bill to the US taxpayer for the next mass bailout starts taking shape.
This article was originally published at Zero Hedge.
Arizona Senator John McCain has proposed a massive increase in military spending, arguing that the US must be able to fight and win conventional wars in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Is this a great leap forward...or a blunder back to the past?
By Ron Paul
As I have said many times in the past, the American people are very generous and compassionate. It's a great error to believe that if government doesn't do something, that no one else will. Accepting such a notion opens the door wide open for one government power grab after another.
This afternoon, in response to Senator Bernie Sanders' assertion that "we are not a compassionate society," my son Rand had a fantastic response that I'd like to share with you today:
"One of the things that’s extraordinary about our country is just two years ago, in 2014, we gave away $400 billion — privately, not the government, individually — to churches and to charities. We’re an incredibly compassionate society. This was misplaced in sort of the wonky numbers of this number and that number within health care how much we do help each other.
Americans are tremendously generous as it is, but imagine how much more generous we would be if the income tax were abolished and we were able to keep the fruits of our labor.
Imagine how much more generous we could be if The Fed didn't constantly debase our currency and rob us of purchasing power. We're very generous now, and that's with the government weighing us down.
We know for a fact that government assistance is a disaster. Perhaps we could really unleash the generosity of the American people by getting government out of the way.
That sounds like a plan.
President Obama's last minute commutation of Chelsea Manning's 35 year sentence for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars surprised Washington. Did he do the right thing?
By Chris Rossini
Trump's Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is going through her confirmation hearing. At one point Senator Bernie Sanders brought up "tuition-free" colleges, one of the many unicorns that live in progressive imaginations. Mrs. DeVos replied to Sanders with a rational statement. She said: "Nothing is ever free—someone has to pay for it."
In Washington, that's almost a revolutionary statement. But is it true?
Yes and no.
If government is involved in providing anything to anyone, it is true. It's never free. The reason being that government is not a producer. It creates nothing.
Every cent that government has, it must first take by force from some person. Government then takes a cut for itself (a very nice cut ... politicians live very well you know) and then give whatever is left over to a totally different person.
This is all considered "legal," which is very strange because if you steal in private life, it's rightfully frowned upon and is considered a major crime.
It doesn't matter if you steal to feed your hungry kids, or to save your grandmother's life. There is no mercy or sympathy for you. You're a criminal no matter what excuse you may have.
However, if you were to do the same exact thing wearing a government uniform, not only are you not considered a criminal, you're actually cheered on by almost everyone. Many times even your victims are cheering you on!
That's the key word --- "victims". Whenever government provides something for free, there must be victims. They're victims because they're being forced to cough up the money. They are not free to do as they please.
So nothing is "free" if government is involved.
How about in the private, peaceful and moral side of life? Is it possible for something to be "free" for all of us that don't wear government uniforms?
The answer is yes.
If you go to an employer and he hires you, a voluntary contract is made. You trade your labor and skills for a wage. There are no victims.
You can then take a part of that wage and feed your hungry kids with it. You can voluntarily help someone that has fallen on hard times. If you don't know anyone that is really suffering in your immediate sphere, you can give money to a private charity. They'll put it to good use.
There are no victims. No one forces anyone to do anything.
"Hot" money doesn't change hands. It's all legit and the recipients all receive a free and voluntary gift.
There is such thing as free, as long as government is not involved.
Don't steal....It's such an easy concept to understand, isn't it?
Sadly, there are many people who have a major problem with this. They have a never-ending litany of excuses as to why government must steal. The excuses are often coupled with lots of euphemisms to put the theft into a positive light. Down the rabbit hole they go every single time.
Real charity is the way to go.
No unicorns required.
The balance of powers in the US government has taken a steady shift toward the executive branch at the expense especially of the legislative branch. Constitution scholar Louis Fisher joins the Liberty Report to look at what this may portend for the coming Trump Administration. Follow Lou Fisher's work at: http://loufisher.org