How did President Trump do last night? Lots of appeal to emotion. Lots of people to point to in the balcony to illustrate his points. But what about the meat of the speech underneath the decoration? Infrastructure spending? More militarism and military spending? Nukes?
President Trump will deliver his State of the Union speech tonight. No doubt there will be plenty of "good news" about his first full year in office. But today's Liberty Report will dig a bit deeper. What is the real state of the union? Tune in!
By Ron Paul
Last week the Senate confirmed Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve Chairman by a vote of 84-13. This is in contrast to the contentious debates and closer votes over Janet Yellen’s confirmation in 2014 and Ben Bernanke’s confirmation for a second term in 2010. Powell benefited from a perception that the economy’s recovery from the 2007-08 meltdown proves that the Fed is a capable manager of monetary policy. However, the perceptions of economic recovery and Federal Reserve competence are both far from the truth.
The economy may seem to have recovered, but the recovery is not built on a firm foundation. Instead it rests on Fed-created bubbles in areas such as automobile sales, credit cards debt, student loan debt, stocks, and even a new housing bubble.
The most dangerous bubble is the government debt bubble. The Fed facilitates deficit spending by monetizing the federal debt. The desire to enable Congress’ spending addiction is a major reason why the Fed cannot significantly raise interest rates, as increasing rates could increase federal debt payments to unsustainable levels. This may be one reason why President Trump has reversed course and endorsed low interest rates. Of course, all first-term presidents want low interest rates since they believe the low rates boost the economy and thus help them win reelection.
One of the issues Powell will face is increasing challenges to the dollar’s world reserve currency status. China is pressuring Saudi Arabia to price oil in Chinese yuan instead of in American dollars. China and other countries may take other steps, such as halting purchases of Treasury bonds, that could weaken the dollar. The threats to the dollar’s world reserve currency status will increase as concerns about US government and private sector debt, as well as resentment over US militarism and protectionism, grow.
The dollar still maintains its reserve currency status not because the dollar is strong, but because other countries’ currencies are weak. However, unless the US gets its economic house in order, that may not long be the case.
A new challenge to the dollar’s status is emerging from the private sector as more individuals seek alternatives to government-created fiat currency. The dramatic increase in the value of bitcoins may very well be another Fed-created bubble, but it is one fueled in part by desire to be free of the Fed’s ever-depreciating paper dollars.
Another sign of the people’s rejection of the Fed is the passage of state laws recognizing gold and silver as legal tender. Arizona passed such a law last year and Wyoming will soon consider a similar bill. As the failure of our current system becomes more apparent, more states will give their citizens freedom from the Fed’s money monopoly.
Much to new Fed Chairman Powell’s chagrin, support for the Audit the Fed bill remains high. As knowledge of how the Fed endangers prosperity grows, the pressure on Congress to pass Audit the Fed will prove irresistible.
Jerome Powell may seem to be assuming the Fed chairmanship at a time of increasing prosperity and renewed respect for the Fed. However, the prosperity is an illusion built on a series of Fed-created bubbles whose bursting will cause a major economic downturn. This will increase both the growing challenges to the dollar’s world reserve currency status and the number of people seeking alternatives to Federal Reserve-created fiat currency. Powell could be the last Fed chairman if the next Fed-created economic crisis leads the people to force Congress to audit and then end the Fed.
Is European culture under attack? Bestselling Scandinavian author Hanne Nabintu Herland believes not just Europe, but the entire Western world is in an existential crisis. Ms. Herland joins today's Liberty Report to discuss her controversial views and what she believes is needed to reinvigorate Western traditions.
President Trump unilaterally erects tariffs, which are a tax on the American consumers. Americans are the one’s “slapped” with the tax, not the Chinese! Instead of denouncing this destructive and intrusive political maneuver, far too many Americans are cheering Trump on as he “slaps” American wallets! Ron Paul dispels this bizarre thinking on today’s Liberty Report!
The Pentagon's new National Defense Strategy for the United States is a complete U-turn away from our past two decades focused on terrorism. The new "greatest threat" to the United States? Russia and China, along with a couple of "rogue states." What's behind this sudden shift? Who benefits?
US Vice President Mike Pence has announced that he would be attending the Olympic games in South Korea next month with an eye on preventing North Korea from reaping any PR advantage from numerous North and South Korean joint activities. Why is Washington so afraid of peace breaking out on the Korean peninsula?
With news that the FBI "lost" months of text messages between Russiagate investigators that may have proven embarrassing -- or worse -- to the Bureau, even Washington is starting to ask what is really going on with accusations of Russian meddling. Was the whole thing cooked-up by the "never Trump" deep state?
By George Pickering
“Patients dying in hospital corridors.” So went the headline which appeared on the BBC’s website last week, detailing the newest outrages which have emerged from Britain’s crisis-beset healthcare system. This most recent revelation came as a result of an open letter sent to the prime minister by 68 senior doctors, offering details of the inhuman conditions which have become common in the National Health Service’s hospitals.
The letter, which collected statistics from NHS hospitals in England and Wales, found that in December alone over 300,000 patients were made to wait in emergency rooms for more than four hours before being seen, with thousands more suffering long waits in ambulances before even being allowed into the emergency room. The letter further noted that it had become “routine” for patients to be left on gurneys in corridors for as long as 12 hours before being offered proper beds, with many of them eventually being put into makeshift wards hastily constructed in side-rooms. In addition to this, it was revealed that around 120 patients per day are being attended to in corridors and waiting rooms, with many being made to undergo humiliating treatments in the public areas of hospitals, and some even dying prematurely as a result. One patient reported that, having gone to the emergency room with a gynecological problem which had left her in severe pain and bleeding, a lack of treatment rooms led hospital staff to examine her in a busy corridor, in full view of other patients.
While it’s tempting to believe that these extreme cases must be a rare occurrence, the fact is that such horror stories have become increasingly the norm for a socialised healthcare system that seems to be in a permanent state of crisis. Indeed, as the NHS entered the first week of 2018, over 97% of its trusts in England were reporting levels of overcrowding so severe as to be “unsafe.”
Almost as predictable as the regular emergence of new stories of this kind is the equally unwavering refusal of British commentators to consider that the state-run monopoly structure of the system itself might be to blame. Many, including the prime minister herself, have pointed to the spike in seasonal illnesses such as the flu at this time of year, to distract from the more fundamental flaws of the system. However, officials from Public Health England recently went so far as to openly dismiss this as a major cause of the current healthcare crisis, clarifying that current levels of hospital admissions due to the flu are “certainly not unprecedented.” The aging of the population, and local councils’ failure to provide more non-hospital care have also been blamed.
By far the most commonly suggested remedy, however, is simply to inject more taxpayers’ money into this failing system. Indeed, the belief that Britain’s perpetual healthcare crisis is solely the result of funding cuts by miserly Conservative politicians is so widespread that it is almost never challenged, least of all by the trusted experts within the system itself, many of whom stand to benefit from increased funding.
However, the popular caricature of the NHS as suffering from chronic underfunding is simply a myth. In fact, even when adjusting for inflation, it is clear that government funding to the NHS has been increasing at an extraordinary rate since the turn of the millennium, much more quickly than during the early years which its supporters look back on so fondly.
Indeed, under the Conservative government of 2015–16, almost 30% of Britain’s public services budget was spent on its monopoly healthcare system, compared with around 11% in the NHS’s first decade.
One commonly heard soundbite from supporters of the current system is that the Conservatives have allowed healthcare spending to slump to historically low levels; all it would take to return the NHS to the levels of success it supposedly previously enjoyed would be to increase its funding back to the same level it previously enjoyed, or so they say. However, to believe such a statement one would have to make two separate misinterpretations of the statistics, both so basic that they would strike shame into even the dullest high school math students: firstly, it is not the absolute amount of spending on the NHS which has fallen under the Conservative-led governments of 2010–18, but merely the rate at which spending is continuing to increase, even when adjusting for inflation. Second, the only reason that the rate of increase seems to have fallen is because of how disproportionately high it had been been under the infamously spendthrift Labour governments of 1997–2010.
Not only is the NHS not underfunded, but it suffers from dismally low efficiency in terms of healthcare bang per buck compared with similarly developed countries. This suggests that no matter how much its funding is increased, the current set-up is prone to chronically waste that money away.
To overcome these problems, reforms to the fundamental nature of the system itself are desperately needed, to increase the economic freedom of healthcare providers in the UK as well as the freedom of choice of consumers. In short, as long as British healthcare is organised as a taxpayer-funded state monopoly it will continue to fail, just as the other nationalised monopolies of the 1970s failed. To get to a point where the British public would even consider reforms of that kind, however, would require the breaking of a taboo that has defined the past 70 years of British politics.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Ron Paul
It’s deja-vu all over again, as baseball legend Yogi Berra might have said. The politicians and media are telling us the world is coming to an end because a “compromise” could not be made at the 11th hour to keep the Federal government in business.
Republicans blame Democrats for the shutdown over their insistence on legislation to benefit about 700,000 “Dreamers” -- immigrants who were brought illegally in to the country as children. Democrats make the shutdown all about Donald Trump, hoping to gain political points from his unpopular status. The media headlines are recycled from the last phony “shutdown.” It’s all about “partisanship” in Washington, mainstream media tells us. The same pundits are on television demanding that the parties put aside differences and work together for the American people.
Don’t let the politicians and the media fool you. Despite the appearance of ferocious partisan warfare, the truth is that both political parties agree on all the important issues.
Both parties support perpetual, undeclared war.
Both parties voted last week to continue suspending the Fourth Amendment, granting President Trump and his Administration the “authority” to continue spying on all of us without a warrant for another six years. So much for Democrat talk that President Trump could not be trusted: they have entrusted him with the authority to spy on us for six more years!
Both sides agree on no spending limits for the warfare-welfare state. Both parties agree that the Federal Reserve should continue to manipulate our currency to the benefit of big banks, well-connected corporations, and Wall Street.
While they want to frighten us by claiming the shutdown will shut down the US military, making us less safe, the fact is Pentagon operations overseas will continue without pause. Defense Secretary Mattis assured us over the weekend that “daily operations around the world – ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our war fighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.”
In other words the Pentagon will function as if there was no Legislative Branch to rein them in. But that;s not new. That’s been true for a long time!
Americans should understand that much of the Federal government is on auto-pilot. The deep state holds the cards no matter who is elected or how long the government is shut down. The CIA will continue arming terrorists and plotting to overthrow governments overseas. The “Justice” Department will continue handing out long prison sentences for people using marijuana even in states that have legalized marijuana. The NSA will continue spying on us without a warrant and telling us it is to keep us safe and free.
We are told that all “non-essential” personnel will be furloughed until Congress agrees to begin funding the Federal government again. In fact, the real “non-essential” personnel are most Members of Congress themselves! Perhaps their pay should be docked for each day they pretend to be in conflict. The only danger of that, of course, is that they would reach the inevitable compromise even sooner.
The only way average Americans will notice that the government is shut down will be high-profile closures of any national park or other such facility that Americans actually want to visit. That is their way of punishing Americans.
Who wins when a “compromise” is finally announced? Not the American people, that’s for sure! The winner will be, as usual, big government.