By Chris Rossini
Often when Ron Paul is asked if he desires a formidable third party in US politics, he candidly responds that he’d like to see a second party! After all, as George Wallace observed way back in 1958: "there ain't a dime's worth of difference" between Republicans and Democrats.
Yes, what you see on the TV and Internet have some relationship to reality. Republican and Democrat talking heads do argue and many really do seem to hate each other with a passion. But their arguments are merely centered on who will wield the government's machine guns. Philosophically the two sides are virtually the same. Government force will be used against Americans. They merely squabble over which side will be using the violent force.
Both parties have devolved to the point where they seek to wage perpetual war against the American public. In other words, they are no longer satisfied with robbing and ruling everyone in a piecemeal fashion whenever "their side" just happens to gain power. Nope, that no longer does the trick. They now want it all, and they want it all the time.
Both parties have what can be thought of as "grand slam issues" and they're designed to foist perpetual chains onto the American public. The Left's issue goes by "climate change," which took several iterations before finally landing on the name. The Right's issue, of course, is the "war on terror." Again, a very ambiguous name. Both issues have the American public clearly in the crosshairs.
With climate change, the possibilities for destroying liberty are endless. Were Americans to fall under this spell completely -- and fortunately most haven't -- anything could be used as an excuse to regulate our lives in the name of climate change. Don't buy these products...because climate change. Don't create those products...because climate change. Don't eat this...don't drive that....don't....don't....don't. It's a leftist dream come true.
And for how long does the Left want to micromanage every aspect of our lives? Well, according to Vox, and they say it in big bold letters: Climate change is, for all intents and purposes, forever.
There you have it. Perpetual chains.
The Right plays the same game with the "war on terror.” Americans have unfortunately succumbed to this one and now have over a decade of experience with it. This war too is perpetual and has been used to create a surveillance state in the former "land of the free." All communications are monitored as if Americans are a population of lab rats. Government employees grope Americans at airports. Laws, upon laws, upon laws have been passed that have eaten away at our liberties.
The latest push, which is gaining more steam, is the government's drive to abolish cash. Should that happen, every single financial transaction that Americans conduct will be under government surveillance. What you buy, what you do, and where you are when you do these things will be recorded for the bureaucrats.
If cash disappears, government's ability to bailout its cronies, or even bailout its own bankrupt promises becomes exponentially easier. Government will be able to take the money straight from your electronic bank account. If it's all electronic, it's all there for the taking.
This is the Right's contribution to perpetual chains.
Can you see that Republicans and Democrats are waging war against the American citizen? Both are closing in the walls from different directions. Both are relying on fear and submission.
Can it be any more obvious?
By Ron Paul
Why are Americans so upset with the two parties? Is that frustration being channeled in the right direction? I discuss the major errors being perpetuated by both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders on CCTV America. Check it out below:
The FBI is demanding that Apple create a means to bypass its iPhone encryption. Apple has refused, explaining the dangerous precedent such a move would set. In this standoff, it is our Constitutional liberties that are at stake. Will the Fourth Amendment be finally and fully decapitated?
By Paul-Martin Foss
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has come out in favor of eliminating the $100 bill. Following on the European Central Bank’s decision to scrap the €500 note, it is clear that the international war on cash is about to intensify. In the United States the lowest coin denominations, the penny and nickel, are increasingly devalued by inflation and likely to be eliminated in the near future. With the highest denomination bills now facing scrutiny as well, cash is under attack from both ends. As usual, the opponents of cash trot out the usual bogeymen in attacking the use of cash. Summers refers to Luxemburg as one of the defenders of the €500 note, characterizing the country as one “giving comfort to tax evaders, money launderers, and other proponents of bank secrecy…” God forbid we peons should be allowed to keep our money safe from the greedy hands of government officials. The real purpose of the war on cash is not to combat criminals or terrorists but to ease the government’s ability to plunder its citizenry.
Do not forget either that much of the decried “criminal” activity discussed with respect to the use of cash is criminal not because it is inherently wrong but because governments have declared it so. Money laundering itself has only been a federal crime since 1986, and reporting to the government of large cash transactions and suspected money laundering has only been required since the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. Inevitably, this criminalization of ancillary conduct has ensnared many innocent people. But that isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. The $10,000 cash reporting threshold in 1970 is equivalent to over $60,000 today, meaning that as the dollar continues to be devalued through inflation, more and more cash transactions will be reported to the government by banks. Criminals, as always, will find ways around any new restrictions on cash use, while innocents will be forced to suffer the new burdens placed upon them.
The arguments that Summers makes against high-denomination banknotes are incredibly weak.
The fact that — as Sands points out — in certain circles the 500 euro note is known as the “Bin Laden” confirms the arguments against it.
Wow, really? Because Osama bin Laden was alleged to have used €500 euro notes and some people therefore refere to them as Bin Ladens, that’s grounds for banning them? Sands is Peter Sands, who authored a paper Summers references in his op-ed. That paper’s arguments don’t contain much more substance than Summers himself.
High denomination notes are arguably an anachronism in a modern economy given the availability and effectiveness of electronic payment alternatives. They play little role in the functioning of the legitimate economy, yet a crucial role in the underground economy.
There is an obvious value judgment on display here with nothing to back it up. Why do large-denomination notes play little role in the functioning of a “legitimate” economy? Because governments have so demonized the usage of large-denomination notes that anyone who uses them is immediately assumed to be engaged in some sort of shady activity. Anyone who has ever received a cash gift of a $100 bill from family members has to immediately start thinking about what to buy with it and where to use it, lest they be suspected of drug dealing or counterfeiting. Either that or take it straight to the bank and deposit it since many stores might even refuse to accept $100 bills.
The other “problems”, such as drug trafficking and money laundering, that those who want to ban cash point to are all effects of government action. Want to eliminate drug trafficking? Legalize drugs. Want to eliminate human trafficking? Make it easier for people to cross borders legally. Want to eliminate corruption and bribery among government officials? Don’t give them so much power that it’s worth someone’s while to bribe them. Want to stop tax evasion? Stop stealing so much of people’s money. Want to stop money laundering? Stop criminalizing consensual business transactions. Want to stop terrorist financing? Don’t let the CIA create dozens of guerilla groups around the world in pursuit of short-sighted, short-term foreign policy actions.
But perhaps it’s too much to expect people from Harvard to acknowledge that government policies are behind most of the problems in the world and that governments therefore are incapable of coming up with solutions. If you start out with the premise that only government action can solve problems then the only solutions you’ll come up with are those that involve more heavy-handed government action. These people truly believe that if their policy proposals intend to target criminal activity that only criminals will be affected, completely disregarding the negative effects and inevitable mission creep of previous legislative, regulatory, and administrative attempts to combat newly-created crimes.
Rather than thinking outside the very little teeny tiny box that academic elites have crammed themselves into, it’s far easier for those academics to go with what they know and engage in self-serving and circular arguments. Not surprisingly, governments will then cite these types of papers and studies as additional supporting arguments in their war on cash. Given how quickly the European Central Bank was able to axe the €500 euro note, the $100 bill may not have much life left. You might want to start hoarding those Benjamins while you still can.
This article was originally published at The Carl Menger Center.
By Chris Rossini
Presidential election campaigns are notorious for the sheer volume of lies that they generate. The incentive to lie is built-in to the system. After all, none of the promises that a presidential candidate makes are binding in any way whatsoever. Lies are merely flung in a rapid-fire fashion, with the goal of finding the right combination that happens to garner the most votes. There are no contracts made and voters have zero recourse once the winner takes office and breaks all of his promises.
Those old campaign promises merely collect dust on YouTube, and act as a reminder that Americans have (yet again) been duped by the government.
A lie that has succeeded for the past two presidents that we've suffered under is the foreign policy lie. George W. Bush campaigned as someone who would implement a "humble" foreign policy, and he didn't think it was "the role of the United States to walk into a country and say 'We do it this way, so should you.'". Americans took the bait. And what could they do about the blatant lies after Bush was in office? Nothing.
To add insult to injury, George W. Bush is out campaigning again! He's preaching about "sound judgment and good ideas". You can't make this stuff up!
Let's move on to Obama, who was comically awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. He promised to end Bush's wars. Americans took the bait again! Not only did Obama not end Bush's wars, he actually expanded them and added more wars of his own. Obama has attacked seven Muslim nations, and he still has a year to go!
Presidential elections are really just entertainment, giving the completely false impression that "your vote counts" or "you're making your voice heard" or "you're an important part of the political process"....etc.
It's all nonsense, but it works. Enough people remain devout believers of government's lies. Many don't believe, of course. A majority of Americans don't vote. But enough do to keep the lights on. (There's a key lesson there for libertarians: we don't need a majority for our ideas to prevail).
Staying on the theme of entertainment, a very famous entertainer named Donald Trump seems to be following in Bush's and Obama's footsteps when it comes to foreign policy. For the most part, he's saying the right things when it comes to America's wars. And predictably, the good instincts that people naturally have towards peace are causing them to flock to Trump.
Is Trump just recycling the campaign lies of Bush and Obama? Is he just duping America for a third consecutive time?
Of course there is no way to know ahead of time. But there are some things that are certain. First, "war is the health of the state." It is during wartime that government grabs power most viciously. It's so lucrative and rewarding for those who lust for power that the U.S. government in particular has made war a perpetual policy. Trump doesn't seem to have an aversion to power. He clearly wants it, and is ready to start showering dictates.
Next, presidents are largely just figureheads. They're the face of an entrenched bureaucracy that is always there. A "deep state" exists, and it watches presidents come and go. It, however does not go, and its members parasitically live off the entire American population.
So don't get too excited. Presidential elections are just entertainment.
The ideas of liberty are something to get excited about. For its best days are yet to come.
Should the Supreme Court have the ability to overturn laws it determines are not constitutional? Was this the intent of the Framers of the Constitution? How might the danger of judicial tyranny be mitigated?
By Ryan McMaken
The Drudge Report today posts at the top of the page this headline: "GALLUP: 32% 'NEVER HEARD OF' SCALIA..."
Generally, the purpose of posting a headline like this is to create outrage and perhaps smugness over how ignorant those other people are. "Why, this country is doomed because people don't keep up with the important political issues of the day!"
But why should most people know who Scalia was? Supreme Court justices have immense power over the lives of ordinary citizens, but ordinary citizens have virtually no power whatsoever in the selection process of federal judges, or in their retention. In other words, from a practical point of view, it's nearly as important for an ordinary person to keep track of SCOTUS judges as it is for them to know the exact distance of the Moon from the Earth. It affects them, but there's nothing they can do about it.
Thus, it's only rational to not know anything about Scalia or the details of his rulings, appointment, or activities. Not only that, but the Court deliberately tries to hide itself from public view with its baseless and authoritarian prohibition of cameras in the Supreme Court chambers. Certainly — the Court's thinking goes — the taxpayers have no right to see what it is they're paying for.
So, given there are only so many hours in the day and so many things a person can keep track of — and the fact that the Court deliberately hides information about itself — it's nonsensical to loftily look down on those who rationally remain ignorant about the court and its activities.
Moreover, taxpayers, citizens, and consumers have no mechanism for knowing if a SCOTUS judge is doing a good job or a bad job. The judges are completely removed from any mechanism that allowed consumers to know if the court's "product" is of any value to them. Certainly, the media bombards them with notion of what they should think about this or that decision, but how should such a decision be measured?
In Man, Economy, and State, Murray Rothbard examined the problem of evaluating political actors like judges:
Many critics of the market, while willing to concede the expertise of the capitalist-entrepreneurs, bewail the prevailing ignorance of consumers, which prevents them from gaining the utility ex post that they expected to have ex ante...Professor Ludwig von Mises has keenly pointed out the paradoxical position of so many “progressives” who insist that consumers are too ignorant or incompetent to buy products intelligently, while at the same time touting the virtues of democracy, where the same people vote for politicians whom they do not know and for policies that they hardly understand.
This is true for any level of government, but the US Supreme Court takes this to an extreme end. With a local mayor, planning commission, or judge, it is much easier to comprehend how exactly a political decision or act will affect one's plans. One's proposed apartment building is rejected by local planners? Well, we can understand the implications of that rather easily, and apply it to a specific situation. The Mayor wants to raise local taxes for parks? It doesn't take a PhD to figure out how that will affect us on both the taxation side and spending side. And, one can often have some effect on the outcome in cases like these.
But what of a Supreme Court decision made by people we'll never see or meet, the implications of which often require abstract study to understand. Moreover, if we don't like the decision there is nothing we can do about it. The judges will serve in office until they die or retire, and their replacements will be decided by far-off presidents who will make decisions based on consulting with powerful national interest groups over which an ordinary person also has no influence whatsoever. And, of course, one's single vote has only the most microscopic chance of ever affecting the outcome of a presidential election.
So, why should ordinary people know who Scalia is?
If we want people to take an interest in matters of public affairs, they must have a chance of actually influencing the outcome and having a say in decisions. Otherwise, why should they care? Influence can often be obtained at relatively low cost at the local level. For example, it's rather easy to get a meeting with one's state senator in a medium-sized US state. You can probably even get a meeting without spending a dime. Good luck getting a meeting with your US Senator. You'll be lucky to meet a low level staffer. Unless, of course, you write a $10,000 check to a PAC first.
At the same time, the media relentlessly tells us that national politics is all that really matters. The national level, however, is precisely the level at which ordinary people are most powerless and irrelevant. So, for most of us, knowing who Antonin Scalia was is essentially a waste of time.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
Over the weekend, Turkey began bombing US-backed Kurdish militias as well as Russia-backed Syrian government forces. Tensions. US and Russia have told the Turks to cease bombing but the shelling continues. Where will this escalating crisis lead?
By Ron Paul
The position of the U.S. presidency is, these days, considered the pinnacle of power in world. Those familiar with the works of F.A. Hayek understand the type of person who reaches such a pinnacle. In this day and age telling your child that he too can become president may not be very healthy advice to give.
Today's “unitary executive” is nothing like what the Framers envisioned in the U.S. Constitution. America has morphed into an executive state. The presidency by far dominates the rest of government. Arbitrary powers have been consolidated in the Executive Branch over many years and over many administrations. As this trend continues, the U.S. President becomes less and less accountable to anyone. This turn of events poses a great danger to those liberties that we still retain.
A "strong" president is no longer one that follows the "law of the land" -- the U.S. Constitution -- despite the many political pressures that tempt him. Rather, "strength" is now defined as going along with the crowd and appeasing special interests and mobs known as "the majority".
In election after election, the American people feel anxious and excited to throw the current president out. Yet it is only a short time before they realize the new president is often worse than his predecessor.
Is the fate of liberty sealed? Was the early "land of the free" just a blip on the screen of mankind's long rise from tyranny?
I'm not ready to throw in that towel. The ideas of liberty are more powerful than any government that has ever existed on Earth. Hundreds and even thousands of years of errors and mistakes could be wiped out were the ideas of liberty to capture the hearts and minds of a critical mass of individuals. I remain optimistic that such a scenario is out there and waiting for us. We must all keep working and keep teaching. The power of ideas is insurmountable. We will eventually win!
By Jeff Deist
With the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the various 2016 presidential campaigns have been thrown a serious curve ball. Should candidates cater to voters directly, by suggesting potential nominees for the Court? Should they insist that a lame-duck president-- albeit one with nearly a full year in office remaining-- refrain from nominating anyone? Should they demand that Obama push a nominee forward, and force Senate Republicans into a political fight if they refuse to hold nomination hearings? Or should they call for a "moderate" nominee to be appointed, one that neither excites nor satisfies any faction? These are thorny questions. But putting aside our Spoonerite view on all things constitutional for a moment, we wager that any candidate who suggests the esteemed Judge Andrew Napolitano for the vacancy will see a spike in poll numbers!
Nothing polarizes Americans like so-called social issues, and the Supreme Court has become the de facto Decider in Chief. I say de facto because there is no legal authority for centralized decision-making by the Supreme Court, either in common law doctrine or the Constitution. And not surprisingly, this top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to social matters has led to depressing and divisive results. By effectively federalizing the rules for highly contentious issues, issues that are far better governed by custom, religion, and social mores, the Court has played a leading role in pitting Americans against each other. It has permitted the high-stakes jurisprudential victors to spike the ball. Hence the term "settled law" has become a euphemism for "shut up."
Yet it need not be so. Culture wars should not be legal wars. As Ron Paul explained time and again during his years in Congress, the public remains deeply misinformed about several key points:
Without this understanding, the public was never going to accept Scalia's originalism. Once the Court's role as the lever for social progress was established, Scalia's fate was sealed: he must be demonized as an impediment.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.