In the first weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump looks like he is taking up his predecessors' aggressive foreign policy and kicking it up a notch. Is this what America voted for? More war?
By Chris Rossini
Americans are constantly reminded by politicians that they are part of an "exceptional nation." Over and over, the phrase is drilled into American minds as if we're all part of a 'power of positive thinking' retreat, and politicians are our therapists.
What's going on? Why are they constantly trying to reassure us of this "exceptional" status? Why won't they just leave us alone to run our own lives without having to listen to their mantras?
Well, as it so happens, America is an "exceptional" nation when looking at the big picture and the history of totalitarian governments. As Justin Raimondo points out: "Yes, America is 'exceptional' in the relatively limited sense that it experienced a libertarian revolution – the only fully successful one in world history."
This is true.
The dominant ideas that powered the American secession from Britain were the ideas of liberty. Since the outside world is a mirror image of the ideas that dominate, Americans would be the freest people (from government) that would ever walk the earth.
Intellectual leaders at that time knew what to expect though. They knew quite well that the totalitarians would return. Weeds always try to overtake the garden. Intellectual leaders knew that this liberty would not last unless Americans were vigilant and constantly beat back the government power that would always try to overtake them.
Thomas Paine knew it when he said: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
Thomas Jefferson would echo: “We are destined to be a barrier against the return of ignorance and barbarism.”
They knew that "ignorance and barbarism" would return.
And it most certainly did.
One by one, from George Washington to Barack Obama, American presidents would chip away at American liberty. Some would snuff out liberty faster than others, but every president (without fail) would make his individual contribution to the return of ignorance and barbarism.
It has been a steady 241 year march backwards.
Today, Americans open their eyes each morning to find the biggest centralized government and military empire in the history of the world.
The "exceptionalism" of Thomas Paine's America can't possibly mean the same thing that it means now. Somewhere along the way, the definition changed.
In 1898, a new "exceptionalism" would be born. This was the year that the American Empire would begin to take shape.
Domestically, Theodore Roosevelt would describe the new "progressive" policies. Progressives were to "fearlessly champion a system of increased Governmental control, paying no heed to the cries of the worthy people who denounce this as Socialistic."
Needless to say, that has been accomplished.
Check it off the list as done.
This new philosophy would not stop at America's borders. The real adventure would be the new foreign policy.
The words of Senator Albert Beveridge in 1899 summed it up perfectly: “[God] has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth. He has made us adepts in government that we may administer government among savage and senile people. Were it not for such a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism and night. And of all our race, He has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to man. We are trustees of the world’s progress, guardians of its righteous peace.”
Every foreign intervention would be proclaimed a "liberation" of some sort.
President McKinley, who started it all by conquering the Philippines in 1898 said: “We come not as invaders or conquerors, but as friends, to protect the natives in their homes, in their employments, and in their personal religious rights...The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation…”
Fast-forward 100+ years and the same words are echoed by modern presidents to justify their military invasions. America is still "liberating" all these years later.
Ideas are powerful aren't they?
They set in motion events and guiding philosophies that can last centuries.
So we have two American "exceptionalism" definitions here:
One equals liberty from government.
The other equals total government domination.
It's quite obvious which of these two definitions dominate the minds of Americans today.
It should be obvious as to why politicians are constantly reminding us of the new version of "exceptionalism". They have to keep it going...No doubters.
It doesn't have to stay this way.
The old and true version of American Exceptionalism is only a thought away.
By Ron Paul
Many Americans who have wrestled with a 1040 form, or who have paid someone to prepare their taxes, no doubt cheered the news that Congress will soon resume working on tax reform. However taxpayers should temper their enthusiasm because, even in the unlikely event tax collection is simplified, tax reform will not reduce the American people’s tax burden.
Congressional leadership’s one nonnegotiable requirement of any tax reform is “revenue neutrality.” So any tax reform plan that has any chance of even being considered, much less passed, by Congress must ensure that the federal government does not lose a nickel in tax revenue. Congress’s obsession with protecting the government’s coffers causes reformers to mix tax cuts with tax increases. Congress’s insistence on “offsetting” tax cuts with tax increases creates a political food fight where politicians face off over who should have their taxes raised, who should have their taxes cut, and who should have their taxes stay the same.
One offset currently being discussed is an increased tax on imports. This “border adjustment” tax would benefit export-driven industries at the expense of businesses that rely on imported products. A border adjustment tax would harm consumers who use, and retailers who sell, imported goods. The border adjustment tax is another example of politicians using tax reform to pick winners and losers instead of simply reducing everyone’s taxes.
When I was in Congress, I was often told that offsets do not raise taxes, they simply close loopholes. This is merely a game of semantics: by removing a way for some Americans to lower their taxes, closing a loophole is clearly a tax increase. While some claim loopholes are another way government distorts the market, I agree with the great economist Ludwig von Mises that “capitalism breathes through loopholes.”
By allowing individuals to keep more of their own money, loopholes promote economic efficiency since, as economist Thomas DiLorenzo put it, “private individuals always spend their own money more efficiently than government bureaucrats do.” Instead of making the tax system more “efficient” by closing loopholes, Congress should increase both economic efficiency and economic liberty by repealing the income tax and replacing it with nothing.
The revenue loss from ending the income tax should be “offset” with spending cuts. All federal spending, whether financed by taxes or by debt, forcibly removes resources from the private sector. Thus, all government spending is in essence a form of taxation. Therefore, cutting income and other taxes without cutting spending merely replaces one type of taxation with another. Instead of directly paying for big government via income taxes, deficit spending means citizens will be hit with an increase in the inflation tax. This tax, imposed on the people with the Federal Reserve's monetization of debt, is the worst form of tax because it is both hidden and regressive.
Unfortunately, while Congress may make some small cuts in domestic spending, those cuts will be dwarfed by spending increases on infrastructure Keynesianism at home and military Keynesianism abroad. As long as Congress refuses to make serious reductions in spending, the American people will be subject to the tyranny of the IRS and the Federal Reserve.
The suffering will only get worse when concerns over government debt cause the dollar to lose its status as the world reserve currency. This will lead to a dollar crisis and a major economic meltdown. The only way to avoid this fate is for the people to demand a return to limited government in all areas, sound money, and an end to the income tax.
Where does Ron Paul buy his gold?
[Editor's Note: The following was written back in 1991. It's just as relevant as if it were written today.]
By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
When Eastern Europe broke free in 1989, we all realized just how little thought had been given to the transition from socialism to capitalism. Mises had told us the collapse was coming, and we should have been prepared.
As America comes to resemble a command economy, we need a transition plan here too. Yuri Maltsev proposed a "One-Year Plan" for the U.S.S.R. We’re not in that bad a shape (yet), so we could do it in 30 days.
DAY ONE: The federal income tax is abolished and April 15th is declared a national holiday. The 40% reduction in federal revenues is matched by a 40% cut in spending. The budget is still almost twice as big as Jimmy Carter’s.
DAY TWO: All other federal taxes are abolished, including the corporate income tax, the capital gains tax, the gasoline tax, "sin" taxes, excise taxes, etc. Businesses boom, and the few legitimate federal functions are funded with an inexpensive head tax. People who choose not to vote need not pay it. (Note: this was a mainstream view in the 19th century.)
DAY THREE: The federal government sells all its land, freeing up tens of millions of acres for development, mining, farming, forestry, oil drilling, private parks, etc. The government uses the revenue to pay off the national debt and other liabilities.
DAY FOUR: The minimum wage is reduced to zero, creating jobs for ex-federal bureaucrats at their market wage. All pro-union laws and regulations are scrapped. The jobless rate falls dramatically.
DAY FIVE: The Bureau of Labor Statistics, like the rest of the Labor Department, is sent to that big hiring hall in the sky. Without detailed economic statistics, future economic planners will be blind and deaf.
DAY SIX: The Department of Commerce is abolished. Big business has to make its own way in the world, without subsidies and privileges at the expense of its competitors and customers.
DAY SEVEN: The plug is pulled on the Department of Energy. Oil and gas prices plummet.
DAY EIGHT: All regulatory agencies, from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the Federal Trade Commission, are deep-sixed. Competition is legalized.
DAY NINE: HUD is squashed like a bug. There’s a building boom in cheap, private, apartments.
DAY TEN: The interstate highways reopen as private businesses. Road entrepreneurs price travel according to consumer demand. Using modern technology, drivers get bills once a month. Credit risks — and drunks and dangerous drivers — aren’t allowed on the road. Non-drivers no longer subsidize car owners.
DAY ELEVEN: Government welfare is wiped out. Bums work or starve. The deserving poor find a cornucopia of private services designed to make them independent. Private charity explodes, as the American people, already the most generous in the world, find their incomes almost doubled, thanks to the tax cuts.
DAY TWELVE: The Federal Reserve closes its open-market operations and stops protecting the banking industry from competition. But banks can now engage in all the non-bank financial activities previously forbidden to them. The business cycle, which is caused by monetary expansion through the credit markets, is liquidated.
DAY THIRTEEN: Federal deposit insurance is scrapped. All insured deposits are redeemed from federal assets, which include the personal assets of high-level government employees. The threat of bank runs forces banks to keep 100% reserves for their demand deposits, and prudent reserves on all other accounts. There are no more inherently bankrupt banks propped up by the government, at taxpayer expense, and no more bail-outs.
DAY FOURTEEN: The shaky fiat dollar is defined in terms of gold, with the ratio determined by dividing the government’s gold stock by all existing dollars on that day.
DAY FIFTEEN: The federal government sells National and Dulles airports to the highest bidder, and stops all subsidies to other socialist airports around the country. All constraints on airline prices and service cease. It costs more to fly during peak hours than off-peak, but overall, air travel drops in price.
DAY SIXTEEN: All government regulations that create and sustain cartels are abolished, including those for the post office, telephones, television, radio, and cable TV. Prices plummet, and a host of new and unforeseen services becomes available.
DAY SEVENTEEN: Centrally planned agriculture, as imposed by Hoover and Roosevelt, is repealed: there are no more subsidies, payments-in-kind, marketing orders, low-interest loans, etc. Farm prices drop. Entrepreneurial farmers get rich. Welfare farmers go into another line of work. The poor eat like kings.
DAY EIGHTEEN: The Justice Department shutters its anti-trust division. Companies, big and small, are free to merge — up, down, or sideways. Stockholders can buy any other company, or sell their stock to anyone else. Marginal producers can no longer battle their competitors with bureaucratic weapons.
DAY NINETEEN: The Department of Education flunks the constitutionality test, and is kicked out. Private charities set up remedial reading and writing programs for the former bureaucrats. Federally subsidized sex education and other anti-family programs go out of business. Local school districts become responsive to parents or close, pressured by a fast-growing private school sector (which many more parents can now afford).
DAY TWENTY: All federal monuments are sold, in some cases to non-profit groups based on the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association, which owns and runs George Washington’s home. The VFW buys the Vietnam memorial. There is much bidding for the Jefferson and Washington monuments. Nobody wants FDR’s, so it’s torn down and the land sold to a farmer. (With the federal government cut back to its constitutional size, much of Washington reverts to productive uses like agriculture, as in late 18th century.)
DAY TWENTY-ONE: The computerized financial and political dossier maintained by the government on every American is erased. The public wanders through the federal offices to make sure, in a reprise of the East Berliners’ visits to Stasi headquarters.
DAY TWENTY-TWO: Equal rights are granted to all Americans, even members of non-victim groups. There is no affirmative action, no quotas, no set-asides, no public accommodations laws. Private property and freedom of association are fully restored.
DAY TWENTY-THREE: The EPA is cleaned out, with all "clean air" and similar big-government laws repealed. Ten thousand lawyers leap from their balconies. Private property is established in air and water. Americans harmed by pollution are free to sue the polluters, who are no longer protected by the federal government.
DAY TWENTY-FOUR: Americans are given complete freedom of contract, restoring rationality to malpractice and product liability law.
DAY TWENTY-FIVE: Government scrambles for more assets to sell (i.e., the National Zoo, also known as Washington, D.C.) to pay off the liabilities of the privatized Social Security system.
DAY TWENTY-SIX: Porno artists have to earn their own livings, as the National Endowment for the Arts tries to raise its budget through sidewalk painting sales.
DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: Foreign aid is outlawed as unconstitutional, unjust, and un-economic. Foreign politicians have to steal their own money. The World Bank, IMF, and United Nations close their super-luxurious doors.
DAY TWENTY-EIGHT: The American people are given the unrestricted right to keep and bear arms.
DAY TWENTY-NINE: The Defense Department is reoriented towards defense. American troops come home from all around the world. We adopt a policy of armed neutrality, remembering the Founding Fathers’ teaching that we could not have an empire abroad and a constitutional republic at home.
DAY THIRTY: All tariffs, quotas, and trade agreements are put through the shredder. Americans can trade with anyone in the world, without barriers or subsidies. Japanese car prices drop an immediate 25%.
In just 30 exhilarating days, we have established the outlines of free market. Radical? Maybe so. Me, I can’t wait until Month Two.
Politicians are experts at shuffling deck chairs on a sinking ship. As President Trump's tax plan is eventually revealed, here are a few things to look out for:
By Alice Salles
Following President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Iranian government announced it would stop using the U.S. dollar “as its currency of choice in its financial and foreign exchange reports,” the local Financial Tribune reported.
Iran governor Valiollah Seif’s central bank announced the decision in a television interview on January 29. The change will take effect on March 21, and it will impact all official financial and foreign exchange reports.
“Iran’s difficulties [in dealing] with the dollar,” Seif said, “were in place from the time of the primary sanctions and this trend is continuing,” but when it comes to other currencies, he added, “we face no limitations.”
In a piece published by Forbes, Dominic Dudley contends that this move is significant “in the light of the recent ‘Muslim ban‘” announced by Trump. Iran nationals were added to the order issued by the current U.S. administration, which prompted the Iranian government to vow to stop issuing visas to U.S. citizens.
Dudley notes that since 1975, “no Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks in the US by the citizens of the countries included in the ban,” while countries such as Saudi Arabia — “home of 15 of the 19 terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks” — were left out of the list of prohibited countries.
Despite the country’s decision to halt the use of the U.S. dollar as its base currency for exchange with other nations, Iran’s top export is oil. In the global markets, oil is mainly purchased and sold in U.S. dollars. This fiscal year, Iran is expected to earn $41 billion from oil sales, with countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China as their top clients. It’s still uncertain how the country will manage to switch currencies without relying on the American currency. The shift, Dudley notes, “will add a degree of currency risk and volatility and is likely to complicate matters for the authorities.”
This matters because predominantly Muslim countries left out of the “Muslim ban” include Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s top oil exporters.
In the 1970s, the Arab nation struck a deal with U.S. President Richard Nixon establishing an alliance that would maintain the dollar as the standard oil exchange currency in exchange for military support from America. The use of the dollar as a standard currency for oil exchange was accepted by Saudi Arabia and the remaining block of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which include Iran and 11 other Middle Eastern, African, and South American countries.
OPEC countries account for 42 percent of global oil production, holding 73 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Due to its influence, the use of the U.S. dollar as its standard currency helps to keep demand for the U.S. dollar high, giving the currency the support it requires to remain “the world’s reserve currency” and preventing the effects of inflation from hitting the U.S. consumer.
Iran’s decision to exit this deal might impact the U.S. economy and threaten the dollar, prompting the U.S. government to take stern measures to combat Iran’s actions. After all, Iran holds 13 percent of OPEC’s oil reserves.
This article was originally published at The AntiMedia.
President Trump's National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, interrupted the White House press briefing yesterday to deliver a statement that the US is putting Iran "on notice" after what he claimed were "destabilizing" acts by the Iranian government. Was he right? What will the US do?
Dr. Judith Curry is a climatologist and was until recently a full professor at Georgia Tech. But when her scientific research did not comport with conventional wisdom on "climate change," the long knives of her colleagues came out for her. Is the science ever really "settled" on anything? Dr. Curry joins the Liberty Report today.