It was one of the most heavily-censored views in the United States. Anyone suspecting the Covid virus had escaped from a (US-funded) Chinese lab was "racist" and had to be silenced on mainstream and social media. Suddenly the Biden Administration admits it's probably true. Thus we see the danger of censorship: it doesn't combat disinformation...it destroys truth. Also today: Hungary demands an investigation into the Nord Stream attack. Finally: Drones fall deep into Russian territory...is the CIA behind the targeting?
Following the Washington, DC antiwar rally last week, similar - and much larger - protests are breaking out in London, Berlin, Paris and across European capitals. New opinion polls in Germany show that most oppose more German involvement in Ukraine. Is the tide turning? Also today, David Stockman writes on Biden's desire for nine more Ukraines! Finally: What did the "experts" get right about Covid?
A Defense of Business
By Walter E. Block
Did you ever wonder how businesses first started? From scratch, I mean. I’m not talking about nowadays. That’s easy. I’m now contemplating the very first one to grace the planet.
There had to be some such occurrence. Companies did not always exist. There were no employers or employees zillions of years ago when our species was located in the trees, or in the caves. Yes, we then worked in groups, and there was typically a headman, but this was not at all the employer – employee relationship we are now defending.
Let us posit, then, that during this far off time, there were only individual proprietorships. Each person worked on his own, for himself. There was no such thing as anyone hiring anyone else. Employment was completely missing from humankind. Everyone was employed alright, but only working for himself.
We now simplify matters and assume equal productivity on the part of everyone. They could each produce 10 units each of apples, bananas and chicken. All their earnings consisted of 30 food units. No one saved anything for a rainy day, nor to enable him to hire anyone else. It was a hand to mouth existence.
Nevertheless, one day, someone got up on his hind legs; call him Charlie. He went to his buddy, Bob, and said, “Hey Bob, come work for me. You’ll be my employee. You’ll follow my orders (within reason). I’ll pay you 35 food units every day. Bob, no fool, took up Charlie on this offer. His mathematics ability enabled him to calculate that 35 was greater than 30.
On the basis of which economic phenomenon was Charlie able to make Bob this offer, and actually carry through on it? Out of which rock did he draw the blood, amounting to 5 food units? For the non-cognoscenti, it is called specialization and the division of labor. Two people, Charlie and Bob, working together, can produce more than double the amount that each could accomplish, working alone. Perhaps it is because Charlie is better at harvesting fruit, while Bob could preside over our clucking friends with greater efficiency. Maybe it is due to the fact that some stones or trees are impervious to the efforts of one man, while succumb to those of two, working together. In any case, the two of them, as a team, can produce 75 food units; Charles pays Bob 35 of them, and keeps 40 for himself.
Did Charlie exploit Bob? The Marxists, economic illiterates and lacking any shred of logic, would say yes, and necessarily so. Why? Well, capital always exploits labor. But there is no capital in our little scenario. (In any case, capital emanates from savings. In our example, Charlie either saved up to be able to hire Bob or borrowed it from someone else. The bottom line is that this enabled the productivity of both to rise. This can hardly justify the Marxist claim of exploitation.) There is just the Adam Smithian specialization and the division of labor. Yes, Charlies’ share was boosted by 10 (40-30) while Bob only benefited to the extent of 5 (35-30). Heck I would have awarded Charlie lots more; it is my numerical example. But no matter how you slice it, Charlie was Bob’s benefactor. Indeed, they each improved the economic welfare of the other. We can deduce this from “drop dead” theory. If Charlie had dropped dead, or for any other reason never made that employment offer to bob, would the latter be better or worse off. Obviously, worse off, by 5 units daily.
Let us generalize and ask what do all employers bring to the table in terms of contribution. The first is risk bearing. Charles is obligated to pay Bob 35 units whether or not the enterprise is a success. The employer cannot come to the employees and say, sorry, I’ve got bad news for you guys. That product we’ve all been working on for a year? Unfortunately, it didn’t sell. No one wants to purchase it. So give me back the wages I’ve been paying you for the last twelve months. No the employer is the residual income claimant. If there is anything left after the sale of the product, and all costs are paid, it is profit, and he gets to keep it all. If there is nothing left, that is his entire share; zero. And if the costs exceed the sales, he loses.
Secondly, he offers time to the enterprise. It will take one year before the first product rolls off the assembly line. During that time he must purchase or rent a factory, hire and pay the workforce, gather the raw materials, pay the electricity bill, get insurance, etc. For these twelve months, the workers are continually paid; the employer does not see dime one. The employees might have been able to do this on their own, but either they didn’t have the wherewithal to keep themselves going for this time period, with no income, or they didn’t want to, or were afraid to, mortgage their homes and other worldly possessions.
Third, the entrepreneur offers leadership and initiative. It is his idea to start off the process that will eventually see the product brought to market after one year. Possibly, but unlikely, a group of employees might have first had the idea, and approached the employer with it, so this is not a necessary characteristic of the employer, as are the other two. But as an empirical matter, this must be very rare.
Despite the virgin birth of the entrepreneur and his continued innocence (yes there are frauds, but this occurs in all callings), the business firm is held in ill repute by all and sundry. Why? Economic illiteracy it one reasonable hypothesis. Thankfully, readers of the present column will not suffer from that particular intellectual malady.
Dr. Block is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending the Undefendable, The Case for Discrimination, Labor Economics From A Free Market Perspective, Building Blocks for Liberty, Differing Worldviews in Higher Education, and The Privatization of Roads and Highways. His latest book is Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty.
The Antiwar Movement Roars Back to Life
By Ron Paul
On February 19th, the National Mall in Washington, DC saw its largest antiwar rally in 20 years. The speakers list included four former US presidential candidates and a broad and diverse collection of antiwar activists from beyond the left and right.
The aptly-named “Rage Against War Machine” rally drew thousands of attendees, however many pro-war advocates eagerly pointed out that it did not match in size some of the larger rallies against the Iraq war 20 years ago.
To that I say, “who cares”? The US mainstream media engages in war propaganda non-stop, with the only exception being Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. So I think it’s a miracle anyone had the courage to travel to the heart of the war machine in Washington, DC to make their voices heard! We don’t need a majority to fight back – an educated and dedicated minority will do quite nicely. And we certainly had that at the rally!
As I sat in the green room waiting to speak, I had the opportunity to visit with former Democrat presidential candidates Tulsi Gabbard and Dennis Kucinich and former Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Political commentators Jimmy Dore and Chris Hedges were there, along with many leading and well—spoken libertarians. Everyone backstage carried the same message: we must put aside our differences to build a new, broad coalition against this war!
I believe the antiwar movement is starting to catch fire both at home and overseas. The DC rally was followed by much larger antiwar rallies in Paris, Berlin, London, and elsewhere.
Several recent polls, including by Pew and AP, show that American support for Ukraine is evaporating. Even in the EU, new polls show a public turning sharply against their governments’ support for the war. According to a recent Ipsos poll, less than half of Germans support continuing to send weapons to Ukraine. Change is in the air.
The DC rally took place in the backdrop of Seymour Hersh’s explosive investigative report demonstrating how the US government blew up the Nord Stream pipelines and the mainstream media’s desperate attempt to cover it up. The truth is coming out, and it’s even uglier than we imagined.
The US mainstream media is clearly getting nervous that its control over the narrative is also evaporating. How do we know they’re nervous? They have turned up their lies and slanders of antiwar rallies and voices.
Rachel Maddow, who fed America a steady stream of “Russiagate” lies for the past six or so years, let loose with a slanderous blue streak about the Rage Against the War Machine rally. Literally everything Maddow said in her post-rally rant was objectively false and her mischaracterization of rally participants as “weird” was devious. She falsely claimed that the rally was full of “white supremacists,” “Proud Boys,” and “anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists.”
No one who was at the rally would have had any idea what she was talking about. But her job was not to describe the rally, it was to defame it. What does Maddow’s hysterics about the rally show? They are nervous. It shows that the mainstream media, despite having near-total power, is afraid. They are afraid they are losing the narrative. Good. It’s about time. Let’s hope that more Americans begin to rage! Rage against the war machine!
Who Is Provoking WWIII?
While economically suffering at home, Americans are being plundered to finance Ukraine's war against Russia to the tune of over $100+ BILLION so far. Meanwhile, the U.S. government plans to increase the number of US troops training Taiwanese forces. Absolutely none of this has anything to do with defending America, or protecting our safety. It does, on the other hand, ratchet up tensions with Russia and China, both of which are major nuclear powers.
An opinion piece in the New York Times proclaims what many have known from the very beginning of the Covid debacle: "Mask Mandates Did Nothing." While this statement is true, the full story is actually much worse. Mask mandates did incredible damage! The unconstitutional interference of government in our personal health decisions was not only extraordinary, it was extraordinarily wrong!
Everyone has their own beliefs and opinions. But when government is used as a tool to force one's own beliefs and opinions onto others, a conflict immediately occurs. No one wants to be on the receiving of a forced ideology. Freedom is the antidote to this. People with different ideologies can voluntarily live side by side. Government's proper role is to protect freedom; not force ideology.
Ron Paul takes your questions via Twitter. Tune in to this special episode of The Ron Paul Liberty Report!
By Ron Paul
According to the January report of the Consumer Price Index, price inflation increased by 0.5 percent last month. This follows a 0.1 percent increase in December. The total increase over the last 12 months is 6.4 percent. The official government statistics, which are manipulated to understate the true rate of price inflation, show even greater increases in some costs. Over the last 12 months, food prices increased by 10.1 percent, energy prices increased by 8.7 percent, and shelter costs rose by 7.9 percent.
The government’s figures also record a 0.2 percent decline in real wages in January and a 1.8 percent decline from a year earlier. Keep in mind that actual real wages losses have been larger because the government’s real wage numbers are calculated using the government’s understated price inflation numbers. The Federal Reserve-caused decline in purchasing power disproportionally harms middle- and lower-income Americans, many of whom were already living paycheck to paycheck before the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented money creation caused especially large increases in price inflation.
According to a Morning Consult survey from June of 2022, price inflation has caused over 40 percent of US consumers to eat out less. This obviously reduces the opportunity of wait staff to earn tips that constitute a significant portion of their incomes. This loss is in addition to the lost income from during the coronavirus scare, when many restaurants either closed entirely or only offered takeout or delivery.
The reduction in tip income is not stopping the Internal Revenue Service from trying to squeeze more taxes out of waiters and waitresses. The tax agency has announced this month the creation of the Service Industry Tip Compliance Agreement (SITCA) program. As the name suggests, the program will allow the tax agency to collect data on tips directly from restaurants, instead of relying on employees to report their tips.
SITCA is one of the first initiatives to use some of the 80 billion dollars in additional funding provided to the IRS in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. President Biden and other supporters of the legislation said the funds were to enable the IRS to crack down on millionaire and billionaire “tax cheats.” President Biden and the bureaucrats running the IRS must think there are a lot of waiters and waitresses making billions in tips.
At the time of the bill’s passage, many opponents of increasing the IRS’s enforcement budget predicted the agency would use the additional funds to target middle- and lower-income Americans. After all, unlike wealthier individuals, these Americans cannot afford tax attorneys and accountants to make sure they minimize their tax liability without violating the tax law. Also, wealthy taxpayers are more likely (and able) to fight an IRS audit. In contrast, lower income Americans are more likely to pay whatever the tax agency demands in order to make it go away since they don’t have the resources to fight it.
When I was in Congress, I introduced legislation to make tips tax free. Tips are a gift provided by customers to show appreciation to servers. Very rarely is there a contractual obligation for a customer to add a tip (much less a pre-determined amount) to his bill. There is no reason to tax tips other than the government’s desire to take more money from working people.
The fact that the funding the IRS was given to prevent the wealthy from avoiding taxes is actually being used to target waiters is an example of how the welfare-warfare state harms working Americans. At the same time, lower- and middle-income Americans are harmed the most by the Federal Reserve’s inflation tax. The best thing Congress could do to help Americans improve their standard of living and climb the economic ladder is to kill the monsters of 1913 — the Federal Reserve and the IRS.
The Rage Against The War Machine rally was held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on Feb. 19, 2023...the anniversary of the Ukraine War.