The Trump Administration has requested a huge increase in the US spy budget, including a whopping $23 billion for the "black" budget. The reasons given are the increasing threats from Russia and China. Does all this spy spending really protect us...or is it just welfare for the Beltway bandits and scaremongers?
By Ron Paul
Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered the last of the US diplomats out of Venezuela, saying their presence was a “constraint” on US policy toward the country. The wording seemed intended to convey the idea that the US is about to launch military action to place a Washington-backed, self-appointed politician to the presidency. Was it just bluster, designed to intimidate? Or is the Trump Administration really about to invade another country that has neither attacked nor threatened the United States?
While US Administrations engaged in “regime change” have generally tried to mask their real intentions, this US-backed coup is remarkable for how honest its backers are being. Not long ago the National Security Advisor to the president, John Bolton, openly admitted that getting US companies in control of Venezuelan oil was the Administration’s intent. Trump Administration officials have gone so far as mocking the suffering of Venezuelans when a suspiciously-timed nationwide power failure heightened citizens’ misery.
According to media reports, Vice President Mike Pence is angry with the Venezuela coup leader, Juan Guaido, because he promised the whole operation would be a cake walk – just like the neocons promised us about Iraq. Guaido said hundreds of thousands of protesters would follow him to the Colombian border to “liberate” US aid trucks just over the border, but no one showed up. So Pompeo and the neocons made up a lie that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s thugs burned the aid trucks to prevent the people from getting relief from their suffering. Even the pro-war New York Times finally admitted that the Administration was lying: it was opposition protesters who burned the trucks.
Was the US behind the take-down of Venezuela’s power grid? It would not be the first time the CIA pulled such a move, and US officials are open about the US goal of making life as miserable as possible for average Venezuelans in hopes that they overthrow their government.
Congress has to this point been strongly in favor of President Trump’s “regime change” policy for Venezuela. Sadly, even though our neocon foreign policy of interventionism has proven disastrous – from Iraq to Libya to Syria and elsewhere – both parties in Congress continue to act as if somehow this time they will get it right. I have news for them, they won’t.
Even weak Congressional efforts to remind the president that Congress must approve military action overseas sound like war cries. In Rep. David N. Cicilline’s (D-RI) statement introducing his “Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act” last week, he sounded more hawkish than John Bolton or Elliott Abrams! The statement makes all the arguments in favor of a US military attack on Venezuela and then – wink wink – reminds the president he needs authorization beforehand. As if that’s going to be a hard sell!
So is President Trump about to attack Venezuela? At a recent US House hearing, one of the expert witnesses testified that such an invasion would require between 100,000 and 150,000 US troops, going up against maybe three times that number of Venezuelan troops in a country twice the size of Iraq. With a lot of jungle. All for a “prize” that has nothing to do with US security. If the president makes such a foolish move he might find the current war cheerleaders in the Democrat Party changing their tune rather quickly. Let’s hope Trump changes his tune and returns to his promises of no more regime change wars.
By Lew Rockwell
This article was originally published in 2013.
The recent opening of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity was a watershed moment in American history. There has never been anything quite like it. Ideologically diverse, the Ron Paul Institute reaches out to all Americans, and indeed to people all over the world, who find the spectrum of foreign-policy opinion in the United States to be unreasonably narrow. Until Ron Paul and his new institute, there was no resolutely anti-interventionist foreign-policy organization to be found.
Neoconservatives have not responded warmly to the announcement of Ron’s new institute. Whatever their particular gripes, we can be absolutely certain of the real reason for their unhappiness: they have never faced systematic, organized opposition before.
The Democrats would see Lincoln pried out of his temple before supporting nonintervention abroad, so they pose no fundamental problem for the neocons. Ron Paul, on the other hand, is real opposition, and he can mobilize an army. The neocons know it. What’s Tim Pawlenty up to these days? Where are his legions of well-read young fans who seek to carry on his philosophy? You see the point.
For the first time, strict nonintervention will have a permanent voice in American life. It is another nail in the neocon coffin. The neocons know they are losing the young. Bright kids who believe in freedom aren’t rallying to Mitt Romney or David Horowitz, and, like anyone with a critical mind and a moral compass, they are not going along with the regime’s war propaganda.
At this historic moment, I thought it might be appropriate to set down some thoughts on war — a manifesto for peace, as it were.
(1) Our rulers are not a law unto themselves.
Our warmakers believe they are exempt from normal moral rules. Because they are at war, they get to suspend all decency, all the norms that govern the conduct and interaction of human beings in all other circumstances. The anodyne term “collateral damage,” along with perfunctory and meaningless words of regret, are employed when innocent civilians, including children, are maimed and butchered. A private individual behaving this way would be called a sociopath. Give him a fancy title and a nice suit, and he becomes a statesman.
Let us pursue the subversive mission of applying the same moral rules against theft, kidnapping, and murder to our rulers that we apply to everyone else.
(2) Humanize the demonized.
We must encourage all efforts to humanize the populations of countries in the crosshairs of the warmakers. The general public is whipped into a war frenzy without knowing the first thing — or hearing only propaganda — about the people who will die in that war. The establishment’s media won’t tell their story, so it is up to us to use all the resources we as individuals have, especially online, to communicate the most subversive truth of all: that the people on the other side are human beings, too. This will make it marginally more difficult for the warmakers to carry out their Two Minutes’ Hate, and can have the effect of persuading Americans with normal human sympathies to distrust the propaganda that surrounds them.
(3) If we oppose aggression, let us oppose all aggression.
If we believe in the cause of peace, putting a halt to aggressive violence between nations is not enough. We should not want to bring about peace overseas in order that our rulers may turn their guns on peaceful individuals at home. Away with all forms of aggression against peaceful people.
(4) Never use “we” when speaking of the government.
The people and the warmakers are two distinct groups. We must never say “we” when discussing the US government’s foreign policy. For one thing, the warmakers do not care about the opinions of the majority of Americans. It is silly and embarrassing for Americans to speak of “we” when discussing their government’s foreign policy, as if their input were necessary to or desired by those who make war.
But it is also wrong, not to mention mischievous. When people identify themselves so closely with their government, they perceive attacks on their government’s foreign policy as attacks on themselves. It then becomes all the more difficult to reason with them — why, you’re insulting my foreign policy!
Likewise, the use of “we” feeds into war fever. “We” have to get “them.” People root for their governments as they would for a football team. And since we know ourselves to be decent and good, “they” can only be monstrous and evil, and deserving of whatever righteous justice “we” dispense to them.
The antiwar left falls into this error just as often. They appeal to Americans with a catalogue of horrific crimes “we” have committed. But we haven’t committed those crimes. The same sociopaths who victimize Americans themselves every day, and over whom we have no real control, committed those crimes.
(5) War is not “good for the economy.”
A commitment to peace is a wonderful thing and worthy of praise, but it needs to be coupled with an understanding of economics. A well-known US senator recently deplored cuts in military spending because “when you cut military spending you lose jobs.” There is no economic silver lining to war or to preparation for war.
Those who would tell us that war brings prosperity are grossly mistaken, even in the celebrated case of World War II. The particular stimulus that war gives to certain sectors of the economy comes at the expense of civilian needs, and directs resources away from the improvement of the common man’s standard of living.
Ludwig von Mises wrote that “war prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings. The earthquake means good business for construction workers, and cholera improves the business of physicians, pharmacists, and undertakers; but no one has for that reason yet sought to celebrate earthquakes and cholera as stimulators of the productive forces in the general interest.”
Elsewhere, Mises described the essence of so-called war prosperity: it “enriches some by what it takes from others. It is not rising wealth but a shifting of wealth and income.”
(6) Support the free market?
Then oppose war. Ron Paul has restored the proper association of capitalism with peace and nonintervention. Leninists and other leftists, burdened by a false understanding of economics and the market system, used to claim that capitalism needed war, that alleged “overproduction” of goods forced market societies to go abroad — and often to war — in search for external markets for their excess goods.
This was always economic nonsense. It was political nonsense, too: the free market needs no parasitical institution to grease the skids for international commerce, and the same philosophy that urges nonaggression among individual human beings compels nonaggression between geographical areas.
Mises always insisted, contra the Leninists, that war and capitalism could not long coexist. “Of course, in the long run war and the preservation of the market economy are incompatible. Capitalism is essentially a scheme for peaceful nations…. The emergence of the international division of labor requires the total abolition of war…. The market economy involves peaceful cooperation. It bursts asunder when the citizens turn into warriors and, instead of exchanging commodities and services, fight one another.”
“The market economy,” Mises said simply, “means peaceful cooperation and peaceful exchange of goods and services. It cannot persist when wholesale killing is the order of the day.”
Those who believe in the free and unhampered market economy should be especially skeptical of war and military action. War, after all, is the ultimate government program. War has it all: propaganda, censorship, spying, crony contracts, money printing, skyrocketing spending, debt creation, central planning, hubris — everything we associate with the worst interventions into the economy.
“War,” Mises observed, “is harmful, not only to the conquered but to the conqueror. Society has arisen out of the works of peace; the essence of society is peacemaking. Peace and not war is the father of all things. Only economic action has created the wealth around us; labor, not the profession of arms, brings happiness. Peace builds; war destroys.”
See through the propaganda. Stop empowering and enriching the state by cheering its wars. Set aside the television talking points. Look at the world anew, without the prejudices of the past, and without favoring your own government’s version of things.
Be decent. Be human. Do not be deceived by the Joe Bidens, the John McCains, the Barack Obamas and Hillary Clintons. Reject the biggest government program of them all.
Peace builds. War destroys.
The president has backpedaled yet again. Instead of seeing American troops return home from Syria "very soon," as President Trump promised, his neocon advisors have made sure that it's not going to happen.
Once again, we're seeing that there's really no philosophical differences between the two major parties. President Trump's proposed budget of record spending and record trillion dollar deficits could just as easily have been put together by a Democratic administration. The national debt will ultimately be unserviceable and the government bubble will come to a painful end. Ron Paul discusses on today's Liberty Report!
By Murray N. Rothbard
The following has been excerpted from The Case Against The Fed. Download a FREE digital copy of the book here.
By far the most secret and least accountable operation of the federal government is not, as one might expect, the CIA, DIA, or some other super-secret intelligence agency. The CIA and other intelligence operations are under control of the Congress. They are accountable: a Congressional committee supervises these operations, controls their budgets, and is informed of their covert activities. It is true that the committee hearings and activities are closed to the public; but at least the people’s representatives in Congress insure some accountability for these secret agencies.
It is little known, however, that there is a federal agency that tops the others in secrecy by a country mile. The Federal Reserve System is accountable to no one; it has no budget; it is subject to no audit; and no Congressional committee knows of, or can truly supervise, its operations. The Federal Reserve, virtually in total control of the nation’s vital monetary system, is accountable to nobody—and this strange situation, if acknowledged at all, is invariably trumpeted as a virtue.
Thus, when the first Democratic president in over a decade was inaugurated in 1993, the maverick and venerable Democratic chairman of the House Banking Committee, Texan Henry B. Gonzalez, optimistically introduced some of his favorite projects for opening up the Fed to public scrutiny. His proposals seemed mild; he did not call for full-fledged Congressional control of the Fed’s budget. The Gonzalez Bill required full independent audits of the Fed’s operations; videotaping the meetings of the Fed’s policy-making committee; and releasing detailed minutes of the policy meetings within a week, rather than the Fed being allowed, as it is now, to issue vague summaries of its decisions six weeks later. In addition, the presidents of the twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks would be chosen by the president of the United States rather than, as they are now, by the commercial banks of the respective regions.
It was to be expected that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan would strongly resist any such proposals. After all, it is in the nature of bureaucrats to resist any encroachment on their unbridled power. Seemingly more surprising was the rejection of the Gonzalez plan by President Clinton, whose power, after all, would be enhanced by the measure. The Gonzalez reforms, the President declared, “run the risk of undermining market confidence in the Fed.”
On the face of it, this presidential reaction, though traditional among chief executives, is rather puzzling. After all, doesn’t a democracy depend upon the right of the people to know what is going on in the government for which they must vote? Wouldn’t knowledge and full disclosure strengthen the faith of the American public in their monetary authorities? Why should public knowledge “undermine market confidence”? Why does “market confidence” depend on assuring far less public scrutiny than is accorded keepers of military secrets that might benefit foreign enemies? What is going on here?
The standard reply of the Fed and its partisans is that any such measures, however marginal, would encroach on the Fed’s “independence from politics,” which is invoked as a kind of self-evident absolute. The monetary system is highly important, it is claimed, and therefore the Fed must enjoy absolute independence.
“Independent of politics” has a nice, neat ring to it, and has been a staple of proposals for bureaucratic intervention and power ever since the Progressive Era. Sweeping the streets; control of seaports; regulation of industry; providing social security; these and many other functions of government are held to be “too important” to be subject to the vagaries of political whims. But it is one thing to say that private, or market, activities should be free of government control, and “independent of politics” in that sense. But these are government agencies and operations we are talking about, and to say that government should be “independent of politics” conveys very different implications. For government, unlike private industry on the market, is not accountable either to stockholders or consumers. Government can only be accountable to the public and to its representatives in the legislature; and if government becomes “independent of politics” it can only mean that that sphere of government becomes an absolute self-perpetuating oligarchy, accountable to no one and never subject to the public’s ability to change its personnel or to “throw the rascals out.” If no person or group, whether stockholders or voters, can displace a ruling elite, then such an elite becomes more suitable for a dictatorship than for an allegedly democratic country. And yet it is curious how many self-proclaimed champions of “democracy,” whether domestic or global, rush to defend the alleged ideal of the total independence of the Federal Reserve.
Representative Barney Frank (D., Mass.), a co-sponsor of the Gonzalez Bill, points out that “if you take the principles that people are talking about nowadays,” such as “reforming government and opening up government—the Fed violates it more than any other branch of government.” On what basis, then, should the vaunted “principle” of an independent Fed be maintained?
It is instructive to examine who the defenders of this alleged principle may be, and the tactics they are using. Presumably one political agency the Fed particularly wants to be independent from is the U.S. Treasury. And yet Frank Newman, President Clinton’s Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, in rejecting the Gonzalez reform, states: “The Fed is independent and that’s one of the underlying concepts.” In addition, a revealing little point is made by the New York Times, in noting the Fed’s reaction to the Gonzalez Bill: “The Fed is already working behind the scenes to organize battalions of bankers to howl about efforts to politicize the central bank” (New York Times, October 12, 1993). True enough. But why should these “battalions of bankers” be so eager and willing to mobilize in behalf of the Fed’s absolute control of the monetary and banking system? Why should bankers be so ready to defend a federal agency which controls and regulates them, and virtually determines the operations of the banking system? Shouldn’t private banks want to have some sort of check, some curb, upon their lord and master? Why should a regulated and controlled industry be so much in love with the unchecked power of their own federal controller?
Let us consider any other private industry. Wouldn’t it be just a tad suspicious if, say, the insurance industry demanded unchecked power for their state regulators, or the trucking industry total power for the ICC, or the drug companies were clamoring for total and secret power to the Food and Drug Administration? So shouldn’t we be very suspicious of the oddly cozy relationship between the banks and the Federal Reserve? What’s going on here? Our task in this volume is to open up the Fed to the scrutiny it is unfortunately not getting in the public arena.
Absolute power and lack of accountability by the Fed are generally defended on one ground alone: that any change would weaken the Federal Reserve’s allegedly inflexible commitment to wage a seemingly permanent “fight against inflation.” This is the Johnny-one-note of the Fed’s defense of its unbridled power. The Gonzalez reforms, Fed officials warn, might be seen by financial markets “as weakening the Fed’s ability to fight inflation” (New York Times, October 8, 1993). In subsequent Congressional testimony, Chairman Alan Greenspan elaborated this point. Politicians, and presumably the public, are eternally tempted to expand the money supply and thereby aggravate (price) inflation. Thus to Greenspan:
The temptation is to step on the monetary accelerator or at least to avoid the monetary brake until after the next election. Giving in to such temptations is likely to impart an inflationary bias to the economy and could lead to instability, recession, and economic stagnation.
The Fed’s lack of accountability, Greenspan added, is a small price to pay to avoid “putting the conduct of monetary policy under the close influence of politicians subject to short-term election cycle pressure” (New York Times, October 14, 1993).
So there we have it. The public, in the mythology of the Fed and its supporters, is a great beast, continually subject to a lust for inflating the money supply and therefore for subjecting the economy to inflation and its dire consequences. Those dreaded all-too-frequent inconveniences called “elections” subject politicians to these temptations, especially in political institutions such as the House of Representatives who come before the public every two years and are therefore particularly responsive to the public will. The Federal Reserve, on the other hand, guided by monetary experts independent of the public’s lust for inflation, stands ready at all times to promote the long-run public interest by manning the battlements in an eternal fight against the Gorgon of inflation. The public, in short, is in desperate need of absolute control of money by the Federal Reserve to save it from itself and its short-term lusts and temptations. One monetary economist, who spent much of the 1920s and 1930s setting up Central Banks throughout the Third World, was commonly referred to as “the money doctor.” In our current therapeutic age, perhaps Greenspan and his confreres would like to be considered as monetary “therapists,” kindly but stern taskmasters whom we invest with total power to save us from ourselves.
But in this administering of therapy, where do the private bankers fit in? Very neatly, according to Federal Reserve officials. The Gonzalez proposal to have the president instead of regional bankers appoint regional Fed presidents would, in the eyes of those officials, “make it harder for the Fed to clamp down on inflation.” Why? Because, the “sure way” to “minimize inflation” is “to have private bankers appoint the regional bank presidents.” And why is this private banker role such a “sure way”? Because, according to the Fed officials, private bankers “are among the world’s fiercest inflation hawks” (New York Times, October 12, 1993).
The worldview of the Federal Reserve and its advocates is now complete. Not only are the public and politicians responsive to it eternally subject to the temptation to inflate; but it is important for the Fed to have a cozy partnership with private bankers. Private bankers, as “the world’s fiercest inflation hawks,” can only bolster the Fed’s eternal devotion to battling against inflation.
There we have the ideology of the Fed as reflected in its own propaganda, as well as respected Establishment transmission belts such as the New York Times, and in pronouncements and textbooks by countless economists. Even those economists who would like to see more inflation accept and repeat the Fed’s image of its own role. And yet every aspect of this mythology is the very reverse of the truth. We cannot think straight about money, banking, or the Federal Reserve until this fraudulent legend has been exposed and demolished.
There is, however, one and only one aspect of the common legend that is indeed correct: that the overwhelmingly dominant cause of the virus of chronic price inflation is inflation, or expansion, of the supply of money. Just as an increase in the production or supply of cotton will cause that crop to be cheaper on the market; so will the creation of more money make its unit of money, each franc or dollar, cheaper and worth less in purchasing power of goods on the market.
But let us consider this agreed-upon fact in the light of the above myth about the Federal Reserve. We supposedly have the public clamoring for inflation while the Federal Reserve, flanked by its allies the nation’s bankers, resolutely sets its face against this short-sighted public clamor. But how is the public supposed to go about achieving this inflation? How can the public create, i.e., “print,” more money? It would be difficult to do so, since only one institution in the society is legally allowed to print money. Anyone who tries to print money is engaged in the high crime of “counterfeiting,” which the federal government takes very seriously indeed. Whereas the government may take a benign view of all other torts and crimes, including mugging, robbery, and murder, and it may worry about the “deprived youth” of the criminal and treat him tenderly, there is one group of criminals whom no government ever coddles: the counterfeiters. The counterfeiter is hunted down seriously and efficiently, and he is salted away for a very long time; for he is committing a crime that the government takes very seriously: he is interfering with the government’s revenue: specifically, the monopoly power to print money enjoyed by the Federal Reserve.
“Money,” in our economy, is pieces of paper issued by the Federal Reserve, on which are engraved the following: “This Note is Legal Tender for all Debts, Private, and Public.” This “Federal Reserve Note,” and nothing else, is money, and all vendors and creditors must accept these notes, like it or not.
So: if the chronic inflation undergone by Americans, and in almost every other country, is caused by the continuing creation of new money, and if in each country its governmental “Central Bank” (in the United States, the Federal Reserve) is the sole monopoly source and creator of all money, who then is responsible for the blight of inflation? Who except the very institution that is solely empowered to create money, that is, the Fed (and the Bank of England, and the Bank of Italy, and other central banks) itself?
In short: even before examining the problem in detail, we should already get a glimmer of the truth: that the drumfire of propaganda that the Fed is manning the ramparts against the menace of inflation brought about by others is nothing less than a deceptive shell game. The culprit solely responsible for inflation, the Federal Reserve, is continually engaged in raising a hue-and-cry about “inflation,” for which virtually everyone else in society seems to be responsible. What we are seeing is the old ploy by the robber who starts shouting “Stop, thief!” and runs down the street pointing ahead at others. We begin to see why it has always been important for the Fed, and for other Central Banks, to invest themselves with an aura of solemnity and mystery. For, as we shall see more fully, if the public knew what was going on, if it was able to rip open the curtain covering the inscrutable Wizard of Oz, it would soon discover that the Fed, far from being the indispensable solution to the problem of inflation, is itself the heart and cause of the problem. What we need is not a totally independent, all-powerful Fed; what we need is no Fed at all.
The Senate has passed "war powers" legislation ordering the president to cease and desist his cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the destruction of Yemen. A House vote is expected soon, which would throw the issue to the president who has promised a veto. Will there be political fallout for a president failing to accede to the will of Congress on matters of war and peace?
By Chris Rossini
Politicians are always calling for "unity."
But with the current role that people have accepted and attribute to government, these politicians are chasing after unicorns.
In our private lives, we are not allowed to rob, cheat or defraud our neighbor. The vast majority of people naturally live by this unwritten rule. The tremendous cost and uncertainty that go with a life of crime prevents almost everyone from choosing that road.
However, since we're all individuals who are free to choose, there will always be those who choose to rob, cheat or defraud. But these individuals are in the tiny minority.
If you're going to have a government, the government should not be exempt from the same rules that we all live by.
Members of government should not be allowed to rob, cheat or defraud. The moment such an exception is made (and in the case of the United States, the exception was made long before any of us were born) the government itself becomes a magnet for every mischievous personality imaginable.
It's been several hundred years, and the results couldn't be clearer. America has more laws than anyone can keep track of, with more so-called "regulations" than can ever be enforced, and millions of government bureaucrats hassling everyone. America has a military empire with 1,000 bases all over the Earth, coupled with welfare promises that mathematically can never be made good on .....
And politicians plead for "unity."
How can that even be possible?
When trillions of dollars are being expropriated from some pockets in order to make their way into different pockets, it sure takes a lot of guts to ask for "unity."
No one wants to be robbed.
No one wants to be forced to act against their own peaceful desires.
No one wants to be hassled for a litany of victimless "crimes."
As long as the role of government remains as it is --- that is, as a tool to rob, cheat, and defraud your neighbor --- there cannot be unity.
But there is an escape hatch...
As Ron Paul said over and over in his presidential campaign speeches: "Liberty unites us."
Peace unites....Violence divides.
In a free society, your neighbor is no longer a potential threat. You don't have to worry about arbitrary chants of "pay for my healthcare," or "pay for my college."
In a free society, your neighbor can no longer legally rob you, with government acting as his bully and enforcer.
It's only because the idea of government has been distorted so tremendously that peace and voluntary interactions are such radical ideas.
When the government goes belly-up financially, which is not very far away when you look at the national debt, the opportunity to see clearer will be there.
What should the proper role of government be?
America's Founders, while far from perfect, were on the right track.
One thing should be obvious:
If you can't rob, cheat, or defraud your neighbor, neither can the government on your behalf.
Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar (MN) has stirred up both political parties with her comments on the Israel Lobby, has infuriated the Republicans with her aggressive line of questioning for Trump's "regime change" expert Elliott Abrams, and has driven the Democrats mad with her criticisms of Barack Obama. Is she on the right track, or off the rails?