The axiom still stands -- Truth Is Treason In An Empire of Lies
Benjamin Franklin said that: “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.” How prescient and true. Once theft and redistribution by government is considered acceptable, the downward spiral of civilization begins. It can last for decades, or even centuries. But the end result is always bankruptcy as countless factions ruthlessly fight with one another to be on the receiving end of the heist. When theft by government is no longer considered acceptable, the upward march of civilization resumes.
By Ryan McMaken
On Monday, Bernie Sanders released ten years of tax returns, and it turns out he's a millionaire. Thanks especially to revenues from book royalties, Sanders is now, as CNN put it, "in the category of the super-rich." Or, as some might say, he's part of "the 1%."
After years of denouncing "millionaires and billionaires" and a supposed source of America's economic problems, this information is a little awkward for Sanders.
Some critics of Sanders have claimed this makes him a hypocrite. Here's a man who trashes millionaires, and yet is one himself.
"Hypocrite," however, isn't really the right term here. So long as Sanders pays the taxes he says millionaires should pay, his income alone doesn't make him a hypocrite. Moreover, Sanders can (plausibly) claim that when he denounced millionaires, he didn't mean all of them. He just meant 90 percent of them. And he can then include himself in the "good" ten percent.
Nevertheless, Sanders appears not entirely comfortable with his status as a rich man.
When confronted as being among those he has long villainized, Sanders became defensive:
“I wrote a best-selling book,” he declared. “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”
Translation: "I made my money fair and square, so quit hassling me about it."
It is at this point that we start to see Bernie Sanders undermine his own claims about millionaires, wealth, and capitalism.
Bernie Sanders, Capitalist
For a normal person, Sanders's defense of his riches would be no big deal. There's little doubt that a great many wealthy people, when asked how they earned their money, would respond with "I worked for it. I earned it."
But, when Bernie Sanders says this, it's quite remarkable.
After all, one of the central myths of the Bernie Sanders wing of the American left is that people who become rich do so on the backs of the poor. As is the case with orthodox Marxists, there is a persistent and widespread belief on the left that wealth is gained by exploiting workers. Moreover, it is believed that market-based economies systematically favor the wealthy while closing off economic success to those who are not already well off.
In this narrative, those who haven't exploited workers directly have likely inherited their money from others have who have exploited others.
To hear Bernie Sanders on the matter, however, it sure sounds like he does believe that wealth can be had through a little hard work: "I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too."
Translation: "You can make a lot of money if you work at it. It's just that easy!"
This sounds suspiciously like the "bootstraps" argument which the left so often and so vehemently rejects. And it's pretty odd to hear it from Bernie Sanders.
It shouldn't surprise us, though, that when called upon to justify his riches, Sanders ended up resorting to a capitalist cliché.
He did this, of course, because the argument makes sense to a lot of people. Sanders needed to make the case that his wealth was obtained morally. So he pointed out the most common-sense argument in favor of letting people keep their wealth: he earned it.
Assuming we're only talking about income received from book sales, Sanders is right. No one forced anyone to buy his books, and he made money when people voluntarily handed over money in exchange for the books. By this measure, Sanders did indeed "earn" the money.
But Sanders's observations about the origins of his wealth don't stop there. By noting that this was a "best-selling book" Sanders is also admitting that delivering a product or service to a large number of people is a key factor in getting rich.
In other words, had Sanders merely written a book, he would not have made millions. But since he wrote a best-selling book, that brought in a lot of money. But if the key to getting rich is to sell something a lot of people want, doesn't that show that "millionaires and billionaires" are providing a benefit to society? Sanders is recognizing that the extent of one's riches are tied to how many consumers an entrepreneur serves in the marketplace. Sanders apparently thinks at least one millionaire — himself — got rich by giving people what they want. And if this is the case, is it fair to assume that rich people aren't paying their "fair share?"
We might go on to extrapolate even more from this.
As to the matter of inequality, Sanders hints at its origins. What if not everyone writes a best-selling book? Wouldn't that mean some people have millions of dollars and other people have much smaller amounts of money? Wouldn't that create inequality?
The answer, of course, is "yes." And we can see from Sanders's own success in selling books that inequality is not necessarily a result of the wealthy exploiting the poor. It can simply be a result of some people selling more books than others.
We can also conclude that Sanders apparently believes it is possible to produce a good or service without exploiting the workers. After all, his books did not appear by magic out of thin air. Human beings worked to print the books, assemble them, and distribute them. Sanders made money from their labors. In fact, he made a lot more money than any truck driver who delivered his books to stores. He made a lot more than any factory worker who assembled the books. Does Sanders believe he took advantage of these workers? Apparently not. Sanders justifies his wealth as a matter of writing books. He doesn't mention anything about the workers at all.
So, in this one short interview, we've learned a few things from Sanders:
1. He believes that providing an in-demand product or service justifies high incomes for those who produced it.
2. There is a connection between income earned and the total number of customers served.
3. If you do the same, you can be a millionaire, too.
That's quite a little capitalist manifesto from Sanders.
Unfortunately, he's unlikely to take any of these newfound revelations and translate them into decent public policy going forward. Instead, he's likely to keep telling his supporters what they want to hear. Why stop now? It's made him a rich man.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
Today's extraordinary release of the Mueller Report tracks closely with Attorney General Barr's recent summary: no collusion between the Trump campaign or any American with the Russians to help get Trump elected. Do not expect this to improve relations with Russia, however. There are poison pills in the report that ensure the push to war with Russia - in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America - will continue.
President Trump has vetoed the second bill of his presidency. Both vetoes have strengthened the Executive Branch at the expense of the Legislative Branch (and the Constitution). Yesterday's veto of S.J. Res. 7 means there will be no foreseeable end to US participation in the genocidal Saudi war on Yemen.
By Jacob G. Hornberger
While Republicans continue to profess their opposition to socialism, their love of socialism is being demonstrated in the healthcare arena. Do you remember when they were campaigning for control over Congress and the presidency with full-throated calls to repeal Obamacare? Not anymore. According to an article in the Washington Post, Republicans have come to love and adore President Obama’s signature achievement as president. More important, of course, is their deep-seated, unwavering devotion to Medicare and Medicaid, the two socialist programs enacted during the leftist regime of President Lyndon Johnson.
The Post’s article states:
Even Republicans who furiously fought the creation of the law and won elections with the mantra of repeal and replace speak favorably of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
Even President Trump is caving:
Bowing to pressure from some in his own party, Trump recently backed off a new pledge to take another crack at eliminating the ACA and said a vote on a GOP health plan — still unformed — would be delayed until after the 2020 election.
This is one of the horrific consequences of socialism: It creates mindsets of dependency on the government, much like going on heroin. Once people go on either heroin or socialism, they’re done. At that point, they cannot imagine life without their narcotic. And they come to love it.
President Franklin Roosevelt, who ushered in America’s welfare-state way of life, understood this phenomenon perfectly. He knew that if he could just make people dependent on governmental largess, the federal government would own them. That’s what Social Security, the crown jewel of American socialism, was all about it. FDR knew that once he got seniors on the dole, he and successor regimes would own them.
Roosevelt’s protégé, Lyndon Johnson, learned this lesson well from his mentor. Give seniors not only a welfare retirement dole but also free or heavily subsidized healthcare, and they would thereafter belong to the federal government.
That’s how we have ended up with entire generations of older people who have been scared to death of losing their Socials Security and Medicare and absolutely convinced that they would die without them. Equally important, you’ll never see any seniors, except libertarian ones, who dare to challenge the federal government at a fundamental level. They’re too scared that the government will retaliate by threatening to cut off their retirement and healthcare doles.
The Post article says that one reason why Republicans have become enamored with Obamacare is their fear of what will happen if it is repealed. This fear was expressed by former Ohio Governor John Kasich, one of the leading Republicans to embrace parts of Obamacare, who stated that ending the program would bring “total chaos.” Kasich reflects the conservative mindset — that socialism equals stability and that freedom and the free market equal chaos.
In fact though, government involvement in healthcare, including Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, occupational licensure, insurance regulation, and income-tax manipulation, have brought America a healthcare system that is best described as “planned chaos.” The Post article hints at the real situation: “Democrats have often acknowledged that the ACA is not a perfect law and can be improved….”
Indeed, if Obamacare was the panacea it was made out to be, there would be no reason for Democrats to now be advocating an expansion of Medicare to everyone in the country. The reason they are doing that is because despite (or because of) Obamacare, the healthcare crisis just keeps getting worse. And the reason it continues getting worse is because each new government reform makes the situation worse.
America once had the finest healthcare system in the world, one that was based on free-market principles. Healthcare costs were reasonably priced, innovations were soaring, and doctors absolutely loved what they did in life.
Medicare and Medicaid succeeded in destroying that healthcare system. That’s when healthcare costs starting soaring, healthcare quality began decreasing, and increasing numbers of doctors began opting for early retirement.
Rather than repealing Medicare and Medicaid, American socialists, including conservatives, instead began enacting reform upon reform, hoping against hope that their healthcare socialism would finally succeed. Nothing worked. Each reform only made things worse. And it’s no different with Obamacare. The healthcare crisis will only get worse.
The same holds true if Medicare for All is adopted. At that point, American socialists, both Democrats and Republicans, will be calling for a full-fledged federal takeover of healthcare, with doctors working for the government and with the government in charge of people’s medical treatment and medical records.
No one should look to Republicans to save our country from socialism. They threw in the towel and made peace with the welfare state a long time ago. The only thing they have left is empty pro-capitalist rhetoric.
The only hope for the future of American healthcare and American liberty lies with libertarianism and libertarians. It is only we who have the correct diagnosis and the right prescription for America’s healthcare woes: Repeal Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare and end all governmental involvement in healthcare. Separate healthcare and the state, just as our ancestors separated church and state.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
The Chinese government delivered a rare rebuke to Washington after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of meddling in the affairs of Venezuela. Accusing China of harming Venezuela by trading and investing in the country is insane. He has a point.
By Ron Paul
Last week’s arrest of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange by the British government on a US extradition order is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on the US Constitution. It is an attack on the free press. It is an attack on free speech. It is an attack on our right to know what our government is doing with our money in our name. Julian Assange is every bit as much a political prisoner as was Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary or Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
They, and so many more, were imprisoned because they told the truth about their governments.
Repressive governments do not want their citizens to know that they are up to so they insist on controlling the media. We are taught, at the same time, that we have a free press whose job it is to uncover the corruption in our system so that we can demand our political leaders make some changes or face unemployment. That, we are told, is what makes us different from the totalitarian.
The arrest of Assange is a canary in a coal mine to warn us that something is very wrong with our system.
What’s wrong? The US mainstream media always seems to do the bidding of the US government. That is why they rushed to confirm Washington’s claim that the Assange indictment was not in any way about journalism. It was only about hacking government computers!
As the New York Times said in an editorial, sounding like a mouthpiece of the US government, Julian Assange committed “an indisputable crime.” But was it? As actual journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote last week, what Julian Assange did in 2010, for which he is facing extradition to the US, is no different from what New York Times and other journalists do every day! He attempted to help Chelsea Manning shield his identity as he blew the whistle on US government crimes to a publisher. The information in question included a video showing US military personnel participating in and cheering the murder of Iraqi civilians. Why is it criminal for us to know this?
The difference is that what Assange and Manning did embarrassed the US government, which was lying to us that it was “liberating” Iraq and Afghanistan when it was actually doing the opposite. Mainstream journalists publish “leaks” that help bolster the neocon or other vested narratives of the different factions of the US government. That’s why the US media wants to see Assange in prison, or worse: he upset their apple cart.
The lesson is clear: when you bolster the government's narrative you are a “brave journalist.” When you expose corruption in government you are a criminal. Do we really want to live in a country where it is illegal to learn that our government is engaged in criminal acts? I thought we had an obligation as an engaged citizenry to hold our government accountable!
As long as Julian Assange is in prison, we are all in prison. When the government has the power to tell us what we we allowed to see, hear, and know, we no longer live in a free society. Julian Assange will be extradited to the US and he will have dozens of charges piled on. They want him to disappear so that the next Assange will think twice before informing us of our government’s crimes. Are we going to let them steal our freedom?
By Adam Garrie
This article was originally published at Eurasia Future.
Journalism in its truest sense must necessarily be guided by a spirit of iconoclasm. This is the case because unlike activism, advocacy or propaganda, pure journalism is about exposing the truth, even if the truth is something that contradicts one’s own ideals, the material goals of one’s friends, one’s own conscience or one’s own personal interests. Because of this, true journalism is a much less enjoyable task than activism, advocacy, propaganda or public relations. In activism, advocacy, propaganda or public relations, one is best served professionally by representing and promoting points of view that one actually believes in or is at minimum, deeply comfortable with. In true journalism, one’s job is to expose the truth – the easy and happy truths along with the grim, depressing and self-defeating ones.
This helps to explain why Julian Assange has been stabbed in the back by so many. Many had falsely assumed that because Assange published material that embarrassed and compromised George W. Bush, he would not go after Barack Obama when he took charge of the United Stated. Such people were ultimately proved to be deeply wrong in their arrogant assumptions about Assange.
Many were likewise surprised that the same man who told uncomfortable truths about Hillary Clinton also told uncomfortable truths about her nemesis Bashar al-Assad. Assange was someone who one day literally talked about the importance of Wikileaks in leading to the so-called Arab Spring yet is likewise being persecuted by the western politicians who actively orchestrated the most deadly aspects of the so-called Arab Spring.
Assange’s releases had something for everyone to love and had something for everyone to cringe at . This is the nature of the truth and as truth becomes an ever more scarce commodity, it becomes an increasingly alien concept to many. It is because Assange could not be coaxed into transforming himself from a publisher and journalist into a propagandist, public relations man or ideological advocate, that he made many enemies ranging from the government of Iran to its geopolitical nemesis, the government of the United States.
But while such a statement might sound odd in a political context, to a traditional iconoclastic journalist like Assange, this would have been the highest compliment. In an age where even science has become politicised, Assange was able to maintain traditional truth telling standards whilst using innovative technologies to distribute his honest information. His record of not having to retract a single publication under the guise of being materially false is a testament to his high level of work.
It is therefore ironic that many who would never publicly say that they want only comforting truths rather than only the real truths, nevertheless make Assange out to be the villain. While the corporate liberal narrative that Assange is somehow a villainous traitor for exposing American war crimes and political corruption is pervasive in western societies, there are also plenty of individuals who accuse Assange of being a western intelligence asset due to the fact that some of his publications were received in a deeply negative light in parts of the Middle East, Asia and Africa that are broadly ruled by so-called “anti-western” leaders.
But even so, the factual nature of everything ever published on Wikileaks withstands the test of material honesty every time. In this sense, to argue with Wikileaks and Assange is to argue with the truth itself.
Whilst Assange is often called an activist (including on these pages) because of his tendency to resist the prosecutors of war and violence, Assange should be best though of as someone who was willing and able to expose the truth about the powerful, whether the powerful were good or evil. Because the powerful during Assange’s time in charge of Wikileaks tended to be overwhelmingly evil, it became easy for some to confuse Assange for a moralist when in fact he was only ever an iconoclast.
Like a physician, it is not the job of a journalist to say that things are going well when they are not. If a doctor diagnoses a horrible disease, it is his or her duty to inform the patient about the illness and what if anything can be done to palliate it.
It is perhaps therefore little wonder that most so-called journalists today aren’t actually journalists at all. They are instead a combination of advocates, activists, propagandists and public relations people. In some ways, one can’t blame them. Their non-journalism is more fun, generally better paying, more relaxing and far less dangerous than the real journalism that Julian Assange took to new heights.
That is why people should be honest with themselves. Most could not be a true journalist and when faced with the choice, most would at least privately admit that they do not want to be. Assange however never abandoned his journalistic ethics. This is why some of those who once loved him now hate him and it is why some who once loathed him now read his publication and are grateful for what Wikileaks has put out. And yet even those who always hated him are aware of him and cannot deny the truths that he unilaterally exposed.
It’s not easy being a journalist because the price of freedom, honesty and integrity is often the loss of friendship and the loss of money. But in a free society, it should never result in the loss of personal or professional liberty. This is why the story of Julian Assange’s sacrifice is all the more tragic. He may have been prepared to lose friends, but what kind of man is prepared to lose his freedom for the crime of honesty?