By Jeff Thomas
Recently, I penned an article entitled “A Chicken in Every Pot,” which described the reasons why countries that have delved into collectivism are likely to slide further down the slippery slope once its addictive qualities have been introduced to the brain.
Since then, I’ve received requests to address whether it’s ever possible to fully escape collectivism once it has taken hold in a country. The short answer is “yes.” It’s always possible to kick an addiction, but it’s not easy nor without pain.
There are two forms of exit from collectivism. The first is national; the second is personal.
Ending Collectivism Nationally
Russia has crawled out of the collectivist tar pit, but not before an economic collapse in 1991. The political leaders that were responsible for the reinforcement of collectivism were able to bail out and retire in comfort to their dachas, whilst the hoi polloi suffered the pain of collapse and slow recovery.
East Germany made a concurrent recovery from collectivism but had a bit of help from the more free-market West Germany after their reunification. (This fast-track form of recovery is rare.)
The German recovery is especially notable, as the West Germans eagerly encouraged the East Germans to join the job market and otherwise participate in the then-vibrant West German economy. The initial result was that, whilst East Germans looked forward to the opportunity to have more money, better jobs, bigger apartments, and luxuries like new cars and televisions, they began whingeing immediately at the longer hours and increased productivity expected by West German employers. They were also miffed at the loss of holidays, extended paid leave, medical benefits, and other unrealistic collectivist perks that West Germans did not receive.
However, most Germans were of the same race and ancestry, so the East Germans could not cry, “discrimination.” As a result, they got on with the changes. However, the change in mindset was slow and, to this day, some older East Germans still grumble that they had hoped to gain free-market advantages whilst hanging on to collectivist perks.
But, again, this is an anomaly. Generally, for an entire culture to rid itself of the addiction to collectivism, collectivism itself must play out. As Maggie Thatcher said, “the trouble with socialism is that, eventually, you run out of other people’s money.” Collectivism can hang on for decades, bleeding what remains of the free market in a given country, but eventually, it’s left with a bloodless corpse. At that point, the government can no longer deliver on its “entitlements,” because collectivism is not a productive system—it is a parasitic system.
In most cases, in collectivism, like alcoholism, the country must bottom out before the realization sinks in that the addiction simply doesn’t work. A textbook case can be seen in Cuba, where the system was slowly bled dry by collectivism, and the Cuban people remained at the bottom of the prosperity curve for many years before they took action. Although the government remained staunchly collectivist, the people slowly created a black market, providing goods and services to tourists. Over time, thousands of people operated small restaurants and offered their houses for rent illegally to tourists.
It’s important to note that the government did not change its view of what sort of system they wanted. On the contrary, they determinedly stuck to oppression until the black market was so rampant that it could no longer be controlled. The government then did what all governments do to what they cannot control: tax it.
New laws were passed to provide the cuentapropistas the right to operate restaurants, guest houses, and taxis, but they now had to pay a fee to the government to do so. Over time, the number of cuentapropista private businesses swelled, and so did the government coffers. At this point in time in Cuba, the government is engaged in a wrestling match with itself. It’s resisting the passage of greater freedoms in order to maintain maximum control whilst at the same time legislating greater freedom to create a free market that will provide the government with greater revenue. (After all, the Castro concept is still officially the policy, but each bureaucrat wants to get rid of his rusty old Russian Lada and get a shiny new Hyundai, paid for by the cuentapropista revenue.)
Although the world at large does not realise that this change is taking place, it’s truly a non-violent revolution that’s being generated by a people who had nothing left to lose.
Collectivism had not only failed but bottomed. Most Cubans now understand that prosperity is created by working harder and being more inventive. A free-market Cuba is now in the making and at this point is unstoppable. Within ten years, the new Cuba will have fully blossomed and be highly productive (if it isn’t swallowed up by a larger and more powerful country that’s still working towards greater collectivism).
Of course, the reader may well say to himself that he’s not especially eager to wait two generations or more to regain his freedom. He may seek to regain it soon. The good news is that this is possible, but he’d be naïve to think that he may do so by writing letters to his congressman, refusing to pay his taxes, or holding a placard at a protest demonstration. If he’s a citizen of the EU, US, UK, Canada, or other country that’s rolling ponderously toward collectivism, he’d be very foolish to believe that, if he were to stand in front of the government bulldozer, it might magically stop and reverse itself. It’s far more likely that his act would result in his own demise (either economic or physical).
Ending Collectivism Individually
But it’s entirely possible to end collectivism individually. The downside is that it cannot be done by remaining in a country where the central government (regardless of which party currently holds office) is charging headlong into collectivism. The solution is to step away from the bulldozer—to seek out jurisdictions where the government isn’t on the path to collectivism.
Of course, as stated above, this doesn’t come without pain. Most people don’t especially wish to give up their houses, their neighbourhood, their job, and their friends and begin a life anew. It’s particularly difficult to move away from family members—grandparents, grown children, etc.
Of course, it’s also true that the grandparents can be brought along to the new country if they wish to go. And, even if the grown children are shortsighted enough to believe that their home country will not further deteriorate, they might be very grateful in a few years if their parents had exited, thus paving the way for them when they belatedly realise that the writing is on the wall.
Another one of the most common reasons for not effecting an escape from growing collectivism is that “it can be a fair bit worse before I’ll be really desperate. I’ll just wait until then.” Unfortunately, whilst it’s often relatively easy to escape a jurisdiction that isn’t fully collectivist, those who wait until the door has been shut find that they’ve waited too long.
And if we observe the litany of new laws in the above-mentioned jurisdictions, there can be no doubt that ownership of bank deposits has ended, assurance that continued possession of nonfinancial assets has been lost, and freedoms of speech and international travel are presently under fire.
At present, third-world immigrants are noisily coming into the above jurisdictions in large numbers. Meanwhile, smaller numbers of those who are educated, skilled, and productive are very quietly leaving those same jurisdictions.
To be sure, this is a challenge. It takes forethought, planning, and commitment. But the reward is the greater likelihood of a rebirth into a new home where opportunity and freedom still thrive. There are quite a few such destinations out there, but the first step must be to decide to make the move.
This article was originally published at International Man.
By Justin Raimondo
The launching of yet another ballistic missile test by North Korea dramatizes the conundrum we face in dealing with Kim Jong-un. The trajectory of the missile – it traveled around 430 miles and landed some 60 miles from Russia, in the Sea of Japan – limns the trajectory of North Korea’s course in its confrontation with what Pyongyang views multiple threats to its sovereignty.
Previous missile tests landed off the Japanese coast: this one splashed down close to Russia. It’s no coincidence that Vladimir Putin was at that moment in China, speaking at the “One Belt, One Road” conference, the Chinese version of the Davos conclave. The test also underscores a major misconception – held by many in the US, including the Trump administration – that China is North Korea’s ally, and can effectively rein in Kim Jong-un. This launch is a rebuke to both Moscow and Beijing, one that can be easily understood given some grounding in the history of Pyongyang’s relations with those two powers.
While it is true that the Chinese supported Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, during the Korean war, subsequent relations with the fiercely independent North Koreans were contentious, to say the least. Starting in 1952, Kim Il-Sung inaugurated a series of purges aimed at the pro-Chinese faction of the ruling Korean Workers Party: this culminated in 1956, when leaders of both the pro-Chinese and pro-Russians factions were expelled. The purges left a trail of executions, while several of the expellees fled to China.
During the cold war era, Kim IL-sung deftly maneuvered between Beijing and Moscow, playing off the growing competition between the two communist powers, and significantly siding with the Russians when the Sino-Soviet split went public. They heartily disliked Gorbachev, and when he visited South Korea, snubbing the North, and threatened an embargo if they didn’t submit to inspection of their nuclear facilities, relations were practically severed. Moscow cut off military aid to Pyongyang in 1989. Post-Soviet Russia has supported Western efforts to sanction North Korea for its nuclear brinkmanship, albeit stopping short of endorsing military action.
Chinese support for Pyongyang during the Korean war was not unconditional: Mao himself was said to have disdained Kim Il-sung as a “foolish ruler” who should be deposed. Kim Il-sung, for his part, was openly hostile to China’s “Cultural Revolution,” denouncing it as “unbelievable idiocy,” while the radicals around Madame Mao’s Red Guards and the Gang of Four mocked the North Korean despot as a “fat revisionist.” Relations improved after Mao’s death and the ouster of the Gang, but the idea that Beijing, acting as a “big brother,” can effectively rein in Pyongyang betrays ignorance of the history between the two nations.
Today, Pyongyang is as hostile to the Chinese and the Russians as it is to the United States. All are seen as conspirators in the plot to subvert North Korean sovereignty, with Moscow and Beijing portrayed as collaborators with what the North Koreans see as the main danger to their security: the United States.
The road to peace on the Korean peninsula won’t be paved by China, or any other interlocutor. What is required are direct negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. Critics of this view point to the failure of past efforts – the six-party talks involving China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and the US – as evidence that this path is futile. Yet none other than President Donald Trump has suggested a new way of approaching the problem: a meeting with Kim Jong-un, which he says he would be “honored” to hold:
“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it, If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that. Most political people would never say that, but I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him. We have breaking news.”
While House press secretary Sean Spicer downplayed Trump’s proposal, and numerous “experts” said such a meeting is unlikely, not to mention unwise, Trump the deal-maker has stumbled on what could be the solution to a longstanding problem. For what the North Koreans yearn for, aside from simple security, is recognition, and what better way to recognize both North Korea’s sovereignty and status than by meeting with Kim Jong-un?
Read the rest at Antiwar.com
By Chris Calton
Anybody who has ever dealt with internet lag should realize that bandwidth is a finite resource. Like any other economically scarce commodity, the price and profit mechanisms of the market serve to direct the allocation of this resource as efficiently as possible. This is why people pay more for faster speeds or larger data caps.
The economic reality of bandwidth scarcity is the source of hostility between companies and consumers. When cell phone companies started limiting the amount of data their customers could consume each month, many people were outraged. But data caps were the natural result of internet use shifting away from computers and onto mobile devices. The change in prices reflected a change in demand. By limiting data, bandwidth provided through these companies was rationed so that customers could enjoy higher speeds.
Do you keep your phone connected to wifi when you’re at home to conserve data? That’s the beauty of the price system as a rationing mechanism. It’s similar to taking a detour in your car to save the cost of tolls on a more direct route. This prevents congestion and enhances user experience (even as the customer is outraged at no longer having unlimited data . . . or toll free roadways).
Economists love to divide goods into different categories according to the characteristics of “rivalry” and “excludability.” Most goods are considered “private goods,” meaning that they are both rivalrous (consumption by one person affects to ability to be consumed by another person) and excludable (we can prevent people from consuming the good). Economists typically consider the internet to be of a different category: a “club good.” This is a good that is excludable, but non-rivalrous — meaning that consumption by one person does not affect the ability for another person to consume the good.
But this classification reveals the internet ignorance on the part of economists. Internet bandwidth is absolutely a rivalrous good. With cable internet, I share access to the same cable line as all of my neighbors. If we are on the internet simultaneously, we are vying for bandwidth. This is precisely why the internet tends to be slower during the hours of high-usage; if bandwidth were truly non-rivalrous, there would be no variation in speeds according to consumption. All internet service providers deal with this scarcity.
Because of this consumer rivalry, internet providers have started discussing the possibility of throttling certain services or charging companies extra for priority treatment. Netflix, for instance, is responsible for nearly 37% of all internet traffic. The other 63% of internet traffic now has to compete with a single website for bandwidth. With the popularity of Netflix, it is no wonder that the idea of charging the company a premium for its access to bandwidth is upsetting to people, but this is little more than an innovation in the way these resources are allocated.
The traditional model of allocating bandwidth is to charge the customer for certain tiers of speed. But with certain websites like Netflix accounting for such a dominant portion of this consumption, the internet consumer who does not have a Netflix subscription is effectively subsidizing the consumption habits of the Netflix user. The idea of charging companies like Netflix a premium is a way to levy the cost of such high traffic websites on the people who actually use them, rather then spreading them across all users whether they consumer these services are not.
Last week, John Oliver made a plea to his viewers to encourage the FCC to impose Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality professes to regulate internet prices in a “neutral” way, as the name implies. This means preventing companies from throttling internet speeds for certain users or charging extra fees for priority service.
But the reality of the scarcity of internet bandwidth cannot be legislated away. If Net Neutrality were to become policy, internet service providers will have to find alternative solutions for allocating bandwidth in an industry now contending with a disrupted price mechanism. Most likely, this would mean charging consumers higher prices for faster speeds than would otherwise be necessary, or placing data caps on home internet, as some service providers have already started to do.
Murray Rothbard once said it is no crime to be ignorant of economics. Likewise, it is no crime to be ignorant of the workings of the internet. But (if I may take some liberty with his quote) it is entirely irresponsible to voice an opinion on Net Neutrality, while remaining in this state of ignorance.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
On Friday, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a directive to US Federal Prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible for drug infractions, even if it triggers large mandatory minimum sentences. Like the drug war itself, this new/old approach will prove a dismal failure. We'll tell you why...
By Ron Paul
By the end of this month, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor HR McMaster will deliver to President Trump their plans for military escalations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. President Trump would be wise to rip the plans up and send his national security team back to the drawing board – or replace them. There is no way another “surge” in Afghanistan and Iraq (plus a new one in Syria) puts America first. There is no way doing the same thing over again will succeed any better than it did the last time.
Near the tenth anniversary of the US war on Afghanistan – seven years ago – I went to the Floor of Congress to point out that the war makes no sense. The original authorization had little to do with eliminating the Taliban. It was a resolution to retaliate against those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. From what we know now, the government of Saudi Arabia had far more to do with the financing and planning of 9/11 than did the Taliban. But we’re still pumping money into that lost cause. We are still killing Afghanis and in so doing creating the next generation of terrorists.
The war against ISIS will not end with its defeat in Mosul and Raqqa. We will not pack up and go home. Instead, the Pentagon and State Department have both said that US troops would remain in Iraq after ISIS is defeated. The continued presence of US troops in Iraq will provide all the recruiting needed for more ISIS or ISIS-like resistance groups to arise, which will in turn lead to a permanent US occupation of Iraq. The US “experts” have completely misdiagnosed the problem so it no surprise that their solutions will not work. They have claimed that al-Qaeda and ISIS arose in Iraq because we left, when actually they arose because we invaded in the first place.
General David Petraeus is said to have a lot of influence over HR McMaster, and in Syria he is pushing for the kind of US troop “surge” that he still believes was successful in Iraq. The two are said to favor thousands of US troops to fight ISIS in eastern Syria instead of relying on the US-sponsored and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to do the job. This “surge” into Syria would also lead to a lengthy US occupation of a large part of that country, as it is unlikely that the US would return the territory to the Syrian government. Would it remain an outpost of armed rebels that could be unleashed on Assad at the US President’s will? It’s hard to know from week to week whether “regime change” in Syria is a US priority or not. But we do know that a long-term US occupation of half of Syria would be illegal, dangerous, and enormously expensive.
President Trump’s Generals all seem to be pushing for a major US military escalation in the Middle East and south Asia. The President goes back and forth, one minute saying “we’re not going into Syria,” while the next seeming to favor another surge. He has given the military much decision-making latitude and may be persuaded by his Generals that the only solution is to go in big. If he follows such advice, it is likely his presidency itself will be buried in that graveyard of empires.
By Chris Rossini
The free market, which unfortunately we only get small glimpses of, is man's natural government. It always exists. It is not the creation of man.
Man merely discovers it, like electricity, and either allows it to flourish, or does not. When it flourishes, unprecedented wealth springs forth without any centralized direction or dictates. When the free market is suppressed, wealth is destroyed, driving the multitudes into ever lower depths of living hell.
Sadly, the history of man is one of trying to permanently suppress this natural government.
The free market is the absence of force. Man-made government is force. The free market plays no favorites. Man-made government is all about granting special privileges.
The free market is incapable of bailing anyone out. Man-made government keeps failed business ventures breathing, long after they should have been buried.
The free market is the harshest regulator on the planet. It shows no mercy to businesses that fail to provide consumers what they desire. Man-made government pretends to regulate, while lining the pockets of itself and its closest friends.
The free market doesn't care if consumers like Coca-Cola or Dom Perignon. It doesn't care if people like The Rock or Pavoratti. Whatever consumers want with great intensity, the free market will provide.
Below you will see the mentality of a modern day entrepreneur, who lives and breathes satisfying the most urgent wants of consumers. His name is Gary Vaynerchuk:
Champions of the natural government, like Gary Vaynerchuk don't have statues on every corner. Members of man-made government like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao do.
While Vaynerchuk's struggle to decipher what consumers want and are willing to pay for, man-made government doesn't bother. It seeks to dictate what it believes consumers should want.
The free market is about individual expression and choice. Man-made government is about conformity and compliance.
In the free market, the consumer is king. He is free to buy, or not to buy. If the consumer dislikes anything about a merchant, he is free to ignore that merchant for the rest of his life. The merchant is powerless and can use no force to make the consumer return.
In man-made government, it is the government that is king. It creates chains like the "individual mandate," so that you buy from the merchants of the government's choice. Under man-made government, it is the consumer who becomes powerless, and who is punished if he chooses not to obey.
The free market, man's natural government, is always waiting in the wings. Unimaginable wealth for even the poorest individuals is only an idea away.
Man-made government fights to make sure that this idea is never entertained. Freedom is the enemy that should never see the light of day. It is to be feared.
Every once in awhile, freedom breaks through. When it does, it revolutionizes the world.
Man must to continue to re-discover this truth that (fortunately) never leaves us.
By Daniel McAdams
As the tenth anniversary of the US war in Afghanistan approached, Rep. Ron Paul took to the Floor of Congress to demand an end to that unwinnable war. "It was said that it's hard to quit a war, and we shouldn't be quitting. But the real problem is that it's too easy to start a war," he said. In his speech, given some seven years ago, he pointed out the central problem of US intervention in Afghanistan and elsewhere: "The enemy is said to be the Taliban. Well the Taliban certainly don't like us and we don't like them. And the more we kill, the more Taliban we get." But, as he points out, the original military authorization was to retaliate against those who attacked us and the Taliban did not attack us. So here we are, seven years after this speech, and we are talking about yet another major "surge" into Afghanistan. Even though those who did attack us are long gone. When will it all end -- and where might we be if they had listened to what Ron Paul said in this speech:
By Jacob G. Hornberger
The Edward Snowden case provides a good example of how the conversion of the federal government from a limited-government republic to a national-security state has warped and perverted the morals, values, principles, and consciences of the American people.
Snowden is the former NSA official who revealed the national-security establishment’s top-secret surveillance scheme to the American people and the rest of the world. Knowing that the national-security establishment would come after him with overwhelming force, possibly even to assassinate him, for disclosing its secrets, Snowden fled the country and ended up exiled in Russia after U.S. officials canceled his U.S. passport while he was en route to Latin America.
Since then, U.S. officials have attempted, without success, to secure Snowden’s extradition from Russia in hopes of putting him on trial and sending him to jail for life or even executing him under an anti-espionage law that, believe it or not, dates back to World War I. Some officials have accused Snowden of spying for the Russians, notwithstanding the fact that it was the U.S. government’s decision to cancel his passport while he was on his way to Latin America that caused Snowden to be marooned in Russia.
Notice something important about Snowden’s revelations. Despite all the hoopla that he had disclosed secrets relating to “national security,” the federal government is still standing. So is America. The U.S. government hasn’t been taken over by terrorists, Muslims, drug dealers, illegal aliens, or communists. Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam haven’t invaded and conquered the country. And America didn’t fall into the ocean.
The main thing that happened was the disclosure of illegal and nefarious dark-side activity on the part of the U.S. national-security establishment.
It was no different when WikiLeaks disclosed its mountain of national-security secrets several years ago. America continued to exist as a nation. So did the federal government.
Here’s the point: If the NSA were to be abolished today and if Congress were to order all of its documents and records to be released immediately to the public, nothing would happen to the United States. Nothing!
The same holds true for the CIA and the military-industrial complex. If all their files and records were to be suddenly disclosed to the people of the world, America would continue to exist as a country. It would not fall into the ocean, and the federal government would continue to operate.
In fact, full disclosure of all of the illegal and immoral actions that the U.S. national-security establishment has engaged in during the past 70 years of its existence would be the greatest and healthiest thing that could ever happen to the United States. Full disclosure of such secrets would be an antiseptic that would help cleanse the federal government and the country of many of the long-lasting stains that the national-security establishment has inflicted on it — an antiseptic that might finally begin to restore trust and confidence in the federal government among the American people.
To be sure, the secrecy is always alleged to be justified by “national security,” the two most important words in any nation whose government is a national-security state. But what does that term mean? It has no objective meaning at all. It’s just a bogus term designed to keep nefarious and illegal actions secret.
But heaven help those who reveal those secrets to others. They will be persecuted, prosecuted, vilified, condemned, exiled, or murdered. Nothing matters more to a national-security state than the protection of its secrets. Those who reveal them must be made examples to anyone else who contemplates doing the same thing.
In the process, conscience is suspended and stultified. It has no role in a national-security state. Individual citizens are expected to place their deep and abiding trust in the national-security establishment and to unconditionally defer to its judgment and expertise. Its job is to protect “national security” and that’s all that people need to know. Sometimes that entails illegal activity, such as murder, torture, and kidnapping, but that’s just the way it is. What’s important, they say, is that the national-security establishment is on the job, a perpetual sentinel for freedom, protecting “national security.”
Imagine that Edward Snowden voluntarily returned to the United States for trial. Do you think he would be given the opportunity at trial to show why he disclosed the NSA’s illegal and nefarious surveillance schemes? Do you think he would be entitled to argue that he was simply following the dictates of his conscience when he chose to reveal that information to the American people and the world?
Not on your life. The federal judge presiding in the case would rule that the exercise of conscience is not an affirmative defense in criminal prosecutions, including those relating to “national security.” He would rule that Snowden’s motive in disclosing the information was irrelevant and would instruct the jury to convict if they concluded that Snowden had in fact released national-security secrets.
If Snowden voluntarily returned to the United States, there is no doubt that he would spend much of the rest of his life in prison because the federal judiciary is not about to buck the national-security branch of the federal government. The latter is simply much too powerful.
And that’s if he’s lucky. If the national-security establishment decided to assassinate him as a terrorist, there is absolutely nothing anyone could do about it. That’s because the national-security branch, operating in conjunction with the executive branch, wields the omnipotent, nonreviewable power to assassinate anyone they want. The federal judiciary has made it perfectly clear that it will not interfere with or second-guess the president, CIA, or Pentagon when it comes to assassinations relating to national security.
Read the rest at The Future of Freedom Foundation
By Ryan McMaken
With James Comey's firing, we're told the FBI is in turmoil, and Washington DC cocktail parties are all atwitter over the excitement of the scandal. But don't worry about the FBI. If history has proved anything, the Bureau, no matter how much chaos it may endure, can always rely on a fat check from Congress — funded by the American taxpayers.
But why does the US need a huge national police force at all? Can't state police forces do just as well? The FBI continues to assert never-proven claims that bigger governments are better at law enforcement than smaller ones. This myth is not only untrue, but very expensive for taxpayers.
The FBI's Gravy Train
The FBI is very well paid. The 2017 budget request for the FBI, for instance, is for $8.7 billion. That's up from 2014's budget of $8.4 billion. That may not seem like a lot compared to say, the Defense Department's typical haul of $500 to $600 billion. But as far as law enforcement agencies in the United States go, the FBI is awash in money.
It's so much money, in fact, that if the FBI were abolished, and the sum were divided up into 50 even portions for the states, each state would receive $174 million dollars.
That's not chump change. The entire public safety budget for the Illinois State Police in 2016, for example, was $242 million. Even if every state got an equal share of the FBI's budget back, the Illinois state Police could increase their public safety budget by 71 percent.
Illinois, though, is the sixth largest state (by population) in the Union. Just imagine what smaller states could do with a similar amount were those monies not used to pay for the FBI's latest efforts to raid peaceful political gatherings in Texas, or provide private luxury jets for politicians. The total budget of the Colorado State Patrol, for instance — including everything from salaries to public relations — is $144 million.
But what a great racket the FBI has going. As an arm of a federal government that prints its own money, the FBI need never worry about any meaningful budget cut. Moreover, it keeps getting bigger budgets regardless of its ineptitude. And ineptitude is easy to find. As James Bovard reported this week in USAToday:
Before the 9/11 attacks, the FBI dismally failed to connect the dots on suspicious foreigners engaged in domestic aviation training. Though Congress had deluged the FBI with $1.7 billion to upgrade its computers, many FBI agents had old machines incapable of searching the Web or emailing photos. One FBI agent observed that the bureau ethos is that "real men don’t type. ... The computer revolution just passed us by."
But don't worry, the FBI still has plenty of time to spy on ordinary peaceful Americans and antagonize them. Bovard continues:
From 1956 through 1971, the FBI’s COINTELPRO (counterintelligence programs) conducted thousands of covert operations to incite street warfare between violent groups, to get people fired, to smear innocent people by portraying them as government informants, and to cripple or destroy left-wing, black, communist, white racist and anti-war organizations. FBI agents also busied themselves forging "poison pen" letters to wreck activists’ marriages. COINTELPRO was exposed only after a handful of activists burglarized an FBI office in a Philadelphia suburb, seized FBI files, and leaked the damning documents to journalists.
But, the FBI's defenders will surely tell you that every penny of that 8.7 billion is there to keep you "safe." This naive position relies on the decades-old mythology behind a government agency that has long been, as Bovard has called it, a "stasi for America." Last year, I noted:
Of all federal police forces, the FBI is the most romanticized, and every FBI agent is assumed to be the modern embodiment of a fictionalized version of Eliot Ness: incorruptible, professional, and efficient. Decades of pop culture has driven this home with TV series and movies such as The Untouchables, The FBI Story, and This Is Your FBI have long perpetuated the idea that when local police fail, the FBI will step in to be more effective and simply better than every other law enforcement agency. Corruption cannot touch the FBI, we are told, and they apply the law equally to everyone.
This mythology was necessary to overcome decades-long opposition to a federal police force which was long properly viewed an an unconstitutional usurpation of state and local prerogatives.
We Don't Need Vast Government Agencies for Quality Policing
The advocates for national police also often claim that without a national police force, the individual states of the US would be overrun by criminals. The US states are too small and weak, we are told, to mount any effective opposition to sophisticated crime operations.
So, by this reasoning, small countries should have more criminal activity than larger, more powerful countries.
But where's the evidence for this? Is Switzerland crime infested while much-larger Mexico is crime free? Does Poland have sky-high homicide rates while much-more-powerful Russia is serenely peaceful? Wrong again. Indeed, no relationship whatsoever has been demonstrated be tween the size and scope of a country's regime, and the amount of crime it has. Brazil, after all, is an immense state both in geography and in regulatory vigor. Yet crime there is a major problem.
Moreover, even if there were some optimum minimum size for countries (which there is not) many US states have more than enough wealth, population, and power to fund immense police operations.
Texas, for instance, has approximately the same GDP and population size as Australia. If Australia is not ruled by drug runners and terrorists — as we're supposed to believe would happen to Texas without the FBI — why is Texas too small to obtain the same level and quality of law enforcement? With more than 20 million inhabitants, Florida and New York have GDPs similar to those of a mid-sized European country. Pennsylvania has a GDP equal to that of Switzerland. California has both a population and a GDP larger than that of Canada.
Moreover, without the FBI not even very small US states would be on their own since no FBI is necessary to coordinate information-sharing between states. INTERPOL, of course, has been around for decades as a body that helps police organizations share information and apprehend suspects. INTERPOL itself, however, has no agents who make arrests, and INTERPOL's budget is much, much smaller than that of the FBI.
Not even the European Union has gone so far as to create a police force that resembles the FBI in its vast power. Europol, like INTERPOL, assists in coordination among police agencies, but Europol officers do not conduct independent investigations in member countries as the FBI does in American states. Europol's budget is only a small fraction of the FBI's.
So why is the FBI necessary? If you're a DC politician, the FBI may be quite useful in terms of settling scores, finding cushy jobs for your friends, and for living out one's control-freak fantasies as appears to be the case with Jeff Sessions' revived drug war.
For ordinary Americans, though, the FBI doesn't do anything that smaller and more responsive governments can't do on their own.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Liberty Report Staff
With the spectacular and deadly failure of Economic Marxism, a re-branding was necessary for the devout.
Marxism's second act would be the task of ripping apart Western civilization piece-by-piece by using the age-old strategy of divide-and-conquer.
Cultural Marxism would be the new angle of attack.
The crack-up that we're witnessing in American universities, and in portions of our culture is not an accident.
Welcome to Modern Educayshun:
(h/t - LewRockwell.com)