By Chris Rossini
Obama is now putting American boots on the ground in Syria.
Much like the montage of lies that preceded Obamacare ("If you like your plan you can keep it") we now have a montage for another set of lies...No boots on the ground in Syria:
By Joseph T. Salerno
The Swedish government abetted by its fractional-reserve banking system is moving relentlessly toward a completely cashless economy. Swedish banks have begun removing ATMs even in remote rural areas, and according to Credit Suisse the rule of thumb in Scandinavia is “If you have to pay in cash, something is wrong.”
Since 2009 the average annual value of notes and coins in circulation in Sweden has fallen more than 20 percent from over 100 billion to 80 billion kronor. What is driving this movement to destroy cash is the desire to unleash the Swedish central bank to drive the interest rate down even further into negative territory.
Currently, it stands at -0.35 percent, but the banks have not passed this along to their depositors, because depositors would simply withdraw their cash rather than leave it in banks and watch its amount shrink inexorably toward zero. However, if cash were abolished and bank deposits were the only form of money, well then there would be no limit on negative interest rate policy as banks would be able to pass these negative interest rates onto their depositors without adverse consequences.
With everyone's wages, salaries, dividends etc, paid by direct deposit into his bank account, the only way to escape negative interest rates would be to spend, spend, spend. This, of course, is precisely what the Keynesian economists advising governments and running central banks are aiming at.
As the global economy continues to slide further into recession and with quantitative easing and zero interest-rate policies clearly ineffective, policymakers are desperate to invent another "unorthodox," i.e., radically inflationary, monetary policy. Their vain hope is that a negative interest-rate policy will provide a magical lever to pull anytime they see a need for increased consumer spending. As an added bonus, the abolition of cash eliminates the possibility of bank runs and thus props up the still fragile financial system.
Meanwhile back in Sweden a pro-cash resistance movement is beginning to coalesce and the head of a security industry lobbying group relates, "I’ve heard of people keeping cash in their microwaves because banks won’t accept it."
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Ryan McMaken
The Pew Research Center reported last week that the murder rate was cut nearly in half from 7 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2013. Over the same period, overall gun deaths (including accidents and suicides) have fallen by one-third from 15.2 to 10.6 per 100,000.
In spite of this, Pew reports, the American public believes that homicides and gun deaths are increasing in the United States. Those who think violence is getting worse should probably watch less television and look around them instead. The murder rate in the US is currently similar to 1950s levels.
Meanwhile, the number of privately owned guns (and gun commerce in general) in the United States has increased substantially in recent decades.
Source: Firearms Commerce in the US, Annual Statistical Update. (From BATF)
According to the World Bank, here are the homicide rates in the US since 1995:
Here's the homicide rate graphed against total new firearms (manufactured plus imported) in US (indexed with 1995 =100):
Meanwhile, in Mexico, where the US Consulate counsels Americans to not even carry pocket knives in the face of "Mexico’s strict weapons laws." There is exactly one gun store in Mexico. In short, the Mexican experience is a perfect example of the effect of prohibition. A lack of legal access to guns leads to a need for illegal access.
The murder rates in Mexico:
Mexican politicians complain that weapons are easily smuggled from the United States, and that is the source of their problem. But if access to guns is the problem, shouldn't murder rates be much higher in the United States? Moreover, if gun smuggling is such a problem in Mexico, this is just another piece of evidence showing the weakness of prohibition laws in preventing access to the intended target of prohibition.
Naturally, we can't blame everything on gun prohibition in Mexico, nor can we attribute the murder rate decline solely to more guns in the US. But we can say two things for sure: (1) Gun restriction in Mexico has not prevented enormous increases in the murder rate, and (2) increases in gun totals in the US have not led to a surge in the murder rate.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Chris Rossini
Human life moves in the direction of the most dominant ideas. All external human events are preceded by thoughts and adopted beliefs. Ideas lead and actions follow.
The ideas that lead may be creative and constructive, producing a flourishing society. Or they may be destructive, producing poverty, degradation and pain.
Since we are all free thinking individuals, we can come up with an infinite number of different ideas. Variations will always exist, just as there are still individuals who believe that the Earth is flat. However, those ideas that dominate will inevitably rule the day. The masses of individuals will either rise or fall based on whether or not the ideas that they hold are true or false.
Since we live in an age where man-made institutions known as "governments" exist all over the world, it would be wise to put some thought into the ideas that power them. Since governments affect so many individuals, when false beliefs are adopted, they lead to disaster on a massive scale.
The following saying is attributed to George Washington: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force." Since the idea still dominates that a group of men should be granted such a power, let's look at how it can be used to create widespread disaster.
The ideas of Socialism
Socialism simply means that The State (i.e., the few men who control it) are the sole property owners in their geographic region. The State decides what is to be produced, how it is to be produced, and how individuals will labor and be "employed". These few men fancy themselves to be the blueprint holders for all of society. The role of every other individual is to obey their commands.
Leon Trotsky summed it up perfectly: “In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”
In order to pull off such an idea, the individuals who agree to obey have to be convinced that such a setup would produce "harmony," "equality," "abundance," "happiness"...etc...etc...
During the 20th century, these ideas dominated much of the Earth. The results were disaster on a massive scale. Hundreds of millions of people perished at the hands of the rulers that they believed in....Massive death, because of a bad idea.
Why is Socialism such a bad idea? Why is it doomed to failure every time?
Well, when you only have one property owner (The State) it necessarily means that you're lacking a market system. In order to have a marketplace, you must have market prices. In order to have prices, you must have multiple individual property owners. Each property owner then makes exchanges based on their own individual values and desires.
Prices are extremely important signals. They let everyone know of the supply & demand of a particular product or service.
Socialist rulers had none of this! As a result, they were completely perplexed as to what was to be produced. There were no profits & losses. How can anyone know what people desire most without profits? Profits signal to property owners: "Produce more of this. This is what people want!" Likewise, losses are also a signal to property owners: "Scale back, or stop producing this. People do not desire it."
The Socialists were completely in the dark. They were throwing darts into a pitch-black room. The results were catastrophic. Instead of "harmony," there was suspicion of everyone. The only "equality" was equality of impoverishment. Instead of "abundance," there were empty shelves. Only the rulers lived well (of course) until even they figured out that the jig was up.
The idea of The State being the sole owner of all property toppled like dominoes across the Earth. Do Socialist ideas still exist as gospel with some individuals? Of course they do. If these individuals find enough gullible believers, they can wreak havoc once again.
Do Socialist ideas dominate? At the present moment they do not, and it should forever stay that way.
The ideas of Fascism
Those who occupy the seats of government around the world moved on from Socialism to another idea that is destined to failure: Fascism.
The notorious fascist Benito Mussolini described the idea as such: "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." This is the idea that dominates today over much of the Earth.
Unlike under Socialism, The State would not be the sole owner of all property. That only spells quick disaster. After all, the Soviet Union barely lasted 72 years. So instead, private property would exist. Prices would exist, as would profits and losses.
However, The State would not let individuals freely and voluntarily interact with one another. The rulers would still seek to control as much of society as it possibly could. Rulers today still fancy themselves as holders of the blueprint of society. They've just "merged" themselves (as Mussolini described it) with corporate power. And so we have the idea of fascist cronyism running wild across the Earth.
Unlike Socialism, which ends in a quick disaster, Fascism is a process of slowly bleeding to death. The Fascist economy is correctly known as a "vampire" economy. Gradually, individuals who live under it degrade into ruin.
Why is Fascism doomed?
Well, when you have a merger of State and Corporate power, you have a marketplace guided by force instead of voluntary interactions. Much like when the Churches were merged with The State, you now have Corporations who use government force to achieve their ends.
Instead of Church & State, we have Banks & State, Pharma & State, "Defense" & State, and on and on. Corporations that should go out of business are instead bailed out and subsidized because of their relationship with politicians.
Government also "regulates" these relationships by creating licensing laws and high barriers of entry for non-crony businesses. Government's "regulations" keep politically favored businesses secure and protected from upstart competition. The ultimate and toughest regulator in the world is a free market, which does not exist. Both the government and its connected corporations fear a free market like the plague. It relinquishes their power and ability to manipulate society to their own advantage.
Government also favors its corporate friends with never-ending contracts. For example, weapons manufacturers in America are not afraid of unemployment. Government also grants its friends monopoly privileges. It actually starts to force citizens into buying a politically connected company's products or services.
Ultimately, the economic imbalances and back-scratching of a Fascist society becomes unbearable. Disaster on a massive scale becomes virtually unavoidable. The marriage of The State and its favored corporations is unsustainable.
It should be pointed out that there is no problem with corporations per se. They serve an extremely valuable function of satisfying our most urgent desires. Likewise, there is no problem with churches per se. The problem arises only when these groups enmesh themselves with government power. For it is then that their interactions with everyone move from being voluntary to coercive.
There is a great danger with the idea of Fascism. Many people will tend to think that "free markets" are the problem. Under Socialism, this was not an issue. There were no free markets and everyone knew it. But because private property and prices exist under Fascism, it's very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that "freedom" or "free markets" are the source of economic pain.
Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Free markets (sadly) barely exist at all. Government-managed markets rule the day at the present moment. Take note that politicians will always and forever blame "free markets" even though they barely exist. They never want to relinquish their control. Remember, they believe themselves to be the blueprint holders.
The ideas of Liberty
When the ideas of Fascism finally reach hospice care, some other ideas will have to replace them. It is here that the ideas of Liberty must come to dominate.
If people insist on clinging to the idea that some men should be granted a monopoly of force called "government," then such an institution should be extremely limited. America's founders tried to create some written rules for their government in order to chain it down, but it didn't pan out. They left far too many openings for government to expand. Today, the institution that they created has become the largest government on Earth. Give men in power an inch, and they will take the entire planet.
The ideas of Liberty simply consist of some very basic principles. Each individual owns him & herself. They also own the fruits of their labor. No one has the right to forcefully take anyone else's property from them for any reason.
This also means that no one has the right to use government to steal their neighbor's property either. No one is forced to send their neighbor to college, to pay for their doctor visit, or anything else that their neighbor may desire.
No stealing, even by majority vote!
No one is allowed to use aggressive force against another individual. Only the use of force in self-defense is permitted.
Government's job should be to make sure that these principles are upheld. That's it. Individuals may voluntarily and freely live their lives as they please otherwise.
Government should not be tasked with solving problems that it cannot possibly solve. It cannot "run the economy" so it should never be permitted to try. It cannot "re-make other countries" so it should never veer from defending the homeland.
Government blueprints for society are nothing but lies and delusions. Belief in those lies have led to a constant stream of suffering for the believers.
The ideas of Liberty are new to mankind. People are naturally afraid of new things, of change, and of ideas that they don't necessarily understand. But some ideas must dominate. That's just the way that it works. Belief in politicians has truly had its day in the sun.
Hopefully the time for the ideas of Liberty are not too far away.
By Ron Paul
Today Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to outline a new US military strategy for the Middle East. The Secretary admitted the failure of the US “train and equip” program for rebels in Syria, but instead of taking the appropriate lessons from that failure and get out of the “regime change” business, he announced the opposite. The US would not only escalate its “train and equip” program by removing the requirement that fighters be vetted for extremist ideology, but according to the Secretary the US military would for the first time become directly and overtly involved in combat in Syria and Iraq.
As Secretary Carter put it, the US would begin “supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL (ISIS), or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground.”
“Direct action on the ground” means US boots on the ground, even though President Obama supposedly ruled out that possibility when he launched air strikes against Iraq and Syria last year. Did anyone think he would keep his word?
President Obama claims his current authority to conduct war in Iraq and Syria comes from the 2001 authorization for the use of force against those who attacked the US on 9/11, or from the 2002 authorization for the use of force against Saddam Hussein. Neither of these claims makes any sense. The 2002 authorization said nothing about ISIS because at the time there was no ISIS, and likewise the 2001 authorization pertained to an al-Qaeda that did not exist in Iraq or Syria at the time.
Additionally, the president’s year-long bombing campaign against Syrian territory is a violation of that country’s sovereignty and is illegal according to international law.
Congress is not even consulted these days when the president decides to start another war or to send US ground troops into an air war that is not going as planned. There might be notice given after the fact, as in Secretary Carter’s testimony today, but the president has (correctly) concluded that Congress has allowed itself to become completely irrelevant when it comes to such grave matters as war and peace.
I cannot condemn in strong enough terms this ill-advised US military escalation in the Middle East. Whoever concluded that it is a good idea to send US troops into an area already being bombed by Russian military forces should really be relieved of duty.
The fact is, the neocons who run US foreign policy are so determined to pull off their regime change in Syria that they will risk the lives of untold US soldiers and even risk a major war in the region — or even beyond – to escalate a failed policy. Russian strikes against ISIS and al-Qaeda must be resisted, they claim, because they are seen as helping the Assad government remain in power, and the US administration is determined that “Assad must go.”
This is not our war. US interventionism has already done enough damage in Iraq and Syria, not to mention Libya. It is time to come home. It is time for the American people to rise up and demand that the Obama Administration bring our military home from this increasingly dangerous no-win confrontation. We must speak out now, before it is too late!
By Ron Paul
Today I'd like to cover the agitation that is occurring in the South China Sea. The Chinese have dredged up and created artificial islands in disputed territory. Well, the U.S. government has sent a warship within the 12-mile limit of the islands, sparking quite an uproar.
It should be considered that the South China Sea is very big. These artificial islands are mere pinpoints when looking at the big picture. Do we really need to go over there with a warship for this? Do we need yet another possible confrontation?
Is it reasonable to think that China is going to close down navigation in the South China Sea? Well, considering that $5 trillion worth of goods pass though the sea, of which $1.2 trillion comes to the U.S., I do not believe that China has any interest in stopping that. Nor does China have a history of cutting off their own trade with the rest of the world.
Furthermore, why is the American government sending a military vessel? If the U.S. is worried about traveling through this area, why not send a commercial ship? Is this overreaction trying to distract the American public from failures in foreign policy in other parts of the world?
The U.S. government has no business in going six thousand miles away from home in order to intrude on the 12 mile radius of the islands. This situation should be resolved locally. This doesn't serve our financial or national security interests.
We should use good common sense, follow the U.S. Constitution, and stay out of the affairs of other nations. We'd be a lot better off.
Thank you, and be sure to tune in to tomorrow's Liberty Report!
By Ron Paul
Last week the US House of Representatives called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to appear before a select committee looking into the attack on a US facility in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. The attack left four Americans dead, including US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
As might be expected, however, the “Benghazi Committee” hearings have proven not much more than a means for each party to grandstand for political points.
In fact, I would call these Congressional hearings “too much, too late.”
Four years after the US-led overthrow of the Libyan government – which left the country a wasteland controlled by competing Islamist gangs and militias – the committee wants to know whether Hillary Clinton had enough guards at the facility in Benghazi on the night of the attack? The most important thing to look into about Libya is Hillary Clinton’s e-mails or management style while Secretary of State?
Why no House Committee hearing before President Obama launched his war on Libya? Why no vote on whether to authorize the use of force? Why no hearing after the President violated the Constitution by sending the military into Libya with UN authorization rather than Congressional authorization? There are Constitutional tools available to Congress when a president takes the country to war without a declaration or authorization. At the time, President Obama claimed he did not need authorization from Congress because the US was not engaged in “hostilities.” It didn’t pass the laugh test, but Congress did next to nothing about it.
When the Obama Administration decided to attack Libya, I joined Rep. Dennis Kucinich and others in attempt to force a vote on the president’s war. I introduced my own legislation warning the administration that, “the President is required to obtain in advance specific statutory authorization for the use of United States Armed Forces in response to civil unrest in Libya.”
We even initiated a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia asking the courts to rule on whether the president broke the law in attacking Libya.
Unfortunately we got nowhere with our efforts. When it looked like we had the votes to pass a resolution introduced by Rep. Kucinich to invoke War Powers Resolution requirements on the president for the use of force in Libya, Speaker Boehner cancelled the vote.
Why were there no hearings at the time to discuss this very important Constitutional matter? Because the leadership of both parties wanted the war. Both parties -- with few exceptions -- agree with the ideology of US interventionism worldwide.
Secretary Clinton defended the State Department’s handling of security at the Benghazi facility by pointing out that there are plenty of diplomatic posts in war zones and that danger in these circumstances is to be expected. However she never mentioned why Benghazi remained a “war zone” a year after the US had “liberated” Libya from Gaddafi.
Why was Libya still a war zone? Because the US intervention left Libya in far worse shape than it was under Gaddafi. We don’t need to endorse Gaddafi to recognize that today’s Libya, controlled by al-Qaeda and ISIS militias, is far worse off – and more of a threat to the US – than it was before the bombs started falling.
The problem is the ideology of interventionism, not the management of a particular intervention. Interventionism has a terrible track record, from 1953 in Iran, to Vietnam, to 2003 in Iraq, to 2011 in Libya and Syria. A real Congressional hearing should focus on the crimes and mistakes of the interventionists!
By Ron Paul
The tragedy of Benghazi can be attributed to stupidity and bad ideology. The much talked about Hillary Clinton testimony does not challenge the ideology of interventionism. The hearing is merely a challenging of the management of interventionism. So both sides agree on intervening in foreign countries, they merely disagree on how it is to be managed.
I believe that the argument must be ideological and the notion of interventionism itself must be challenged. The problem of Benghazi is not one of management. Both sides endorsed and supported the intervention in Libya. Since that time, there has been an expansion into Syria and other parts of the Middle East.
Ideas have consequences. Good ideas cannot be defeated by armies, or bad politicians in Washington. Right now, I'm seeing progress in the peace movement. We are truly moving in the right direction.
I believe that the end is coming for the U.S. government's failed foreign policy. We are living in a new era with a lot of room for the correct ideology to move in. Fortunately, the ideas of peace, free markets and non-interventionism are available to people like they've never been available before.
Our job is to spread these ideas, and convince as many Americans as possible that liberty provides the answers, not authoritarianism.
Thank you and please tune in to tomorrow's Liberty Report!
Watch the clips below: