Capitalizing on the terrorism hysteria, pumped up by politicians and the media, Congress secretly added a new PATRIOT Act to the "must-pass" Omnibus funding bill. No debate. Now it's law.
By Ron Paul
Stocks rose Wednesday following the Federal Reserve’s announcement of the first interest rate increase since 2006. However, stocks fell just two days later. One reason the positive reaction to the Fed’s announcement did not last long is that the Fed seems to lack confidence in the economy and is unsure what policies it should adopt in the future.
At her Wednesday press conference, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen acknowledged continuing “cyclical weakness” in the job market. She also suggested that future rate increases are likely to be as small, or even smaller, then Wednesday’s. However, she also expressed concerns over increasing inflation, which suggests the Fed may be open to bigger rate increases.
Many investors and those who rely on interest from savings for a substantial part of their income cheered the increase. However, others expressed concern that even this small rate increase will weaken the already fragile job market.
These critics echo the claims of many economists and economic historians who blame past economic crises, including the Great Depression, on ill-timed money tightening by the Fed. While the Federal Reserve is responsible for our boom-bust economy, recessions and depressions are not caused by tight monetary policy. Instead, the real cause of economic crisis is the loose money policies that precede the Fed’s tightening.
When the Fed floods the market with artificially created money, it lowers the interest rates, which are the price of money. As the price of money, interest rates send signals to businesses and investors regarding the wisdom of making certain types of investments. When the rates are artificially lowered by the Fed instead of naturally lowered by the market, businesses and investors receive distorted signals. The result is over-investment in certain sectors of the economy, such as housing.
This creates the temporary illusion of prosperity. However, since the boom is rooted in the Fed’s manipulation of the interest rates, eventually the bubble will burst and the economy will slide into recession. While the Federal Reserve may tighten the money supply before an economic downturn, the tightening is simply a futile attempt to control the inflation resulting from the Fed’s earlier increases in the money supply.
After the bubble inevitably bursts, the Federal Reserve will inevitability try to revive the economy via new money creation, which starts the whole boom-bust cycle all over again. The only way to avoid future crashes is for the Fed to stop creating inflation and bubbles.
Some economists and policy makers claim that the way to stop the Federal Reserve from causing economic chaos is not to end the Fed but to force the Fed to adopt a “rules-based” monetary policy. Adopting rules-based monetary policy may seem like an improvement, but, because it still allows a secretive central bank to manipulate the money supply, it will still result in Fed-created booms and busts.
The only way to restore economic stability and avoid a major economic crisis is to end the Fed, or at least allow Americans to use alterative currencies. Fortunately, more Americans than ever are studying Austrian economics and working to change our monetary system.
Thanks to the efforts of this growing anti-Fed movement, Audit the Fed had twice passed the House of Representatives, and the Senate is scheduled to vote on it on January 12. Auditing the Fed, so the American people can finally learn the full truth about the Fed’s operations, is an important first step in restoring a sound monetary policy. Hopefully, the Senate will take that step and pass Audit the Fed in January.
By Ron Paul
Editor's Note: Watch Dr. Paul deliver this speech here.
Donald Trump has captured the attention of the Republican Party and many others. The media are his best allies. The masses are flocking to Trump with the expectation that he can take charge and solve all their problems. His decisiveness is infectious and leads many to believe he will challenge the status quo that the current leaders have delivered to us. No one is satisfied and everyone seems to be enamored with the promise that the currently entrenched establishment will be routed and the guilty will be punished by a Trump presidency.
A significant majority of Americans have become skeptical of the leadership of both Republicans and Democrats. They recognize that our government can’t be trusted or depended upon to solve the problems it helped create. Confidence in our government is at an all-time low. That is the good news.
Unfortunately this consensus has led to some bad choices. Government officials and the money managers declare that we must continue to pursue more of the same policies with the hope of achieving different results. So far there’s no sign that that is working.
The people, even with justified concerns and skepticism of government, are attracted to the notion that government should provide more security, both economic and physical, and that sacrificing liberty in the process is required. Unfortunately too many Americans see this as a necessary trade-off. They are wrong! Deliberately sacrificing liberty should never be an option.
The political demagogues readily resort to promoting fear for the purpose of motivating people to sacrifice their liberties. Where fear is the tool of political expediency, it is only truth that is the enemy of the false prophets and fear-mongers.
Terrorism is real and dangerous, but the degree of fear generated by relatively small episodes is unbelievably great and exaggerated by the media, the politicians, the financial interests, and the profiteers.
The people cry out to be made safe and well-fed and are looking for a strong leader to provide for them. There are few requests for liberty.
Donald Trump provides an alternative to those seeking more efficiency in government, who want someone to take on the “establishment” that has brought havoc to our political and economic system. The big question is: Is Donald Trump actually anti-establishment or is he more likely to save the current system than to challenge it?
If our current crisis, that concerns so many, is a consequence of a deeply flawed centrally-planned economic system, manipulated by the Federal Reserve; a foreign-policy of occupation and preemptive war; and a systematic attack on our civil liberties here at home, how will Trump be helpful in finding a solution?
Is Donald Trump arguing for any significant change in policy or is he advocating only a different management style? What policy does he actually propose that the current bipartisan leadership doesn’t support? Even his outlandish statements attacking the liberties of Muslims as a group drew sharp criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. But in the past they have explicitly supported similar policies of FDR, Jimmy Carter, JFK, and others. So essentially they defend Trump’s views while pretending them to be outrageous.
Essentially all of Trump’s positions have been endorsed by a majority of the Republican and Democratic leadership, and the frightened masses are flocking to this decisive leader believing he will protect and take care of them.
Trump’s agreement with the current establishment is never mentioned and he is never heard attacking the following policies:
The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy; welfare for rich and poor; the federal government’s involvement in education; foreign interventionism; concern about blowback and motives for terrorist attacks against us; deficits and debt; foreign aid; monopoly control of the political process by a coalition of Republicans and Democrats; controls on internet privacy; loss of state sovereignty; international government agencies; executive orders; and legislation by the executive branch.
Trump’s notoriety comes from his aggressive nature and his personal attacks on individuals as well as groups, along with his bold proposals to violate civil liberties. He never advocates an ideological position, but portrays himself as a strong, efficient boss for the people. He forcefully promotes an authoritarian type of government.
Trump is a bully – not a physical bully, a verbal bully – and that is combined with the overblown fears generated by the possibility of violent attacks against us. In reality, Trump, in spite of his bombast, is a fraud. He is the Wizard of Oz – actually the Wizard of Ooze – and his uncontrolled vitriol never stops flowing. Many enjoy this as an alternative to the misfits currently running our government. Others are intimidated and cannot defend themselves against his attacks.
The politically-correct crowd has met its match and even the media have been unable to silence the Donald. It’s great entertainment: a moneymaker for the media and Trump is in his glory. But the fact that the Trump campaign doesn’t challenge the philosophic backbone of the current system means nothing much will change. His success by pandering to the victims of current policies poses a threat by enhancing the power and influence of big government.
All the current philosophic errors from which we are suffering will continue even with a Trump victory. Only an ideological confrontation with the ideas that drive our political system can offer a solution to the problems we face.
To stop Trump now from becoming the manager of the “establishment” and the manipulator of the status quo, the curtain hiding the Wizard must be pulled back and his bluff be called. He’s the same old, same old, with a megaphone supported by a frightened electorate. I suspect someone someday will expose his bluster for what it is. It’s disturbing that so many cling to his diatribes and personal insults. But what I’m much more concerned about is what he doesn’t say.
Bullies are vulnerable. They are insecure and compensate with noise or violence. Trump compensates with noise. And many have succumbed to the artificial fear generated by our leaders and rally to the Wizard and his tough talk, though he is a shill for the philosophy of the establishment that he mocks.
Whether Trump has a political victory or not, he will have done a lot to institutionalize the current beliefs that drive our economy and political system. His demagoguery is becoming mainstream and politically acceptable by many who already accept the outrageous anti-liberty beliefs he espouses. Only ideas can derail Trump. Demagogic attacks won’t help. They will increase his “stature” with his supporters and serve to add more. His philosophy of government is the philosophy that has driven us to the economic calamity we face, along with a foreign policy that generates hatred and terrorism against us.
When it comes to competing with the philosophy of the current status quo Trump is an empty suit. The people are desperate to bring about real change, and they cling to the hope that Trumpism is the answer to our dilemma. His simplified speech is this: “I’m Donald Trump. I’ll take care of you. I am the boss. I’ll tell you what to do. Trust me.” There’s never a mention of Liberty.
For a true revolution to occur to challenge the current system we need a leader to offer liberty as a solution, not someone sacrificing it for safety and security, and a people ready to accept the responsibility of living in a free society.
By Jacob Hornberger
One of the most fascinating aspects to the post-9/11 “war on terrorism” is the fixation of American statists on Muslims, Islam, and the Koran. “The Muslims are coming to get us,” they cry. “The Muslims have been trying to conquer the world for centuries. They’re determined to establish a worldwide caliphate, one in which everyone will be forced to convert to Islam. They want to replace America’s common-law legal system with Sharia law. The Koran mandates that Muslims kill Christians, Jews, and other infidels and, therefore, we have no choice but to kill them before they kill us.”
Yet, deep down American statists have to realize that all this just a crock. The war on terrorism is not about protecting America from the threat of a worldwide caliphate. The war on terrorism is all about imperialism and interventionism. It’s about control. It’s about whether the U.S. Empire is going to be able to impose its will on people and governments throughout the world.
Was any American statist expressing concern about Muslims, Islam, the Koran, or Sharia law during the 45 years of the Cold War?
Nope! Back then, the big bugaboo was communism, especially Soviet communism but also Chinese, North Korean, Cuban, Chilean, and Vietnamese communism, not to mention the U.S. Communist Party. At no time did any American statist exclaim against the Muslims or decry that they were coming to get us as part of their supposed centuries-old plan to establish a worldwide caliphate.
Even more revealing, American statists overwhelmingly supported the U.S. government’s support of radical Muslims in Afghanistan during the Cold War, when it was the Soviet Union, rather than the United States, that was doing the invading and occupying.
When people who were suffering the ravages of U.S. imperialism and interventionism in the post-Cold War period, most of whom happened to be Muslims, began retaliating with strikes against U.S. troops in their homelands or with terrorist strikes against civilians, that’s when American statists began exclaiming, “Oh, they just hate us because we’re free and because we’re Christians rather than Muslims. It has nothing to do with the fact that our government has invaded their homelands and killed, tortured, maimed, humiliated, or incarcerated countless numbers of them or bombed or otherwise destroyed their homes and businesses.”
When the U.S. government invaded Iraq and Afghanistan to effect regime change in those two countries, Americans cheered and ardently supported the troops notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. government installed into power official Islamic regimes in both countries.
Did you ever hear any American statist express even mild criticism or concern for the U.S. government’s having brought two official Islamic governments into existence?
Nope, not a peep!
In fact, it’s even worse than that. During the U.S. occupations of both countries, which lasted for more than 10 years, U.S. troops were killing anyone who resisted their imperialism and interventionism or resisted the brutal and corrupt Islamic regimes that U.S. officials had installed in their countries. They called resisters to their imperialism and interventionism “terrorists.”
Throughout the time that U.S. troops were protecting these two official Islamic regimes, Americans were supporting the troops, enthusiastically. “Thank you for your service in Iraq and Afghanistan” was a popular refrain during the entire period of the occupations.
Now, wouldn’t you think that people who are concerned about an Islamic conquest of the entire world would be a bit concerned about two official Islamic governments being established in Iraq and Afghanistan and being defended and protected by U.S. troops?
Yet, not only no criticism but effusive praise instead.
Here’s another hint that the caliphate fears of American statists are nothing but a bunch of hooey: Notice that none of them are going out and killing American Muslims. Why not? If we’re at war against Muslims and Islam — if the Koran commands Muslims to kill us, as American statists maintain — then why aren’t these Americans out there defending our country by killing the people in our midst who are secretly conspiring to kill us?
There is a very simple reason why they’re not killing Muslim-Americans as part of what they say is a religious war: They know that as soon as they killed even one of the “enemy,” they would be arrested by state law-enforcement officers and charged with the state crime of murder. And they also know that if they were to try to use their ludicrous religious-war rationale as a defense in their murder trial, the judge would instruct the jury to disregard it. They know that they’d end up on a death-penalty gurney or with life in prison for killing an innocent American Muslim.
So, why do American statists remain fixated on the caliphate-Koran-Muslim-Islam-Sharia law rationale for supporting the “war on terrorism”?
The reason is a religious one, but not in the way that statists view the situation. The problem is that American statists are emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually unable to confront the fact that their very own federal government, especially the national-security component of the government (i.e., the military and the CIA) — is at the root of America’s foreign-policy woes.
That’s because American statists, including Christians, Jews, and atheists, have elevated the federal government to the status of a god, one who watches over his people, takes care of them with sustenance, educates their children, provides their healthcare, gives them welfare, and keeps them safe. For American statists, the federal government is their friend, their daddy, their Big Brother, and their protector. It is also a god who commands unswerving allegiance and loyalty, unconditionally.
Consider the Christian churches of America, where since 9/11 church ministers have exhorted their members to “support the troops, especially those in harm’s way.”
Has any minister ever asked his congregation to support the victims of the troops — the people who are being killed or maimed or having their homes or businesses bombed or otherwise destroyed?
Are you kidding? That would be heresy! When Christian ministers here in the United States exhort people to pray for the troops, the thought of questioning or challenging what the troops are doing or why they are doing it doesn’t even enter their minds. God is not supposed to be challenged. The troops could be killing the unborn with abortions or the born with bombs and bullets, and the assumption is that it’s all good, it’s all moral, it’s all okay. After all, “National security is at stake! Support the troops!”
Or consider this prayer that is heard in Christian churches: “Let us pray for peace and an end to terrorism around the world.” Translation: “Let us pray that people in foreign lands that are invaded by our troops will not resist what our god wills for them and that they instead peacefully submit to the will of our god.”
Consider the reaction among statists to what Edward Snowden did. He revealed dark secrets of the Empire to the world, disclosing acts of illegality. Where was the statist ire directed? No, not at the Empire for illegally spying on the American people. It was directed at Snowden for daring to reveal the secrets of the great statist god, who is just trying to keep its children safe.
Wouldn’t it be nice if at this time of year — Christmastime — the American people were to revisit the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” That would be a good first step to restoring a free, harmonious, moral, and prosperous society to our land.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
While his rise in the polls is attributed to his challenging the establishment and the political status quo, let's look at the many ways Donald Trump, when it comes to his political positions, represents that very same status quo. From the Fed, to war, to civil liberties, the "anti-establishment" Trump takes no positions not already endorsed by the establishment.
It is a myth that Washington is wracked with political bickering. When it comes to growing government and piling up debt, the Beltway elites are in full agreement no matter their political label. The Ryan budget "compromise" up for a vote today and tomorrow is a perfect example.
By Chris Rossini
Politicians try their hardest to appeal to emotions. By generating certain feelings, they hope to gain support and votes. Tugging at a person's emotions is often more effective then presenting facts and using logic. Emotions are very powerful. Bureaucrats figured this out long ago.
A very popular emotion that gets dusted off every election cycle by politicians is envy. It's a very base emotion, and if politicians are able to tap into it effectively, they can gain lots of followers that will supply plenty of blind faith.
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is well known for throwing out his fishing line, using envy as his trusty bait. Bernie says:
"It is absurd that the top one-tenth of one percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent."
Why is it absurd? Bernie doesn't say.
What's the proper percentage, or ratio? And how does Bernie know what that ratio should be? He doesn't say.
Why should you care about what "the top one-tenth of one percent" owns? You have your own life and you're solely in control of that! What you become and what you earn is due to your own thinking, your own beliefs, your own choices, actions, habits, and disciplines.
Politicians want you to believe otherwise. They thrive on you believing that you're just hopelessly careening through the universe, and if you just let go of your liberties and grant them power, things will get better for you. The politician deludes you into believing that he will take care of you. How can a job that produces nothing do anything but cause trouble and divisions in society?
Speaking of producing....
How did the "top one-tenth of one percent" get their wealth? Bernie doesn't say.
Did they earn it legitimately by providing desired goods and services? Why should we have a problem with that? Thank goodness we don't have to fend for ourselves in this world. Our lives would be brutish and short. Thank goodness others are willing to produce what we cannot.
Granted, there are wealthy individuals that use government force to acquire their wealth. They sell stuff to government. They secure government contracts. They use licensing laws to keep away competition. They get government subsidies. They secure government monopoly privileges. This is for sure a problem, and it's an outgrowth of people's faith in the institution of violence and force.
But Bernie doesn't make a distinction. He doesn't see legitimate wealth accumulation versus crony government dealings. Sanders merely lumps everyone together, and promises to stick his hands in wealthy individual pockets.
Bernie is not looking to shrink government and its octopus arms. On the contrary, he's conjuring up ideas like free college, free healthcare, free, free, free!
Sanders is trying to appeal to base emotions. He's not the first to do so, and as long as there are politicians, he won't be the last.
Don't take the bait.
Suddenly there is only one issue in the presidential campaign: Americans must be terrified of their own shadows and only the government can keep them safe. Have fear, don't question government. But liberty sacrificed is the real danger we face.