Paul Is NOT Dropping Out: A Quick Analysis

Good morning from the Land of the Morning Calm!

I’ve been feeling better and doing a better job about keeping up with the campaign bru-ha-ha the last couple of weeks, and what an eventful few days it has been!  Of course, there hasn’t been much in the MSM about it, but that’s nothing new, so moving on.  Ron Paul has been winning caucuses left and right, and Romney seems to be losing ground daily.  The strategy – which has been made public for months and which we have been using from day one – is working a treat.

Therefore I was a bit surprised this morning when I woke up to check the morning news (Ron Paul updates, in LL speak) that Ron Paul had announced that he was suspending all further campaign spending, as far as advertisements and such goes for the remaining states.  Of course, the MSM, including Drudge, picked this up and immediately proclaimed with no uncertain amount of glee that Paul is out.  The campaign came out almost immediately and denied those allegations, but it seems that the damage has already been done.

Or has it?

I had two initial reactions to this announcement.  The first was to wonder why, when we are steamrolling like crazy, would Ron Paul announce that he is suspending any further spending on state campaigns.  The second was to wonder what the strategy is.  Call me a hopeless optimist, but I’m fairly convinced that there is, in all likelihood, some sort of strategy behind this otherwise mildly perplexing announcement.  Maybe I’m being intellectually arrogant in assuming that Ron Paul has this thing figured out and is, in some meaningful way that will be revealed in time, outsmarting the other foxes in this political game.

Regardless of the end result of the strategy, I think this is partly motivated by cash – or lack thereof.  In the forums I’ve read, there is no shortage of RP supporters who are maxed out on their campaign donations.  This is not the case for me, as I don’t have enough free capital to spend the maximum amount on campaign donations.  Baby on the way and all that.  Still, I think there are probably quite a few supporters who are finding it harder to dig down and empty what little is left in their pockets.  I’ve heard there will be a money bomb on May 17th, and I intend to donate to it, but  to bring this all back around, I do think money is a very real issue here.

Part of me also thinks that the Paul campaign knew what would happen when it announced a suspension of spending: the MSM would declare him out, in spite of the fact that they never really declared him “in.”  For a guy who has been deemed hopeless from the beginning, they sure have been quick to show him the door!  And maybe that’s what the campaign wants.  Romney supporters are hardly known for being supremely well-informed or for flooding state conventions and sticking around for hours to jockey for one of those coveted delegate positions.  The simple truth is that, while Paul supporters seem to know exactly how to come in and turn the tide their way, the average Romney supporter is largely ignorant of how the caucuses and state conventions really run.  This is important, because if the average Romney supporter thinks Romney is now running uncontested, what are the chances that they’re going to get out and vote?  Seriously.  How dedicated is the average Romney supporter?  Not very, in comparison with the average Paulistinian.

I’m not saying these things to be arrogant.  The honest truth is that most Paul supporters I’ve met are far more well-versed in politics, economics, and real issues than the average Republican.  The other thing to remember about Paul supporters is that we have never relied on the MSM for our Paul news.  How could we?  If we did that, the movement would not exist because we would all have given up on him years ago.  The simple truth of the matter is that Paul supporters depend on each other for news, encouragement, and support because we know that mainstream support is not going to come.  This campaign has always depended on individual effort, not loads of cash or politicos backing the movement.  In my opinion, spending millions on advertising will ultimately make very little difference to the outcome, at this point.  Paul has already held rallies all over the country, and the heart of his campaign is already solidified.  If there are real conversions that are going to happen now, they have to happen at the convention in Tampa.

This is what I believe is going on within the Paul campaign.  I think they’re going to let the Romneyites get complacent and lazy (lazier?), and the Paul grassroots will continue to make quiet victories.  Isn’t it better, at this point, if the MSM doesn’t pay us any mind?  Won’t that make the convention all the more interesting?

I will say, as an addendum, that part of me also thinks that it’s possible that Paul has been threatened in some way because of the success of the last week or so.  I hate to think that, and it sounds paranoid, but I don’t consider it outside the realm of possibility.  That said, I really don’t think it’s the case.  I really do believe that there is a strategy, and it is based on the reality of the money situation and the notion that we don’t need the mainstream to win.

So with those things in mind, I encourage all Paul supporters to shake off the feeling that we’re being derailed somehow.  I had that feeling myself for a few minutes, but I’ve felt disheartening moments before in this election cycle.  You have to shake it off and keep on keeping on.  For those of us who support the message of liberty, we know that the fight is not over.  It is never over.  Yes, Ron Paul started the movement, but we’re the ones who have kept it alive.  Don’t give up, and don’t think that we can rest after Tampa, regardless of the outcome.  The rEVOLution is on, and it isn’t going anywhere – as long as we remain committed to the cause: liberty for all.


Ron Paul Was Right

I ran across the video while I was trolling through Twitter.  It’s a Ron Paul speech from 2002, the year I graduated high school.  I had no idea who he was back then, but his words sort of hit me like a knuckle sandwich to the nose.  It’s not that I don’t already know about these things, but hearing it condensed into a five-minute speech that was made ten years ago really puts the hook in you, to use a phrase from a favorite film of mine.    Ron Paul may not be the only person in Washington who understands what has been going on, but he’s the only person brave enough to stand up and repeatedly tell us the truth.  Unfortunately, all of his predictions made in this video have come true.  All the more reason we need him to be the last man standing.

Rachel Maddow on the REAL Winner in Iowa

I just stumbled across this video – which probably aired at least a day or two ago now – about the man who really won Iowa: Ron Paul.  I wonder how many other states he’s really won?

MoxNews, Rachel Maddow on who won Iowa

Reality Check: “You Weren’t on the Committee, Ma’am”

I am in love with Reality Check.  Ben is shining a light on the insanity that has been the Republican primary.  Frankly, I don’t think that it’s limited to the Republican party.  I’m sure that similar shenanigans are prevalent in the Democratic party, too, but this election season has been shameful.  Is anyone else sick of this bullcorn?

An Overdue Round-Up and Where the Future is Going

Hello, folks!  I know I’ve been on hiatus for what?  About two weeks now?  My grandpa always told me that excuses and alibis ring up “no sale” every time, and he’s right.  I’m still giving you my excuse, but I think it’s a good one: I recently found out that my husband and I are expecting our first child. Great news, to be sure, but I haven’t exactly been feeling like myself.  Okay, I’ve had my head in the toilet most evenings (morning sickness is a serious misnomer), and I haven’t been writing much for either of my blogs.  I’ve mostly been avoiding getting sick and going to bed early, and unfortunately, I’ve been missing out on the action!  Would you believe that I just read today that Rick Santorum dropped out of the race?  (I’m delighted.)

I’m trying to stop being a wuss and get myself back into the swing of things, and I’m going to start tonight by looking at an article I found on Lew Rockwell titled “The Great Collapse of the US Empire” by Jeff Berwick.  Some of the article seems to be thinly veiled advertising for his firm’s services, but he makes some legitimate points about the way the United States is going.  I think many Americans have a keen sense that something is very, very wrong at home, but they haven’t a clear of idea of why or how, just that everything is going to hell in a hand basket.

Having lived  and worked outside the US for about three and a half non-consecutive years, and I can certainly say that there are places where freedom still has a real face and hunting for a job doesn’t make you feel like a blind sow rooting for an acorn.  For about the past two years, I’ve become firmly convinced that East Asia is where it’s at now.  The so-called Asian tiger economies are manufacturing powerhouses, and the standard of living here is rising quickly to rival that of any country in the West.

Let’s take a look at a “snapshot” of the average Korean family with a child or children attending my school.  Almost without exception, their fathers work for a bank, a company like Samsung or Hyundai, in a law firm, as a small business owner, a factory owner, a doctor, or educator.  Most of their mothers stay home, although I have several whose mothers work in government, in banks, or in other prestigious jobs.  The students all wear North Face jackets, carry smartphones, and attend minimally two or three after-school academies.  They are all learning English, and all of the kids above a certain can speak with some degree of competence about world affairs.  In short, most of these kids are like the “smart” kids you knew in school.  Except that they are the majority.  And they are competitive.

The way that one is able to live in Korea further highlights some of the serious problems that we have in the US today.  Koreans do not fear the police.  The police are here to help, and they generally have a “hands off” policy.  Forget being harassed in the street.  More often than not, the police are young boys doing their two-year civil service, move in herds, and will smile and say “Hello” in English when you pass.  Small businesses are alive and thriving here.  Walk up and down any Korean street, and there are innumerable merchants plying their trade, and most of these businesses are family-owned.  It is incredibly common to go into a restaurant here and be waited on by the wife or children while the father prepares your meat in the back room.

Does that mean I think that everything is perfect in Asia?  Obviously not.  However, what I see here is much closer to how I envision a free, functioning society.  The people are not afraid of the police or the government.  Education is good and considered to be a worthwhile endeavor.  Manufacturing is still alive, and competition is encouraged.  In fact, the hard truth in Korea is that you have to compete and compete hard or fail.

The simple truth is that East Asia has a large population and is becoming more and more relevant on the world stage.  The people here are intelligent and economically successful, and they are enjoying their new prestige.  They travel, they spend money, they work hard, and they know what they want.  But one thing that I’ve never noted is that they expect anyone to give it to them.  Does this mean that everything is always bright and shiny and wonderful?  No.  The suicide rate here is the highest in the world, thanks to work-related stress.  There is a lot of pollution, and students spend more time at school than with their families or unwinding a bit.

I suppose what I’m really trying to convey is that capitalism is alive here more than it is in the West.  Freedom is alive here in a way that it is not alive in the US today.  I pay 3.5% in income taxes.  My health care, though not specifically to my philosophical tastes, is more accessible and just as good as anything I would get back home.  The Korean system is not perfect, but it does better by me than the imperfect system at home, which is frankly the worst of both worlds.  My life is good here.  My husband and I save approximately $3000 per month.  We are debt-free, and we have enough money to do pretty much whatever we want, when we want.  The sad fact is that this would not be the case in either of our home countries, England or the US.

It is high time that the US government remove its blinders and get with the program.  The US is being grossly out-performed by the East, and that doesn’t have to be the case.  I still stand firmly behind the belief that Americans are the smartest workers on the planet, and I think just about anyone who has worked both in the US and overseas will tell you that’s true.  We have unbeatable innovative skills, drive, and grit, but American business is stymied by the insurmountable burden of taxes, regulations, and labor laws that the government has laid upon it.  And I don’t just mean big businesses; this affects all businesses, from big manufacturing companies to the family-owned local business, a breed which I fear is approaching extinction now.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the government making any serious efforts to alleviate the situation at home.  Their answer is always the same: MORE.  More taxes.  More laws.  More regulations.  More committees.  More money to the banks.  More money to the mega-corporations.  More debt so that we can spend ourselves back to prosperity.  It’s time to reconsider the old notion that sometimes less is more.  Less regulation.  No war.  Fewer taxes.  Smaller government.  For God’s sake, stop taking money away from those who need it most.  Quit giving our money to failing businesses with too much influence.  Stop peddling influence for money overseas.  Let America get back to work.  Let us compete.  We have done it before, and we can do it again, but first, the government has got to get the hell out of the way.

My pessimistic view is that it is going to take a serious collapse to realize this goal.  I really hate to be that way, because it harkens me back to my grandfather again, though not in the best way: all doom and gloom and “I told you so.”  Part of me, however, is starting to think that maybe we need to get back to basics.  Let it all fall down, come what may.  Maybe, as Berwick suggested, a collapse would take the TSA, the Federal Reserve, and all the shady elements of the government with it.  Maybe it would allow us to get back to first principles, with a new era of liberty and prosperity rising like a phoenix from the proverbial ashes.

I hope that it doesn’t come to this.  Santorum is out and Gingrich is bouncing checks for $500.  They’re out.  Ron Paul is still in, and with a rally at UCLA last week that counted over 10,000 in attendance, I can’t say that the message of liberty is falling on deaf ears, because I truly believe that more and more people are hearing that message and responding to it in incredibly positive ways.  This is so uplifting, as I truly believe, as do most of us in the movement, that there is nothing that brings people together so much as freedom.  This gives me hope that the spirit of ’76 is not dead yet, and that the fight has only just begun.

Fight On!

The Ron Paul rEVOLution has arrived, and I am thrilled to announce that it has claimed victory in my college town of Columbia, Missouri.  One of my college buddies who has stuck around and started his own business just announced that Ron Paul has won the Boone County caucus, taking 48 of the 53 delegates available there.  In the words of Charlie Sheen, “Winning!”  My friend went to caucus for him but unfortunately was not chosen to be a delegate.

Ron Paul addressing a huge crowd at my alma mater, the University of Missouri - Columbia (Mizzou). Wish he'd come back in 2007 when I was still wandering the campus!

The mainstream media has been telling us over and over again that Ron Paul is unelectable.  Bluntly put, that is a load of hogwash.  Ron Paul is electable, and that is why the establishment keeps insisting to us that he isn’t.  Ron Paul and his ever-expanding support base is dangerous to the status quo.  Look at what the movement stands for: audit and end the Fed; low (or nonexistent) taxes; no unfounded, unnecessary, prolonged wars; fiscal responsibility; no statist intervention into the finest details of our lives; and free market commerce for all.  Whether or not people want to admit it, these are revolutionary ideas that are not part of the daily recipe that the media feeds us.  We are led to believe that the government needs to protect us and hold our hands, that they are controlling us because we are too stupid to control ourselves.  This is blatantly untrue, and more and more people are waking up to the fact that we’ve been had.

The establishment is trying everything to make sure that Paul supporters are marginalized.  This has not just been true this election cycle; it happened back in 2008, too.  In fact, I’ve had more than one person tell me that I’m nuts for supporting Dr. Paul.  Back in 2008, I was a lone voice in the wilderness, but I’ve seen close friends who are generally liberal respond positively to the ideas of liberty, freedom, and sound money.  The media labeled  Ron Paul and his followers to be strange, libertarian nut cases who didn’t have a snowball’s shot in Hell on a summer day of ever making anything happen beyond a sideshow.

That mantra has continued well into this election, but it has failed and failed miserably.  People have started to wake up and realize that Ron Paul is not crazy.  His followers are not crazy.  They are also not people from corporate lobbies or those who have some secret motive.  The majority are just average people who are sick of unkept promises about change.  They are ready for a real change from a candidate who has always been honest.  They are not Austrian economic scholars or university professors from an ivory tower or millionaire investors, by and large.  They are ordinary folks to whom liberty is an appealing message.  These are people who see their income being eaten away by inflation, who see their children inheriting a debt that can’t be repaid, who face the possibility of those same children being drafted into service for yet another unnecessary war.  They are motivated by patriotism, compassion, self-interest, philosophy, and a desire for change.  They are not motivated by the thought that they are going to be paid for their deeds or directly rewarded by the government in some way.

Still, in spite of our growing strength, the establishment continues to play dirty tricks.  Delegate counts are not accurately reported.  The media still tries to pretend that Ron Paul doesn’t exist, despite the fact that he routinely packs meeting halls and university auditoriums or campuses with literally thousands of enthusiastic people of all ages, races, and creeds.  My cousins went to see him at the U of I in Champaign, Illinois, and the venue was PACKED to capacity.  My cousin took a video of him being introduced, and you could barely see or hear him, they were so high up and there were so many people.  The reception was awe-inspiring.  Where are the media reports for this event?  Why has NBC removed Ron Paul’s last reporter who was tailing and reporting on his campaign?  Is it because Ron Paul is losing?  No.  But they want us to believe that he is.

There are have been innumerable tales from supporters of possible vote fraud at the caucuses.  Many have been barred from voting.  Ron Paul votes were not all tallied in Maine.  County Republican committees will change venues at the last minute without informing the campaign or even change the rules at the eleventh hour in attempt to exclude Paul supporters from becoming delegates.

This is why we must remain vigilant.  We cannot give in to the media pressure to believe that all is lost.  In a sociology class, I was once told by a professor that if a person hears something three times, it automatically sticks into their mind as reality.  This is not a rational choice; it is something the human brain does naturally.  Even very intelligent people have difficulty in fighting what amounts to indoctrination by the mainstream media.  I have trouble with this too, sometimes, for even though I know that Ron Paul is winning delegates and converting people every day, the lack of coverage in the mainstream media and the negative bent on it when he does get coverage echoes in my mind.  I have to actively resist the urge to feel sad and downtrodden because “we’re not winning.”  “Paul isn’t electable.”  “He’ll never win.”  Unfortunately, mantras do have a powerful effect on the mind.  Why else would yogis and those seeking enlightenment repeat words and phrases known to change the mind for the better?  Of course, that road runs in both directions…

Don’t believe the negative media hype.  RON PAUL CAN WIN!  Wow, that felt great!  Let’s do it again.  RON PAUL CAN WIN!  WE ARE WINNING!  I like to top it all off with a nice, “Screw the mainstream media.”

Remain vigilant, fellow Paul supporters.  We have not yet begun to fight, and I think there are some big surprises that are in store for the convention.  Ron Paul likely has more delegates than people realize, and that number will grow with the Missouri contest yesterday.  Fight on, folks.  Fight on.  The revolution is here, and it is not going away.  Viva la Ron Paul rEVOLution!

The Constitutionality and Morality of the Fed

The constitutionality of the Fed is something that has long been debated by parties on all sides.  It is especially popular with conspiracy theorists, who like to make it sound as though Jekyll Island was more dramatic than it really was.  The reality is that Jekyll Island, while beginning as a secret, didn’t end that way.  In fact, there was a fair bit of open debate surrounding the creation of the Fed – debate that unfortunately ended with the creation of the monster.  That said, there might be still be something left regarding the debate about the constitutionality of the Fed.

The Federal Reserve Act came into being on December 23, 1913, though it was dreamed of long before then.  In fact, our current Federal Reserve was not the first central bank in America.  The subject of central bank creation was hotly debated, even among the Founding Fathers.  In fact, the first central bank, the Bank of North America, was chartered in 1781.  However, the state of Pennsylvania repealed its charter a scant four years later amid complaints of corruption, favoritism for foreigners, and fictitious credit.

The First Bank of the United States, which was signed into being by none other than George Washington in 1791, was essentially a revival by Alexander Hamilton of the Bank of North America.  Hamilton’s plan for a central bank was closely modeled off of the Bank of England.  Thomas Jefferson was no fan of the bank and viewed it as an engine of corruption and speculation, among other things.  In fact, Jefferson, Madison, and others railed against the creation of this bank, stating that is was not included in the enumerated powers of Congress and therefore could not be created.  In any case, despite Hamilton winning the initial debate, Congress didn’t renew its charter in 1811, and it never controlled greater than 20% of the US money supply.  At that point, Congress took control of the US money supply by issuing Treasury Notes.

In 1816, James Madison signed the charter for the Second Bank of the United States in hopes that it might end some of the runaway inflation that had occurred during the previous five years after the dissolution of the First Bank of the US.  Andrew Jackson, eternal enemy of central banks, was responsible for the demise of the Second Bank of the United States.

After the death of the Second Bank, there was a period in which there was no real central bank.  There were state banks and lenders of last resort.  Perhaps the most famous of these was the Suffolk Bank of Boston, which acted as a clearinghouse for other banks.  The Suffolk Bank was quite successful for some time, in fact.

After the panic of 1907, the subject of a central bank was again brought to the table for discussion.  The issue of constitutionality, so far as I know, was not raised.  The matter was more or less settled in the 1819 ruling of McCulloch vs. Maryland, when the Supreme Court ruled that the creation of a central bank fell under the implied powers clause.  So if we look only to legal precedent, it would seem that the case is won by the Fed, since the Supreme Court has never changed its ruling and doesn’t seem likely to do so any time soon.

But what of the original intent?  Well, as usual, not everyone agreed on the issue.  However, Jefferson, Madison, and Randolph adhered always to the strictest of constitutional views, meaning that if it was not specifically laid out in the powers enumerated in the Constitution, the government lacked the authority to do it, and the power rested with the states alone.  There will be libertarians on both sides of this argument, but I have yet to meet a follower of Austrian economics who thinks that the Fed is a good idea.  In any case, the constitutionality of the Fed seems, for all practical purposes, a settled issue, even though some (many) of us would like to see it reopened for debate in the federal government.

So what exactly does the Fed do, anyway?  Without going into a long, boring explanation, the Fed controls the expansion of the money supply (M3) and interest rates.  How does it control the money supply?  It buys or sells various securities, which can include Treasury securities issued by the US government.  It also alters the reserve requirements that commercial banks must hold in reserve against deposits.  Finally, it can adjust the discount rate – that is, the interest rate charged to commercial banks.  When the Fed wants to shrink the money supply – it’s been a long time since that happened! – it sells securities and raises the reserve limit on the banks.  Raising interest rates will also help control inflation.

What is inflation?  Simply stated, inflation is the increase in the money supply.  No more, no less.  If the Fed is inflating the money supply, inflation is happening.  Period.

Why might this be a bad thing?  Well, when the Fed is increasing the money supply, as it has been doing for some time now, it tends to lead towards higher government debt.  The Fed will continue buying up Treasury securities, which basically means that the government has a blank check to spend whatever it wants.  While it allows the US to continue overseas expenditures and programs that might otherwise have to be cut during economic hard times, this expansion of money and credit simultaneously devalues the currency.  As the money supply increases, prices go up, up, up.  In fact, we’re seeing it at the gas pump now.  Wonder why those gas prices are going higher?  It’s because oil is primarily traded in US dollars, and more and more of them are needed to purchase a barrel of oil.

Unfortunately, the problem with printing money out of literally nothing has the result of creating more money out of thin air.  Suppose we have a bank called “Liberty Bank.”  Liberty Bank deals US government securities, kind of like Goldman-Sachs or J.P. Morgan.  The Fed has decided to buy $1 billion in US securities from Liberty Bank.  Liberty Bank happily skips home with its free money, cashes the check, and then unleashes the money on the market.  Within a relatively short period of time – a matter of weeks or even less – that bank will have further expanded the credit to the tune of about $9 billion more dollars.  In other words, what begins as a comparatively paltry sum quickly grows to the size of an elephant.  Using that knowledge, think about how much the Fed as expanded the money supply since 2008.

So what happens if the money supply gets inflated too far?  Well, several things could happen.  If the Fed raises interest rates to avoid hyperinflation, it will make the US debt instantly unmanageable.  We will no longer be able to meet our minimum payments.  In other words, the US government is going to be getting a lot of angry phone calls from debtors and collection agencies.  The result in this case may be the government admitting insolvency.  In other words, the government would be bankrupt and unable to meet the burden of its debt.  Debt would have to be written off, government programs would likely be scaled back en masse, and government agencies would be be cut.

Think this is an unlikely scenario?  Think again.  According to a report in 2010 by Bloomberg, the IMF has already said, in not so many words, that the US is already bankrupt.  At the time the article was written two years ago, the author calculated the actual indebtedness of the US government to be somewhere around $202 trillion, including off-balance sheet liabilities.  The IMF made the claim that the debt-to-GDP ratio was too high, and that in order to stabilize that fiscal gap, the US government would have to make a permanent adjustment equal to 14% of the GDP.  At that time, 14% of the GDP was how much the government was taking in with tax revenues.  In other words, taxes would have to double their current rate for the government to get into the IMF-determined “safety zone.”

Hard-line Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman have repeatedly made the claim that adding more and more money to the economy isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, every time I read an article from that guy, he’s railing on about how we should be spending more.  Well, he’s wrong.  According to Bloomberg and, frankly, common sense, it’s all a matter of arithmetic.  Basically, whatever isn’t paid at the end of the year (14% of the GDP, for example) will be added to the government “credit card bill,” which will roll over on the next year’s balance.  In short, the debt will continue to grow, and it will eventually reach the point of being too big to even meet the minimum payment, if allowed to snowball indefinitely.

At the same time, the possibility of hyperinflation looms.  Think hyperinflation can’t happen?  Think again.  In the 20th century, hyperinflation happened multiple times: Weimar Germany, Argentina in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Russia in 1992, China in 1949-50, Brazil in 1989-90, Zimbabwe in 2006-09, etc.  Yes, it can happen.  Before it was all said and done in Weimar Germany, it was something like $1 billion marks to $1.  Argentinians woke up one morning unable to withdraw money from savings.  When they were finally able to get their money out, they discovered that it had only half of its original value.  Life savings were wiped out.

How might this happen?  Two years ago, Thorsten Polleit contributed an article to the Mises Institute that suggested we may experience a crack-up boom – that is, people finally come to the conclusion that the Fed will continue to print money at an unrelenting rate.  They begin buying things for which they actually have no need, if only to get rid of the paper money, which is quickly becoming worthless scrap.

He also suggests that another credit crisis is possible when creditors are no longer willing to roll over maturing debt at prevailing interest rates.  Borrowers can neither meet their obligations nor afford the increased borrowing rates.  They go bankrupt and collapse.  This will set off a chain of similar events that will finally result in the collapse of the credit structure.  He goes on to note that, should investors expect more bailouts financed through money creation, the demand for money will dry up.  The central bank will extend more and more money in an attempt to stop the wildfire spread of bankruptcies, and thus the crack-up boom will come home to roost.  Scary, huh?

At this point, I might highlight the reason I included the word “morality” in the title of this post.  When all is said and done, which people really lose the most in these scenarios?  The people who receive the money last, the poor and middle classes, lose the most.  Those receiving the money first, namely the bankers and so on, are having more and more wealth transferred into their hands.  Those on the bottom lose the most as their purchasing power evaporates and their savings become more and more worthless.  The question of the desirability of such a transfer of wealth is not economical, but ethical: is it right to take people’s money away in this manner?  Ask the folks at Occupy what they think about the rich getting richer and get back to me!

The moral hazards of the fiat money created by the Fed also include the ability to prolong war (see Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya…), the slow decline of the financial system, the expansion of an irresponsible state, and many others.  I think it would be hard to deny, at this point, that we are not experiencing at least one, if not all, of these things.

So the question now is do we really want the Fed?  Are they really doing more good than harm?  We are now four years into this recession, and there don’t appear to be many signs that things are getting better.  If anything, it seems that the Western world is in a state of financial decline that is getting worse by the month.  Krugman says that we haven’t done enough, that we haven’t pumped enough money into the economy.  Is that the case, or could it be that the Fed’s policy of fast and easy money is causing a slow, painful death of the US economy?  Are we only prolonging what may now be inevitable?

I don’t want to seem doom-and-gloom about this.  I really don’t.  Unfortunately, I don’t see a situation that is improving.  That said, I don’t want to leave my readers without hope.  Is it too late?  I don’t know, and that is the honest truth.  But here’s what you can do.  Educate yourself about the Fed and Austrian economics.  Hell, educate yourself about Keynesianism.  If you believe as I do that the Fed is at the very heart of this “evil empire,” write some angry (but cordial) letters to your representatives and tell them to support HR 459 or S 202, which are the current incarnations of the Audit the Fed bills.  The Fed has never received a full audit that would include off-balance sheet transactions and tell us where the money is going.  (Aren’t you interested in knowing if there might be some conflicts of interest or primary beneficiaries of that money?)  Sign the Audit the Fed petition online; it only takes about two minutes of your time.

Please take some time and read the following material.  It helped me write this article, and some of it is invaluable reading.  I encourage you to download the (free!!) PDF file of Murray Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed.  It isn’t very long, and it explains things rather concisely.  I will also freely admit that I used his billion-dollar credit expansion example.  Given how Rothbard and most folks at Mises felt/feel about “copyright infringement,” somehow I doubt that he’d mind.

Read and do more!

Sign the Audit the Fed Petition

US is Bankrupt and We Don’t Even Know It – Lawrence Kotlikoff via Bloomberg

The Federal Reserve vs. the Constitution – Ron Paul

Hyperinflation, Money Demand, and the Crack-Up Boom – Thorsten Polleit via The Mises Institute

For and Against Paper Money – MisesWiki

The Case Against the Fed – Murray Rothbard (PDF available for free download courtesy of the Mises Institute)

Visit Campaign for Liberty, as they do a lot towards auditing the Fed.

More suggested reading: End the Fed by Ron Paul, Gold, Peace, and Prosperity: The Birth of a New Currency by Ron Paul, America’s Great Depression by Murray Rothbard, The Case for Gold by Ron Paul and Lew Lehrman (free PDF available from Mises)

LED Bulbs: The Wave of the Future?

Have you ever noticed how some movies use different color filters to achieve various cinematic effects?  An example of this that always stands out in my mind is the movie Traffic, which used blue and yellow filters to great effect, if my memory serves.  Of course, this is hardly the only movie that does this, but it sticks out most clearly in my mind, for whatever reason.  Have you ever viewed things through a blue filter in real life?  If you’ve ever used an LED bulb, the answer to that question is probably yes.

I hate LED bulbs.  Yes, I know that they save energy.  Yes, I know that incandescent bulbs are single-handedly responsible for the downfall of mankind.  You know what?  I don’t give a toss.  I hate the unnatural, dim glow of LED bulbs.  It reminds me of being surrounded by the glow of a computer screen.  It makes me feel like a nerd in a Tron-like movie where I’m about to be sucked into an alternate universe and then chased by guys on really cool motorcycles, probably also lit by LED.  While this description may sound somewhat cool, it really isn’t.  Brushing my teeth in a blue-filtered, white-washed reality isn’t pleasing or nice; it makes me feel like I’m going insane.

Incandescent bulbs?  Totally different story.  We have an incandescent bulb in our hall that literally lights our entire apartment.  We have an LED in the bathroom and the incandescent in the hall.  The LED barely manages to illuminate our tiny bathroom, which is approximately 7’x2 1/2′, including the bathtub.  Believe me, it’s hardly asking the moon to light this closet-like space up, but that light bulb fails miserably at the task.  The incandescent bulb illuminates the majority of our living area and kitchen in a warm, yellow, inviting glow that makes me think of summer and/or 1975.  In other words, it makes me feel happy and at peace.  LED blueness makes me feel like I’m stuck in Alaska (Land of Winter and 18+ Hours of Night) on a permanent basis.

Why is this even mildly relevant?  Well, fortunately for you US readers, it really isn’t.  There was a move last year to ban incandescent light bulbs, but it failed to pass the Congress.  However, the area several other countries that are now facing bans on our yellow friends, including the whole of the EU, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, China, and South Korea.  Since I’m currently a SoKo expat, that would include me.

I had passingly followed the debate in the US, quickly decided that I was in favor of whatever the free market would do by itself, and didn’t think much more of it.  It seemed like there were bigger fish to fry, although the government telling you what bulbs you can and can’t use is about as close to telling you when to wipe your butt as you can get.  Unfortunately, if there was any debate in South Korea about the bulb wars, the incandescent bulb lost.  By 2013, incandescents will be totally phased out in Korea.

I went on a light bulb run about four months ago.  At that time, there were a few, though not many, incandescent bulbs available at our local discount store.  I picked up a bunch and a fluorescent for our overhead and went on my merry way.  Because we use the incandescent bulb a lot, they go quickly. We don’t turn on the LED or fluorescent lights, if we can avoid it, since we prefer the glow of the incandescent and don’t need a lot of lights on at night.  When I returned to buy another big ol’ box last weekend, they had mysteriously disappeared.  My husband and I were perplexed, until I thought of the proposed ban in the US.  I figured if the US was attempting to do it, there was a good chance it had already happened in other places.  Sure enough…

A lot of people have made the argument that we shouldn’t be using incandescents because they are so inefficient.  We should all be doing our part to save the environment.  Others make the argument that nobody should be forcing our choices on things like this.  The free market should decide.  Guess where I fall?

Here’s the thing.  I like the idea of saving money on lighting.  The thing is, I don’t use tons of lights, anyway.  At any given time, we have a maximum of three lights on in our apartment.  According to a nifty little calculator I found on the Internet, we could stand to save about $321 per year if we could switch to an LED bulb.  And another thing! In order to the get the same amount of light from one incandescent bulb, I need about three LED lights.  Seriously, they suck.  I read constantly at night, and they are terrible for reading.  Part of this is due to the fact that they tend to emit light in a direct beam, rather than radiating outward like incandescents.  Not brilliant for someone who spends a good 2-3 hours in any given night reading.

Before you jump all over me, no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pollute the Earth.  I’m as big on trees and critters as the next person.  However, I also value a well-lit house, particularly in my reading nook.  I understand that people think we need to get away from incandescents, but are LED lights really the future of lighting technology?  Am I really going to have to view myself in blue for the rest of my life?

At the end of the day, I think the market should be making these decisions, not the government.  I don’t like LED lights.  I would prefer to buy incandescent bulbs, especially give that I am in a somewhat transient position now.  Korea is not my “forever” home; this is just a temporary stop.  Paying about $40 for a light bulb, at this point, means that I’m paying $40 for another year of use on the bulb.  I might need to replace the incandescent three or four times in that year-long period, but they only cost like, $3.  At most, I’d be paying $12.  So somewhere in there, my energy savings would have to amount to about $28 over a year on one light bulb for me to be able to break even.  Whether or not it would do that, I’m not sure.  Current estimates seem to suggest that it takes about two years to see a return on an initial LED bulb investment, which would indicate to me that I probably wouldn’t see a return on my investment.  Couple that with the facts that I really need three of the little buggers to sufficiently illuminate the same amount of space and I hate the blue glow and what it comes down to is this: I’d really rather just leave the LED on the shelf, at least for now.

I think LED technology is perhaps a transitional technology.  I know I’m not the only person who doesn’t feel 100% love for the Smurfs of the lighting world.  At this point, they’re quite expensive, which may make them somewhat inaccessible for folks in certain income brackets who don’t have the luxury of waiting to see returns on an investment.  Many people right now could not afford to be spending this sort of money on a light bulb.  Thankfully, the US government mandate failed.  This might be the one instance when government has worked in the favor of our pocketbooks recently.

In any case, I hope that the cost of these things comes down and quality improves over time.  I feel that eventually the mandate will be revived and will pass, which is usually what happens to this sort of thing.  I also wish that, at least here in Korea, we were being given the option of choice.  Let the two bulbs duke it out on the market.  If the LED bulb is not a worthy competitor, perhaps it should be replaced with something else that is – something cheap that lasts a long time and doesn’t make my house look like a scene from Tron.  Allowing a competitive market to force innovation: what a novel idea.  It’s working wonders in the tablet industry.  Why can’t it work in the lighting industry?

Read more about the blue wonders below.

“LED bulbs: The end of the lightbulb as we know it?” – BBC World News

“Congress overturns incandescent bulb ban” – The Washington Times

Natural Born Citizens: The Birfer Post

I have been contemplating whether or not to go ahead with this post all evening.  For one thing, this issue is highly charged and, let’s face it, rife with nutters from all walks of the political spectrum.  For another thing, it’s an old subject that has been beaten to death with a two by four.  For that reason, I’ve never been particularly interested in it.  I try to stay away from reporting on things like conspiracy theories, because if I can’t prove it, I don’t really want to send it to press.  I’m ready to admit though, that the Obama birth certificate mystery officially has me a bit stumped.

Hey, hey, hey!  Stop right there!  Don’t close your browser or email on me in mid-post!  I have always been extremely skeptical of the “birfer” movement, as many call it.  I am still skeptical of it, although I must at this point concede that I can’t explain away all of the circumstantial issues that surround the strange case of Barack Obama’s citizenship – or at least his birth certificate.

The first time I ever really heard anything about the birther movement was on Alex Jones.  Yeah, yeah, I’ve admitted that I watch him sometimes.  Alex Jones is my political equivalent of celebrity gossip: I love it, it’s my thing, let it go.  I know that he’s not always right about everything, but he serves his purpose for me, and that’s entertainment, and sometimes I’ll get a good article lead off of his site.  Take that for what you will.  I enjoy watching people rail against bankers and Justin Bieber.

In any case, I never really heard it mentioned until I was sitting in the GM garage in my hometown on afternoon getting my car fixed.  An old gent sat down next to me and, in typical Midwestern fashion, started talking to me about life, the universe, and everything.  During the course of the conversation, he somehow managed to sneak it in that he didn’t think Obama was really an American citizen.  I smiled and nodded politely, but I didn’t really want to encourage a birther that I’d inadvertently rooted out.  Frankly, I wasn’t interested in hearing some conspiracy theory about how our president isn’t really supposed to be our president.

Fast forward about two and a half years, and here I am, sitting in my chair on a Tuesday night, perusing the Internet for articles to write about and post to Twitter.  I ran across an article about two weeks old concerning Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix/Scottsdale, etc.).  My uncle lives in Scottsdale and used to know Sheriff Joe, way back before he was known for putting inmates in pink underwear and rounding up immigrants for deportation.  Back then, he used to occasionally courier tickets and such for his wife’s travel agency.  He also once asked my uncle if he would like to join a “posse,” which Joe was going to create, should be elected sheriff.  My uncle politely declined, but the posses became a reality.  The point is that I feel a mild, mostly senseless personal connection to Sheriff Joe, and I get a kick out of reading about his freaks and foibles.

I came upon an article about Sheriff Joe saying that he had had his forensics team run an investigation on Obama’s long form birth certificate, which was released last year.  The team also did an analysis on his selective service card.  Sheriff Joe called a press conference to release the findings which were… Well, frankly, I watched the shortened videos, and the conclusion seemed to be that the documents themselves were forgeries.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I don’t exactly have gobs of faith in the Maricopa County sheriff’s office.  Joe Arpaio is a character, and you can take that in a good way or a bad way.  It has worked both directions for him.  He is a highly controversial figure who no doubt has/had good intentions in a lot of respects.  I don’t support all of his methods, but I find him interesting.  I also think that he revels in attention.  He is facing some lawsuits right now, too, and I think this might have been a way to draw media fire away from the lawsuits, since election time is pending in Maricopa County.  Sheriff Arpaio has denied this, but you know, it’s Sheriff Joe.

I read through one of the articles and watched the videos, and it got my curiosity up.  I know virtually nothing about Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop or any of those other digital picture-fixing programs, so don’t take anything I say to be professional analysis.   I barely know one from the other, and God knows I never use them.  Occasionally I will use Adobe to reverse one of my webcam photos so that I can post it on here, and I’m frankly amazed that I figured out how to do that.

The videos point out several interesting features of the birth certificate, as well as a “control” copy that was created as a basis for comparison.  Many of the arguments made about the birth certificate are quite clearly debunked.  The video explains Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and optimization techniques, which some have used to explain the anomalies in the birth certificate.  However, these explanations fall flat, if you take the sheriff’s department analysis as truthful.

I looked up some of the debunking claims that have been posted on sites like Snopes, but I honestly didn’t find any explanations that lived up to my expectations.  I like very thorough, in-depth answers, and I have yet to find an answer that I really like that explains the anomalies on these paperwork items.

My ultimate conclusion is this: someone is lying.  Either the forensics team in Maricopa is lying (quite possible), or Team Obama is lying (again, quite possible).  Something doesn’t smell right here, but it doesn’t just have to do with what’s being said; a lot of it has to do with what’s not being said.

Let’s assume for a moment that the sheriff’s deputies and everyone else who have taken to the Internet are either half-baked or just flat-out lying about the anomalies in this birth certificate.  If that is the case, they are distracting from truly important issues and attempting to destroy the president’s character.  I’m more concerned about the distraction from other issues, like auditing the Fed, the bailouts, the unjust wars, etc.

When it all comes down to it, however, I think that most of the “birthers” have really missed the boat.  They spend all this time fussing about the birth certificates and such, and the answer is in plain view.  According to various legal precedents, Obama technically doesn’t qualify as a “natural born citizen.”

What is a natural born citizen?  According to the traditional ideas of the Framers and natural law, citizenship is inherited from the father, regardless of where that child is born.  Today, we might better view this in that if one parent is not a citizen of the United States, neither is the child.  My husband and I would be a good example of this, as he is a “loyal subject of the Crown” while I am a US citizen.  Our children, according to this rule, would be exempt from ever holding the office of the president.

I guess at the end of the day, I ultimately feel that all of this jibber-jabber and rhetoric about the birth certificate and all is just extraneous.  The real argument is a relatively cut-and-dried legal one, and it stems from the fact that citizenship devolves from the parents.  Stated simply, our Constitution includes the natural birth clause so that individuals seeking office will not have conflicting allegiances.  At the end of the day, considering only the traditional, established definition of natural born citizen, Barack Obama isn’t one.

Am I implying that President Obama has conflicting allegiances?  No.  Just because I don’t think that he legally fits the criterion for holding the office to which he has been elected doesn’t mean that I think he’s out to sell us to Russia or something silly like that.  However, I do think that the respect for our supreme law, the Constitution, has gone completely and utterly out the window.

How is it that a movement can at once be so right and so wrong?  Instead of focusing on the legal precedent, which is easily provable and extremely pertinent, there is a whole movement of people who seem to be focused on turning this thing into a sideshow.  There needs to be a movement towards reason and logic, or the libertarian movement is going to be forever plagued by accusations of lunacy, paranoia, and getting bad reception via those tinfoil hats.

If you want to learn more, check out the links below!

“Natural Born Citizen Defined” – The Federalist Blog

Sheriff Joe’s Full Investigation results, including video

Gibson Guitar Raid Update

Back in August of last year, the US government raided the Gibson guitar factory, claiming that the guitar makers were in violation of the Lacey Act, which is a conservation code originally enacted to protect wildlife.  It has since been extended to protect plant life, as well.

The Feds stormed into the Gibson plant and confiscated over $500,000 worth of materials.  Why did this happen?  Was Gibson purchasing illegally-gotten rosewood from Madagascar or India?  Shockingly, the answer is no.  The wood in question was obtained from India, where it was gotten legally.  The government got irked over a measurement issue that had to do with how the wood was sanded down before it was shipped over here.  Translation: it was a labor problem and had nothing to do with conservation.

The Indian government has provided affidavits to Gibson saying that Gibson has done nothing wrong and satisfied all laws on their side.  No workers were mistreated or done over in the obtaining of this wood.  The US government (I would assume perhaps the customs office) has also given an affidavit stating something similar.  Simply put, Gibson has done nothing wrong.

The government still has not returned the confiscated materials and refuses to let Gibson fight the charges, which were never officially filed, in court.  To anyone who says that government is not force, I hold up this incident as a shining example of why government is force – and frequently not a benevolent one.

Check out the video summary, including statements from Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz.

Gibson Guitar Raid Update from Reason TV

%d bloggers like this: