Don’t Talk to Cops

I recommend that everyone watch these two videos.  The first video is from a defense attorney/law professor at Regent University.  The second video is the “rebuttal” from a police officer.

What’s really interesting is that the defense attorney/law professor and the police officer both agree completelyWhether you are guilty or innocent, you should not ever talk to police officers about a criminal case without consulting with an attorney.

The Law Professor – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik

The Police Officer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fZQWjDVKE

Please note that the Police Officer admits that he is allowed to lie to you about whether or not he has any evidence against you.

Jesus Christ took the “don’t talk to cops” approach on occasion (text from Bible in Basic English translation):

Luke 23:8-9

8 Now when Herod saw Jesus he was very glad, having for a long time had a desire to see him, for he had had accounts of him, and was hoping to see some wonders done by him. 9 And he put a great number of questions to him, but he said nothing.

Mark 14: 60-61

60 And the high priest got up in the middle of them, and said to Jesus, Do you say nothing in answer? what is it which these say against you? 61 But he kept quiet and said nothing.

Mark 15:2-5

2 And Pilate put a question to him, Are you the King of the Jews? And he, answering, said to him, You say so. 3 And the chief priests said a number of things against him. 4 And Pilate again put a question, Do you say nothing in answer? see how much evil they say you have done. 5 But Jesus gave no more answers, so that Pilate was full of wonder.

John 19:8-9

8 When this saying came to Pilate’s ears his fear became greater; 9 And he went again into the Praetorium and said to Jesus, Where do you come from? But Jesus gave him no answer.

Matthew 27:11-14

11 And Jesus was before the ruler, who put a question to him, Are you the King of the Jews? And Jesus said to him, You say so. 12 But when the chief priests and those in authority made statements against him, he gave no answer. 13 Then says Pilate to him, Do you give no attention to what their witnesses say against you? 14 And he gave him no answer, not even a word: so that the ruler was greatly surprised.

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Published in: on July 18, 2008 at 6:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Less Guns = More Crime

The UK outlawed guns several years ago in response to a school shooting.  Guess what happened. . . ?

From over at Vox Day’s blog:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/

The need for knife control

But at least they’re only stabbing each other to death! It could be worse, what if they were doing it with guns!

The British Crime Survey (BCS) – released today – showed nearly 130,000 offences involving knives took place last year – and the total does even not include crimes involving under-16s. The new figures also disclosed that more than 22,000 serious offences involved a knife last year, including 231 attempted murders, nearly 14,000 robberies and more than 8,000 woundings….

A 3 per cent rise in the number of homicides, up from 759 in 2006/07 to 784 last year

It’s interesting to note that as recently as 1996, there were fewer than 600 annual homicides in Britain. Once more, and in direct contrast to the assertions of the gun control crowd, it is demonstrated that fewer legal guns indicates more crime. In this case, 30 percent more lethal crime. Britain would have done much better to keep its guns and ban the migration from the third world.

Published in: on July 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who are those prisoners at Gitmo? Are they all Al Qaeda?

See article below.  My comments first.
 
Nope.  Most of them are not Al Qaeda.  Most of them were not even captured by the U.S., but instead were captured by Iraqis or Afghanis and turned over to the U.S. – in many cases in exchange for MONEY.  This information has been available for years, but it’s finally hitting the mainstream because of the Court cases.
 
Of course, the Executive and Legislative branches have done everything they can to prevent any court hearings for any of the detainees (in spite of THREE Supreme Court rulings that they are entitled to a single hearing requiring the govenement to produce ANY evidence of wrongdoing in order to continue the detentions). 
 
The government has had no evidence on approximately 420 of the detainees – as they have released about that many without charge – but only after holding them for several years.
 
Just as in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, it is very dangerous to allow government the right to arrest and detain members of a special group of people without hearing.  After all, YOU could be a member of the next special group.  After all, imagine if we had a (former) Muslim President in the future.  Muslims aren’t noted for their love of Christians.
 
————————————————————–
 
http://www.reason.com/news/printer/127368.html
 

Truth and the Gitmo Detainees

Is every prisoner at Guantanamo really a terrorist?

Steve Chapman | July 7, 2008

“Islamic terrorists have constitutional rights,” lamented one conservative blog when the Supreme Court said Guantanamo inmates can challenge their detention in court. “These are enemy combatants,” railed John McCain. The court, charged former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy of National Review, sided with foreigners “whose only connection with our body politic is their bloody jihad against Americans.”The operating assumption here is that the prisoners are terrorists who were captured while fighting a vicious war against the United States. But can the critics be sure? All they really know about the Guantanamo detainees is that they are Guantanamo detainees. To conclude that they are all bloodthirsty jihadists requires believing that the U.S. government is infallible.But how sensible is that approach? Judging from a little-noticed federal appeals court decision that came down after the Supreme Court ruling, not very.

The case involved Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese Muslim who fled to Afghanistan in May 2001 to escape persecution of his Uighur ethnic group by the Beijing government. When the U.S. invaded after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Uighur camp where he lived was destroyed by air strikes. He and his compatriots made their way to Pakistan, where villagers handed them over to the government, which transferred them to American custody.

You might think you would have to do something pretty obvious to wind up in Guantanamo. Apparently not. The U.S. government does not claim Parhat was a member of the Taliban or al-Qaida. He was not captured on a battlefield. The government’s own military commission admitted it found no evidence that he “committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition partners.”

So why did the Pentagon insist on holding him as an enemy combatant? Because he was affiliated with the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a separatist Muslim group fighting for independence from Beijing. It had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks but reputedly got help from al-Qaida.

But the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, after reviewing secret documents submitted by the government, found that there was no real evidence. It said the flimsy case mounted against Parhat “comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true.” And it ruled that, based on the information available, he was not an enemy combatant even under the Pentagon’s own definition of the term.

Is this verdict just another act of judicial activism by arrogant liberals on the bench? Not by a long shot.

Of the three judges who signed the opinion, one, Thomas Griffith, was appointed in 2005 by President Bush himself. Another, David Sentelle, was nominated in 1985 by President Reagan—and had earlier joined in ruling that the Guantanamo detainees could not go to federal court to assert their innocence (a decision the Supreme Court overturned).

The administration could hardly have asked for a more accommodating group of judges. Yet they found in favor of the detainee on the simple grounds that if the government is going to imprison someone as an enemy combatant, it needs some evidence that he is one.

Parhat may not be an exceptional case. Most of the prisoners were not captured by the U.S. in combat but were turned over by local forces, often in exchange for a bounty. We had to take someone else’s word that they were bad guys.

A 2006 report by Seton Hall law professor Mark Denbeaux found that only 8 percent of those held at Guantanamo were al-Qaida fighters. Even a study done at West Point concluded that just 73 percent of the detainees were a “demonstrated threat”—which means 27 percent were not.

The Parhat case doesn’t prove that everyone in detention at Guantanamo is an innocent victim of some misunderstanding. But it does show the dangers of trusting the administration—any administration—to act as judge, jury, and jailer. It illustrates the need for an independent review to make sure there is some reason to believe the people being treated as terrorists really deserve it.

If any particular detainees are as bad as the administration claims, it should have no trouble making that case in court. But there is nothing to be gained from the indefinite imprisonment of someone whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Keeping innocent people behind bars is a tragedy for them and a waste for us.

————————————————

And by the way, as recently as June 2005, Sec Def Rumsfeld stated, “If you think of the people down there, these are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They’re terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, [Osama bin Laden’s] bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker.”

Do you think the Secretary of Defense was mis-informed when he made that statement?

 

Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

And the winner in the U.S. “drug war” is. . .(drum roll)

DRUGS!

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080701160706.4pl3ba3e&show_article=1

Americans are the world’s top consumers of cannabis and cocaine despite punitive US drug laws, according to an international study published in the online scientific magazine PLoS Medicine.

The study, released Monday, revealed that 16.2 percent of Americans had tried cocaine at least once, and 42.4 percent had used marijuana.

In the Netherlands, where drug policy is more liberal than the United States, 1.9 percent of survey participants said they had used cocaine and 19.8 percent marijuana.

In second-place New Zealand, just 4.3 percent of study participants had used cocaine, and 41.9 percent marijuana.

The research was conducted at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, based on World Health Organization data from 54,068 people in 17 countries.

The data also revealed socioeconomic patterns in drug use. Single young adult men with high income had the greatest tendency to regularly use drugs.

Drug use “does not appear to be simply related to drug policy,” the researchers wrote, “since countries with more stringent policies toward illegal drug use did not have lower levels of such drug use than countries with more liberal policies.”

And despite the US government’s massive anti-drug efforts, the United States remains the world’s top drug market, one amply supplied by South American cartels.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency has observed ever larger quantities of illegal drugs pouring into the country.

End Article Excerpts.

Just as in alcohol prohibition, criminalization will not and cannot stop usage.  Period.  Those who want to use will use.  However, there is substantial evidence (not just this article) that legalization would actually REDUCE usage.

Further, lots of crime is related to the drug trade.  If drugs were legalized, the drug trade as we know it would not exist, and neither would the related crimes.

Which do you prefer?

Published in: on July 2, 2008 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Guess where current U.S. Interrogation techniques came from. . .?

From the Communist Chinese techniques used on American prisoners to elicit false confessions during the Korean War!

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/02/us/02detain.html?_r=2&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency. . .

. . . The 1957 article from which the chart was copied was entitled “Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War” and written by Alfred D. Biderman, a sociologist then working for the Air Force, who died in 2003. Mr. Biderman had interviewed American prisoners returning from North Korea, some of whom had been filmed by their Chinese interrogators confessing to germ warfare and other atrocities. . .

. . . “What makes this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques to get false confessions,” [Senator] Levin said. “People say we need intelligence, and we do. But we don’t need false intelligence.” . . .

. . . Mr. Biderman’s 1957 article described “one form of torture” used by the Chinese as forcing American prisoners to stand “for exceedingly long periods,” sometimes in conditions of “extreme cold.” Such passive methods, he wrote, were more common than outright physical violence. Prolonged standing and exposure to cold have both been used by American military and C.I.A. interrogators against terrorist suspects. . .

. . . The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: “Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance.”

End article excerpts

As Mike Tennant put it, “Thus we are confronted with the supreme irony: Those neocons such as Limbaugh, Hannity, Kristol, etc., who are most vociferously opposed to communism–and especially Chinese communism–are also most vociferously supportive of our government’s use of torture techniques invented by Chinese communists!”

Published in: on July 2, 2008 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why the Constitution only allowed money in gold and silver

Article 1, Section 10 states:

“No state shall . . .  make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts.”

Here’s why:

The chart is the price index of all commodities for the last 90 years.  You should note that the prices were relatively stable until the early 1970s.  What happened then to push the prices up so much?

Richard Nixon removed the dollar from the gold standard and moved the dollar to being a “faith-based” currency – there was no longer anything backing the dollar except federal reserve intervention in the money supply and interest rates – and thus, the only real value of the dollar was based on people’s faith in it’s value.

And of course, when the fed prints lots of new paper, the relative value of each individual dollar decreases by the percentage of to total money supply that has been printed.  If the fed prints 10% more currency, each dollar is worth 10% less.  That’s inflation.

The faith in the dollar (and in the federal reserve/federal government) is weakening by the day. 

Note also this chart:

The chart is from January 2001 to January 2008. 

In blue is how many dollars it takes to buy a barrel of oil.

In red is how many euros it takes to buy a barrel of oil.

In purple is how many barrels of oil you can buy with an ounce of gold.

Note that if the United States had kept the dollar on the gold standard, oil/gas would cost almost exactly what it did in 2001.

Published in: on July 1, 2008 at 8:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Now this is cool – a city that owns no property!

http://www.cityofnorth-oaks.com/

Located in the Twin Cities,just northeast of St. Paul, Minnesota, North Oaks is a unique suburban community.  With a rich history and emphasis on retaining the natural environment, North Oaks celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006.

Approximately 4500 residents call North Oaks home.  Because residents’ properties extend to halfway across the road, all residential roads in the City are private and for the use of North Oaks residents and their invited guests only.

The City owns no property.  With residents owning the roads, the North Oaks Home Owners’ Association owns the park and recreation areas and trails throughout the City.

Published in: on June 25, 2008 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

A State Declares Sovereignty Under the 10th Amendment

http://politicalinquirer.com/2008/06/15/oklahoma-declares-sovereignty/

http://www.ok-safe.com/files/documents/1/HJR1089_int.pdf

STATE OF OKLAHOMA
2nd Session of the 51st Legislature (2008)
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 1089

By: Key
AS INTRODUCED

A Joint Resolution claiming sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers; serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain
mandates; and directing distribution.

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

WHEREAS, the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and

WHEREAS, today, in 2008, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the
states
; and

WHEREAS, a number of proposals from previous administrations and some now pending from the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE OF THE 2ND SESSION OF THE 51ST OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE:

THAT the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

THAT this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated
powers
.

THAT a copy of this resolution be distributed to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate of each state’s legislature of the United States of America, and each member of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation.

MY COMMENTS:

The 10th Amendment is hardly referred to anymore by federal politicans (with the exception of Ron Paul).  The ignoring of the 10th Amendment is understandable because it reserves to the states and the people any powers not delegated to the federal government in the constitution.  Thus, for example, since the constitution doesn’t discuss travel or airplanes, the federal government has no legal basis for regulating the airlines.  That power is reserved to the states and the people – unless and until the constitution is AMENDED – which as I recall has been successfully done on several occasions in the past. 

The list of things that the Fed Gov is doing but does not have authority to do because of the 10th Amendment is staggering.  The reason federal politicians ignore the 10th is that they would have little to do if the 10th were applied as intended by the Founding Fathers.

I wonder when the 2nd Civil War will start. . . This was ultimately the issue which the South based their secession on in the Civil War (War of Northern Aggression).  Yes, the South owned slaves, and yes, that was a factor.  However, the South had outlawed the foreign slave trade in the Confederate Constitution – BEFORE THE NORTH OUTLAWED THE FOREIGN SLAVE TRADE.

For all the evils of slavery, the South was primarily concerned with an enlarging federal government telling them what to do – which is clearly not what the Founders intended.  And, of course, since the Civil War, we have had a continually enlarging federal government that tells the states what to do.

And by the way, Lincoln wasn’t really all that interested in freeing slaves unless it was politically expedient or if he could “free” them and send them back to Africa.  Further, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually free any slaves.  If you don’t believe me, sit down and read it carefully sometime.  It did not apply to the northern states where there were still slaves and it only applied to the southern states – which had established their own government.  Technically, it was not a “civil war” in the commonly thought of sense because the South was not trying to take over the Northern Government.

Note, also, that the Military Academy at West Point was teaching seccession as a right of the states as late as the 1850s.

Anyway, there probably won’t be a civil war arising from Oklahoma’s action below.  The Fed Gov will likely just start cutting off Federal funding to various programs in Oklahoma until they give in.

Still, it’s a very nice gesture.  If several states would do the same thing, we could actually see some real change – as opposed to the “change” to an even larger Federal Government as proposed by Obama, Clinton and McCain.

Published in: on June 19, 2008 at 4:27 pm  Comments (2)  

Ron Paul and Dwight D. Eisenhower – True Patriots

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig9/quinn2.html

by Jim Quinn

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children.”

These must be the words of some liberal Democratic Senator running for President in 2008. But no, these are the words of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II, five decades ago. The United States, the only superpower remaining on earth, currently spends more on military than the next 45 highest spending countries in the world combined. The U.S. accounts for 48% of the world’s total military spending. Where did the peace dividend from winning the Cold War go?

The United States spends on its military 5.8 times more than China, 10.2 times more than Russia, and 98.6 times more than Iran. The Cold War has been over for 20 years, but we are spending like World War III is on the near-term horizon. There is no country on earth that can challenge the U.S. militarily. So, why are we spending like we are preparing for a major conflict? The impression on the rest of the world is that we have aggressive intentions. The administration is posturing like Iran is a threat to our security. Iran spends $7.2 billion annually on their military. We could make a parking lot out of their cities in any conflict. Does anyone really believe that they would create a nuclear weapon and use it on Israel? Their country would be obliterated.

Country Military Spending (Billions of $)
United States

$711.0

China

$121.9

Russia

$70.0

United Kingdom

$55.4

France

$54.0

Japan

$41.1

Germany

$37.8

Italy

$30.6

Saudi Arabia

$29.5

South Korea

$24.6

India

$22.4

Australia

$17.2

Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies

Defense spending had peaked at just under $500 billion in 1988. The fall of communist Russia did result in a decline to the $350 billion range from 1995 through 2000, and an economic boom ensued. Since 9/11 we have doubled our spending on defense. This seems like an overly extreme reaction to 19 terrorists attacking our country. Bin Laden and his terrorist network numbered less than 10,000. The initial response of invading Afghanistan, defeating the Taliban, and cornering bin Laden in the mountains was supported by the entire world. The success of this response was sufficient to deter any other country from allowing terrorist organizations to operate freely within their borders. The natural response of the United States should have been to increase spending on border protection, upgrading the CIA, and increasing our ability to gather intelligence. Instead, we spent billions on weapons, aircraft, tanks, and missiles. The neo-cons, led by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, saw the 9/11 attack as their opportunity to change the world. They’ve gotten their wish. Of course, we took our eye off of bin Laden and Afghanistan. The Taliban has experienced a resurgence, recently freeing 800 fighters from a prison. Bin Laden continues to issue videotapes exhorting his followers to continue the fight.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech in January 1961 is a brilliantly perceptive analysis of the future of our country.

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.”

This last sentence describes what George Bush has managed to do in the last 5 years. The arrogance of believing that we could invade a country on the other side of the world and expect to be treated as liberators is beyond comprehension. Our reputation abroad has been grievously damaged. The voluntary sacrifices we’ve made in the U.S. were to receive tax cuts and multiple tax rebates, paid for by our grandchildren. President Bush has sacrificed by not playing golf for the last 5 years. How noble. Not exactly the Greatest Generation, quite yet.

Did President Eisenhower envision that the U.S. would have troops stationed in 70% of the world’s countries? According to the Defense Department’s latest “Personnel Strengths” report, the United States now has troops stationed in 147 countries and 10 territories. This is the greatest number of countries that the United States has ever had troops in. Why are we policing the world? What is the point of having 57,000 troops in Germany and 33,000 troops in Japan? Germany and Japan each spend $40 billion per year on their military. Can’t they defend themselves at this point? We defeated them 60 years ago. It is time to leave. This is a prelude to decades of occupation in Iraq. Don’t believe the blather about withdrawal. The military has no intention of withdrawing.

Country Military Personnel
U.S. & Territories

840,808

Iraq – Deployed

218,500

Germany

57,080

Japan

32,803

Korea

27,014

Afghanistan – Deployed

25,240

Africa

7,929

Asia – Other

12,902

Italy

9,855

United Kingdom

9,825

Europe – Other

9,640

Other

127,955

TOTALS

1,379,551

Source: Department of Defense as of Sept 2007

It is a shame that after 9/11, George Bush didn’t read President Eisenhower’s farewell speech. I wonder if he has ever read the speech. Instead he chose to follow the “wisdom” of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. President Eisenhower’s words describe the crisis that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research – these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.”

A spectacular and costly response is what the Iraq invasion has turned out to be. We have now spent more money on this venture than any war in history except for World War II. And there is no end in sight.

U.S. War Historical Cost (in 2007 dollars)
World War II

$3.2 trillion

Iraq & Afghanistan To Date

$695.7 billion

Vietnam War

$670 billion

World War I

$364 billion

Korean War

$295 billion

Persian Gulf War

$94 billion

Civil War (both Union & Confederate)

$81 billion

Source: Congressional Research Service & Office of Management and Budget data

I live in Pennsylvania. Taxpayers in Pennsylvania have paid $20 billion for our share of the Iraq war, so far. This amount of money would pay for 1,650,000 scholarships for University students for one year. Does a $20 billion investment in rebuilding Iraqi bridges that we blew up with $1 million cruise missiles make more sense than investing in our best and brightest young people? $20 billion would provide 24,000,000 homes with renewable electricity for one year. That is 20% of all the homes in the United States. After paying their utility bills this coming winter, I think I know what the majority of Americans would choose. Some further perspective on this out-of-control spending is provided in the following chart:

Time Frame Spending on Iraq & Afghanistan
Per Month

$12.3 billion

Per Week

$2.9 billion

Per Day

$410 million

Per Hour

$17 million

Per Minute

$284,722

Per Second

$4,745

Source: Congressional Research Services

President Eisenhower, as a former commanding general of Allied forces in World War II, knew exactly what the implications of having a permanent armaments industry were to the United States. He was also worried about the implications.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.”

These words were spoken 5 decades ago, but are just as true today.

Contractor

2006 Defense Revenue (mil)

2000 Defense Revenue (mil)

% Change

2006 Profit (mil)

2000 Profit (mil)

% Change

Lockheed Martin

$36,090

$18,000

101%

$1,825

$382

378%

Boeing

$30,800

$17,000

81%

$2,572

$2,309

11%

Northrop Grumman

$23,649

$5,600

322%

$1,400

$467

200%

Raytheon

$19,500

$14,033

39%

$871

$404

116%

General Dynamics

$18,769

$6,542

187%

$1,461

$880

66%

Totals

$128,808

$61,175

111%

$8,129

$4,442

83%

Source: Defensenews

The top five U.S. defense contractors generated almost $129 billion in revenues and $8 billion in profits in 2006, double the revenue and profits in 2000 when George Bush became President. The War on Terror has been a windfall for the defense industry and their shareholders. These companies have intertwined themselves into the fabric of our government and defense department. They contribute tremendous amounts of money to Congressional candidates and have thousands of lobbyists pushing for more defense contracts. Many politicians end up working for defense contractors (e.g., Dick Cheney) after they leave public service. This leads to conflicts of interest negatively impacting the American public.

Contractor

2007 CEO Pay (mil)

2000 CEO Pay (mil)

% Change

2007 # of Employees

2000 # of Employees

% Change

Lockheed Martin

$37

$6

517%

140,000

125,000

12%

Boeing

$15

$20

-25%

159,000

171,000

-7%

Northrop Grumman

$10

$7

43%

123,600

100,000

24%

Raytheon

$17

$8

113%

72,000

87,200

-17%

General Dynamics

$60

$10

500%

83,500

43,300

93%

Totals

$139

$51

173%

578,100

526,500

10%

Source: Defensenews

It appears that the biggest winners of the War on Terror are the CEO’s of the defense contractors. I wonder if they realized how rich they would become as they watched the Twin Towers crumble to the ground. They have virtually tripled their annual income, while the average American scratched out a 20% increase over 6 years. They have managed to generate the tremendous profits and personal wealth while only employing 10% more employees. Boeing and Raytheon were actually able to reduce their workforce. How productive. These contractors will do everything in their power to retain and increase these fabulous profits.

President Eisenhower clearly understood the moral implications of a huge armaments industry and the costs to a free society.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.”

We have some of the brightest engineers in the country developing weapons to kill human beings more efficiently. There is an opportunity cost that is being paid. These engineers could be concentrating their brilliance on developing alternative energy solutions which could free us from our drug dependence on the Middle East. Which effort would benefit our country more, weapons development or energy independence?

President Eisenhower’s final words are the most chilling.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

We did not heed his wisdom. Laurence Vance, author of “What’s Wrong with the U.S. Global Empire?”, contends that our foreign policy “is not right, it’s unnatural, it’s very expensive, it’s against the principles of the Founding Fathers, it fosters undesirable activity, it increases hatred of Americans, it perverts the purpose of the military, it increases the size and scope of the government, it makes countries dependent on the presence of the U.S. military, and finally, because the United States is not the world’s policeman.” War and non-stop conflict benefit the military industrial complex. It is in their best interest for them to support candidates that favor an aggressive foreign policy. This could lead to Defense companies using their influence to provoke conflict throughout the world.

In conclusion, I again turn to the wisdom of Ron Paul, the only presidential candidate speaking the truth to the American public. In a speech before Congress several months before the Iraq invasion, his words were reminiscent of President Eisenhower’s.

The basic moral principle underpinning a non-interventionist foreign policy is that of rejecting the initiation of force against others. It is based on non-violence and friendship unless attacked, self-determination, and self-defense while avoiding confrontation, even when we disagree with the way other countries run their affairs. It simply means that we should mind our own business and not be influenced by special interests that have an ax to grind or benefits to gain by controlling our foreign policy. Manipulating our country into conflicts that are none of our business and unrelated to national security provides no benefits to us, while exposing us to great risks financially and militarily.”

If we followed a constitutional policy of non-intervention, we would never have to entertain the aggressive notion of preemptive war based on speculation of what a country might do at some future date. Political pressure by other countries to alter our foreign policy for their benefit would never be a consideration. Commercial interests and our citizens investing overseas could not expect our armies to follow them and protect their profits.”

If as a country we continue to allow our politicians and their military industrial complex corporate sponsors to spend $700+ billion per year on weapons, to the detriment of higher education, alternative energy projects, and national infrastructure needs, we will be paying an extremely high price. We are in a classic guns or butter scenario. The Bush Administration has decided to choose guns while borrowing from our grandchildren and the Chinese to pay for the butter. This can work for a while, but as deficits accumulate, the dollar plummets, and inflation rears its ugly head, our great country will decline as other empires who overstepped their bounds declined.

June 18, 2008

Jim Quinn [send him mail] is Senior Director of Strategic Planning, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Published in: on June 18, 2008 at 1:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

US war against Pakistan?

http://www.lewrockwell.com/margolis/margolis113.html

by Eric Margolis

The killing of 11 Pakistani soldiers by US air strikes last week showed that the American-led war in Afghanistan is relentlessly spreading into Pakistan, one of America’s oldest, most faithful allies.

Pakistan’s military branded the air attack “unprovoked and cowardly.” However, the unstable government in Islamabad, led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which depends on large infusions of US aid, later softened its protests. This is in good part because the PPP leader, Asif Zardari, is being shielded from judicial corruption investigations through a quiet deal with President Pervez Musharraf and Washington to thwart reinstatement of Pakistan’s ousted supreme court justices.

The US, which used a B-1 heavy bomber and F-15 strike aircraft in the attacks, called its action, “self-defense.”

What actually happened on the wild Pakistan-Afghanistan border remains murky. But there are reports that US and Pakistani troops engaged in a direct clash and heavy firefight that was ended by the American bombing.

In recent months, US aircraft, Predator hunter-killer drones, US Special Forces and CIA teams have been launching attacks inside Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border. The Pashtun tribes inhabiting this traditionally autonomous mountain region are ardent supporters of their fellow Afghan Pashtuns who form the core of Taliban and reject the current Afghan-Pakistan border, known as the Durand Line, as an artificial creation of British imperialism – which it undeniably was.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been openly advocating major ground and air attacks by US forces into Pakistan. American neoconservatives have been denouncing Pakistan as a “rogue state” and a “sponsor of international terrorism,” and are calling for US air and missile strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and reactors.

But instead of intimidating the pro-Taliban Pakistani Pashtun, limited US air strikes flown from secret US bases inside Pakistan have ignited a firestorm of anti-western fury among FATA’s warlike tribesmen and increased their support for Taliban. Pakistanis are united in their opposition to any US strikes into their nation and enraged at the United States for supporting dictator Pervez Musharraf.

The US is emulating Britain’s colonial divide and rule tactics by offering up to $500,000 to local Pashtun tribal leaders to get them to fight pro-Taliban elements, causing more chaos in the already turbulent region, and stoking old tribal rivalries. The US is using this same tactic in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This week’s deadly US attacks pointedly again illustrate the fact that the 60,000 US and NATO ground troops in Afghanistan are incapable of even holding off Taliban and its allies, even though the Afghan resistance has nothing but small arms to battle the west’s high-tech arsenal. Further evidence was supplied by an audacious Taliban raid on Kandahar prison, which liberated 450–500 Taliban prisoners and humiliated Canadian and NATO forces policing the region.

US air power is almost always called in when there are clashes with Taliban or other anti-western forces. In fact, US and NATO infantry’s main function is to draw Taliban into battle so the Afghan mujahidin can be bombed from the air.

Without the round the clock overhead presence of US airpower, which can respond in minutes, western forces in Afghanistan would risk being isolated, cut off from supplies, and defeated. A sizeable portion of NATO manpower in Afghanistan already goes to defending bases and supply depots. However, NATO’s long supply lines that bring in fuel, food, and ammunition across FATA from US-run bases in Pakistan are increasingly under attack. Forty giant fuel tankers were recently destroyed at the Torkham border crossing.

But these deadly air strikes, as we have seen in recent weeks, are blunt instruments. Guerilla wars are all about controlling civilian populations. The US air attacks often kill as many or even more civilians than Taliban fighters. Dead civilians are routinely described away as “suspected Taliban fighters.”

Mighty US B-1 heavy bombers are not going to win the hearts and minds of Afghans. Each bombed village and massacred caravan wins new recruits to Taliban and its allies.

Now, the US and its NATO allies are edging ever closer to open warfare against Pakistan at a time when they are unable to defeat Taliban fighters inside Afghanistan due to lack of combat troops. The outgoing commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, US Gen. Dan McNeill, recently admitted he would need 400,000 soldiers to pacify that nation. The US and NATO have a combined force of around 60,000 troops in Afghanistan.

“We just need to occupy Pakistan’s tribal territory,” insists the Pentagon, “to stop its Pashtun tribes from supporting and sheltering Taliban, and shut down Taliban bases there.” US commanders in Vietnam used the same faulty reasoning to justify their counterproductive expansion of the Indochina War into Cambodia.

A US-led invasion of FATA, as urged by Secretary Gates, will simply push pro-Taliban Pashtun militants further into Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier province, drawing overextended western troops ever deeper into Pakistan and making their supply lines all the more vulnerable. Already overextended western forces will be stretched even thinner and clashes with Pakistan’s tough regular army may become inevitable.

Widening the Afghan War into Pakistan is military stupidity on a grand scale and political madness. It could very well end up a bigger disaster than Iraq. But Washington and its obedient allies seem hell-bent on charging into a wider regional war that no number of heavy bombers will win.

Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Federal Reserve, Inflation, Fascism and War

This is long, but I found it very interesting, well argued and I had to modify my view of history as a result.

From here:

http://mises.org/story/3010

by Lew Rockwell

The US central bank, called the Federal Reserve, was created in 1913. No one promoted this institution with the slogan that it would make wars more likely and guarantee that nearly half a million Americans will die in battle in foreign lands, along with millions of foreign soldiers and civilians.

No one pointed out that this institution would permit Americans to fund, without taxes, the destruction of cities abroad and overthrow governments at will. No one said that the central bank would make it possible for the United States to be at large-scale war in one of every four years for a full century. It was never pointed out that this institution would make it possible for the US government to establish a global empire that would make imperial Rome and Britain look benign by comparison.

You can line up 100 professional war historians and political scientists to talk about the 20th century, and not one is likely to mention the role of the Fed in funding US militarism. And yet it is true: the Fed is the institution that has created the money to fund the wars. In this role, it has solved a major problem that the state has confronted for all of human history. A state without money or a state that must tax its citizens to raise money for its wars is necessarily limited in its imperial ambitions. Keep in mind that this is only a problem for the state. It is not a problem for the people. The inability of the state to fund its unlimited ambitions is worth more for the people than every kind of legal check and balance. It is more valuable than all the constitutions every devised.

The state has no wealth that is its own. It is not a profitable enterprise. Everything it possesses it must take from society in a zero-sum game. That usually means taxes, but taxes annoy people. They can destabilize the state and threaten its legitimacy. They inspire anger, revolt, and even revolution. Rather than risk that result, the state from the Middle Ages to the dawn of the central-banking age was somewhat cautious in its global ambitions simply because it was cautious in its need to steal openly and directly from the people in order to pay its bills.

To be sure, it doesn’t require a central bank for a state to choose inflation over taxes as a means of funding itself. All it really requires is a monopoly on the production of money. Once acquired, the monopoly on money production leads to a systematic process of depreciating the currency, whether by coin clipping or debasement or the introduction of paper money, which can then be printed without limit. The central bank assists in this process in a critical sense: it cartelizes the banking system, the essential conduit by which money is lent to the public and to the government itself. The banking system thereby becomes a primary funding agency to the state, and, in exchange for its services, the banking system is guaranteed against insolvency and business failure as it profits from inflation. If the goal of the state is the complete monopolization of money under an infinitely flexible paper-money system, there is no better path for the state than the creation of a central bank. This is the greatest achievement for the victory of power over liberty.

The connection between war and inflation, then, dates long before the creation of the Federal Reserve. In fact, it dates to the founding itself. The fate of the Continental currency during and after the Revolutionary War, for example, was a very bad omen for our future, and the whole country paid a very serious price. It was this experience that later led to the gold clause in the US Constitution. Except for the Hamiltonians, that entire generation of political activists saw the unity of freedom and sound money, and regarded paper money as the fuel of tyranny.

Consider Thomas Paine:

Paper money is like dram-drinking, it relieves for a moment by deceitful sensation, but gradually diminishes the natural heat, and leaves the body worse than it found it. Were not this the case, and could money be made of paper at pleasure, every sovereign in Europe would be as rich as he pleased…. Paper money appears at first sight to be a great saving, or rather that it costs nothing; but it is the dearest money there is. The ease with which it is emitted by an assembly at first serves as a trap to catch people in at last. It operates as an anticipation of the next year’s taxes.”

But the wisdom of this generation, attacked by Lincoln, was finally thrown out during the Progressive Era. It was believed that an age of scientific public policy needed a scientific money machinery that could be controlled by powerful elites. The dawn of the age of central banking was also the dawn of the age of central planning, for there can be no government control over the nation’s commercial life without first controlling the money. And once the state has the money and the banking system, its ambitions can be realized.

Before the creation of the Federal Reserve, the idea of American entry into the conflict that became World War I would have been inconceivable. In fact, it was a highly unpopular idea, and Woodrow Wilson himself campaigned on a platform that promised to keep us out of war. But with a money monopoly, all things seem possible. It was a mere four years after the Fed was invented under the guise of scientific policy planning that the real agenda became obvious. The Fed would fund the US entry into World War I.

It was not only entry alone that was made possible. World War I was the first total war. It involved nearly the whole of the civilized world, and not only their governments but also the civilian populations, both as combatants and as targets. It has been described as the war that ended civilization in the 19th-century sense in which we understand that term. That is to say, it was the war that ended liberty as we knew it. What made it possible was the Federal Reserve. And not only the US central bank; it was also its European counterparts. This was a war funded under the guise of scientific monetary policy.

Reflecting on the calamity of this war, Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1919

“One can say without exaggeration that inflation is an indispensable means of militarism. Without it, the repercussions of war on welfare become obvious much more quickly and penetratingly; war weariness would set in much earlier.”

There is always a price to be paid for funding war through the central bank. The postwar situation in America was a classic case. There was inflation. There were massive dislocations. There was recession or what was then called depression, a direct result of capital dislocation that masked itself as an economic boom, but which was then followed by a bust. The depression hit in 1920, but it is not a famous event in United States economic history. Why is that? Because the Federal Reserve had not yet acquired the tools to manufacture an attempt to save the economy. Instead, neither the Fed nor Congress nor the president did much of anything about it — a wholly praiseworthy response! As a result, the depression was brief and became a footnote to history. The same would have happened in 1930, had Hoover not attempted to use the government as the means of resuscitation.

The dawn of the age of central banking was also the dawn of the age of central planning, for there can be no government control over the nation’s commercial life without first controlling the money.  Sadly, the easy recovery of 1920–1922 tempted the central bank to get back into the business of inflation, with the eventual result of a stock market boom that led to bust, then depression, and finally the destruction of the gold standard itself. FDR found that even fascist-style economic planning and inflation could not restore prosperity, so he turned to the ancient method of looking for a war to enter. Here is where the history of the United States and the Fed intersects with the tragic role of the German central bank.

The German government also funded its Great War through inflation. By war’s end, money in circulation had risen fourfold. Prices were up 140%. Yet, on international exchange, the German mark had not suffered as much as one might expect. The German government looked at this with encouragement and promptly attempted to manufacture a complete economic recovery through inflation. Incredibly, by 1923, the mark had fallen to one-trillionth of its 1914 gold value. The US dollar was then equal to 4.2 trillion marks. It was an example of currency destruction that remains legendary in the history of the world — all made possible by a central bank that obliged the government and monetized its war debt.

But did people blame the printing press? No. The popular explanation dealt directly with the Treaty of Versailles. It was the harsh peace imposed by the allies that had brought Germany to the brink of total destruction — or so it was believed. Mises himself had written a full book that he hoped would explain that Germany owed its suffering to war and socialism, not Versailles as such. He urged the German people to look at the real cause and establish free markets, lest imperial dictatorship be the next stage in political development. But he was ignored.

The result, we all know, was Hitler.

Turning to Russia, the untold truth about the Bolshevik revolution is that Lenin’s greatest propaganda tool involved the suffering of the Russian people during World War I. Men were drafted and killed at a horrific level. Lenin called this capitalist exploitation, based on his view that the war resulted from capitalist motives. In fact, it was a foreshadowing of the world that socialism would bring about, a world in which all people and all property are treated as means to statist ends. And what made the prolongation of the Russian role in World War I possible was an institution created in 1860 called the State Bank of the Russian Empire — the Russian version of the Fed.

The Russian war itself was funded through money creation, which also led to massive price increases and controls and shortages during the war. I’m not of the opinion, unlike the neocons, that the Russian monarchy was a particularly evil regime, but the temptation that the money machine provided the regime proved too inviting. It turned a relatively benign monarchy into a war machine. A country that had long been integrated into the worldwide division of labor and was under a gold standard became a killing machine. And as horrific and catastrophic as the war dead were for Russian morale, the inflation affected every last person and inspired massive unrest that led to the triumph of Communism.

At this juncture in history, we can see what central banking had brought to us. It was not an end to the business cycle. It was not merely more liquidity for the banking system. It was not an end to bank runs and bank panics. It certainly wasn’t scientific public policy. The world’s major economies were being lorded over by money monopolies, and the front men had become some of the worst despots in the history of the world. Now they were preparing to fight each other with all the resources they had at their disposal. The resources they did not have at their disposal they would pay for with their beloved machinery of central banking.

In wartime, the printing presses ran overtime, but with a totalitarian level of rationing, price controls, and all-around socialization of resources in the whole of the Western world, the result of inflation was not merely rising prices. It was vast suffering and shortages in Britain, Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Austria-Hungary, the United States, and pretty much the entire planet.

So we can see here the amazing irony of central banking at work. The institution that was promoted by economists working with bankers, in the name of bringing rationality and science to bear on monetary matters, had given birth to the most evil political trends in the history of the world: Communism, socialism, Fascism, Nazism, and the despotism of economic planning in the capitalist West. The story of central banking is one step removed from the story of atom bombs and death camps. There is a reason the state has been unrestrained in the last 100 years, and that reason is the precise one that many people think of as a purely technical issue that is too complicated for mere mortals.

Fast-forward to the Iraq War, which has all the features of a conflict born of the power to print money. There was a time when the decision to go to war involved real debate in the House of Commons or the US House of Representatives. And what was this debate about? It was about resources and the power to tax. But once the executive state was unhinged from the need to rely on tax dollars and did not have to worry about finding willing buyers for its unbacked debt instruments, the political debate about war was silenced.

In the entire run-up to war, George Bush just assumed as a matter of policy that it was his decision alone whether to invade Iraq. The objections by Ron Paul and some other members of Congress and vast numbers of the American population were reduced to little more than white noise in the background. Imagine if he had to raise the money for the war through taxes. It never would have happened. But he didn’t have to. He knew the money would be there. So despite a $200 billion deficit, a $9 trillion debt, $5 trillion in outstanding debt instruments held by the public, a federal budget of $3 trillion, and falling tax receipts in 2001, Bush contemplated a war that has cost $525 billion dollars — or $4,681 per household. Imagine if he had gone to the American people to request that. What would have happened? I think we know the answer to that question. And those are government figures; the actual cost of this war will be far higher — perhaps $20,000 per household.

Now, when left-liberals talk about these figures, they like to compare them with what the state might have done with these resources in terms of funding health care, public schools, Head Start centers, or food stamps. This is a mistake because it demonstrates that the Left isn’t really providing an alternative to the Right. It merely has a different set of priorities in how it would use the resources raised by the inflation machine. It’s true that public schools are less costly in terms of lives and property than war itself. But the inflation-funded welfare state also has a corrosive effect on society. The pipe dream that the inflation monster can be used to promote good instead of evil illustrates a certain naïveté about the nature of the state itself. If the state has the power and is asked to choose between doing good and waging war, what will it choose? Certainly in the American context, the choice has always been for war.

It is equally naïve for the Right to talk about restraining the government while wishing for global war. So long as the state has unlimited access to the printing press, it can ignore the pleas of ideological groups concerning how the money will be spent. It is also very silly for the Right to believe that it can have its wars, its militarism, its nationalism and belligerence, without depending on the power of the Federal Reserve. This institution is the very mechanism by which the dreams of both the fanatical Right and the fanatical Left come true.

The effect of the money machine goes well beyond funding undesirable government programs. The Fed creates financial bubbles that lead to economic dislocation. Think of the technology bubble of the late 1990s or the housing bubble. Or the boom that preceded the current bust. These are all a result of the monopolization of money.

These days, the American consumer has been hit very hard with rising prices in oil, clothing, food, and much else. For the first time in decades, people are feeling this and feeling it hard. And just as in every other inflation in world history, people are looking for the culprit and finding all the wrong ones. They believe it is the oil companies who are gouging us, or that foreign oil dealers are restricting supply, or that gas station owners are abusing a crisis to profit at our expense.

I wouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility that price controls are around the corner. When Nixon imposed them in 1971, neither he nor his advisors believed that they would actually result in controlling inflation. Rather, the purpose was to redirect the target of public anger from the government and its bank over to retailers, who would become scapegoats. In this sense, price controls do work. They make people believe that the government is trying to lower prices while the private sector is attempting to raise them. This is the real political dynamic at work with price controls.

The question is whether you will be taken in by these tactics. It is long past time for us to take note that the cause of the real trouble here is not the manufacturers, or even the war as such, but the agency that has been granted a legal right to counterfeit at will and lower the value of the currency while fueling every manner of statist scheme, whether welfare or warfare. We need to look at the Fed and say, this is the enemy.

Note that the Federal Reserve is not a political party. It is not a recognized interest group. It is not a famed lobby in Washington. It is not really even a sector of public opinion. It seems completely shielded from vigorous public debate. If we truly believe in liberty and decry the leviathan state, this situation cannot be tolerated.

I say to the sincere Right, if you really want to limit the state, you will have to give up your dreams of remaking the world at the point of a gun. Wars and limited government are impossible. Moreover, you must stop ignoring the role of monetary policy. It is a technical subject, to be sure, but one that we must all look into and understand if we expect to restore something that resembles the American liberty of the founders.

I say to the sincere Left, if you really want to stop war and stop the spying state, and put an end to the persecution of political dissidents and the Guantánamo camps for foreign peoples, and put a stop to the culture of nationalism and militarism, you must join us in turning attention to the role of monetary policy. The printing presses must be unplugged. It’s true that this will also hit programs that are beloved by the Left, such as socialized health care and federalized education programs. But so long as you expect the state to fund your dreams, you cannot expect that the state will not also fund the dreams of people you hate.

And let me say a few words to libertarians, who dream of a world with limited government under the rule of law, a world in which free enterprise reigns and where the state has no power to interfere in our lives so long as we behave peacefully. It is completely absurd to believe that this can be achieved without fundamental monetary reform. And yet, until the most recent Ron Paul campaign — and aside from Murray Rothbard and the 26-year-long work of the Mises Institute — I don’t recall that libertarians themselves have cared much about this issue at all.

In 1983, the Mises Institute held a large academic conference on the gold standard, and we held it in Washington, D.C. (There were scholarly papers and Ron Paul debated a Fed governor. Ron won.) Even back then, I recall that D.C. libertarians ridiculed us for holding such a meeting to talk about the Fed and its replacement with sound money. They said that this would make the Mises Institute look ridiculous, that we would be tarred with the brush of gold bugs and crazies. We did it anyway. And all these years later, the book that came out of that conference remains a main source for understanding the role of money in the advance of despotism or resistance to it, and a blueprint for the future.

Of course the Austrian tradition fought paper money and central banking from the beginning. Menger was an advocate of the gold standard. Böhm-Bawerk actually established it as finance minister to the Habsburg monarchy. Mises’s book on the topic from 1912 was the first to show the role of money in the business cycle, and he issued dire warnings about central banking. Hayek wrote powerfully against the abandonment of gold in the 1930s. Hazlitt warned of the inevitable breakdown of Bretton Woods and advocated a real gold standard instead. And Rothbard was a champion of sound money and the greatest enemy the Fed has ever had.

But generally, I’ve long detected a tendency in libertarian circles to ignore this issue, in part for precisely the reasons cited above: it is not respectable.

Well, I will tell you why this issue is not considered respectable: it is the most important priority of the state to keep its money machine hidden behind a curtain. Anyone who dares pull the curtain back is accused of every manner of intellectual crime. This is precisely the reason we must talk about it at every occasion. We must end the conspiracy of silence on this issue.

I was intrigued at how Ron Paul, during his campaign, would constantly bring up the subject. Most politicians are out to play up to their audiences, so they say things that people want to hear. I promise you that early in the campaign, no one wanted to hear him talk about the Federal Reserve. But he did it anyway. He worked to educate his audiences about the need for monetary reform. And it worked. For the first time in my life, there is a large and very public movement in this country to take this topic seriously.

Monetary economist Joseph Salerno was called the other day by C-Span, which wanted to interview him on television on the need to restore gold as the basis of our currency. As I watched this excellent interview, I was struck by what a great triumph it truly is for liberty that this topic is again part of the national debate. In the 19th-century, this was a topic on everybody’s mind. It can be again today, provided we do not eschew the truth in the formation of our message.

It might be said that advocating privatization is politically unrealistic, and therefore a waste of time. What’s more, we might say that by continuing to harp on the issue, we only marginalize ourselves, proving that we are on the fringe. I submit that there is no better way to ensure that an issue will always be off the table than to stop talking about it.

Far from being an arcane and anachronistic issue, then, the gold standard and the issues it raises get right to the heart of the current debate concerning the future of war and the world economy. Why do the government and its partisans dislike the gold standard? It removes the discretionary power of the Fed by placing severe limits on the ability of the central bank to inflate the money supply. Without that discretionary power, the government has far fewer tools of central planning at its disposal. Government can regulate, which is a function of the police power. It can tax, which involves taking people’s property. And it can spend, which means redistributing other people’s property. But its activities in the financial area are radically curbed.

Think of your local and state governments. They tax and spend. They manipulate and intervene. As with all governments from the beginning of time, they generally retard social progress and muck things up as much as possible. What they do not do, however, is wage massive global wars, run huge deficits, accumulate trillions in debt, reduce the value of money, bail out foreign governments, provide endless credit to failing enterprises, administer hugely expensive and destructive social insurance schemes, or bring about immense swings in business activity.

State and local governments are awful and they must be relentlessly checked, but they are not anything like the threat of the federal government. Neither are they as arrogant and convinced of their own infallibility and indispensability. They lack the aura of invincibility that the central government enjoys.

It is the central bank, and only the central bank, that works as the government’s money machine, and this makes all the difference. Now, it is not impossible that a central bank can exist alongside a gold standard, a lender of last resort that avoids the temptation to destroy that which restrains it. In the same way, it is possible for someone with an insatiable appetite for wine to sit at a banquet table of delicious vintages and not take a sip. Let’s just say that the existence of a central bank introduces an occasion of sin for the government. That is why under the best gold standard, there would be no central bank, gold coins would circulate as freely as their substitutes, and rules against fraud and theft would prohibit banks from pyramiding credit on top of demand deposits.

So long as we are constructing the perfect system, all coinage would be private. Banks would be treated as businesses: no special privileges, no promises of bailout, no subsidized insurance, and no connection to government at any level.

This is the free-market system of monetary management, which means turning over the institution of money entirely to the market economy. As with any institution in a free society, it is not imposed from above and dictated by a group of experts, but is the de facto result that comes about in a society that consistently respects private-property rights, encourages enterprise, and promotes peace.

It comes down to this. If you hate war, oppose the Fed. If you hate violations of your liberties, oppose the Fed. If you want to restrain despotism, restrain the Fed. If you want to secure freedom for yourself and your descendants, abolish the Fed.

 

Published in: on June 9, 2008 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Hillary and Article II of the Constitution

Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected . . . 

 

 

The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.

 

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

 

Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

 

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

 

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

 

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

END ARTICLE II QUOTE

My comments:  

It seems that there are a lot of masculine pronouns in Article II.  I didn’t write the U.S. Constitution, but it would seem that the writers intended for the President to be a male.

Just FYI, I generally do prefer males as leaders, although I do think Margaret Thatcher did about as well as anyone in recent history as P.M. of Great Britain. 

However, C.S. Lewis once posed the following question in relation to marriage and male or female leadership:

If your dog bit the neighbor’s small child, would you rather go talk to the injured child’s mother or the injured child’s father?

I think most people would prefer to talk with the child’s father – I know I would.

Regardless of any personal preference (and, all things considered, I do prefer Hillary as the slightly lesser of three evils between Obama, McCain and her), the Constitution would appear to allow only men to be President.  I didn’t write it.  If the writers did intend to specifically pre-empt women from being President, then we would need to have an Amendment to the Constitution in order to have a female president.  I have no objection to the amendment, but it apparently needs to be done to be “kosher”.

I still intend to vote for Ron Paul in November – whether he’s on the ballot or not.

Published in: on May 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is the price of gas really that high?

http://mises.org/story/2940 

Economics 101: The Price of Gas

Daily Article | Posted on 4/22/2008 by

Gas prices are up and oil executives are once again testifying before Congress. Clearly, many politicians, pundits, and consumers lament the rising cost of gas. Before we join them in their chorus, let us take a step back and ask this question: Are gas prices really all that high?

A change in price can be a result of inflation, taxes, changes in supply and demand, or any combination of the three.

First, we need to take into account inflation. The result of the Federal Reserve printing too much money is a loss of purchasing power of the dollar:

something that cost $1.00 in 1950 would cost about $8.78 today. As for gas prices, in 1950 the price of gas was approximately 30 cents per gallon. Adjusted for inflation, a gallon of gas today should cost right at $2.64, assuming taxes are the same.

But taxes have not stayed the same. The tax per gallon of gas in 1950 was roughly 1.5% of the price. Today, federal, state, and local taxes account for approximately 20% of gas’s posted price. Taking inflation and the increase in taxes into account (assuming no change in supply or demand) the same gallon of gas that cost 30 cents in 1950 should today cost about $3.13.

Neither have supply or demand remained constant. The world economy is growing. China and India are obvious examples. At the same time, Americans continue to love driving SUVs and trucks. As for supply, we are prohibited (whatever the reasons may be) from using many of the known oil reserves in our own country. Furthermore, due to government regulation, the last oil refinery built in the United States was completed in 1976. In addition, the Middle East is politically unstable which leads to a risk premium on the world’s major source of oil. It is obvious that the demand for oil has grown while supplies have been restricted.

The average price of gas in the United States today is approximately $3.25. The question is, why are gas prices not higher than they are?

Blaming greedy oil companies on the rising price of gas is simply irresponsible. The profit margins of a few selected industries are as follows:

Periodical Publishing 24.9%
Shipping 18.8%
Application Software 22.5%
Tobacco 19%
Water Utilities 10.2%
Major Integrated Oil and Gas 9.5%
Hospitals 1.4%
Drugstores 2.8%
 

The water utility industry has higher profit margins than major oil and gas firms! Why isn’t every CEO with profit margins above that of the oil companies made to testify before Congress for “price gouging”? Clearly, greedy corporate profits are not the issue.

Again, while just over nine percent of the price of a gallon of gas goes to oil company profits, approximately twenty percent of the price of a gallon of gas is composed of federal, state, and local taxes.

Those who want the government to step in and do something about the high price of gas are either forgetful of recent history or too young to remember the oil crisis of 1979. During that time, restrictions on the price of gasoline led to the inability of some to find gas at all. Price ceilings always lead to shortages. The only thing worse than having to pay “too much” for gas is not being able to find gas at any price.

Let us not be swayed by politicians out for power or by reporters out to create news where none exists. Facts and economic logic should prevail rather than rhetoric.

Sterling T. Terrell is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of agricultural and applied economics at Texas Tech University.

Published in: on April 22, 2008 at 3:44 pm  Comments (1)  

Fred Reed On Immigration

http://www.fredoneverything.net/FOE_Frame_Column.htm

Immigration – The Art of Unpolicy

April 7, 2008

To grasp American immigration policy, to the extent that it can be grasped, one need only remember that the United States forbids smoking while subsidizing tobacco growers.

We say to impoverished Mexicans, “See this river? Don’t cross it. If you do, we’ll give you good jobs, a drivers license, citizenship for your kids born here and eventually for you, school for said kids, public assistance, governmental documents in Spanish for your convenience, and a much better future. There is no penalty for getting caught. Now, don’t cross this river, hear?”

How smart is that? We’re baiting them. It’s like putting out a salt lick and then complaining when deer come. As parents, the immigrants would be irresponsible not to cross.

The problem of immigration, note, is entirely self-inflicted. The US chose to let them in. It didn’t have to. They came to work. If Americans hadn’t hired them, they would have gone back.

We have immigration because we want immigration. Liberals favor immigration because it makes them feel warm and fuzzy and international and all, and from a genuine streak of decency. Conservative Republican businessman favor immigration, frequently sotto voce, because they want cheap labor that actually shows up and works.

It’s a story I’ve heard many times—from a landscaper, a construction firm, a junkyard owner, a group of plant nurserymen, and so on. “We need Mexicans.” You could yell “Migra!” in a lot of restaurants in Washington, and the entire staff would disappear out the back door. Do we expect businessmen to vote themselves out of business? That’s why we don’t take the obvious steps to control immigration (a thousand-dollar-a-day fine for hiring illegals, half to go anonymously to whoever informed on the employer).

In Jalisco, Mexico, where I live, crossing illegally is regarded as casually as pirating music or smoking a joint, and the coyotes who smuggle people across as a public utility, like light rail. The smuggling is frequently done by bribing the American border guards, who are notoriously corrupt.

Why corrupt? Money. In the book De Los Maras a Los Zetas, by a Mexican journalist, I find an account of a transborder tunnel he knew of that could put 150 illegals a day across the border. (I can’t confirm this.) The price is about $2000 a person. That’s $300,000 a day, tax-free. What does a border guard make? (And where can I find a shovel?) The author estimated that perhaps forty tunnels were active at any give time. Certainly some are. A woman I know says she came up in a restaurant and just walked out the door. Let’s hear it for Homeland Security: All together now….

The amusing thing is the extent to which American policy is not to have a policy. The open floodgates to the south are changing—have changed, will continue to change—the nature of the country forever. You may think this a good thing or a bad thing. It is certainly an important thing—the most important for us in at least a century. Surely (one might think) it deserves careful thought, national debate, prudence, things like that.

But no. In the clownishness that we regard as presidential campaigning, none of the contenders has much to say on the matter. In a dance of evasion that has become customary, the candidates carefully ignore those matters of most import for the nation, since considering hard questions might be divisive. War, peace, race, immigration, affirmative action, the militarization of the economy, the desirability of empire—these play no part in the electoral discussion. We seem to regard large issues as we might the weather: interesting, but beyond control. It’s linger, loiter, dawdle and fumble and see what happens.

And so, while various conservative groups (not including businessmen) rush out to guard the borders, nice liberal professors in the Northeast hurried learn Spanish to help local illegals settle in. Many people, alienated from the United States by policies and trends they find odious, no longer care. There is no national consensus. The country fractures into a congeries of warring agglomerations and the resulting paralysis manifests itself in drift.

The problem with muddling through is that one may not like what lies on the other side of the muddle. Some day we may look back on the question of immigration and see that it all worked out well in the end and wonder what the fuss was about. Or we may not. No one will be able to charge us with having thought things through.

There is much billingsgate about whether to grant amnesty. The question strikes me as cosmetic. We are not going to round up millions of people and physically throw them across the border. Whether we should doesn’t matter. It’s fantasy. Too many people want them here, or don’t care that they are here, or don’t want to uproot families who have established new lives here. Ethnic cleansing is ugly. Further, the legal Latino population votes. It’s just starting to vote. A bumper crop of Mexican-American kids, possessed of citizenship, are growing headlong toward voting age. These are not throwable-out, even in principle.

People complain that Mexico doesn’t seal the borders. Huh? Mexico is a country, not a prison. It has no obligation to enforce American laws that America declines to enforce. Then there was the uproar when some fast-food restaurant in the US began accepting pesos. Why? Mexican border towns accept dollars. Next came outrage against Mexico because its consulates were issuing ID cards to illegals, which they then used to get drivers licenses. Why outrage? A country has every right to issue ID to its citizens. America doesn’t have to accept them. If it does, whose problem is that?

If you want to see a reasonable immigration policy, look to Mexico. You automatically get a ninety-day tourist visa when you land. No border Nazis. To get residency papers, you need two things (apart from photographs, passport, etc.) First, a valid tourist visa to show that you entered the country legally. Mexico doesn’t do illegal aliens. Second, a demonstrable income of $1000 a month. You are welcome to live in Mexico, but you are going to pay your own way. Sounds reasonable to me.

You want a Mexican passport? Mexico allows dual citizenship. You (usually) have to be a resident for five years before applying. You also have to speak Spanish. It’s the national language. What sense does it make to have citizens who can’t talk to anybody?

It looks to me as though America thoughtlessly adopted an unwise policy, continued it until reversal became approximately impossible, and now doesn’t like the results. It must be Mexico’s fault.

Published in: on April 9, 2008 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Amish – No Vaccines = No Autism almost no Asthma

http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Health/2005/12/07/the_age_of_autism_a_pretty_big_secret/6829/

The Age of Autism: ‘A pretty big secret’
Published: Dec. 7, 2005 at 2:08 PM

By DAN OLMSTED
UPI Senior Editor
CHICAGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) — It’s a far piece from the horse-and-buggies of Lancaster County, Pa., to the cars and freeways of Cook County, Ill.

But thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don’t have autism.

“We have a fairly large practice. We have about 30,000 or 35,000 children that we’ve taken care of over the years, and I don’t think we have a single case of autism in children delivered by us who never received vaccines,” said Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, Homefirst’s medical director who founded the practice in 1973. Homefirst doctors have delivered more than 15,000 babies at home, and thousands of them have never been vaccinated.

The few autistic children Homefirst sees were vaccinated before their families became patients, Eisenstein said. “I can think of two or three autistic children who we’ve delivered their mother’s next baby, and we aren’t really totally taking care of that child — they have special care needs. But they bring the younger children to us. I don’t have a single case that I can think of that wasn’t vaccinated.”

The autism rate in Illinois public schools is 38 per 10,000, according to state Education Department data; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the national rate of autism spectrum disorders at 1 in 166 — 60 per 10,000.

“We do have enough of a sample,” Eisenstein said. “The numbers are too large to not see it. We would absolutely know. We’re all family doctors. If I have a child with autism come in, there’s no communication. It’s frightening. You can’t touch them. It’s not something that anyone would miss.”

No one knows what causes autism, but federal health authorities say it isn’t childhood immunizations. Some parents and a small minority of doctors and scientists, however, assert vaccines are responsible.

This column has been looking for autism in never-vaccinated U.S. children in an effort to shed light on the issue. We went to Chicago to meet with Eisenstein at the suggestion of a reader, and we also visited Homefirst’s office in northwest suburban Rolling Meadows. Homefirst has four other offices in the Chicago area and a total of six doctors.

Eisenstein stresses his observations are not scientific. “The trouble is this is just anecdotal in a sense, because what if every autistic child goes somewhere else and (their family) never calls us or they moved out of state?”

In practice, that’s unlikely to account for the pronounced absence of autism, says Eisenstein, who also has a bachelor’s degree in statistics, a master’s degree in public health and a law degree.

Homefirst follows state immunization mandates, but Illinois allows religious exemptions if parents object based either on tenets of their faith or specific personal religious views. Homefirst does not exclude or discourage such families. Eisenstein, in fact, is author of the book “Don’t Vaccinate Before You Educate!” and is critical of the CDC’s vaccination policy in the 1990s, when several new immunizations were added to the schedule, including Hepatitis B as early as the day of birth. Several of the vaccines — HepB included — contained a mercury-based preservative that has since been phased out of most childhood vaccines in the United States.

Medical practices with Homefirst’s approach to immunizations are rare. “Because of that, we tend to attract families that have questions about that issue,” said Dr. Paul Schattauer, who has been with Homefirst for 20 years and treats “at least” 100 children a week.

Schattauer seconded Eisenstein’s observations. “All I know is in my practice I don’t see autism. There is no striking 1-in-166,” he said.

Earlier this year we reported the same phenomenon in the mostly unvaccinated Amish. CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding told us the Amish “have genetic connectivity that would make them different from populations that are in other sectors of the United States.” Gerberding said, however, studies “could and should be done” in more representative unvaccinated groups — if they could be found and their autism rate documented.

Chicago is America’s prototypical “City of Big Shoulders,” to quote Carl Sandburg, and Homefirst’s mostly middle-class families seem fairly representative. A substantial number are conservative Christians who home-school their children. They are mostly white, but the Homefirst practice also includes black and Hispanic families and non-home-schooling Jews, Catholics and Muslims.

They tend to be better educated, follow healthier diets and breast-feed their children much longer than the norm — half of Homefirst’s mothers are still breast-feeding at two years. Also, because Homefirst relies less on prescription drugs including antibiotics as a first line of treatment, these children have less exposure to other medicines, not just vaccines.

Schattauer, interviewed at the Rolling Meadows office, said his caseload is too limited to draw conclusions about a possible link between vaccines and autism. “With these numbers you’d have a hard time proving or disproving anything,” he said. “You can only get a feeling about it.

“In no way would I be an advocate to stand up and say we need to look at vaccines, because I don’t have the science to say that,” Schattauer said. “But I don’t think the science is there to say that it’s not.”

Schattauer said Homefirst’s patients also have significantly less childhood asthma and juvenile diabetes compared to national rates. An office manager who has been with Homefirst for 17 years said she is aware of only one case of severe asthma in an unvaccinated child.

“Sometimes you feel frustrated because you feel like you’ve got a pretty big secret,” Schattauer said. He argues for more research on all those disorders, independent of political or business pressures.

The asthma rate among Homefirst patients is so low it was noticed by the Blue Cross group with which Homefirst is affiliated, according to Eisenstein.

“In the alternative-medicine network which Homefirst is part of, there are virtually no cases of childhood asthma, in contrast to the overall Blue Cross rate of childhood asthma which is approximately 10 percent,” he said. “At first I thought it was because they (Homefirst’s children) were breast-fed, but even among the breast-fed we’ve had asthma. We have virtually no asthma if you’re breast-fed and not vaccinated.”

Because the diagnosis of asthma is based on emergency-room visits and hospital admissions, Eisenstein said, Homefirst’s low rate is hard to dispute. “It’s quantifiable — the definition is not reliant on the doctor’s perception of asthma.”

Several studies have found a risk of asthma from vaccination; others have not. Studies that include never-vaccinated children generally find little or no asthma in that group.

Earlier this year Florida pediatrician Dr. Jeff Bradstreet said there is virtually no autism in home-schooling families who decline to vaccinate for religious reasons — lending credence to Eisenstein’s observations.

“It’s largely non-existent,” said Bradstreet, who treats children with autism from around the country. “It’s an extremely rare event.”

Bradstreet has a son whose autism he attributes to a vaccine reaction at 15 months. His daughter has been home-schooled, he describes himself as a “Christian family physician,” and he knows many of the leaders in the home-school movement.

“There was this whole subculture of folks who went into home-schooling so they would never have to vaccinate their kids,” he said. “There’s this whole cadre who were never vaccinated for religious reasons.”

In that subset, he said, “unless they were massively exposed to mercury through lots of amalgams (mercury dental fillings in the mother) and/or big-time fish eating, I’ve not had a single case.”

Federal health authorities and mainstream medical groups emphatically dismiss any link between autism and vaccines, including the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. Last year a panel of the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies, said there is no evidence of such a link, and funding should henceforth go to “promising” research.

Thimerosal, which is 49.6 percent ethyl mercury by weight, was phased out of most U.S. childhood immunizations beginning in 1999, but the CDC recommends flu shots for pregnant women and last year began recommending them for children 6 to 23 months old. Most of those shots contain thimerosal.

Thimerosal-preserved vaccines are currently being injected into millions of children in developing countries around the world. “My mandate … is to make sure at the end of the day that 100,000,000 are immunized … this year, next year and for many years to come … and that will have to be with thimerosal-containing vaccines,” said John Clements of the World Health Organization at a June 2000 meeting called by the CDC.

That meeting was held to review data that thimerosal might be linked with autism and other neurological problems. But in 2004 the Institute of Medicine panel said evidence against a link is so strong that health authorities, “whether in the United States or other countries, should not include autism as a potential risk” when formulating immunization policies.

But where is the simple, straightforward study of autism in never-vaccinated U.S. children? Based on our admittedly anecdotal and limited reporting among the Amish, the home-schooled and now Chicago’s Homefirst, that may prove to be a significant omission.

Published in: on April 7, 2008 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

On the “volunteer” army

In this post I assert that as long as the U.S. Gov has the “right” to “stop-loss” the troops, promise them things and then not keep the promises, etc. . . THERE IS NO VALID CONTRACT between the parties in any commonly known “legal” sense of the word.  Imagine if each U.S. Soldier would refuse to honor his side of the contract because the USG had breached their side of the contract.  That would lead to a true “volunteer” army.  Do you think the Armed Forces could afford to court martial everyone?

Definition of volunteer:

“To perform or offer to perform a service of one’s own free will.”  – American Heritage Dictionary

“a person whose actions are not founded on any legal obligation so to act.” – Dictionary.com

 “Consideration” is a benefit or right for which the parties to a contract must bargain; the contract is founded on an exchange of one form of consideration for another.

From a legal perspective, for a contract to be legitimate, the terms of the contract must be certain and they must be binding on both parties.  If the terms are not certain, then there is not a “meeting of the minds.”  If the terms are not binding on one or both of the parties, then there is no contract because without mutuality of obligation, then there is not sufficient “consideration” and the contract is void.   Further, if one party prevents another party from knowing the character or essential terms of the transaction, then a fraud has occurred and the apparent contract is void.  Finally, a failure to abide by the terms of the contract is a breach of that contract.

From William Norman Grigg’s blog:

http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com

 “A contract that is binding only on one party, and can be revised at will by the other party, isn’t a contract in any sense I can recognize. The Government claims that it can extend the period of service required of enlistees; equity demands that enlistees be able to abbreviate their service at will as well, perhaps forfeiting some portion of their enlistment bonus in the process.”

“If we truly had a volunteer military, would “desertion” be a crime? I can’t see how it could be. Under the Nuremberg Principles, there are times when desertion, or something closely akin to it, is a moral imperative. ”

“Joshua Key, who enlisted in the Army in 2002 and served seven months in Iraq, recalls asking his sergeant about the sanctity of the contract he had signed — and his sergeant’s Cheneyesque reply.

The conversation began with Key asking “What’s the point” of the war. He was part of a unit that routinely raided Iraqi homes in search of supposed terrorists and arms caches, only to find neither — even though every male taller than five feet in height was routinely zip-cuffed and taken away to heaven only knows where.

What’s the point of this? Key asked his sergeant.

“There is no point — it’s just your job,” came the reply.

“But what’s the justification for this war?” Key persisted with touching, if misplaced, faith in human reason.

“The justification is that you signed a contract and you’re told to be here,” pronounced the sergeant, channeling Cthulhu with remarkable fidelity.

“But when do I get to go home?” Key pressed, no doubt with a growing sense of disillusionment.

“Private,” the sergeant hissed, “we can keep you here just as long as we want, and we ain’t never got to send you home.”

Key wasn’t afraid of combat. He came from a small, economically depressed Oklahoma community in which fighting and firearms were common. Violence was also common during his distressed upbringing. He actually enjoyed basic training, and was blessed with an impressive skill-set (he was an adept welder and automotive mechanic) that made him very valuable.

But he couldn’t abide the sense that he had become implicated in a hideous, world-historic crime as the result of a bait-and-switch.

Yes, he did sign an enlistment contract.

Sure, the recruiter had told him to conceal the fact that he and his wife already had two children and a third on the way — a status which would disqualify him from enlisting.

Sure, the same recruiter had likewise told him to keep to himself the fact that he was seriously in debt — another impediment to both Joshua’s enlistment, and the recruiter making his quota.

And, well, sure, the same recruiter had promised him, in all apparent sincerity, that Joshua would be given “nondeployable” status as a bridge-builder for the Army Corps of Engineers.

“You’re going to be building bridges from nine to five every day and spending every evening home with the family,” lied the recruiter, who scribbled the acronym CONUS — for “Continental United States” — on the enlistment contract as supposed surety of this agreement. Asked later for supplemental reassurance, the recruiter promised that “Because of your growing family, you would be the last person sent overseas.”

All of this took place in 2002. In 2003, Key was among the first to be sent to Iraq.

His training at Fort Carson clearly anticipated that deployment: During bayonet drills, he and the other recruits were urged, “Kill! Kill! Kill the sand niggers!” The rules of engagement, he was told, were quite simple: “If you feel threatened, kill first and ask questions later.”

His training with C-4 explosives was sometimes set to an inventively depraved cadence that could just as easily have been chanted by trainees at an al-Qaeda camp in Pakistan: “Take a playground, fill it full of kids; drop on some napalm, and barbecue some ribs.”

Where his unit was concerned, Joshua writes, “Iraqis were not people at all — they were terrorists, suicide bombers, sand niggers, and ragheads….. We were taught to think of Iraqis in degrading ways during military training, and those attitudes crossed the oceans with us when we flew into battle.”

Although he and his comrades came under enemy fire on numerous occasions, they never fixed their sights on actual combatants: They “were on the run and gone while we were still diving for cover against flying shrapnel. We fought back by lashing out at civilians who had no means to defend themselves. It seemed the only way we could fight back — but it was wrong.”

Shortly after Joshua’s above-quoted conversation with his sergeant, he went on patrol with another sergeant named Fernandez. As their APC passed beneath a grove of palm trees, Joshua described how easy it would be to ambush the unit. “To my surprise,” Joshua recalls, “the sergeant did not lecture me for speaking my mind. Softly, he told me, `I’d do the same thing if people invaded America.'”

That brief conversation catalyzed Joshua’s misgivings about the war. If a foreign power occupied the United States, if its soldiers “blasted into my home and terrorized my family,” Joshua writes, “I would become a force to be reckoned with. I would invent my own booby traps and come up with the most unexpected methods of mayhem. I would give the occupiers hell and keep at it until I was dead and gone, twice over.”

For this reason, Joshua decided that he was fighting the wrong war, the wrong way, against the wrong enemy. The real enemy was at his back — the Decider, his adult handler, and the Power Elite they represent. They had orchestrated the horrors in Iraq and taken cynical advantage of those who enlisted in the mistaken belief that they would take part in the actual defense of our country.

Joshua was deceived into signing his contract, misled about the cause and purpose of the war, and put into a position in which would be among those who would be sent into Iraq as many times as the Decider considered necessary, to kill and terrorize people for no reason that made sense.

So when he was sent back to the United States on furlough, Joshua excused himself from any further responsibility for a supposed commitment that had been made in bad faith. Because the Government ruling us didn’t obey the terms of its contract, Joshua simply quit. This meant that he and his family (which has now grown to include four children) had to flee to Canada, since the Government still claims the supposed right to murder soldiers who decide to quit their jobs and seek other employment.”

Published in: on April 3, 2008 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Did you know the President is also the King?

I didn’t realize we had a sovereign here in America until I read this article.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/02/georgebush.usa1

 Memo gave Pentagon exemption from criminal laws

The US justice department extended the sweeping wartime powers claimed by George Bush to military interrogators, giving them freedom from criminal laws when questioning al-Qaida suspects, in a 2003 legal memorandum released for the first time yesterday.

The brief, provided to the Pentagon days before the invasion of Iraq, allowed the slapping, poking, and shoving of detainees without legal consequences.

Maiming a detainee – defined as disabling or cutting out the nose, eye, ear, lip, tongue, or limb – was also deemed a defensible interrogation tactic if the military could prove it had no advance intention to maim.

The terrorist attacks of 2001 allowed the White House and the military to invoke a broad right to self-defence, the brief argued.

“The defendant could claim that he was fulfilling the executive branch’s authority to protect the federal government and the nation from attack after the events of September 11, which triggered the nation’s right to self-defence,” read the brief, written by former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo (note:  He’s the guy that argued that it’s acceptable to crush a young boy’s genitals in front of his parents in order to get the parents to talk.).

While the memorandum was revoked nine months after it was sent, the Bush administration has built on its arguments to assert exemptions from US and international law during interrogations conducted at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere overseas.

Often referring to the president as “the sovereign“, Yoo gave Bush the legal right to override international laws “at his discretion”.

“It is well established that the sovereign retains the discretion to treat unlawful combatants as it sees fit,” Yoo wrote.

The 81-page brief was released by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has battled the administration in court to secure documents under US freedom of information laws.

A companion brief written in 2002 allowed CIA interrogators to use any brutal method that did not cause pain on the level of death or organ failure.

The brief released yesterday cited past legal rulings that said hooding of detainees, sleep or food deprivation, and forcibly prolonged postures such as the “frog crouch” did not amount to torture.

The military was also permitted to threaten detainees with death, so long as the threat was not imminent.

“Thus, a vague threat that someday the prisoner might be killed would not suffice” to violate a law, Yoo wrote.

However, the memo does rule out mock executions and Russian roulette as legitimate interrogation tactics.

The brief takes a notably narrow view of the Congress’ power to influence American policy during wartime. The US judiciary is also described as prone to “generally defer to executive decisions concerning the conduct of hostilities”.

A few senior members of Congress had seen the brief in its classified format and argued for its public release. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, said the brief “threatens our country’s status as a beacon of human rights around the world.”

Several US legal experts expressed alarm at the brief’s sprawling vision of presidential authority.

“If the supreme court adopted John Yoo’s theory of presidential dictatorship, it might send us spiraling down toward the end of our two centuries’ old constitutional experiment with democracy,” Jack Balkin, a law professor at Yale University, wrote on his blog.

Eugene Fidell, a military justice professor at Yale and American University, told the New York Times that the brief “is a monument to executive supremacy and the imperial presidency”.

Published in: on April 3, 2008 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Something that may surprise you about political parties

All conservatives are aware of the evil of the democratic party platform re: pro-death of not yet born babies, anti-gun rights, socialism, etc. . . all of which are “unsympathetic” to the victims/potential victims.  Socialism may appear to intend to protect people, but in the long run it leads to starvation – as the Pilgrims discovered (but that’s another story).

Were you aware that the republicans are, as a rule, against Plaintiffs (the injured person) in lawsuits involving doctors, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, etc. . . ? It is probably fair to say that Republicans tend to restrict the right of all Plaintiffs to recover against all Defendants.

(Generally speaking) It is republican legislatures that support and pass laws severely restricting the Plaintiff’s ability to sue the doc or big pharma.  It is republican legislatures that support and pass laws capping the amount of damages that can be given to the Plaintiff by the jury.

 Ohio and West Virginia are good examples of this.  Ohio is predominantly Republican and is one of the worst states in the United States in which to sue someone for a personal injury, malpractice, etc. . .  Verdicts tend to be quite low and it is quite common for Plaintiffs to totally lose meritorious cases against physicians.  Gallia County, Ohio is perhaps the worst place in the state to sue a physician – the last 10 trials against physicians from Holzer have resulted in 9 verdicts for the Defendant doc and the 10th verdict resulted in a $17,000.00 verdict for the Plaintiff’s family in a wrongful death – the jury found that the doc was liable for the death, but only gave the family $17,000.

West Virginia, on the other hand, is predominantly Democrat and Plaintiff’s cases are worth about twice as much on that side of the Ohio River.  Plus, the pre-suit filing requirements against physicians are less restrictive in West Virginia than in Ohio.  Among conservative republican “tort reform” groups, West Virginia is literally known as the nation’s worst judicial hell hole.  See link:

 http://wvrecord.com/news/contentview.asp?c=187731

The primary reason West Virginia is known as a judicial “hell hole” is because Plaintiffs can actually receive adequate compensation for their injuries.  The conservatives blame the low standard of living, high unemploment and low number of new businesses coming into West Virginia on the court system’s “generosity” to Plaintiffs.

Note also that the Bush Administration has been very active in protecting “Big Pharma” against lawsuits relating to the autism/vaccination link, etc. . .

So, before you start thinking that the Republicans are the “moral” party which is most “pro-life”, consider the Republican Party’s treatment of injured (and dead) persons.  Protecting life is not limited to life not yet born.  But the Republican Party tends to be more interested in protecting corporations than individuals.  Note, also, that the Republicans – as a whole – are not REALLY interested in making abortion illegal.  If they were, they would have done something substantial while they controlled the House, Senate and Presidency in the early 2000s. 

Published in: on April 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

On the “Conspiracy Theory” Front . . . RFK

I’ve long known much of the raw information in this news report, but it’s now becoming more “public” knowledge.  In short, it appears to be impossible that Sirhan Sirhan fired the shot(s) that killed Bobby Kennedy and the Fed Gov has been pulling the wool over your eyes for the last 40 years.  Note:  The information contained in this report has been available for a very long time – I’ve known about the 13 shots and the security guard theory for at least 10 years.  All they’ve done now is conduct new studies of the evidence.  Further, the findings in the 40 year old autopsy report require that someone other than Sirhan fired the fatal shot.  Anyway, here’s the report:

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Scientists_Multiple_shooters_in_RFK_assassination_0326.html

 Forty years after Democratic rising star Robert F. Kennedy was killed at a Los Angeles hotel during his presidential run, new evidence suggests the man serving a life sentence for his murder did not fire the shots that killed the charismatic senator.

Forensic scientists met at a conference in Connecticut this week to discuss their independent findings that cast serious doubt on the Kennedy assassination. Sirhan Sirhan is serving a life sentence in Kennedy’s death, but the conference presenters argue he could not have fired the fatal shot that killed Kennedy.

One investigator, Dr. Robert Joling, has studied the Kennedy assassination for nearly four decades. He determined the fatal shot came from behind Kennedy, while Sirhan was four to six feet in front of the senator and never got close enough to shoot him from behind, an NBC affiliate reports.

Analysis by another forensics engineer, Philip Van Praag, of a Canadian journalists tape recording, known as the Pruszynski recording, determined that 13 shots were fired while Kennedy was killed, although Sirhan’s gun only held eight bullets, according to the NBC reporter. This suggests that a second shooter was involved in the assassination.

Van Praag’s analysis led him to conclude that a second gun that was fired matched a type owned by one of the security guards in Kennedy’s entourage.

“When that security guard was asked about owning that gun at first he admitted, ‘Yes I owned that kind of gun but I got rid of it two months before the assassination.'” correspondent Amy Parmenter said on MSNBC Wednesday. “It turns out upon further investigation, in fact, he did not get rid of that gun until five months after the shooting. Of course, you can see where we’re going with this. … That security guard, was in fact behind Senator Kennedy when the fatal shot was fired.”

Published in: on March 27, 2008 at 5:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Modest Proposal. . . The Federal Food Reserve System

[Note:  This is a bit of satire revealing why the Federal Reserve System is unnecessary, terrible and is ruining our currency and economy]

http://www.lewrockwell.com/walker/walker31.html

 by Bill Walker

We can all agree that food is critical to our economy. Episodes like Katrina demonstrate the need for flexibility in our food supply. Inherently, the private sector cannot provide this flexibility. When the Invisible Hand fails, it is time for the Visible Foot of government to jam the steel tip of its boot into our doorways.

Look at the terrible waste in the private food sector. Warehouses and elevators full of food, none of which is loaned out to more than one person at a time. Now, if the methods of modern government finance were applied, all that grain and fruit could be giving liquidity to ten times the number of grocery stores!

Now you object: “But what if everyone wants their food at the same time?” Under the old system, when a grocery store or grain elevator had insufficient reserves, it became unable to provide more food for withdrawal in a crisis. This is obviously unacceptable.

That is why I am proud to announce the creation of the Federal Food Reserve System.

All food-related matters will be centralized in Federally chartered Food Banks. These food banks will issue “Federal Reserve Noodles,” similar to Ramen noodles except that they will have no physical existence as such. These “FRNs” will be legally good for all metabolic debts, public and private.

All actual flour, rice, kiwi fruit etc. will be stored in Fort Knox, but never audited. This will make ample real food available for worthy charitable activities overseas. Some of the food will be given to the International Mung-bean Fund (IMF), to give credibility to its Special Dining Rights (SDRs) and other projects. More will be given to the World Food Bank to support its programs of rain forest removal in Brazil and Borneo (remember, “Only We Can Prevent Forest”). Perhaps the rest will be lent out to European gourmet speculators, perhaps not; in any case US citizens need no longer concern themselves about it.

The Chef of the Federal Food Reserve will be appointed by the President. He will oversee the Food Open Market Committee (FOMC), which will use Federal Reserve Noodles to purchase real food items on the market. The FOMC will also have the power to “foodetize” past-sell-date food issued by foreign dictators, subprime mortgage food from the back of the freezer, or any other indigestible object, possibly including Twinkies (when the needed technology is developed).

The Federal Food Reserve will also regulate the Food Banks. Food Banks will be allowed to issue ten or more times as many Federal Reserve Noodles as they actually have in their reserve refrigerators. If it turns out that the “reserve” food has spoiled (become “subprime”), the Food Reserve will simply issue more FRNs to the bank in exchange for the former reserves (the subprime tranches, I mean cuts, will simply be “eaten” by the taxpayers). This will make Federal Reserve Noodles more and more plentiful as time goes on.

In fact, in times of crisis the Congress will be able to send out as many freshly cooked Federal Reserve Noodles as it takes to buy your vote, directly to your mailbox (is 300 enough? Here, take 600; heck, take all you want, they’re free!) If things get bad enough, the Chef of the Federal Reserve will deliver your FRNs himself by helicopter. Soon everyone will have enough Federal Reserve Noodles to fill all their wheelbarrows.

Now, with all this purchasing and hoarding and absconding with food and food-like securities, you might wonder, “where is my next meal coming from?” But not to worry. Trust in the Chef of the Federal Food Reserve, and wait for noodles from the sky.

Bill Walker is a research technologist. He lives with his wife and four dogs in Grafton NH, where they are active in the Free State Project.

Published in: on March 26, 2008 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment