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:


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.

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)



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!


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!


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



2nd Session of the 51st Legislature (2008)

By: Key

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
; 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.


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

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.


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


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






United Kingdom










Saudi Arabia


South Korea






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


Iraq – Deployed








Afghanistan – Deployed




Asia – Other




United Kingdom


Europe – Other






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


Per Second


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.


2006 Defense Revenue (mil)

2000 Defense Revenue (mil)

% Change

2006 Profit (mil)

2000 Profit (mil)

% Change

Lockheed Martin














Northrop Grumman














General Dynamics














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.


2007 CEO Pay (mil)

2000 CEO Pay (mil)

% Change

2007 # of Employees

2000 # of Employees

% Change

Lockheed Martin














Northrop Grumman














General Dynamics














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?


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  

There’s An Iranian Under Our Bed!


by Steven LaTulippe

Iran’s President Ahmadinejad’s regime is a threat to all of us. His words contain a chilling echo of some of the world’s most tragic history.

~ Senator Barack Obama

Everywhere one turns these days, we find a politician screaming about Iran and the dire threat it supposedly represents to America. President Bush has been spinning dark tales about this for years, his claims dutifully echoed by most of the presidential candidates (with the musical score provided by Senator McCain). Even Barack Obama, ostensibly the “antiwar” Democratic nominee, has taken to rattling sabers at the behest of his new neocon handlers.

But if we brush away the rhetorical fog, does a tangible threat really exist? Is Iran actually a danger to our way of life? And if so, what does this threat look like?

Let us suppose for a moment that Iranian President Ahmadinejad decided that the time had come to launch a glorious mission to conquer the United States of America. Suppose, furthermore, that he proceeded to order the massive Iranian Army (actually, Ahmadinejad is not the commander of the Iranian military…but let’s put that aside for a moment) to board transport ships of the mighty Iranian Navy (although Iran doesn’t really have a navy, but let’s put that aside for a moment too) and set sail.

In concrete terms, how would this scenario unfold?

If the neocon warnings are accurate, this armada would have to sail out of the Persian Gulf, up the Red Sea, and through the Suez Canal (though why the Egyptians – Sunni rivals of Shiite Iran – would allow a massive Iranian military force to pass through the canal is another mystery).

Picking up speed, the armada would then sail across the Mediterranean Sea and through the Straits of Gibraltar. Once in the open Atlantic (though still without air cover or any logistical supply-chain whatsoever), the Iranian armada would then race across the ocean, presumably making landfall somewhere in New Jersey (where they could no doubt link up with their many secret agents posing as convenience store cashiers up and down the Garden State Parkway).

Once reassembled on the ground – but still without air cover or re-supply – this force would, according to our warmongering politicos, fight its way across the continental United States, thus completing Ahmadinejad’s mad plan of global domination.

This is, without embellishment, the actual threat that Iran poses to the United States.

Now some folks might raise an objection to this scenario, noting that Iran’s threat isn’t conventional, but nuclear. Iran is, they claim, working on an atomic bomb that could be used against us.

That, too, is sheer nonsense.

First, America’s 2008 National Intelligence Estimate . . .

(Link:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18177103)

. . . concluded that Iran had ceased working on a nuclear bomb several years ago. Second, Iran does not have a delivery system capable of reaching the United States. Third, Iran knows that its hypothetical nuclear weapon could easily be traced back to Iran, meaning that its use against America would result in Iran’s immediate and total annihilation. And fourth, let us once again remember that Ahmadinejad – while he may be crazyis not, in fact, the commander of the Iranian military and would have no control over this hypothetical nuclear weapon anyway.

The hard, cold truth of the matter is that Iran represents exactly zero threat to the American people or our constitutional form of government. Its army is small, its navy even smaller, and its air force nonexistent. Iran’s economy is in a shambles and its people are increasingly disillusioned with their government. Even if the Iranians somehow succeeded in developing a nuclear weapon, they have no delivery system, and they would have every reason not to use it against America.

Yet the war drums continue their ominous beat. President Bush persists with his bellicose rhetoric. John McCain continues to sing his deranged war songs, and even the saintly (toady?) Barack Obama has jumped on the war wagon.

The only civilized and proper response to this war hysteria is a healthy dose of disparaging humor. Those who, with a straight face, claim that Iran represents some sort of actual danger to America deserve only derisive laughter. They are ignoramuses (or…even worse…they know the truth and are trying to play us for ignoramuses).

Either way, we’ll be seeing those Iranian nukes about the same time that Saddam unleashes his legendary fleet of flying, chemical-spraying drones.  (REAL Link from “Faux” News:  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,79450,00.html)

Until then, America should mind its own business and stay out of the Middle East. As our experience in Iraq has shown, nothing good awaits us there.

June 12, 2008

Steven LaTulippe is a physician currently practicing in Ohio. He was an officer in the United States Air Force for 13 years.

Published in: on June 12, 2008 at 6:54 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:


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  

Quick Quiz on Oil

What are the top five countries from which we import oil?

Here they are in order of volume: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela. The next time you hear some blowhard politician ranting about how the Arabs control our oil imports, remind him or her of the facts. By far, a majority of oil imports come from non-Arab countries.

Published in: on June 8, 2008 at 12:40 am  Leave a Comment  

America’s Bizarre Energy Policy

I’m not a big fan of George Will (I like him ok, but he’s not libertarian enough for me. . .).  However, he makes some very good points in this article.

After reading it, I again conclude that Ron Paul is the only Presidential candidate worth voting for – because Ron would DEFINITELY open ANWR.  Anyway. . .


George Will: America’s bizarre energy policy

Thursday, Jun. 5, 2008

RISING IN THE Senate on May 13, Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, explained: “I rise to discuss rising energy prices.” The President was heading to Saudi Arabia to seek an increase in its oil production, and Schumer’s gorge was rising.

Saudi Arabia, he said, “holds the key to reducing gasoline prices at home in the short term.” Therefore arms sales to that kingdom should be blocked unless it “increases its oil production by one million barrels per day,” which would cause the price of gasoline to fall “50 cents a gallon almost immediately.” Can a senator, with so many things on his mind, know so precisely how the price of gasoline would respond to that increase in the oil supply?

Schumer does know that if you increase the supply of something, the price of it probably will fall. That is why he and 96 other senators recently voted to increase the supply of oil on the market by stopping the flow of oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which protects against major physical interruptions. Seventy-one of the 97 senators who voted to stop filling the SPR also oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

One million barrels is what might today be flowing from ANWR if in 1995 President Clinton had not vetoed legislation to permit drilling there.

One million barrels produce 27 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Seventy-two of today’s senators — including Schumer, of course, and 38 other Democrats, including Barack Obama, and 33 Republicans, including John McCain — have voted to keep ANWR’s estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil off the market.

So Schumer, according to Schumer, is complicit in taking $10 away from every American who buys 20 gallons of gasoline. “Democracy,” said H.L. Mencken, “is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” The common people of New York want Schumer to be their senator, so they should pipe down about gasoline prices, which are a predictable consequence of their political choice.

Also disqualified from complaining are all voters who sent to Washington senators and representatives who have voted to keep ANWR’s oil in the ground, and who voted to put 85 percent of America’s offshore territory off-limits to drilling. The U.S. Minerals Management Service says that restricted area contains perhaps 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — 10 times the oil and 20 times the natural gas Americans use in a year.

Drilling is under way 60 miles off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are.

ANWR is larger than the combined areas of five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware) and drilling along its coastal plain would be confined to a space one-sixth the size of Washington’s Dulles Airport. Offshore? Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs without causing a large spill. There has not been a significant spill from an offshore U.S. well since 1969. Of the more than 7 billion barrels of oil pumped offshore in the past 25 years, 0.001 percent — that is one-thousandth of 1 percent — has been spilled. Louisiana has more than 3,200 rigs offshore — and a thriving commercial fishing industry.

In his “Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of ‘Energy Independence,'” Robert Bryce says Brazil’s energy success has little to do with its much-discussed ethanol production and much to do with its increased oil production, the vast majority of which comes from off Brazil’s shore. Investor’s Business Daily reports that Brazil, “which recently made a major oil discovery almost in sight of Rio’s beaches,” has leased most of the world’s deep-sea drilling rigs.

In September 2006, two U.S. companies announced that their “Jack No. 2” well, in the Gulf 270 miles southwest of New Orleans, had tapped a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil, which would increase America’s proven reserves by 50 percent. Just probing four miles below the Gulf’s floor costs $100 million. Congress’ response to such expenditures is to propose increasing the oil companies’ tax burdens.

America says to foreign producers: We prefer not to pump our oil, so please pump more of yours, thereby lowering its value, for our benefit. Let it not be said that America has no energy policy.

George Will’s e-mail address is georgewill@washpost.com.

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

What are “Just Prices”?

By Jeffrey Tucker

From Here:  http://mises.org/story/2976#

We all have strange and contradictory wishes concerning what prices should be. We are outraged at what is happening to the price of gas and food. We don’t think they should go up. In real terms, we want them to fall, and they have fallen in the last decade and a half. That’s a good thing, right? That’s how the world should work.

But housing? Now, that’s a different matter. When the prices fall, people freak out. It’s like the end of the world. How is it possible that my own home would fall in price?! That’s not the way the world should work. Everyone knows that house prices are suppose to go up up up, all the time, without fail, until the end of time.

Same with stocks. We want to open the webpage that lists our portfolios and see the prices higher and higher all the time. When they fall, we flip out and demand justice.

But let’s stop and think about how peculiar this is. What kind of theory of the world insists that houses and stocks always go up in price, whereas gas and grain prices always go down? That doesn’t really make sense. A price is not set by natural law, nor are price movements intended to follow a preset pattern like the movements of stars. Prices are nothing but exchange ratios — points of agreement between buyer and seller. They reflect many factors, none of them fixed parts of the universe.

So why do we expect some to rise and some to fall? It all depends on whether you are in the position of a producer or a consumer. As homeowners, we are in fact “producers” of our homes; that is to say, we are holding them with the expectation of someday offering them for sale. The same is true of our stocks. We already own them, so of course we want the price to go up. Then we can sell them at a profit.

On the other hand, on things we intend to buy, things like gas and grain, we want the price to be as low as possible. We want their prices to fall. That way we save resources.

So what’s at work here is self-interest. Think of the same situation from the point of view of someone who is a first-time homebuyer. Does this person want high prices or low prices? Of course the answer is obvious. This person wants the lowest price possible, so for this person this “housing bust” is not a bust at all. It is a boon. But once this person becomes a homeowner, matters change. Now he wants prices to rise.

Now think of the gas station owner. If it didn’t affect how much he sold, would this person want prices to rise or fall? Of course, he wants the highest prices possible.

I recall once dickering with one of those insufferable car salesmen. I had my eye on some car and I said I couldn’t afford it. He asked me how much I wanted to pay for this car. I said $0. He looked at me like I was crazy, but I was only telling the truth. I added that I know how much he wanted me to pay: a trillion dollars. And he reluctantly agreed. So how do the person who wants to pay $0 and the person who wants to get a trillion come to agreement? You find some meeting point in between, the point at which the car is worth more to me than the money I will give for it, and the money I will give for the car is worth more to him than the car. The resulting terms are called the price.

It’s the same in all markets. We can see that it is perfectly absurd to attempt to fashion national policy around the interests of only one party to an exchange. To try to keep house prices high and rising cheats the first-time buyer. To keep them low cheats the current owner. To keep grain prices high helps grain producers but hurts grain consumers. Some gas companies might like high gas prices, but consumers hate them. On the other hand, gas prices forced lower by dictate might thrill consumers but producers might end up hurting so much that they shut down. That helps no one.

The only real answer here is to let the free market rule, which is another way of saying that people should be free to come to their own negotiations about the prices they are willing to pay or accept for this and that. Those points of agreement should be as flexible as human valuation itself. That is to say, we should be free to change our minds, with each exchange taken as an end in itself, with no bearing on future points of agreement.

This is not only fitting with the needs of freedom — any attempt to force prices to do this or that does in fact impinge on our freedom to negotiate — but it is also essential to a well-functioning economy. That’s because the price is heavily influenced by factors such as resource availability, the subjective valuations of consumers, and the profitability of the undertaking in light of accounting costs. In the end, the books have to be in the black. The prices that are accepted in the market must sustain this state of affairs. Even in mega-industries like oil, the difference between revenue and expenses can be surprisingly thin. Even small regulatory and tax changes can drive companies of all sizes to bankruptcy.

Prices are crucial to the wise apportioning of resources in a world with unlimited wants and limited needs. Prices affect the way in which we use things, whether conserving them or throwing them away. You will note that higher gas prices change the way you make judgments about going places and doing things. This is a good thing. Higher prices signal the need to conserve — and without unworkable mandates from government. And from a producer point of view, prevailing prices provide crucial information concerning the forecasting of future profits and hence today’s investment decisions.

Now we must address the matter of justice. We think we know what a just price is. But do we really and what actually constitutes justice in prices? What comes first to my own mind is the Parable of the Treasure in the Field. An unknowing land owner is just living day to day with no knowledge that there is a treasure in the backyard. Some other guy, however, has knowledge of the treasure, so he sells everything he has, knocks on the owner’s door and nonchalantly says, you know, I would be glad to buy your property. The owner sells.

But let’s be clear here: the owner did not know that there was a treasure back there. Nor did the buyer say a word about it, lest the price he had to pay go sky high. Today, people might say that the owner got ripped off. But Jesus doesn’t say this. He holds up the buyer as wise and moral. Interesting, isn’t it? Is there justice in this exchange? Most certainly. And why? Because they agreed voluntarily. That’s all there is to it.

There is no way to observe an existing price and declare it just or unjust. As St. Bernardino — a shrewd observer of economic affairs — said,

Water is usually cheap where it is abundant. But it can happen that on a mountain or in another place, water is scarce, not abundant. It may well happen that water is more highly esteemed than gold, because gold is more abundant in this place than water.

The Late Scholastics, followers of St. Thomas Aquinas, all agreed that the just price has no fixed position. It all depends on the common estimation of traders. Luis de Molina summed up the point:

A price is considered just or unjust not because of the nature of the things themselves — this would lead us to value them according to their nobility or perfection — but due to their ability to serve human utility. But this is the way in which they are appreciated by men, they therefore command a price in the market and in exchanges.

Now, there are ways for a price to become a matter of injustice. It can mask fraud. The prices can result from or be influenced by some act of force, such as price controls or taxation or restrictions on supply and demand. Behind each of these, we find coercion, a body of people who are mandating or restricting in a way that is incompatible with free choice. Arguably, this is not just.

We can conclude, then, that to the extent we complain about unjust gasoline prices, we need to look at the restrictions on refineries or exploration or drilling, or examine the role that high gas taxes have in pushing up prices beyond what they would be under conditions of free exchange.

And as for those who believe that all prices should move in ways that benefit their own particular economic interests at the expense of everyone else, don’t confuse your agenda with a matter of justice. Prevailing prices in a business-based economy are a reflection of cooperative arrangements involving people with free will.

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Military Gas Usage

From here:


Writes a friend: “I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say that I cannot believe that the same government that is eating up fuel at a mind-boggling rate in this ‘war’ is the same government that is supposed to ‘save’ me from ‘big oil’.

“My Marine Air Station houses the AV-8B ‘Harrier’. Each Harrier holds about 1,100 gallons of fuel (minimum, up to about 2,300 gallons with external tanks). Every day, groups of four to eight Harriers fly about 10 sortees a day. For ease of calculation, let’s say five Harriers holding 1000 gallons each fly ten sortees a day for 20 days each month. That’s 1,000,000 gallons each month.

“But I reckon that the fuel use here pales in comparison to the amount of fuel used at Naval Air stations, on aircraft carriers, at Air Force bases, and in the Middle East. Worse yet, the Harrier holds only about half of what the F/A-18 holds. The F/A-18 is the work horse for the Navy/Marine Corps. The C/D model holds 1,600 gallons internally, plus another 1,000 externally. The E/F model holds about 2,100 gal. internally, another 1,500 externally, with a maximum external load of about 2,600 gallons. Imagine these things flying round the clock all over the world. That’s not the ‘sound of freedom’ as I’m often told, but the sound of the government sucking our valuable resources dry.

“Granted, Jet-A is vastly different than automobile gas. But it is a kerosene based fuel, and so is closely related to home-heating fuel. So when next winter rolls around and the booboisie start crying about the cost of heating their homes, maybe they should step back and consider how much cheaper their home-heating fuel would be if Uncle Sugey weren’t sucking down billions of gallons a month. If I may be so bold, I predict that the people will soon grow accustomed to the high auto gas prices, but the media will stir up a hornet’s nest against ‘big oil’ this winter. You know the story, big bad oil prevents old people from heating their houses by cruelly jacking up the gas prices until Joe Liberman and John McCain come up with a bi-partisan plan to save us from ourselves. Wait, I don’t know if I’m making a prediction or re-hashing the past. It’s all a blur to me now. (And don’t even get me started on the ‘greens’ who tell me that civilian air travel is bad for the environment.)”

Published in: on June 4, 2008 at 5:38 pm  Comments (1)  

Fluoride Damges the Thyroid

Note that they’ve been putting Fluoride in our water for decades, yet this is apparently the FIRST EVER GOVERNMENT REVIEW.  It is my understanding that England does not put fluoride in the water and their people seem to be fine (although they do seem to have “ugly” teeth if Austin Powers is any indication. . .).


Fluoride Damages the Thyroid, report shows

First-ever government review of fluoride/thyroid toxicology shows risk.

2008-05-19 15:54:10 – There is clear evidence that small amounts of fluoride, at or near levels added to U.S. water supplies, present potential risks to the thyroid gland, according to the National Research Council’s (NRC) first-ever published review of the fluoride/thyroid literature.(A)

Fluoride, in the form of silicofluorides, injected into 2/3 of U.S. public water supplies, ostensibly to reduce tooth decay, was never safety-tested.(B)

“Many Americans are exposed to fluoride in the ranges associated with thyroid effects, especially for people with iodine deficiency,” says Kathleen Thiessen, PhD, co-author of the government-sponsored NRC report. “The recent decline in iodine intake in the U.S could contribute to increased toxicity of fluoride for some individuals,” says Thiessen.

“A low level of thyroid hormone can increase the risk of cardiac disease, high cholesterol, depression and, in pregnant woman, decreased intelligence of offspring,” said Thiessen.(C)

Common thyroid symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, body pain, slow reflexes, and more. It’s estimated that 59 million
Americans have thyroid conditions.(D)

Robert Carton, PhD, an environmental scientist who worked for over 30 years for the U.S. government including managing risk assessments on high priority toxic chemicals, says “fluoride has detrimental effects on the thyroid gland of healthy males at 3.5 mg a day. With iodine deficiency, the effect level drops to 0.7 milligrams/day for an average male.”(E) (1.0 mg/L fluoride is in most water supplies)

Among many others, the NRC Report cites human studies which show

– fluoride concentrations in thyroids exceeding that found in other soft tissues except kidney

– an association between endemic goiter and fluoride exposure or enamel fluorosis in human populations

– fluoride adversely affects thyroid and parathyroid hormones, which affect bone health

“If you have a thyroid problem, avoiding fluoride may be a good preventive health measure for you,” writes Drs’ Richard and Karilee Shames in “Thyroid Power.”(F).

Over, 1,700 Physicians, Dentists, Scientists, Academics and Environmentalists urge Congress to stop water fluoridation until Congressional hearings are conducted. They cite new scientific evidence that fluoridation is ineffective and has serious health risks. (www.fluorideaction.org/statement.august.2007.html)

Please sign the petition and Congressional letter to support these
professionals www.FluorideAction.Net


(A) “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s
Standards,” Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water, Board on
Environmental Studies and Toxicology, Division on Earth and Life
Studies, National Research Council of the National Academies of
Science. March 2006 Chapter 8

“Thyroid Function: Fluoride exposure in humans is associated with
elevated TSH concentrations, increased goiter prevalence, and altered
T4 and T3 concentrations.” (Page 262)

“(The thyroid effects are associated with average fluoride intakes
that) will be reached by persons with average exposures at fluoride
concentrations of 1-4 mg/L in drinking water, especially the
children.” (Page 260)

(B) Sodium Hexafluorosilicate and Fluorosilicic Acid
Review of Toxicological Literature, October 2001
ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/Chem_Background/ExSumPDF/Fluorosili ..

(C) Chemical & Engineering News, “Fluoride Risks Are Still A
Challenge,” by Bette Hileman, September 4, 2006,

(D) Mary Shomon, About.com Thyroid editor, Patient Advocate —
Author of “The Thyroid Diet” and “Living Well With Hypothyroidism”

(E) Fluoride, “Review of the 2006 National Research Council Report:
Fluoride in Drinking Water,” July-September 2006, by Robert J. Carton

(F) Thyroid Power and Feeling Fat Fuzzy or Frazzeled”by Richard
Shames MD & Karilee Shames RN, PhD www.thyroidpower.com

Fluoride/Thyroid Health Effects

Sources of Fluoride

Sulfuryl Fluoride Pesticide Residues Allowed on Foods
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Fluoride
Database of Selected Beverages and Foods


Published in: on May 21, 2008 at 2:46 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.


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?


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


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


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

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