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November 29, 2007

Wonderful Ron Paul Article in Washington Post

It shouldn't be too surprising that Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch of the libertarian Reason Magazine wrote this outstanding article about Ron Paul and his amazing success in the presidential campaign and in educating Americans on libertarian ideas. Of course, I've been less than thrilled with the response of some in the movement to the Paul campaign. The good folks at Cato still haven't been too positive, but it is good to see the folks at Reason hopping on the bandwagon.

Posted by PaulGessing at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

John Howard Deserved to Lose

Glenn Greenwald takes Howard to task not only for his failed foreign policies, but for his blatant hypocrisy in criticizing American candidates while vowing not to intervene in the domestic affairs of other nations.

Posted by PaulGessing at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

Boudreaux on the Falling Dollar

GMU econ dept chairman Don Boudreaux has a wonderful piece explaining the causes and effects of the weakened dollar:

What I think is especially interesting about this kind of matter is that the policy-makers don't seem to recognize how their anticipated regulatory action is likely one of the causes of the very problem they will attempt to solve.

Boudreaux writes:

By 2009, Democrats may well control the White House, too. Investors generally believe "that government is best which governs least." From that perspective, partisan gridlock is desirable because it keeps excessive political interference in the economy at bay. But with Democrats in control, the antitrade, pro-tax, "don't just stand there, regulate" forces will be unleashed. Such a prospect is already weighing down the dollar.[emphasis added by KDR]

The future can govern the past! Perhaps policy-makers should re-watch "Back to the Future II" for a remedial lesson. :-)


Posted by KevinRollins at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2007

Lions for Lambs

I’ve not read any reviews of Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs, and this isn’t a review, just some thoughts for your consideration. With Redford, the profoundly talented Meryl Streep, and the ever-intense Tom Cruise as the leads, it’s hard not to plunk down $9 for an hour-and-a-half’s worth of entertainment. While Lions for Lambs is mildly entertaining and generally interesting, this one provided me with insight into old-school liberal mentality.

What struck me about this offering was the story arc of the African- and Hispanic-American characters. Infused with “idealism” by poli-sci Professor Redford’s character, these non-well-to-do students get the idea in their heads that they should drop out of college and enlist in the military to fight in southwest Asia. Professor Redford does not approve. He attempts to convince these young men that their “fight” should be here at home.

They understand that, yet they feel compelled to sign up, anyway. We flashback to a class project they share with us, and here’s where this film careens into a sad parody of the progressive mindset. They suggest that the U.S. is effective at what they call “engagement” with the rest of the world. Presumably, they are referring to foreign aid. There is no mention of how U.S. foreign aid very often falls into the hands of tin-pot dictators or comes in the form of munitions, which in turn are used to keep down foreign peoples across the globe.

Instead, where the U.S. falls down is in its “engagement” within America. There’s no mention that government spending exceeds 40% of GDP. This is not considered. A laundry list of targets for domestic government aid is recited unblinkingly.

Cruise neocon Republican senator is reasonably well characterized. With a world filled with terrorists who wish to “kill us,” Cruise’s counter jihad seems to make a sort of internal sense, but is also not questioned, other than the fact that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have hardly been “cakewalks.”

Lions for Lambs should more properly be characterized as propaganda. It does give us insight into the progressive mindset, one which has yet to question the efficacy of government in securing our liberties. I’d suggest passing or waiting for the DVD for this one.

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2007

Lost Lesson of Thanksgiving

ABC journalist John Stossel makes a very important point about Thanksgiving. He suggests that sharing isn't all that it's cracked up to be, citing the failure of Pilgrim communalism and even Soviet Communism.

He concludes:

Secure property rights are the key. When producers know that their future products are safe from confiscation, they will take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible.

I think Stossel's correct, as far as he goes. Private property and no confiscation have proven time and again to be the most effective means to produce plenty. Incentives, of course, matter.

Sharing, however, can indeed be a wonderful thing, if done voluntarily. Adam Smith called the phenomenon "fellow feeling," the sense of sharing and acting compassionately to others is, for most, an experience that goes beyond dollars and cents.

I suggest that charging people to sit down to a Thanksgiving feast at home with family and friends would be a rather empty experience. That's what IHOP's are for!

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 06:33 PM | Comments (1)

Paranoia, self destroyer

Bridging on Carl Milsted's blog on Liberty Dollars, the bust of the Liberty Dollar operation reminds me of the old Kinks tune, Destroyer.

No Gold Bug here, in part because I am offput by Gold Bugger's tendency to spin out paranoid-sounding scenarios of the imminent collapse of the Western World. Thing is: They're been sounding this call since at least 1980. That Boy's cried Wolf just a bit too long for my tastes.

Still, the timing of the Liberty Dollar bust does seem awfully suspicious. The greenback is plunging. Sub prime slime is spreading. Wall Street's acting out at its most bi-polar.

So, the Feds swoop in now? Hmm, call me paranoid, but this "coincidence" feels awfully fishy to me.

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 07:29 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2007

Liberty Dollars: What's the Big Deal?

Well, the feds finally raided the Liberty Dollar folks. Frankly, I am surprised it took them so long to get around to it.

This is not to say I agree with the federal government action; I don't. I simply figured that the purpose of the Liberty Dollar was to trigger federal action in order to have a public lawsuit. That's how civil disobedience works. The feds finally fell into the trap.

Unlike many in the freedom movement, I consider the Liberty Dollar to be something of a joke. Why spend $20 for a coin with only $14 worth of silver. That's instant 30% inflation! Federal Reserve notes are a better deal, and they fit in my wallet. At least Liberty Dollars are refused by most merchants – a powerful money-saving factor.

(OK, as collectibles, Liberty Dollars may prove to be a good investment, especially after the federal raid. But as currency, no thanks.)

Some would argue that Liberty Dollars are inflation proof in the long run, that the initial 30% hit will be small compared to fed note inflation over time. However, the U.S. Treasury offers inflation-proof currency for a much lower premium: it's called T-Bills.

Yes, you pay a few percent a year to hold fed notes, but who does so in large quantity anyway? Bank CDs and other instruments usually keep up with inflation. And if you really want to short the dollar, don't buy gold, buy land! Compare land prices since 1980 with gold prices since 1980. And you get to use the land while you wait for it to appreciate.

Liberty dollars are a joke. Both the gold bugs and the feds take them way too seriously. And the reason they take them too seriously is that they don't understand fed notes.

Federal Reserve notes are not backed up by faith or by legal tender laws. The feds have nothing to fear from Liberty Dollars, and U.S. citizens need not worry about fed notes losing their value overnight due to loss of faith. Fort Knox could vanish and the fed could issue new bills with pictures of Bozo the Clown, David Duke and Hillary Clinton and people would still accept them as currency.

The reason? Federal Reserve notes have intrinsic value. They are backed up the same way the corporate bonds and stock certificates are backed up. Crack open a textbook on banking. Close to 90% of money creation is by privates banks, and the practice precedes the existence of the Fed. Federal Reserve notes are backed up by trillions of dollars of real estate, factories, and consumer durables.

If you have a mortgage, you need fed notes to keep your house. If you have a car loan you need fed notes to keep your car. If you lease office space with a contract measured in dollars, you need dollars to keep your office. No faith needed. Federal Reserve notes are backed up by debt.

Yes, there are problems with fed notes. The fed can dilute their value through open market operations. (The same holds for stocks and bonds. Corporations can dilute their values with new issues.) And debt based money has inherent instabilities. I'd like to see an equity based currency myself, though it should be backed up by more than gold.

But let us not overestimate the problems with fed notes. The result is misplaced efforts, loss of credibility – and run-ins with the FBI.

Posted by CarlMilsted at 11:04 AM | Comments (8)

November 17, 2007

Republican Rehab


An amusing diagnosis of what ails the Republican Party these days.


Posted by RobertCapozzi at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2007

Woodstock > Vietnam as Yin > Yang

Paul Gessing (and Sheldon Richman) makes some great points here.

On the other hand, I wonder whether there would have even been a Woodstock were there not a Vietnam. Horrible as Vietnam was, it did lead to a certain consciousness raising that might not have otherwise happened. The cultural repression of the 50s might have just continued through the 60s. Sometimes virtue is adopted as a reaction to vice, it seems.

Separately, Richman says: "It would be easy to criticize McCain for politically exploiting his five-and-half years of suffering as a captive of the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war."

Perhaps it is "exploitative." But, as I see it, John McCain did not cause Vietnam. As a young man, he was a willing participant, and he had a horrible time in prison camp. That he survived seems to me perfectly reasonable for him to cite as an example of his character. I wish pols did more of this sort of storytelling. That McCain does so with humor adds to the experience.

I'm highly ambivalent about McCain generally. But he has been a strong voice against the US employing torture tactics in the "war on terror," for which he gets points in my book.

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)

McCain Should Have Been at Woodstock

I love this article because it shows one of the very tangible ways in which true libertarians and lefties share values in common that national greatness conservatives will never understand. Sometimes, being a nihilist or counter-culturalist is both more moral and more enjoyable than doing what society says we should be doing.

Posted by PaulGessing at 12:54 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2007

Vouchers defeated in Utah

In a rather resounding vote yesterday, Utah voters killed the nation's first statewide school voucher program that promised tax dollars for private tuition, no matter how much a family earned or whether kids were in bad schools. For supporters of school choice, this was a major setback, moreso because the legislation that had originally been passed by one vote in the Utah Legislature was easily the broadest school choice program in the nation.

Utah is exactly the kind of state that might support school choice, but it looks like even in a friendly state, such a broad choice program is vulnerable. So, what is the solution? Tax credits for educational choice. Rather than relying on the government to divert tax dollars to private schools, tax credits enable individuals to decide how to divert their money to school choice efforts while taking a credit against their taxes. Tax credits poll much better than vouchers and should be the focus of reform efforts. Vouchers just don't seem viable outside of Milwaukee and a few other limited programs.

Posted by PaulGessing at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2007

Immigration: Global Warming on the right

Over at the Future of Freedom Foundation, they have a great article comparing the emotion on the left associated with global warming with the hysterical rhetoric some on the right use when discussing immigration. One of my favorite arguments about illegal immigrants specifically is the fact that they are "illegal." Of course, as this article points out, we all do things that are illegal every day, but the question is whether immigration is good or bad on the whole. History has shown that it has been good for the United States and we'd be well advised to allow people who want to come here to work, to do so.

Posted by PaulGessing at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2007

Colorado Residents Missing Rebates

In 2005, a narrow majority of Colorado residents voted to allow their state government to keep all tax revenues it took in for the next 5 years. In most states, politicians are always allowed to spend whatever they can convince taxpayers to give them, but something called the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights made Colorado different and its citizens wealthier. As Michael New points out here, in giving the state more of their hard-earned money, the average Colorado taxpayer has missed out on 910 dollars in tax rebates during the past two fiscal years.

Other states, including my home of New Mexico, should emulate Colorado's economic success by adopting Taxpayer Bill of Rights-style spending limits. Unfortunately, as Paul Jacob experienced in Oklahoma, the establishment (conservative or liberal) doesn't like limited government.

Posted by PaulGessing at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2007

"Healthy" State Seeking Perfection?

Bridging on Paul Gessing's blog Club for Growth Assessment of Ron Paul: Fair or Hatchet Job?, I agree with most of what he says there. It is odd how fiscal conservatives compartmentalize foreign and defense policy, as those are very substantial portions of the federal budget. I suppose that they are still influenced by the "Better Dead than Red" slogan from the Cold War years. Perhaps conservatives think that the world is a risky, dangerous place, and military spending is what keeps us alive.

The slogan "War is the Health of the State" is why I blog, though. While a useful concept, I avoid that rhetorical flourish. States and war are not, IMO, healthy endeavors. States seem to be necessary to keep the peace. But, to me, they are more like a flu vaccine...unhealthy, but necessary in small doses to keep the patient immune from full-blown influenza.

It is true that governments seem to revel in warring. "Great" presidents are those who were in office during wartime. This is nothing new, as victors get to write the history as they like it remembered.

In a nation that is dominated by people who call themselves Christians, there does seem to be a profound disconnect. On the one hand, "blessed are the peacemakers," on the other Americans seem to have a bloodthirsty streak. Historically, there does need to be some provocation, but once provoked, the American psyche seems to have a propensity to overreact.

So, while we can quibble with some of Ron Paul's positions, the thrust of his campaign seems to be: End the Iraq War. He is introducing the notion that fiscal conservatives need not be hawks -- and in fact should be doves -- to a nation that desperately needs to hear that message.

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 06:47 AM | Comments (1)

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