The Serfdom Times

The Serfdom Times

The chronicles of a modern day serf.

serf
(sûrf) n. A member of the lowest feudal class, attached to the land owned by a lord and required to perform labor in return for certain legal or customary rights.

A person in bondage or servitude.


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Tuesday, September 30, 2003
 
September 11th And The Bush Administration
Compelling Evidence for Complicity
Walter E. Davis, PhD
Newspapers across the country call for an investigation into Bush’s lies about the reasons for war on Iraq. Many people may accept the fact of Bush’s false pretext for a war on Arab people in a distant place, especially after the fact. However, few people will be as accepting if it is shown that this Administration was complicit in acts of atrocities against its own people.

The magnitude of the crisis is readily apparent by noting that 9/11 serves as a pretext for a never-ending war against the world, including preemptive strikes against defenseless, but resource rich countries. It also serves as a pretext for draconian measures of repression at home, including the cabinet level Department of Homeland Security and Patriot Act I, and its sequel. September 11th has become the cause for numerous other acts from massive increases in military spending and to a Fast Track Trade Agreement for the President.

To date, investigations stop far too short, the public is left in the dark on too many questions easily answered, and no one in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for any actions surrounding the attacks of September 11, 2001.

...

In this article, I outline twenty-two items of evidence and questions, each one sufficient reason to demand an investigation into why September 11th was not prevented. Together, these items suggest that the most plausible explanation of events is that the Bush Administration was complicit in the terrorist attacks. This should be a national and international scandal. What is being discovered will shock many people, which is one of the reasons for deliberate corporate media coverup. But a significant number of people within the U.S. see (or will see) the consistencies in the events surrounding 9/11 as described below, and what they know about U.S. foreign policy. Nevertheless, the degree to which this Administration is pursuing a course of world domination at any cost is unprecedented. One of the best ways of putting a halt to this destructive course is to expose the Bush Administration and insist on their accountability to the American people. Thus, the intent of this article is to help fill the void in the media on the issue of the Bush Administration’s complicity in 9/11.

...

How was it possible for the World Trade Center’s two towers to have completely collapsed as a result of two jet planes? The towers in fact stood for forty-five and ninety minutes after the crashes. The official story is that the burning jet fuel caused the steel girders supporting them to melt. However, there is simply no credibly scientific evidence to support this story. The WTC towers were designed to take the impact of a Boeing 707. It is highly unlikely that fire from the jet fuel could have melted the steel girders. This is especially true of the South tower since the plane did not hit it directly. Therefore most of the fuel did not fall inside the building. The South Tower was hit second and fell first. Both towers collapsed evenly and smoothly in a manner consistent with that caused by a planned demolition. Based upon scientific evidences, photos and videos of the event, and reports of scientists, the WTC architect and engineers, it is highly unlikely that the Towers collapsed because of burning jet fuel rather than demolition. There are also serious questions regarding the collapse of the building known as WTC7. It is also noteworthy that ownership of the WTC changed hands several months earlier because if the towers collapsed because of inside demolition, such accomplishment would require cooperation from the extensive WTC security forces.


 
A Bit of Good News on 60 Minutes
by Tibor R. Machan
Mike Wallace surprised me with a segment on Sunday’s, September 28th, 60 Minutes on CBS TV, one that exposed without much mercy the dastardly way governments make use of eminent domain. This is the legal provision governments use to take private property for public use, one, however, that’s been grossly abused over the years.

“Public use” would normally mean building court houses, police stations, military bases and a few other bona fide public projects, ones that are supposed to benefit everyone as citizens. That’s what “public” is supposed to mean in a free society­-I argued this in my book, Private Rights and Public Illusions (Transaction Books, 1995).

Nowadays, however, zealous politicians and bureaucrats have perverted the meaning of the term “public.” Now what they use it to mean is anything that someone in government deems to be of benefit to more people than the owners provide. Thus, if you own a home­-a perfectly decent, clean, livable home ­ but the mayor of your town believes that someone else’s having it would make more money for the city, eminent domain can now be used to take it and transfer it to another private owner. Courts throughout the country have been ambivalent about this, what with the way the idea of “the public” is used having become terribly ambiguous.


China's reserves reach record $364.7bn The US Government complains that Asian countries are "unfairly" keeping their prices lower than US prices, but in truth the problem is that the US Government, having borrowed itself into a black hole, is over-taxing everything Americans do, unfairly RAISING the prices on American products to where we can no longer compete in an open marketplace. [from What Really Happened]

No wonder America has so many enemies
By ERIC MARGOLIS
Recent polls show that even among traditional friends abroad, America is no longer regarded as a champion of freedom, democracy and human rights, but increasingly as a dangerous aggressor bent on imperial domination and exploitation.

America's most precious and proudest asset, its moral reputation, has been gravely damaged by the Bush White House. The only positive note: rising anti-Americanism is largely associated in the eyes of non-Americans with the persona of George Bush, a man who projects almost all the negative stereotypes foreigners hold of Americans.

Bush's blinkered core supporters in middle America simply don't understand or don't care what the rest of the world thinks of their nation, which, since 9/11, has wrapped itself in a cocoon of xenophobia and self-righteous rage.

The White House's mouthpiece media, led by Fox News, have simply blanked out world opinion and endlessly chorused administration war propaganda.

A fascinating March study of network TV news by New York's Fairness and Accuracy in Media shows how Americans were misled into war by outrageously biased programming on Iraq.

The analysis found: a) 76% of all commentators about Iraq on TV were present or former government officials; b) only 6% of commentators expressed skepticism regarding the need for war - when 61% of the public supported more time for diplomacy and inspections; c) on the four TV networks, less than 1% of sources were identified with anti-war groups.

And more than two-thirds of commentators were from the U.S., 75% either present or former government or military officials. The small number of foreign commentators mostly came from nations like Britain and Israel which were backing Bush's war policy.

In short, the major networks, under White House prompting, beat the war drums and blatantly excluded commentators with contrary views, giving Americans a badly warped view of world events.

No wonder so few Americans understand what is going on abroad, how the outside world really sees them, or why America has so many enemies overseas. Small wonder many Americans are turning for balanced news to the CBC, BBC and the Internet.

Citizens of the old Soviet Union suffered the same information isolation. Like Americans since 9/11, they were force-fed agitprop and patriotic pap disguised as news, and deprived of all knowledge of the real world around them.

Back to reality. Bush's UN speech was another attempt to mislead Americans into believing the horrid mess in Iraq - entirely the creation of Bush and the neo-cons - is somehow the fault of the UN.


Hurting households
POVERTY FIGURES released yesterday by the US Census Bureau show that more Americans slid into poverty last year and median incomes fell for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, the federal government's spending priorities have not improved the situation, and the continuing loss of jobs does not bode well for a quick rebound.

The article then goes on to spew some crap about how the empire actually ought to steal MORE money from people and do good things for the people it's just stolen money from -- get this -- to make things better. That was almost bowel-control-losing funny. But I wouldn't be surprised that such a barbaric and primitive group of imperial slaves would think that theft would be a cure for theft-induced poverty. After all, these are the same orcs who think that war brings peace. Truly sad.


Monday, September 29, 2003
 
Sounding the Alarm
by Gary North
What we pessimists say is simple: politically, nothing will be done about it. The growth of federal spending is now approaching the famed exponential curve. The Fed will continue to inflate.

But the markets don’t care about "eventually." They care only about tomorrow. They cared about tomorrow in Menger’s day, too, so he looked foolish for several decades. If Menger had known in which year the war would break out, he might have saved himself a lot of time and trouble, but he didn’t.

If you use gold as a hedge against mass inflation, and you want privacy when it really counts – when controls are slapped on – then you buy steadily and thank God for the delay in the crisis timetable. But one thing you don’t do; you don’t grieve yourself with self-doubts about the seemingly endless ability of the federal government to sell T-bills in order to cover the debt. It won’t go on forever. You know it; I know it; and Alan Greenspan knows it. When he resigns, look out.

But let’s keep our pessimism in focus. Pessimism should be mid-term, not long term. Long-term optimism is basic to a strategy of victory. I want to see truth win out, and I expect to see it.

...

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Marxist professors on campus started getting laughed at. They still teach Marxism, but they are regarded by students and non-Marxist faculty members as a joke. They have tenure, but they no longer have respect. Nobody takes them seriously.

Today, most Americans are less optimistic than they were a generation ago. There has been a steady loss of faith in the government, but nothing has replaced this declining faith. This represents a great evangelism opportunity for those who are not members of the Church of the Holy Deficit.

...

Those of us who are committed to the idea of sound money, low consumer debt, personal thrift, hard work, deferred retirement, and entrepreneurship still don’t get a hearing in Washington or London. Keynesians still dominate government policy-making. Federal deficits grow ever-larger. We are tempted to become discouraged.

But things are better for the spread of our ideas today than they were when I started college in 1959, when liberal Keynesianism was completely dominant in academia, two years before Milton Friedman’s book, Capitalism and Freedom, was published. Things are a lot better today in terms of our audience than they were in 1980 or 1991. Year by year, people continue to defect from the Church of the Holy Deficit.

The federal government is going to go bankrupt. It will default on Social Security. I knew that in 1959. We are closer to that day of default than we were in 1959. These things take time, as Menger learned. The difference is, the free market ideas of Menger are getting a wider hearing today than in 1933, 1953, or even 1983.


The Color of the Sky
by Paul Hein
That’s what government is today. Forget your dictionary, or the Constitution, or Declaration of Independence, or the Bill of Rights. Government is as government does.


Friday, September 26, 2003
 
The Role of Ideas
by Adam Young
By now, finally, it's no secret (and no thanks to the mainstream media, who slept through the buildup to the invasion of Iraq), that the motives of the central planners who conned and schemed Americans into the invasion and occupation of a third-world country, were enthralled by their grand scheme to transform the Middle East through violence and terror. The goal, as neoconservative tyrant's like Michael Ledeen, Bill Kristol and the other neocon's repeatedly tell us, is to create by force – both military and bureaucratic – new national cultures in these areas that will embrace as their own the values imposed by the new overlords. The marketing slogan of neoconservativism seems to be Better Living Through Military Despotism.

The neocons claim that the values they wish to impose are political and social liberty, equal rights and free markets, although the neocon concept of these ideas leaves the usual meaning of these words left behind in the dust, but in any event it is the "historic mission" of the United States government to "advance" them. But it should not surprise anyone that the neocons take a favorable view towards the welfare state, FDR and the return to LBJ's guns-and-butter welfare-warfare statism. For the U.S. to attempt to reconstruct the world you would have to believe that central control and central planning, and the resulting mass violations of individual and property rights, has been great for American culture and civilization.

To change a foreign culture would require forcibly altering what those people – those individual persons with inalienable rights to life and liberty – believe and think. This is not what could be called a conservative project. Libertarians would suggest that rather than those of the Western intellectual tradition, these invaders, occupiers and central planners are adopting the anti-liberal cultural values of their victims in these "failed states."

The neocons claim, illegitimately, to be the vanguard of the tide of liberty. The reality of the neoconservative creed is that while very good with the rhetoric of liberty, free markets, limited government, and federalism, their practice of these tenets of Western thought is virtually non-existent as they champion greater and greater domestic and foreign centralization and militarism. At the core of their great plan for humanity is the destructive killing power of the permanent military complex, but how on earth could a socialist bureaucracy like the U.S. military bring about a free society, in Iraq or in America for that matter?


Anarchy
by Patrick B. Yancey
My objection is to the demonization of anarchists by the combined forces of government and media, who take any crazy they find with some slight wherewithal to injure the populace, and label him "anarchist." These people are not true anarchists, but nihilists of the worst stripe. Anarchists believe that people are capable of governing themselves, and do not require the shepherding hand of government to help them along through life. True anarchists would take no action to tear down any establishment, except under the circumstance that any resolute person would, whatever his beliefs, namely, when the excesses of the government in power outweigh the benefit its rule provides.


Thursday, September 25, 2003
 
Will the US Privatize Iraq? Should It?
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
The US should be as wise. With the announcement of these reforms, we are supposed to imagine the future of Iraq as a big democratic Hong Kong, with bustling businesses everywhere, with an international flavor, where taxes are low and property is secure and commerce is the watchword above all else. Utopia! And what a contrast to today, where no one is safe under a US military dictatorship. And just think: the US will shepherd the whole transition.

If you believe this, the US has a bridge in Baghdad to sell you. There are very few details available about the plan, but we do have history to inform us. The US has so far not allowed anything resembling a laissez-faire commercial atmosphere to take root after the bombing and killing campaign that began last spring. Foreign cell phone companies that have come to the country to set up shop have been kicked out. Would-be commercial air services have been refused. The interests of merchants have not been protected during the upheavals.

Not even the billions and billions of dollars in contract money, looted from the American taxpayer to be given away to firms reconstructing what the US destroyed in Iraq, have been sent out for competitive bids. The contracts were awarded to Halliburton and Bechtel, of course, so that the government and its friends can win before, during, and after the war. Even now, the US admits that "US Government contracts...continue to be the leading business opportunities in Iraq. It's hardly surprising that proposed privatization would be widely interpreted as a complete sell-off of the country – like a criminal gang holding a yard sale of all its holdings. It could discredit the whole idea of free enterprise in Iraq.


Liberty in the balance: Citizens across the U.S. speak out
By Sam Stanton and Emily Bazar
"I think the Patriot Act itself, it infringes on the rights that we swore to uphold and defend," Armstrong said recently as political leaders in Juneau debated -- and passed -- a resolution opposing the controversial law. "I didn't go to war to usurp the Constitution."


Comcast Devours Your Life
Privacy shmivacy. The cable-TV beast knows more about you than your own mother. Be very creeped out

By Mark Morford
Furthermore, Comcast "may combine personally identifiable information [read: private data that's none of their damn business] with personally identifiable information from third parties for the purpose of creating an enhanced database to use in marketing and other activities." Gosh you sweet Comcast lizard execs, I bet if you tried really hard, you could sound slightly more draconian and malicious. Oh, do try.

More? You got it. According to the Privacy Notice, Comcast can, without telling you, share all this personal info with their "affiliates" or the aptly named "others." They can toss your file to their "employees, contractors, agents, outside auditors, professional advisors, service providers, potential business-transaction partners, regulators and franchise authorities." With or without your written consent. With or without giving a crap for anything resembling integrity. Within their legal rights but without the slightest winking nod that they know full well they are violating you every day like a neocon assaults environmental legislation.

Comcast will, like any good inbred corporate citizen, share everything they know about you with the government, if asked. They will share it with lawyers and bill collectors and judges and Homeland Security lackeys. They will use your info in surveys and statistical reports and aggregate pie charts.

They will, in short, take this heaping pile of personal data on you and use it in every possible way they can to further their corporate profiteering cause and drown you in more goddamn product, short of coming to your house and nailing your ass to the floorboards and rifling through your desk and cataloguing all your porn and installing hidden cameras in your bathroom, which you just know they'd love to do, if they could.

This is all spelled out in the most abstracted and creepy terms possible, in the Privacy Notice. It's all there and it's mostly completely ignored by 99.8 percent of the population, which is exactly how they want it, because hey, who wants to know that just because you watch "Six Feet Under," some corporate hellbitch can use your Social Security number, bank-account number and credit report like poker chips?

...

Comcast is not on your side. This is the bottom line. They represent the latest breed of secretive megacorporate info-glutton, a cross between a Homeland Security soul vacuum and Microsoft and that disturbing guy on Friendster who you've never met but who somehow knows your nickname from third grade and wants to buy your underwear.

Of course the good news is, these corporations, like Ashcroft's flying monkeys, they can know nothing of any true substance. This has never changed. Comcast can't touch you in any substantive way, can't possibly genuinely know you or know what you truly value and how you love and with what sort of profound karmic longing you enter the shower every morning. And this fact, of course, drives them insane.

Still, they're trying. Comcast is able to legally suck more data from you than ever before in the history of corporate America, and toss it around more easily and snidely than ever before and tell you all about it not at all, and call it policy. And they are not alone.

And, what's worse, there is no real solution. There is no escape. If you want to be in any way connected to the info-media highway, you are in their database. Or DirecTV's, or AT&T's or MicrosoftDisneyAOLExxonViacom's. Of this, you need to be aware. You need, right now, to be subtly empowered by this sinister knowledge. If for no other reason that so when they come knocking, you can have a pitchfork ready. Because sure they only have numbers and raw data and credit card statements. But it's damn creepy. And, really, isn't that enough?


Wednesday, September 24, 2003
 
There is a union now, between the Two Towers - Orthanc and Barad-dûr....

Left and Right Are One Now
by Tibor R. Machan
In other words, Annan believes that a world authority of top down regulation of human societies everywhere needs to be established. Certainly, social problems cannot be left to free men and women to sort out as best as they judge fit. So, it is clear that President Bush and Secretary General Annan see things eye to eye: the world needs to be put in order, as per the vision of world leaders.

I am sorry but I do not see much difference between this and what some of the worst dictators in human history have had in mind for us. Sure, these two blokes may not wish (yet?) to resort to out and out brutality, at least not on the scale of a Stalin or Hitler, in attaining their vision for us all. They will probably proceed by more subtle means­-various treaties and such, backed up by the heavy hand of the tax authorities everywhere who will make sure that our lives and labors go to a good cause and aren’t wasted on things we ourselves might like to pursue. (Oh, that unalienable human right to the pursuit of one’s happiness! Where has that notion gone these days?)

Domestically and internationally it looks more and more like the forces of Left and Right have reached a rapprochement. They will no longer fight each other on very much but agree to unite so as to bring about order. Sure, some of their objectives may remain slightly different­-the Right will tend to fret more about our souls, while the Left will likely keep attending more to our pocketbooks. But these are mere details.



 
How the Protection of Law Was Lost
by Paul Craig Roberts
Reformers assume that rules can substitute for character, and they ignore the unintended incentives created by rule making. An accounting culture based on probity was replaced by one in which sharp practices are acceptable as long as they comply with SEC rules.

By making top executives criminally liable for material errors, regardless of whether fraud is intended, Sarbanes-Oxley violates two protective principles of our legal system: mens rea (no crime without intent) and actus rea (evidence of a criminal act). Violating these legal principles is a far greater offense than accounting fraud.

We often hear that "the rule of law" is an advantage we have over our competitors, but the rule of law has been replaced with the discretion of regulators and prosecutors. Today Americans draw prison sentences for unknowingly violating vague regulations, the meanings of which are interpreted by the regulatory police who enforce the regulations. Americans are indicted on the basis of novel interpretations of criminal liability created by the indictment. When felony was ruled by intent, legal certainty was required in order that people could be aware of acts that constituted criminal violations. Now that intent is no longer required, certainly in law has lost its relevance.


Alan Greenspan: Mr. Creep
by Gary North
This time, businessmen are not deceived. They are reducing their borrowing. They are laying off workers. It is consumers who are taking the money and running. Businessmen look at the economy and say "I’ll pass" to Greenspan. Consumers, concerned only about next month’s payments, are gobbling up the new credit. They are adding to their long-term liabilities because of the lure of short-term rates.

Consumers forget about rising taxes and rising interest rates. They assume, like the drunkards in Isaiah’s day, that things will always get better. "Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant" (Isa. 56:12). They not only refuse to save for a rainy day, they in effect sell the shingles off the roof and spend the money.

Presidential election years are traditionally sunshine years. The Fed makes it so. The question then arises: "What happens in the year following the election?" Will the Fed put on the monetary brakes? If it does, the economy will fall into recession. But if the Fed doesn’t put on the brakes, it risks the return of serious price inflation.

...

So, we find that in the midst of a poor labor market, American consumers are loading up on debt. Their employers, in contrast, are repaying debt and not replacing it. Psychologists call this phenomenon "cognitive dissonance." I call it high-risk behavior: grasshopper syndrome. The ants know better.

Here is my point: debt should be a function of expected productivity. If a person does not expect to increase his productivity, he should not add to his debt except in cases of emergency. Adding to personal debt in response to the interest rate-effects of a combination of the Fed’s expansionist monetary policy and businessmen’s refusal to borrow in order to add to plant capacity is what is sometimes called "driving beyond your headlights." Millions of Americans are doing this. They are putting the pedal to the metal.

To this scenario add the resource-consuming effects of a war. This is Keynesianism in operation: an attempted economic recovery based on (1) increased government spending, (2) increased Federal deficits, and (3) increased consumer spending by means of an increase in personal debt.


Tuesday, September 23, 2003
 
The following remarks were delivered by William Rivers Pitt at a Town Hall meeting in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, September 16. The meeting was called on the eve of an historic vote; the capitol city of Texas is very near to joining hundreds of other American communities in passing a resolution that repudiates the Patriot Act.



Patriot Act Finds Trouble in Texas
By William Rivers Pitt
I have listened to the defenses of the Patriot Act offered tonight. The essence of the defenses, the essence of the rebuttals to our reservations and complaints, is "Trust us. We're the government. We're the constitutional scholars. Trust us."

I've heard that before.

There are tons of mass destruction weapons in Iraq. Trust us. There are al Qaeda terrorists all over Iraq. Trust us. September 11 happened because of enemies who hate our freedoms. Trust us.

With all due respect, I say hell no. The one thing this government's behavior has not created is trust.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have come here today to appeal to your patriotism. We are all patriots here, every one of us. Let no one deny that or doubt that.

What are our duties as patriots? Is one a patriot if they fly the flag, to stand for the national anthem? Yes…and no. One may do these things and be filled with love of country, but if that is all you do, then you have not done enough. In this time, and in this place, and with all that is happening in this country and around the world, the duties of a patriot go far, far, far beyond flying the flag.

The duty of a patriot in this time and place is to ask questions, to demand answers, to understand where our nation is headed and why. If the answers you get do not suit you, or if they frighten you, or if they anger you, it is your duty as a patriot to dissent. Freedom does not begin with blind acceptance and with a flag. Freedom begins when you say 'No.'

That is how our freedom began 227 years ago. We said 'No.' Now, we must talk, and listen, and ask questions, and understand. If we do not like where we find ourselves, we must once again say 'No' with roaring voice, and without fear.

So let us, as patriots, speak tonight about the Patriot Act. The full name is the USA Patriot Anti-Terror Act, passed in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Interestingly, and disturbingly, the document was written long before those attacks ever took place. If you believe the advertising, the Patriot Act serves us all by defending us against terrorist attacks, by casting a fine net to snare those who mean to do us harm. The Act itself is a huge sheaf of paper, written in that dense legalese so common to legislation. Attorney General John Ashcroft has been on a tour of American cities in the last month touting the Act before police organizations. He believes it is a vital and necessary weapon against terrorism.

I am not going to stand up here today and try to claim that the events of September 11 do not require a response from the American legal system. That would be patently absurd. One of the cruelest ironies of that day is that the terrorists used our greatest American strength against us. They used our freedom of movement against us. They came here, rented cars, got hotels, got on airplanes, and dealt us a mighty blow. Because we are free to go where we wish and stay where we wish, we were open to their trauma.

But I must now ask you my first question of the night, one I will repeat as we go on. What price security? How much can we give up before we become a country that is not America?



Monday, September 22, 2003
 
Bush's tame U.S. media may yet have teeth
By ERIC MARGOLIS
Christiane Amanpour is absolutely right. The U.S. media was muzzled and censored itself.

I experienced this firsthand on U.S. TV, radio and in print. Never in my 20 years in media have I seen such unconscionable pressure exerted on journalists to conform to the government's party line.

Criticism of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, photos of dead American soldiers or civilians killed by bombing, were forbidden or downplayed.

The tone of reporting had to be strongly positive, filled with uplifting stories about liberation and women freed from repression. Criticism, sharp questions and doubt were verboten.

The bloated corporations dominating the U.S. media feared antagonizing the White House, which was pushing for the bill - just rejected by the Senate - to allow them to grow even larger.

Reporters who failed to toe the line were barred or had their access to military and government officials limited, virtually ending some careers. Many "embedded" reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan became little more than public relations auxiliaries.

Critics of administration policies in Iraq and Afghanistan were systematically excluded from media commentary, particularly on national TV.


An image gallery of the Glorious, American-led Liberation of the primitive, hapless Iraqi people.


I'm sure this child was happy to have been liberated from life by the empire.

Isabel Blew Fallacy Ashore
by Steven Yates
Hurricane Isabel roared onto eastern North Carolina shores in mid-day, September 18, 2003, continuing on into Virginia and north from there. While Isabel was no Hurricane Hugo, the monster storm that demolished Charleston, S.C. back in 1989, it washed up the usual economic fallacies.

Among them is the idea that all prices should be the same after as before the storm. Thus were potential gougers given stern warnings long before the hurricane hit. It is apparently very difficult for people to understand how prices assist in rationing in light of changes in supply, which is why price flexibility is never more needed than in a natural disaster.

But let's leave that one aside and focus on the biggest fallacy of all: the idea that destruction of all sorts is actually a wonderful thing. To listen to mainstream economists, including Wall Street analysts, what destruction Isabel wrought is really a bonanza for the economy.

A several-times-repeated CBS Marketwatch statement declared just the other day, "The approaching Hurricane Isabel is likely to destroy property and claim lives, but it'll probably be a positive for the nation's economy." The report continued, "The storm … will disrupt commerce, industry and travel for a few days—or even months in some cases." But never fear. Isabel "is likely to actually increase overall economic activity in the coming weeks as individuals and businesses repair and restore their damaged property."


Friday, September 19, 2003
 
"If the Nuremberg laws were applied today, then every Post-War American president would have to be hanged." ~ Noam Chomsky (STR)

Bad News from Iraq
by Joseph Sobran
So how do we get out of Iraq? The Wall Street Journal, voice of the hawks, speaks of “strengthening America’s commitment to victory in Iraq.” Furthermore, “The guerrilla war the U.S. is now fighting in Iraq is winnable, notwithstanding the current media pessimism.”

Wait a minute! “Commitment to victory”? “Winnable”? I thought we’d already won! Didn’t President Bush just put on a combat pilot’s uniform to celebrate our triumph?

Saddam Hussein has fallen, his sons are dead, most of his top officials are in custody, his alleged arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction” has gone poof, and Iraq is no threat to anyone, let alone the United States.

Now we’re told that many more troops, and a lot more money, will be needed to “pacify” and “stabilize” what’s left of Iraq. When will this elusive victory be consummated? Hasn’t the country already been “liberated”?

A “guerrilla war” wasn’t part of the deal. We were fighting a “preemptive” war to remove a “threat.” Mission accomplished. So bring the troops home. Leave the losers to their own devices.

Or was the antiwar Left correct? Was this a war of conquest and empire all along? Draw your own conclusions.

The Journal says the Iraqis must take responsibility “for governing themselves” — according to American dictates, of course. It may sound odd to attack, invade, and occupy a country in order to give it self-government, but there is much precedent. Abraham Lincoln said he was invading the Confederacy in order to save self-government (which else might “perish from the earth”), then set up puppet military governments in the conquered states. Woodrow Wilson took us into World War I to “make the world safe for democracy,” and the results included Soviet Communism, Italian Fascism, and German National Socialism. World War II — oh, never mind.

...

The hawks (and much of the press) are still calling the Iraqi resistance forces “terrorists.” But guerrillas is more accurate. Their targets are military forces, other occupiers, and collaborators, not the civilian population at large. Naturally they aren’t playing by the invaders’ rules, but that’s the nature of guerrilla warfare.

After all, the invaders have switched their own rules. That’s what “preemptive” war means. The United States isn’t fighting by the old rules, hasn’t formally declared war, hasn’t clearly defined its war aims. And it had no plan for occupation.


Federal Spending Threatens Our Security
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Setting aside the fact that historically foreign aid has failed to improve the economic well-being of people in the recipient nations, what all too many Americans are blocking out of their minds, unfortunately, is the threat that the U.S. government's uncontrolled spending binge poses to our own economic security.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the current fiscal year, which ends this month, will end up with a $401 billion deficit. The original projection for next year was that federal spending would exceed income by $480 billion; the anticipated spending in Iraq has raised that projection to at least $540 billion.

Like it or not, federal spending must ultimately be paid for by the American people, either now — in the form of income taxation — or by adding to the federal government’s ever-growing mountain of national debt ($6.8 trillion and growing), to be paid later either through income taxation or the more likely means of central-bank debasement of the currency (i.e., inflation). Given the unlikelihood that the Bush administration will raise taxes prior to the 2004 elections, it is a virtual certainty that most of the new spending will be financed by new debt, to be paid off later, most likely through inflation.

Those who think that passing the debt to later generations poses no economic cost to current generations ignore the adverse impact of diverting such large amounts of private capital into unproductive government spending. Rising levels of private capital are the key to increased productivity, which in turn forms the basis for real (i.e., noninflationary) increases in wages. Thus, massive government spending, whether financed through taxation or debt, ultimately means a lower standard of living for society.

What Americans might also find disconcerting is the amount of U.S. debt that is held by foreigners — $1.347 trillion, more than one-third of the total. According to an article entitled U.S. Debt to Asia Swelling, published in the September 12 issue of the Washington Post, Japan now owns $440 billion in U.S. securities, equal to more than one-tenth of all outstanding issues. China, the second-largest buyer of U.S. securities, now owns more than $122 billion, while five other Asian countries — Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand — own more than $166 billion.

As Joan Zheng, formerly of the central bank of China (i.e., China’s Federal Reserve System) and now an economist at J.P. Morgan in Hong Kong, put it, “The U.S. dollar is now at the mercy of Asian governments.” She might have added, "Thanks to the profligate spending habits of U.S. officials."

Americans had better hope that foreigners never decide to dump all that debt onto the market at once, because it would undoubtedly produce an extremely ugly financial and economic crisis whose magnitude is impossible to predict. Given the propensity of Washington officials to make enemies overseas, the threat of such a crisis now hangs over our nation like a sword of Damocles.

The American people might well come to rue the day they embraced the “Don’t worry. Be happy. Trust us” mantra of their elected and appointed federal officials, who undoubtedly would view a severe economic emergency as just another opportunity to further expand their powers over the American people. We could easily imagine them repeating the mantra that federal officials employed after monetary manipulation by the Federal Reserve caused the 1929 stock-market crash and the Great Depression: “America’s free-enterprise system has failed. Entrust us with more power so we can get you out of the crisis.”


Gold: Is It Just Another Commodity?
by Gary North
It’s one thing to invest in gold. It’s another to understand the logic of gold in a free economy. You should do both. But understanding the economic logic of is more important than investing in gold.

One of my goals is to make the economics of gold clearer to people. If you don’t understand why I recommend gold as an investment, you may decide to buy gold just because you take my word for it. Don’t do this. Buy gold or gold-related investments such as North American gold shares only when you understand the economics behind gold.


Members set to raise own pay
House and Senate are both poised to ignore Bush’s 2% cap on salary hikes
By Alexander Bolton
House and Senate members, acting in defiance of President Bush, are on the verge of boosting the pay of federal civilian employees, as well as their own salaries and those of their staffs.

Key lawmakers in both chambers want to grant federal civilian employees a 4.5 percent raise, the same as Bush has requested for military employees.




The Roots of the Federal Debt
If individuals or corporations—or state governments, for that matter—were this much in debt, they would see the value of their existing debt on the market downgraded. They would no longer be credit worthy. They would default and be bankrupt. The profligacy would come to an end.

How is it that the federal government is able to accumulate all this debt and still market its notes all over the world? The answer to the riddle is understood by the Austrian School: the Fed, the agency of the federal government that enjoys the monopoly privilege to create out of thin air all the money it wants to create. Fed governor Ben Bernanke is right that the Fed is capable of bailing out even the worst debt crisis by merely creating unlimited supplies of dollars. Mises wrote about this as early as 1912, and he saw the grave costs for society.

What are those costs? An inflated money supply distorts the structure of production and leads to serious investment miscalculations. It drives down the value of the dollar on international exchange. It provokes a decline in the purchasing power of each individual unit, thereby gutting savings and discouraging thrift. It redistributes wealth from the productive to the government-connected. As the recent experience of Zimbabwe shows, inflation can literally turn a society and culture upsidedown.

Even the Fed would regret the consequences of such actions. Why, then, does it continually promise to drive interest rates down to zero if need be? Why do its spokesmen never tire of emphasizing that the whole banking system is insulated from failure?

Your finances are not the first concern of its primary clients, the large banks and the government that established the central bank. It is short-term thinking at work. In the institution of the central bank, the government has the ultimate tool to permit its profligacy to continue without check and without regard to the future.

If the Fed, the sponsor of the ultimate check-kiting scheme, is so dangerous for society, why doesn't somebody do something about it? For years Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, distinguished counselor to the Mises Institute, has worked to restore the gold standard, because it would mean the abolition of central banking and the instituting of sound money that would keep government in check and stabilize economic growth and inflation.

But he is unusual: a statesman who understands the issue and cares enough about America's future to push a program that would benefit everyone but the banking/government elite. What about everyone else? They either lack the economic education to understand it or just have no real incentive to do the right thing.

We live under what Paul Gottfried calls the managerial state—which is to say a seemingly permanent bureaucratic government subject to little effective democratic control that attempts to plan every aspect of society though it has no real stake in the outcome of its failures. In this respect the modern state is very different from its medieval predecessor in which the king took personal responsibility for the outcome of his decisions.

Under today's system of government, there are few mechanisms in place that operate as an effective check on public looting. The framers of the constitution didn't imagine institutions such as the central bank, the income tax, and a permanent bureaucratic class, nor did they imagine the explosive growth of the welfare-warfare state that these institutions would underwrite and entrench in public life.

One check on power does remain, and it is the one that has been most effective from time immemorial: public opinion. In light of the impending bankruptcy of the federal government at our expense, we might demand to know: where is the outrage? At some point, when it becomes clear that the present level of profligacy cannot continue, and we face the consequences as a society, people are going to demand answers.

Ideally, the system would be fixed before a crisis that results in a complete financial meltdown. Given what we know about Washington today, however, the crisis will not be stopped but result in upheavals of a kind and degree that cannot be known in advance. There are ways around it, of course: put an end to the recklessness and the institutions like the Fed that make it possible.


Thursday, September 18, 2003
 
Violence needed to fight terror: Buddha's man of peace
By Laurie Goodstein
At a time when many political and religious leaders are saying the American anti-terrorism campaign and the war in Iraq are only fuelling additional terrorism, the Dalai Lama refused to pass judgement.

But he emphasised that "the real antidote" to terrorism in the long run is "compassion, dialogue - peaceful means" - even with terrorists. "We have to deal with their motivation," he said. "Terrorism comes out of hatred, and also short-sightedness." (via the LRC blog)


I've long been fond of the Bhuddist teachings and practice of peace, so this is a pretty disturbing read. Self-defense is certainly one thing. But what the US empire is currently doing in Iraq and Afganistan doesn't qualify as self-defense. What it is, is terrorism. I like to think maybe that's what the Dalai Lama meant. But I doubt it.


 
A truly awesome and amusing article...

Land of the Free, Home of the Slave
by Steven Greenhut
America is such a wonderfully free country that I thoroughly understand why the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration before it, is so eager to take our freedoms and spread them across the globe. Without the U.S. government, backwards peoples will have to labor on in their own delusions, never understanding what true liberty is all about.

I am so free. If I want to paint my house, or build a deck out back, or install a new air-conditioning system, I am free to call the building inspector and get his approval first. If I want to put a new toilet in the bathroom, I am free to buy only the low-flow toilets the government approves. I am free to buy a property near the beach, provided the government Coastal Commission approves whatever I want to do with that property. That approval might take decades, and the final thing that I build will be what the commissioners want there, not what I want, but I am free nonetheless.

I know I am free because this is America. And America is a free country – the best one in the whole darned world. If you don’t like our freedoms, you should move somewhere else.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003
 
Priceless...




 
Paul Krugman and His Religion
by William L. Anderson
In his classic book Feeling Your Pain, James Bovard painstakingly documents how the Clinton Administration systematically abused common citizens. (During the Clinton years, the U.S. prison population more than doubled from about 900 thousand to nearly two million inmates. This from an administration that preached "social compassion.") This is not an accident; the welfare state ultimately requires such abuse, as the tax collecting authorities must be given extraordinary powers to pay for such a state, and the people must be forced to accept such government "largess," whether or not they want it. Meanwhile, all dissenters must be squelched.

While Krugman has been an eloquent spokesman against many of the war policies of the current administration, I doubt he minds that at home, government authorities have gained vast new powers against individuals. Furthermore, I doubt Krugman minds the carnage that was Waco or the government-sponsored murder that was Ruby Ridge. After all, these targets of government rage were individuals who had mostly rejected the welfare state and simply wished to live apart from the dictates of the state. (By setting themselves apart from the larger society, they represented a threat to no one but government authorities who wished to impose their own will upon them.)


Pay No Attention to This Day
by Harry Browne
The Constitution was supposed to spell out what government can do and what it can’t do. The government’s few legal functions are listed in Article 1, Section 8. It was a revolutionary document, in that no government in history had ever had its duties and restrictions so carefully defined.

Despite frequent violations of the Constitution by the government, the document did its job reasonably well for the first hundred years — making America the freest country in history.

As late as 1887, when Congress passed a bill providing federal relief to drought-stricken Texas farmers, Grover Cleveland vetoed it, saying, "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution."

But that was about the last gasp for limited, Constitutional government. Because the Constitution wasn’t self-enforcing, it depended on the good intentions of politicians — something Thomas Jefferson specifically warned against in 1798 when he said, "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

Michael Cloud put it more succinctly in recent years: "The problem isn’t the abuse of power, it’s the power to abuse." So long as the politicians have the power, they’ll abuse it. And the Constitution was intended to prevent letting the politicians have the power to abuse.

...

But by the end of the 1800s, too many Americans had lost their fear of government and politicians. The introduction of government schools had made it almost certain that most children would never learn the importance of binding down government with the chains of the Constitution.

And so government was transformed in the public mind from a necessary-but-dangerous evil into "the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else," as Frédéric Bastiat described it.

More and more, the Constitution became a political toy, to be tossed about, invoked, ignored, or misrepresented — whatever suited a given politician’s agenda at any given moment.

The income tax amendment in 1913 hammered the final nail into the coffin of limited, constitutional government. Now the politicians had not only the authority, but also the unlimited revenue, to do whatever they wanted. It seems very, very unlikely, for example, that Americans would have been dragged into World War I if the government hadn’t had the unlimited revenue to finance it.

Even the Bill of Rights — which eliminates all ambiguity by spelling out specific things the government may not do — was relegated to second place behind the needs of politicians. By the first World War, the Supreme Court had decided that the words "Congress shall make no law . . . " don’t really mean that "Congress shall make no law . . . " They mean only that the government must have a "compelling interest" in doing something. Not surprisingly, the government employees on the Court almost always decide that the government does have a compelling interest.

...

If the American people are to learn the importance of limited, Constitutional government, we have to teach them ourselves.

But people aren’t interested in academic lectures on constitutional government. They’re far more interested in their own lives — and rightly so.


And best Constitution Day wishes to you, Harry.



Onward Presidential Minions
"We" Speaks

by Russell Madden
Iraqis will soon be ready for "self-government" and "free elections" and a "constitution." Though "we" don't pay much to our own, so why should they?

To do all this, "we" need money. Lots of it. Come on. Cough it up. Don't be stingy or mean-spirited. Charity begins with foreigners. New roads. New schools. New hospitals. Reliable electricity. Water. "We" give them our word.

"We" will also make sure "we" have those, too. Lots. Bunches. Gobs. As soon as "we" can afford them.

"We" tell you "there will be no going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001." When pilots and passengers could go armed and kill crazies on planes. When some shreds of the Constitution remained. When citizens did not have to be stripped and groped to visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

"We" know "the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people" is not to increase individual freedom but to swell a gargantuan State even larger and to force people to give up more freedom.


Lifting the Wool: Governments Are Mafias, War Is Their Racket
by Alan Bock
It is unlikely that the veil will be parted long enough for the great casserole of prejudice, misinformation, partial information and (occasionally) accurate perception that pollsters and political scientists are pleased to call "public opinion" to process and absorb the perception completely. But the vaguely worded Israeli Cabinet decision that the time might have come to "remove" Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from the region, or perhaps from the earth – followed Sunday by an "unofficial" trial-balloon-type statement from Israeli Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "Expulsion is certainly one of the options; killing is also one of the options" – offered an important insight into the essential character of government.

Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat got it only partially right in criticizing Ehud Olmert's statement, calling it "the behavior and actions of a mafia and not a government."

Not quite right, Mr. Erekat. It was definitely a mafia-like comment. But it was also a quintessentially government-like sentiment – although government leaders are seldom so open and frank about it, which is one of the reasons most people don't catch on.

...

Nock defined the State as the organization of the political means, as distinguished from the economic means, of dividing up the fruits of the productive capacity of the people. Nock argued that there are basically two ways people interact – through voluntary agreement or through the use of force. What he called the economic means were voluntary and consensual – trade, mutual agreements (some explicit and some implicit) – and the sum of the agreements, transactions and decisions to tolerate others made up what Nock called society and what some have called civil society. The political means involve the use of force or threats of force.

For those who are willing and able to use them, the political means are usually a much more efficient method of acquiring wealth or control over the means of production than honest labor, pleasing customers and confining oneself to mutually voluntary transactions. So they have been used by sophisticated thugs and bandits throughout what we know of human history.

By Nock's definition, of course, almost every institution we call a government in the modern world is actually a state – an institution built around the use of force to ensure compliance. And his definition is hardly as off-the-wall as it might seem. Most political theory classes or political science texts will define government as the institution in a given geographic region with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Government, in other words, is the institution that gets to define its own use of force as legitimate and everybody else's use of force as illegitimate.

...

What it comes down to, then, is that the essence of government is force. Without the capacity to coerce citizens into paying taxes and obeying edicts, government is impossible. It is hardly a stretch, however, to note that such an institution is morally virtually indistinguishable from a criminal gang. Indeed, a criminal gang generally finds it more efficient to limit the use of force to those who resist too actively or to teach a lesson. The profits are greater when the merchants simply give in at once to the guys in bulky suits who come around saying, "Nice store you have here. Be a shame if anything happened to it. We can provide protection." But the racket works best, of course, if the merchants know the thugs will follow through on the implied threat, so once in a while an example has to be made.

...

It is in the interest of governments that these truths not be widely known, or at least not widely acknowledged, which is one reason governments want to control the education of children, preferably as directly as possible. So government spokespeople often get upset when one of their confreres slips and pulls back the veil to reveal that the wizard is really a thug. Consequently plenty of people in governments around the world were shocked – deeply shocked – that a member of the government clan would speak so openly about intentionally killing somebody without the attention to judicial details that accompanies the execution of convicted criminals.

...

It is difficult to square this excruciating delicacy about long-term consequences with the way the United States began the war in Iraq – a war not even remotely "forced" upon the United States by anything remotely resembling an imminent threat to the United States or even to any of Iraq's neighbors. The war began, of course, with bunker-buster bombs specifically aimed at a place where the closest thing the U.S. had to reliable intelligence speculated that Saddam Hussein might be.

There was no pretense that Saddam might have been killed in the course of carrying out a strike against a strictly military target (if there is such a thing). Our leaders congratulated themselves on their shrewdness and perspicacity in trying to take out Saddam personally, and hoped without apology that they had been successful. The U.S. war – one of the first though not the only one in recent times to be a war of aggression against a chosen enemy who had not invaded his neighbors – began with an outright assassination attempt.

...

But the Israeli Cabinet and Ehud Olmert broke the unwritten rule that you don't announce in advance that you plan to murder an opponent. Too much of that and too many people would understand quite clearly the essential similarities between governments and criminal gangs. So the Israelis had to be reprimanded, though it is also possible that the reprimand was accompanied by winks and nods, as so many are.

It is highly likely, of course, that just by talking about eliminating Arafat – even through the relatively benign method of exile – the Israeli government has strengthened his support among some Palestinians who were starting to grow weary of him (he is, after all, an object lesson in the wisdom that revolutionaries should not become rulers). Just by talking about it, they may have made it impossible to do it without creating an explosion of unrest and violence, making him more powerful in death than in life. Even as the United States, by committing an act of aggression and occupation in Iraq, may have unleashed forces that are, at the very least, proving most difficult and troublesome to deal with.

But what other world leaders really objected to when the Israelis spoke of eliminating Arafat, was not the idea of elimination – all government eliminate inconvenient people routinely – but being so open and blatant in discussing it. For a moment or two – and for longer if people reflect and learn the right lessons – the Israelis came perilously close to giving away the whole game.


Defining Freedom
by Craig Russell
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. ~ Goethe

George Orwell warned us more than 50 years ago about the political consequences of lazy and sloppy thinking in his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language. Our language, he wrote, “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”

...

Most Americans believe they are “free” because Power insists again and again that they are. For nine months of the year, beginning at age five and continuing to age 18, the State requires that people spend almost half their waking weekday hours in government facilities under the direct control of government employees. They begin each daily session by facing that big, imposing, red white and blue symbol of the State, holding their right hand over their hearts, and pledging their allegiance both to it “and to the republic for which it stands . . . with liberty and justice for all” (and, as I have said before, the irony of saying such words under such coercive conditions rarely if ever occurs to them).

...

For most of America ’s existence, freedom meant lack of government coercion. What government people had then was small, tangible, controllable, and it served only to enforce what few laws they needed to protect their persons and property from the encroachment of others. A man could do what he wanted as long as he didn’t interfere with the equal right of another man to do what he wanted.

...

Many Americans tend to laugh at or perhaps feel sorry for those who seldom if ever experience the freedom of the open road or who lack the freedom to choose from among hundreds of television offerings. They wonder why the Iraqis seem to resist this gift of “freedom” that the American government so forcefully offers them. And they positively scratch their heads over the backwardness, the stubbornness, the stupidity of the Amish. But the next time you fill up your car’s gas tank or get stuck in traffic; the next time you’re at the mall and your child begins to whine incessantly over some gimcrack he saw advertised on Saturday morning television; the next time you marvel over or, perhaps, worry about your tax bill, wondering where it all goes and what it’s all for; ask yourself two things: What is freedom? And who lives a freer life?


Criminal and Political Minds
by Tibor R. Machan
If anything unites most criminals it is their belief that instant forceful action is best. Robbing, raping, murdering or assaulting others to get what one wants from them seems to them more effective than peaceful means to their ends. This is their form of immaturity and, as adults, their moral failing. (I am talking here about real criminals, not those made criminal by government via, for example, the blatantly unjust drug laws.)

Now check what it is that motivates most political action. It is to get some goal achieved without having to wait for the results of a process that is peaceful, non-coercive. You want higher wages? Get government to force employers to pay you more. You want people to stop smoking? Get the politicians and bureaucrats to ban this practice wherever they can. You want prices to go up? Get the state to enact price support measures. Or you want prices to go down? Get government into the wage and price control business. All these measures are symptomatic of the criminal mind – the conviction that it’s just fine to circumvent civilized conduct by forcing people to comply with your wishes so you can get what you want.

Of course excuses for this kind of behavior abound. This is just as true with the conventional criminal community as it is with the constituency lobbying the politicians who all too willingly serve up the muscle to them. “We need to help the poor; the children require it; old people must have their prescription drugs; farmers, textile and furniture and other workers must have their jobs protected. Or, again, artists, scholars and scientists need to be supported since their works are so vital.” You name it, the excuse is there. And that is just what criminals tell themselves – “I needed the money, I had to have the satisfaction I gained; I couldn’t wait until I had a job; my children needed to be fed.” It is always something.


This was interesting...
Pictures You Won't See on Fox News
Anti-Zionist Jews. (from STR)

Hamster for President
"Hamsters stand for orderly anarchy." Hell yeah! Be sure to check out the Introduction, Campaign, and Platform pages, which are all great! (also from STR)


Tuesday, September 16, 2003
 
COUNTDOWN TO CATASTROPHE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Will the President escalate an increasingly unpopular war?

by Justin Raimondo
Since everything else about this war is a lie – the shifting rationales, the mendacious propaganda, the promises of "democracy" and "liberation" – is anyone really surprised that they're lying about the number of American casualties as well? The British Guardian reveals the truth:

"The true scale of American casualties in Iraq is revealed today by new figures obtained by The Observer, which show that more than 6,000 American servicemen have been evacuated for medical reasons since the beginning of the war, including more than 1,500 American soldiers who have been wounded, many seriously."

Americans, the Guardian avers, "will be shocked" by the numbers, which are significantly higher than those reported by the U.S. media. That's presuming most of them will even hear about it, which they won't. But a pliant media, firmly embedded in the War Party's pocket, won't stop the rising disaffection with this war: it can only slow it down. The Iraq war, deemed officially over by a President who stood before a huge banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished," is increasingly unpopular, especially among the families of reservists whose tour of duty has been extended from six months to a year. The $87 billion price tag – and that's just to start – didn't help matters much: a new poll is out showing that 61 percent are against spending the money, and a majority support rolling back the tax hike if Bush and a complicit Congress go ahead and spend the money anyway.


 
What’s in an Election?
by Butler Shaffer
The 19th century French economist and philosopher, Frédéric Bastiat, wrote an essay titled "That Which Is Seen, That Which Is Not Seen," in which he explored the relationship between the explicit and the implicit consequences of governmental policies. Political systems feed on the apparent lack of correlation between an action and its effects. Like alcoholics or habitual drug users, those addicted to political practices insist upon the illusion that what one does in the present, or in an isolated environment, will bear no long-term or generalized hardships. Thus, millions of people are willing to impose the costs of present government programs upon unborn generations, in what has become a cycle of child abuse about which it is "politically incorrect" to comment!

I suspect that had Adolf Hitler announced, prior to his coming to power in 1933, that he intended to incarcerate and murder Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and communists, and that he would institute an SS-enforced reign of terror upon the rest of the German population, most Germans, like my students and readers, would have rejected his candidacy. But his explicit appeal was to those values that most people could openly embrace, and which – as the results of my hypothetical voting exercise confirms – reflect the "politically correct" sentimentality of a troubled and confused world.

When men and women adopt an idealized image of the world, and are prepared to sanitize and safeguard it from all sorts of imperfections and unwholesome conditions, it becomes a simple matter to define people and their lifestyles or interests as "diseases" to be eradicated by state action. Indeed, a Nazi thinker, Alfred Rosenberg, regarded Jews as a bacteria that infected German society. As the present American government begins to define for our consumption a new set of enemies – the "terrorists" – should we not become sensitive to the lessons of recent history?

Our present society is awash with well-intentioned but dangerous men and women with all kinds of coercively-enforced proposals for making the world "better." Such people, whom the late Alan Watts described as "wanting to scrub the universe," have turned the media into a platform for announcing the latest experiment in social sterilization. Tobacco companies and smokers must be targeted for state action; as must those who allow their children to eat in "fast-food" restaurants, get too much exposure to the sun, or remain in an unattended car. Motorcyclists who won’t wear helmets; pet owners who mistreat their pets; or people who engage in discriminatory, offensive, sexist, or other forms of politically incorrect thought, speech, or conduct, must also be regulated. Obesity is to become a governmental "problem" to be addressed through legislation, taking its place alongside drug and alcohol "abuse." Nor can SUV owners, people who talk on cell-phones, or motorists who are "distracted" by any kind of conduct, be left out of efforts to decontaminate society of behavioral "impurities."

The radical environmentalists who are willing to destroy property or kill those whose visions of nature do not conform to their own, should remember that Hitler, himself, was an avid environmentalist; that Nazism was, as one writer describes it, "a religion of nature." He also strongly opposed the use of animals in medical research; favored restrictions on the use of pesticides, asbestos, and radiation; and was a vegetarian and advocate of organic farming.

Do you wonder why Hitler keeps winning in my classroom elections?

Does this mean that everyone who believes in respecting the rest of nature, or who wants to maintain an organic or vegetarian diet, or who opposes experimentation on animals, is a closet Nazi? Obviously not, nor was that the purpose of my voting exercise. There are many activities in which others engage of which you or I may disapprove. The question is whether our displeasure rises to such a level that we are prepared to call upon the state to enforce our behavioral expectations upon others. Are the lives and properties of others to be subject to state preemption upon an insistence that others conform themselves to our peculiar images of how the world should be?

What is implicit in every political system is that the powers of the state will be used to coerce others to behave as those in power want them to, even as to matters of purely personal conduct. Politicized people are like dogs that have never become housebroken, making messes for others to clean up. Those who respect the inviolability of others – which represents the essence of liberty – will content themselves with conducting their lives according to their interests and values, without trespassing on the lives of others.

This is the meaning not only of my classroom voting exercise, but of the "real-world" elections in which so many of us partake as the expression of social responsibility. What does voting represent, if not our participation in the illusion of helping to define the policies and programs that the state should enforce upon our neighbors?


And from whence do these programs – and the candidates who espouse them – arise? Do they arise from within your carefully considered thoughts, or are they simply peddled to you in much the same way as the fads and styles of any age? Do you ever ask yourself, as the 2004 elections begin to loom, who it is that defines the "leading candidates" for your consideration? Do you sit around and discuss such matters with your friends, neighbors, and work associates and then inform the media that, in your opinion, Joe Shlock would be a wonderful candidate for the Senate? Or does the media inform you that Joe Shlock and Sally Forth are the two leading candidates; that the race is too close to call and, therefore, that one should vote for either Shlock or Forth rather than "wasting" your vote on someone else?

It has been amusing watching the gubernatorial recall election going on here in California. The voices that had heretofore condemned the citizenry for not being interested in electoral politics suddenly erupted in indignation when members of the electorate demanded a recall vote, and echoed their disgust when some 135 candidates filed as candidates for governor. But for those who persist in the delusion that their vote means something, how do they go about making a choice among so many candidates?

It didn’t take the media long to sift things out. Radio, television, and newspapers began identifying three or four "leading" contenders – those who were considered "safe" for establishment interests – from which California voters were expected to make their choices. The "officially" recognized candidates were the only ones selected to participate in the "official" televised debate. But what about the other 130 or so candidates? They were just as arbitrarily relegated to the category of "side show freaks," to be dealt with, humorously – if at all – as a kind of change of pace story. This is why I suggested, in an earlier article, that those who believe it worthwhile to vote could select from among these also-rans – my recommendation was the billboard model, Angelyne – a candidate who might be a voter’s protest against the implicit dishonesty of politics itself.

Even having a recall election is a small victory for the voices of protest. And now and then a protest candidate wins an election, as witness Jesse Ventura in Minnesota. But the triumph is short-lived, for even a protest winner will end up getting absorbed into the system. The parasitic class will quickly attach itself to the new host, who will find himself or herself too weak and isolated to resist the temptations that accompany power.

In order to put voting in its proper perspective, imagine that you are a prisoner in a state penitentiary. But it’s a democratic prison, in which the inmates are allowed, every four years, to select who is to be the warden. The prison system presents you with two choices: candidate A, who promises larger cells and less crowding, and candidate B, who promises better cafeteria food and extended exercise periods. You may vote for either candidate, but implicit in the process is the understanding that you will remain a prisoner. If a fellow inmate decides to run for the job as a "Prison Liberation Front" candidate who promises to tear down the prison walls, his name will not appear on the ballot. Indeed, he will likely be sent to solitary confinement. He will have learned, as will you, the real lesson implicit in every election: no matter who you vote for, the government always gets elected, for if voting could change the system it wouldn’t be legal.


Mom, Drugs, and Apple Pie
by Fred Reed
The schools actually promote drugs. When my daughter was in the third grade, she had never thought about narcotics. Then a nice cop with DARE came. He showed them what the drugs looked like and explained what they did. The kids were intrigued: Acid? You see things? Neat….

Who are we kidding? A lot of their parents do drugs. Yes, the Volvo People, shiny and prosperous. When the kids aren't around, the little bag comes out of the bottom drawer. (The kids toke when the parents aren't around.)

No, not everyone uses, or ever did. Not everyone drinks. But enough do it that it's acceptable, on the order of discrete adultery.

Drugs are a vital part of the national economy, like Boeing. The difference is that drugs have a future. We might as well try to outlaw gravity. Anyone caught stuck to the earth instead of floating in the air will be arrested….

People with too much time on their hands talk about legalization. Thing is, drugs are legal. It's a curious, tacit, off-the-books legality, a legality in bits and pieces, undeclared, but it's there, and has to be, because of the demographics. You can't arrest the middle class, the upper class, the lower class, the high schools and the universities.


Did the Framers Favor Hard Money?
By H.A. Scott Trask
The political economist Condy Raguet pointed out with great force, "Congress has no more authority under it to regulate the currency, excepting that portion of it which consists of coin, than it has to regulate the emission of promissory notes by individuals." The federal compact never "placed the national currency under the regulation of Congress." He was right. Congress has the authority to regulate only the value (i.e. determine the weight and fineness) of gold and silver coin not that of various kinds of paper currencies.

Two centuries later, our money supply is composed entirely of government-issued fiat currency and bank deposits redeemable in the same currency. The money supply and the banking system are largely controlled by means of federal laws and the existence of a powerful central bank. None of which are authorized by the Constitution. It is yet more evidence that our government is no more constitutional than it is democratic or liberal.


Global Eye -- Last Rights
By Chris Floyd
In 1968, Luttwak penned "Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook," which could be the text of the 2000 Bush campaign, as John Dee reports in Lumpen magazine. Drawing on the extensive experience of the CIA in such pranks, Luttwak says that "a coup consists of the infiltration of a small but critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder." True coupsters "want to seize power within the present system" [his italics], then use the existing lines of authority and habits of obedience inherent in legitimate government to advance their own illegitimate aims.

Propaganda and false patriotism are key coup ingredients. Luttwak says a coup's "information campaign" must "reassure the general public by dispelling fears that the coup is inspired by extremist elements, and to persuade particular groups that the coup is not a threat to them. The first aim will be achieved by manipulating national symbols and by asserting our belief in the prevailing pieties." United we stand!


And lastly, here's an article you should go read in it's entirety...

That Alabama Tax Vote
by Christopher Westley
Last Week, voters in Alabama resoundingly rejected Gov. Bob Riley's tax plan by a margin of more than 2 to 1. The plan would have resulted in the largest tax increase in state history. "[The referendum's results were] pretty resounding. There's no mistaking the voters' message," David Lanoue, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alabama, told the Birmingham News. "I think the top reason is voters simply don't trust their politicians in Alabama."

And voters elsewhere owe voters in the Heart of Dixie a debt of gratitude. Said Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform: "[E]very Republican governor who thinks of raising taxes next year will walk past Traitor's Gate and see Bob Riley's head on a pike. The voters in Alabama have saved taxpayers from California to Maine billions of dollars."

So you have to hand it to Alabama's electorate. When given the chance, it makes its opinion known loud and clear, even in the face of a massive and global campaign by elite opinion. On the question of new taxes, Alabama voters respond no differently than voters anywhere else in the world when given the chance. Their answer is now (and has always been): No. This is why political elites try to keep tax increases off ballots.

The results of the vote should not have surprised anyone. In fact, they reflect a growing anti-tax movement that public officials and the mainstream press are trying hard to ignore. Last November, voters in Massachusetts almost passed a referendum that would have eliminated that state's income tax. In 2001, anti-tax protests at the state capitol in Tennessee grew violent, causing shaken state legislators to reconsider new tax proposals. Given these sentiments, even the most Herculean efforts to increase the government's claim on private wealth were doomed to fail.

As a result, Riley sacrificed much political capital. Alabama voters are simply not going to support such an expansion of state taxing authority during a recession, not when the Feds are already taking 30 percent of their income. Not with the legislature's Mike Tyson-like reputation for fiscal responsibility. And certainly not on the basis of the University of Alabama law professor Susan Pace Hamill's agenda-tinged scholarship supporting the belief that low taxes are sinful.

Not now. And in the Heart of Dixie, probably not ever.

Why did voters reject this plan?


Monday, September 15, 2003
 
If you live in the imperial capital, perhaps you can partake in this adventure tomorrow...

Treasury, IRS Collude With States
To Sustain The Income Tax Fraud


Schulz & Former IRS Agents
To Hold DC Press Conference Tuesday
On Friday, September 12th, the Treasury Department issued a “Media Advisory,” calling on all of the nation’s media to have reporters and cameramen at the headquarters building of the U.S. Treasury Department next Tuesday at 10 AM where they will announce a “New Partnership” between the IRS and nine States “to fight abusive tax avoidance.”

Obviously, the government’s intent is to have the media shower the Nation with a blanket of propaganda by flooding Tuesday evening TV and Wednesday morning newspapers with its biased, one-sided story.

It’s time for the People, through the media, to hear “the rest of the story.” It is the government that is the abuser. The government is abusing its constitutionally limited power to tax. The government is abusing our constitutionally guaranteed Right to Petition by its steadfast refusal to answer our Petitions for Redress.


The crusade against 'terrorism'
Bush and his handlers are not protecting Americans by pursuing the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, they are protecting their own political skins
By ERIC MARGOLIS
But asking other nations to "share the burden" of an unprovoked invasion of another country takes grand chutzpah.

Aggression is not a burden, it's a crime under the UN Charter. The Bush administration did not invade Iraq to perform social work but to grab its vast oil reserves.

Bush's demand that Third World UN troops serve under orders of American officers is a further insult to the United Nations and will reinforce the belief of those who attacked its Baghdad HQ that the organization is merely a cat's paw of Washington. What Bush should do is declare victory and bring U.S. troops home. Now. Save $166 billion and many, many lives. It's still not too late to climb out of the swamp.


The Cost of Money
by Paul Hein
With no source of money except borrowing, and with each new borrowing increasing the total debt by more than the amount borrowed (let’s not forget interest!) the only hope that the economy can be kept afloat until the next election is to create (borrow) more money. With the debt burden so high, private borrowers might decide they’ve had enough: the interest burden is crushing them at a time when the economic outlook isn’t rosy. So Uncle can step in as the borrower of last resort. It’s the classical situation of trying to borrow one’s way out of debt, but there is no alternative – short of sound money, and an end to fiat. Until that day, to keep the economy under some sort of control and keep prices from rising too rapidly, controls and taxes are necessary. And the people’s acceptance of the government’s fiat allows them to be controlled far more subtly than with whips and chains: economic control is the means by which we’re limited, controlled, and regulated, i.e., governed.



Friday, September 12, 2003
 
Here's a site worth keeping tabs on: Project Censored


 
Times Change, Principles Don't
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Two years later, the themes in the press say nothing about the successes of government. All the headlines are about failure. The American people expect more, not less terrorism. We feel less, not more, secure. Incredibly, Bin Laden, whom the Bush administration blames for 9-11, is still on the loose. The US has more enemies than ever. Let there be no illusions: the people the US "liberated" in Iraq and Afghanistan despise us and want us out. The US can't even provide water and power for the people in Iraq.

Government was given the run of things after 9-11, and what did we get? Wars, bureaucracy, debt, death, despotism, insecurity, and lots of confusing color-coded warnings from our DC masters that seem only designed to keep us ever more dependent. Yes, government has behaved exactly as libertarianism predicted it would behave. It has abused the trust of the American people. And yet, at some level, government has benefited in the end. We have lost, they have gained.

But that moment is coming to an end, or already has. Many people have written off the miserable failure of the proposed tax increase in Alabama as a localized phenomenon, whereas in fact it points the way to a national trend. Bush is not likely to get his new suspensions of civil liberties passed. The neocons are fearful that they no longer hold enough political capital to start more wars. The public is fed up with the mess in Iraq. The much-vaunted advent of the American global empire is under fire. The propaganda no longer seems to be working.

In the real life that most of us live, the private sector is thriving. Technology gets better everyday, thanks to private enterprise. The markets are giving us the security we demand, whether through private communities, private weapons, better alarm systems, and private security guards, or through better systems of information distribution and verification—again, thanks to private enterprise. Homeschooling is still on the rise. Contrary to Hillary Clinton, it is still our friends, family, and clergy who provide us comfort, not our political leaders, whom we trust less and less.


Fiat Paper Money
by Rep. Ron Paul, MD
We need to understand why a fiat system is so popular with economists, the business community, bankers, and government officials. One explanation is that a fiat monetary system allows power and influence to fall into the hands of those who control the creation of new money, and to those who get to use the money or credit early in its circulation. The insidious and eventual cost falls on unidentified victims, who are usually oblivious to the cause of their plight.


Drug War Addiction
by John deLaubenfels
As others have said, it is not drug addiction, but drug war addiction, that afflicts the United States. A solid majority of Americans are complete and total drug war addicts, and, like all addicts, are paranoid and defensive at the slightest mention that their addiction might be causing harm rather than good.

The practical arguments against the drug war are overwhelming. It has never been shown to have prevented a single person who wants to use drugs from purchasing and using drugs. It has made criminals fabulously wealthy. It has resulted in the corruption of countless government officials. It never has, and never can, succeed, but it can, and does, cost billions of dollars and God knows how many lives.

...

Am I saying that drug use does not negatively impact "society?" No. Any act of any sort may negatively impact someone or something. Suicide, for example, has a terrible impact upon those who are left behind. And yet suicide is a basic right for a free human being. It is monstrous and obscene to force someone who wants to die to live just for the pleasure of others.

(Persuasion is of course both moral and desirable. Hats off to the volunteers who work suicide hotlines! Most who flirt with death really are, as the cliche has it, crying for help.)

These arguments apply also to what are now prescription drugs. It is foolish, of course, to take any drug, for any purpose, without being informed as to its applicability and its risks. Nevertheless, attempting to outlaw foolishness is both naive and pointless, not to mention expensive and immoral. Those who want to find prescription drugs in the grey market do so. Only persuasion can help others make wiser decisions.

Shame on all drug war addicts! If you want to do damage, do it with your own lives, not with the lives of others.


Anti-terror laws increasingly used against common criminals
"Within six months of passing the Patriot Act, the Justice Department was conducting seminars on how to stretch the new wiretapping provisions to extend them beyond terror cases," said Dan Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. "They say they want the Patriot Act to fight terrorism, then, within six months, they are teaching their people how to use it on ordinary citizens."

Prosecutors aren't apologizing.

Stefan Cassella, deputy chief for legal policy for the Justice Department's asset forfeiture and money laundering section, said that while the Patriot Act's primary focus was on terrorism, lawmakers were aware when they passed it that it contained provisions that had been on prosecutors' wish lists for years, and which would be used in a wide variety of cases.


Bills would repeal parts of anti-terror law, but Bush threatens vetoes
In response to the worst terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil, Congress passed the greatest expansion of search and surveillance authority in the nation's history, with barely a murmur of dissent. But less than two years later, the USA Patriot Act is under siege.

More than a half-dozen bills to roll back portions of the law are pending in Congress.

One passed the Republican-controlled House in July on a stunning 309-118 vote, with support from small-government conservatives as well as civil rights liberals. It would cut off federal funding for "sneak and peek" searches, which involve secret entries and delayed notice to suspects.

The bill has little chance of becoming law, as President Bush is prepared to veto any significant changes in the Patriot Act, but the House action may have signaled a change in the climate.

Nearly 160 local governments and the legislatures of Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii have condemned the Patriot Act and, in some cases, instructed their officers not to cooperate with its enforcement.

Librarians and booksellers have denounced provisions allowing seizure of patrons' records and are backing a recently filed constitutional challenge in federal court.

The Bush administration has put plans for a successor "Patriot II" act on hold, and Attorney General John Ashcroft has launched a nationwide speaking tour to prop up support for the current law.



Thursday, September 11, 2003
 
Here are a SLEW of article for the 9-11 reader. Of course, these are likely to be from non-statist points of view.


 
On the Fall of the Republic
by Chalmers Johnson
Obviously, there is nothing deterministic about this progression, and many prominent Romans, notably Brutus and Cicero, paid with their lives trying to head it off. But there is something utterly logical about it. Republican checks and balances are simply incompatible with the maintenance of a large empire and a huge standing army. Democratic nations sometimes acquire empires, which they are reluctant to give up because they are a source of wealth and national pride, but as a result their domestic liberties are thereby put at risk.

These not-particularly-original comparisons are inspired by the current situation of the United States, with its empire of well over 725 military bases located in other people's countries; its huge and expensive military establishment demanding ever more pay and ever larger appropriations from a supine and manipulated legislature; unsolved anthrax attacks on senators and newsmen (much like Rome's perennial assassinations); Congress's gutting of the Bill of Rights through the panicky passage of the Patriot Act -- by votes of 76-1 in the Senate and 337 to 79 in the House; and numerous signs that the public is indifferent to what it is about to lose. Many current aspects of our American government suggest a Roman-like fatigue with republican proprieties. After Congress voted in October 2002 to give the president unrestricted power to use any means, including military force and nuclear weapons, in a preventive strike against Iraq whenever he -- and he alone -- deemed it "appropriate," it would be hard to argue that the constitution of 1787 was still the supreme law of the land.

...

Given the course of the postwar situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, it may not be too hard to defeat George Bush in the election of 2004. But whoever replaces him will have to deal with the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, our empire of bases, and a fifty-year-old tradition of not telling the public what our military establishment costs and the devastation it can inflict. History teaches us that the capacity for things to get worse is limitless. Roman history suggests that the short, happy life of the American republic is in serious trouble -- and that conversion to a military empire is, to say the least, not the best answer.


Two years, still no answers
Exploiting 2001's tragedy rather than accounting for it

by Geov Parrish
On every point, post-9/11 U.S. actions inflamed, rather than reduced, the motivations for future waves of fundamentalist terror. More to the point, any effort to end terror cannot be based on a military response. The attacks of two years ago were not an act of war, but a monstrous crime by a gang of international criminals who had vowed to strike repeatedly. They needed to be stopped not with heavy-handed (and horrifically expensive) invasions of nation-states, but with international cooperation, especially in police and intelligence work. And political work -- ensuring that the bin Laden brand of extremism appealed to dozens of people, not millions.

On this score, the Bush Administration's response to 9/11 has been a spectacular failure, counterproductive in the extreme. It's hard to imagine a time in its history when America has been so universally reviled in the world -- less than two years after it had the world's near-complete sympathy and pledges of support in the wake of a horrific attack. Bush's responses to 9/11 have fundamentally changed how America is seen by billions of people. We are now an arrogant bully, not a beacon of freedom and democracy. It's a recipe for much more future terrorism, not less.

Meanwhile, the hard questions about how the original attack could have been prevented have largely been buried. The joint congressional committee investigation, recently completed, faced repeated stonewalling in its efforts to get information from the Bush Administration. The very agencies whose incompetence led us to that tragic point -- the FBI, CIA, and a bellicose military establishment -- were given more money to do much more of the bullying that has in the past alienated the world's bin Ladens. Nobody was fired, anywhere. And while the Taliban and Iraq were scapegoated, the country which produced bin Laden, most of the hijackers, and much of the money for Al-Qaeda's terror networks, Saudi Arabia, has been treated with kid gloves by the Bush Administration. As with that request for another $87 billion for Iraq -- much of which will wind up in the pockets of companies like Halliburton -- Bush has never been shy about remembering his oil industry friends. Even at the expense of bringing 9/11's perpetrators to justice, and preventing similar (or worse) attacks in the future.

This week, there will be plenty of soft-focus, warm, fuzzy human interest stories recalling the heroism of 9/11. That's fine and well, but some hard questions also need to be asked -- questions that should have been asked of the Bush Administration continuously for the last two years. Instead, Bush has been allowed to fundamentally remake what America stands for as a country. And he's pimped the memory of 9/11's victims at every turn in order to do it.

That exploitation of 9/11's victims is truly repellant. So is the remaking of America as a country not much interested in freedom or civil liberties. George W. Bush has no shame. The best way to minimize the chances of a future 9/11 is to get him out of office.





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