Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On NPR, The Fairness Doctrine, and Debt

On NPR, the Fairness Doctrine, and Debt

By Nick Sorrentino

Tonight I write to you from my new lair. I have moved from Charlottesville Virginia, home of Thomas Jefferson, to Warrenton Virginia capital of Virginia horse country and a burgeoning bedroom satellite of Washington DC. Warrenton was as close as my wife and I could get to the Heart of the Beast without completely losing it. We are still only a half hour from the Blue Ridge Mountains, though before we could see them from our front porch step.

But I have every man’s best friend- a basement- in the new house and that my friends is worth quite a lot.

Over the past week I have spent quite a bit of time traversing the piedmont of Virginia shuttling the various things the Sorrentinos have accumulated over the years from the old place to the new.

During this time I’ve spent far too much time listening to talk radio. A couple of points;

First, how can the statists argue that there’re needs to be a “fairness doctrine” implemented in radio when the left has a federally subsidized wholesaler of ideas in NPR? I know, I know, a relatively small amount of NPR’s funding comes directly from the feds. But a good bit still does. There ain’t nothing fair about NPR.

If it’s not Talk of the Nation bemoaning the recent Supreme Court decision actually supporting the firefighters in New Haven Connecticut, or Marketplace explaining how debt was actually the way the post World War II working class became middle class, NPR always seems ready to make the case for greater state intervention. This is practically without exception as far as I can see.

Interestingly, in the Marketplace piece, the reporter on NPR explained how it was that in post war America, before the government changed things of course, one had to put down as much as 50% of a home and then pay it off “in a relatively short period of time.” Read 10 years. What Marketplace failed to point out was that the average house in 1946 was $5600 dollars. A dollar in 1946 was worth about 10 times what it is today. So that means that the average house nowadays should run about $56000.

Who wouldn’t kill for a 3 bedroom, brand new house for $56000? Save up 28K and spend the next 10 years paying back other $28000? That is a deal. And that was the deal for most of the history of this fine republic.

But houses don’t cost $56000. In fact, the average house price in the USA as of this writing is $276,000. Why?

Because many people only care about their monthly payment. They care very little about actually “owning” a home. That’s a pipe dream. Most people figure that they will die without ever owning a house. This is a mode of thought that has been perpetuated over the last 30 years. So people opt for interest only loans and the like. They care little what the actual principle of the loan is.

And so home prices reach skyward as loans become ever more exotic and principle becomes less and less important. I know this is so 2005 but bear with me.

And who benefits from this idiocy? The homeowner? Not bloody likely. No, it is the lender that benefits. A loan over 30 years is much, much, more profitable than a 10 year loan. Most lenders do not want you to ever own your home. If you do, the cash stops flowing to them.

But hey, screw it right? Living in a giant house is almost the same as “owning” it. Why not live it up? You only live once right?

Thankfully this kind of thinking is dying. Carnage litters the streets of Miami, San Diego, Las Vegas, and suburban Washington DC. But I just get the feeling that the real estate guys have not learned their lesson yet. There is too much hope still. Their hope needs to be crushed by the market. Then we can start again.

The guy on NPR said that debt encouraged “responsibility.” That debt encouraged people to fall in line, and that this was a good thing for society. Crap.

I personally believe that debt encourages servitude, so long as one is the one paying the interest. The founders understood this. You should too.

Rambling post I know. I have just had beer number 4 after hauling couches all day.

A Short History of International Currencies

A Short History of International Currencies
By Christopher Weber

It makes you realize that the sun is always shining somewhere. And this is not just meant literally either. I've noticed that investment-wise "the sun is always shining somewhere" as well. There is always a bull market in something, even if it just means staying in cash. If everything else is falling, it means your cash is worth more today than it was worth yesterday.

Broadening out this concept further, since I was in high school I have been fascinated by the rises and falls of civilizations, especially as symbolized by money. It not only interests me to see great powers ---and their monies--- rise and fall. I am also interested in learning how other places stepped into the vacuum as the great civilizations decay.

It used to be thought, in the West at least, that with the fall of the Roman Empire the world was plunged into the Dark Ages. But we now know that other parts of the world saw golden eras at this same time.

Golman Sachs as the Heart of Darkness

Matt Taibbi, the Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor who in March wrote a brilliant and searing piece on the collapse of insurance giant AIG ("The Big Takeover'), now turns his attention to Goldman Sachs Group.

If you've read or heard Taibbi before, you know he's not writing a profile that is likely to be excerpted in the next Goldman annual report to shareholders.

Here's how his story in the latest issue of RS begins:

"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

Goldman Jacks the American People for 700 Billion

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fantastic Article on Goldman Sachs and its manipulation of the market since the Great Depression

Yeah, vote for Cap and Trade you dolts.

Fed tried to keep other regulators out of the loop

Fed tried to keep other regulators out of the loop

Jun 25, 2009 (The Charlotte Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- MSPX Quote Chart News PowerRating -- The Federal Reserve sought to keep other regulators in the dark last December as it worked to salvage Bank of America Corp.'s planned purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co., according to documents obtained by a House committee probing the deal.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bernake "Cover up ?" As Seen on CNBC

Bernake "Cover up ?": As Seen on CNBC

Homeland Security drops satellite snooping

Homeland Security drops satellite snooping

The Homeland Security Department said Tuesday that it will not use satellites for domestic-terrorism surveillance, however the technology can continue to be used to respond to natural disasters.

Goldman Sachs Drives Obama Economic Policy

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mortgage Group Says Fed-Fueled Refinance Boom Won't Occur

Mortgage Group Says Fed-Fueled Refinance Boom Won't Occur

The Mortgage Bankers Association said the surge in mortgage refinancings that was expected to take place this year in the wake of the Federal Reserve's plans to buy Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities won't occur.

No Green Shoots of Economic Recovery with US Debt at 700% of GDP

No Green Shoots of Economic Recovery with US Debt at 700% of GDP

Economics / US Debt
Jun 22, 2009 - 01:00 AM

By: Phil_Williams

What have we learned in 2,000 years?

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." -Cicero - 55 BC

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Goldman to make record bonus payout

Goldman to make record bonus payout

Phillip Inman The Observer, Sunday 21 June 2009 Article historyStaff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year, sparking concern that the big investment banks which survived the credit crunch will derail financial regulation reforms.

A lack of competition and a surge in revenues from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products has sent profits at Goldman Sachs soaring, according to insiders at the firm.

Saturday, June 20, 2009




This week’s issue of LT is sent from Luxembourg, one of the richest countries in the world (on a per capita basis) and also taking a big hit from the global crisis as it was and still is a major financial centre in Europe. Also in Europe, last week one of Germany’s largest department store chains declared bankruptcy and the struggle is on to save some 43,000 jobs.

Still, many people believe that the worst of the crisis is behind us and recent stock market gains and rises in commodity prices have reassured people that we can look forward to a “recovery”. Talks by the Russian Finance Minister at the G8 Finance meeting in Italy have even given the US Dollar a bit of a (short-term) boost. Oil came close to a 9-month high at 72-73 USD per barrel. Gold is still in the 900 to 1000 USD per ounce range.

The election result in Iran, where I have worked occasionally for the past 4 years, was a disappointment and it reminded me what Bill Bonner said, that governments are “50% fraud and 50% larceny”. Sad but true! However, the events following the announcement of the election result also demonstrate the desire for Liberty of a large part of the population, especially the younger generation. At the time of writing, protests were continuing and that is an encouraging sign.

Thanks to all of you who responded to the last issue of LT on Collaboration. A small band of “collaborateurs” is now ready to work together for economic gain and for the cause of Liberty. This also means that the objective of this newsletter, which was to gauge the “temperature” of the Libertarian Community or Diaspora in light of the global economic crisis, has been achieved. This may well be the last or penultimate edition of LT but after that it is time to switch to a new platform and concentrate on the collaboration ventures. The Libertarian Times was never meant to be an end in itself and there are many excellent publications available on the Net that report objectively on how the crisis is unfolding.

My greatest concern has been the reaction of governments to the crisis and the unprecedented creation of new money to pay for all the bail-outs, stimulus packages and unemployment benefits. Accompanied by falling tax revenues, the only avenue open is to print more money. That the solution to debt is more debt does not make sense and will inevitably lead to a greater crisis than we already have.

The “Economist” magazine said in this week’s issue that “not since the second world war have so many governments borrowed so much so quickly or, collectively, been so heavily in hock”. Anticipated increases in pension and health-care costs will only add to future financial problems. Governments will find themselves increasingly under pressure and may resort to further controls over individual lives, claiming that only complete control over “society” will enable them to “solve our problems”. Sadly, many people, perhaps even a majority, will agree with them.

It is therefore important to ensure that the message of Liberty and the warnings against government dictatorship go out to as many people as possible. Only an “awakened” population can prevent government from taking over completely and dictating more and more details of how we should live.

I believe there is a window of opportunity still open for Libertarians to prepare for the above scenario. Ayn Rand said that the “only proper, moral purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence – to protect his right to his own life, to his own liberty, to his own property and to the pursuit of his own happiness. Without property rights, no other rights are possible.”

Our property rights have already been violated by governments and it will only get worse in future. If governments are not the protectors of our rights, who is or will be? As Libertarians, I feel we have a responsibility to ensure that our rights are protected, not just now and for ourselves, but also for the future and for all freedom-loving people yet to be born. The debt burden that is being passed on to the next generation severely curtails that freedom and we should work to prevent this situation from developing any further. How to do that will require all the collaboration we Libertarians can muster. It is one reason why I have been promoting this concept so much. And I see very little opportunity for individual acts of defiance or even of education to have any significant impact or effect, although I will not discourage such efforts.

However, I am sure we can be more effective if we work together as and in groups, avoid duplication of effort through good synchronization of activities, making good use of the skills, talents, creativity, ideas, knowledge and experience that individual Libertarians possess, and “collaborate” in the true sense of the word, using whatever technologies are available, while we still have time. Time, however, is not on our side and I want to instill a sense of urgency for action.

Thank you to all readers of Libertarian Times that have read and thought about these issues, and a big thank you to all of you who have responded and contributed in some way to making this publication possible. I now look forward to the Collaboration of all those that have indicated that you want to participate in a concrete way. The future focus will be on the coordination and facilitation of collaborative ventures and I will be in touch individually with all interested parties.

The immediate focus will be on the Liberty Camps, the first one of which will start on 25th June in Slovakia. Thanks to any of you who have contributed financially or in other ways to making these camps happen, which are an excellent way to not only spread the message but also to enlarge the “talent pool” of Libertarians across the world. Every individual is of the utmost importance and every individual has something to contribute. Together we can generate the energy and the synergy required for the challenging task ahead of us!



Minn. lawmaker vows not to complete Census

Minn. lawmaker vows not to complete Census

Outspoken Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she's so worried that information from next year's national census will be abused that she will refuse to fill out anything more than the number of people in her household.

The Greatest Non-Apology of All Time

By Mike Taibbi

“While we regret that we participated in the market euphoria and failed to raise a responsible voice, we are proud of the way our firm managed the risk it assumed on behalf of our client before and during the financial crisis,” he said.

via Goldman Regrets ‘Market Euphoria’ That Led to Crisis - DealBook Blog - NYTimes.com.

Anyone else out there find himself doubled over laughing after reading Goldman, Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein’s “apology” for his bank’s behavior leading up to the financial crisis? Has an act of contrition ever in history been more worthless and insincere? Even Gary Ridgway did a better job of sounding genuinely sorry at his sentencing hearing — and he was a guy who had sex with dead prostitutes because it was cheaper than paying live ones.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hyperinflation Could Hit US In 5-10 Years: Dr. Doom

Hyperinflation Could Hit US In 5-10 Years: Dr. Doom

The US is headed toward hyperinflation, and within five to 10 years it could have inflation rates of 10 to 20 percent, said Marc Faber, editor and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report.

"In every society, when you have large fiscal deficits combined with easy monetary policies … the likelihood that you will have high inflation is very, very high," Faber said. "And it happens very quickly."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Obama's Blueprint for Reform Concentrates Still More Power in Hands of the Fed

Obama's Blueprint for Reform Concentrates Still More Power in Hands of the Fed

Jun 17, 2009 - 01:57 AM

By: Mike_Shedlock

The Washington Post has released a "near final" draft of Obama's financial reform proposals. As expected, the paper whitewashes the role of the Fed and Fractional Reserve Lending as well as the role of unfunded Congressional spending in creating the mess. Instead, Obama's plan gives more power to those responsible for creating the mess.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge

Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge

Commentary by William Pesek

June 17 (Bloomberg) -- It’s a plot better suited for a John Le Carre novel.

Two Japanese men are detained in Italy after allegedly attempting to take $134 billion worth of U.S. bonds over the border into Switzerland. Details are maddeningly sketchy, so naturally the global rumor mill is kicking into high gear.

Gen Y – the Libertarian Generation?

Gen Y – the Libertarian Generation?

A recent Libertarian Party of Texas news release began, "Three highly-regarded national polls have confirmed a growing Libertarian trend in U.S. politics."

The Pew Research Center annual report on political values and trends concluded, "these independents are more likely to be economically conservative and socially tolerant."

The Left Has Spoken: Today, We Are All Extremists

A good bit more ranting than I care for, and this guy is definitely a conservative and probably not a libertarian. But it's well worth a read. He makes some great points.

The Left Has Spoken: Today, We Are All Extremists

The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belong to one category.” - Adolf Hitler.

“At this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.” - NY Times columnist Paul Krugman.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Kids Might Be Alright

The Kids Might Be Alright


I was listening to an analysis of the recent European elections by Daniel Hannan, in which he argued that the Europeans had a tendency to bring in the adults- the conservatives, when things got too fiscally bad after a stretch with socialists in power. He argued that once things started to get too expensive either literally or socially the European public usually came to its senses until it lost them again once things were put in order.

Aside from a few comparative government courses in college my knowledge of the domestic European political scene ends at about the Bundestradt. But Hannan raises an interesting point for American politics.

What happens if the conservatives lose all sense of themselves and go off the deep end? Like say, how they did in this country over the last decade. Not that many “conservatives” were really conservative anyway.

The people lose the counterweight to the hard core statists is what happens. Not that conservatives can’t be statists-most are really. But if the political and economic pendulum stops swinging in the middle and then starts to swing back left what have we got?

Many have portrayed GW Bush as some kind of rabid right-winger. Hardly. The man expanded the state, with the help of a compliant Republican Congress, more than any president since LBJ. The man was a centrist at best, and abandoned the concept of the Republican Party as the party of smaller government.

But the debate in many ways has been shifted such that Bush’s positions are considered the right side of the political spectrum. Hell, if Bush is for the universal prescription drug coverage for senior citizens a good liberal must be for the government control of the means of production. We should give the car companies to the unions!

Bush ceded the economic high ground for at least a generation.

In this country much has been made over the years of the male/female dynamic of the 2 dominant political parties. The Democrats were the mommy party- always happy to buy the kids new toys, to bake cookies, to hand out a couple of bucks for the movies even if all the chores weren’t done. The Republicans were the dad party- perhaps not as fun as mom but the one who made sure the bills were paid and the grass cut.

Forgive the broad generalizations here.

But dad has become a miserable irresponsible lout, something akin to Homer Simpson. Mom has the credit card and is going nuts at the mall. The dad party, now tired and out of ideas rolls over on the couch resigned to the impending bankruptcy.

I say that it is time to say goodbye to mom and dad. Their time is over. It is time for the American people to strike out on their own.

Such a break will be painful. One will have to make one’s own way through the world. One will have to pay one’s own bills, plus those of mom and dad.

But I say we must stop looking to mom and dad for deliverance. The only solution is to abandon the ideas that have mired the old folks and to start fresh, while of course learning from the prior generation’s mistakes.

Perhaps we should even look back and learn something from great great great uncle Revolutionario who broke away from his British parents long ago and built the fortune the American family has been living off of for generations.

Time to replenish the coffers.

-Nick Sorrentino

So which is it Russia? Do you like the dollar or not? Russia may diversify reserves from dollar: Kremlin

Agence France-Presse - 6/16/2009 11:48 AM GMT

Russia may diversify reserves from dollar: Kremlin

Russia may shift its reserve funds investments from dollars to bonds issued by China, India and Brazil if they reciprocate the move, the Kremlin's chief economic advisor said Tuesday.

The comments came as the four rapidly developing nations -- dubbed the BRIC -- held their first-ever summit in bid to shore up their market potential through cooperation.

"We could invest our reserves not only in US and European countries, but in the financial instruments traded by our partners in BRIC," Arkady Dvorkovich said on the sidelines of the summit in the Russia city of Yekaterinburg.

"This would be absolutely logical, if our partners agreed to place part of their reserves in our Russian instruments."

Russia last month already pledged to buy 10 billion dollars' worth of the International Monetary Funds' first-ever bond offers to back the institution's goal to provide loans to countries hard hit by the global economic crisis.

Dvorkovich reaffirmed Moscow's intention to buy the IMF bonds but suggested the institution should revise the basket of currencies used to value its financial products to include the Russian ruble and the Chinese yuan.

The question of whether a new global reserve currency should emerge to balance the dollar was also on Moscow's agenda for the summit Tuesday, he said.

But Dvorkovich insisted that none of the Russian proposals were targeted at undermining the dollar, which dropped in value after Russian leaders cast doubt on its status as a reserve currency.

"There is an understanding that the last thing we need now is turmoil on financial markets," Dvorkovich said.

"No one wants to ruin the dollar, including us. We need to discuss every nuance of the problem and this is an approach we are sticking to."

Monday, June 15, 2009



This week’s issue of LT is sent from France. After spending a couple of days in Kenya, I am now in Europe getting ready for the Liberty Camps that will start later this month in Slovakia, then Lithuania, Poland and to the “ends of the Earth” (well, at least that’s the vision)!

Hardly any responses to my questions in issue #9, so in this issue I will focus on my vision of Libertarian Collaboration. I already wrote about collaboration in LT #7 and described it as an “interim step” between Knowledge Management and Complexity Management. Here I want to look at the link between Libertarian and Collaboration.

I see a lot of compatibility between “Libertarian” and “Collaboration”, even though at first glance some may see it as an oxymoron due to the perceived individualism of Libertarians which, in some people’s eyes, precludes any sort of collaboration with others beyond normal social interaction.

To me, collaboration is not just the latest management fad but represents a fundamental paradigm shift in thinking, problem solving, and achieving of objectives, be they philosophical or commercial. While collaboration in its current application is a relatively new phenomenon, I offer 3 examples of collaborative effort: the Open Source movement, the “Wikipedia”, and the “9/11 Timeline” project. I trust that you are familiar with at least one of these and why they differ from “conventional” projects and why they represent paradigm shifts in achieving objectives.

Collaboration is the future and Libertarians are well positioned to take advantage because the whole concept is so compatible with our philosophy.

First of all is the elimination of the “command and control” structure which has been credited with the successes of the Industrial Age and which forms the philosophical basis of management science with its roots in the military. It is widely believed that the command and control structure is essential for the achievement of military as well as commercial or even any other objectives. Corporate management largely derives its hierarchical structure from the military and over at least the last one hundred years this structure has been at the heart of our working lives, even if we are not in the military.

Collaboration, by doing away with the command and control structure, therefore represents a “true” paradigm shift in that it questions the legitimacy of the command and control structure, which I see as the currently prevailing paradigm.

Why I am so excited about collaboration is because Libertarians, by virtue of their philosophy of Classical Liberalism, are or should be opposed to command and control.

Command and control imply that one or more individuals has/have control over another individual or other individuals. In the military, that may include the possibility of death. As a soldier, I cannot refuse an order even if there is a high probability that I may be killed by executing the order. In corporate life, we don’t normally go to that extreme but in theory it is possible. Several corporate executives have been killed “on the job” by being sent, for instance, to dangerous locations.

As a loyal employee, I should not, I must not, refuse to follow the orders of my superiors. In fact, our whole career path and to some extent our life, which often depends on or is at least heavily influenced by our career path, depend on my willingness to accept and abide by the rules of command and control.

Libertarian philosophy is based on the freedom of the individual and precludes the obligation to follow the orders of another individual if they are contrary to my will or desire. Any action on my side is purely voluntary and consensual and command and control are “Anathema” to a Libertarian.

In a collaboration project, my participation is also entirely voluntary. Nobody forces me to contribute code to the Open Source movement, or to share my knowledge on Wikipedia or of the 9/11 Timeline. If I do, I do so of my own free will and my motives for doing so are entirely my own.

The pervasive command and control structure is perhaps the single largest obstacle and reason why Liberty is not as popular as it should be. We have become so accustomed to it, have accepted it as a necessary evil or as an essential critical success factor, that we no longer question its legitimacy and its claims to be at the root of our successes, be they commercial or military.

However, for me, command and control are also at the root of corruption because command and control give power to certain individuals over other individuals. We all know from Lord Acton that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. I used to believe when reading that statement that it meant power “tends” to corrupt and absolute power “may lead” to absolute corruption.

Today, I believe that power corrupts “inevitably”. It is a “natural” consequence of being given the power over another individual. I have seen it even in such “marginal” examples as being promoted to a managerial position and having the power to tell “inferiors” what to do, how to spend their time, where they should work, etc. I’m sure all of you who have worked in a large company have seen this phenomenon.

I used to think that it was the personal character flaws of the individual manager concerned that were responsible for this change in behavior. Yet, even people I admired when we were peers and people who had the best of intentions when they were promoted exhibited these flaws and often became so unbearable that I had to resign and quit the company or ask for a transfer to another department. I worked for 17 companies, looking for the “perfect” one before I realized that there was no such thing and the only way to “escape” from this was to start my own company.

With collaboration, there is no command and control structure. Participation in a collaborative venture is voluntary and is based on my agreement on the objectives of the project and my being able to get along with the other members of the collaboration team. An invitation to join such a team is almost always based on the recognition of the inviter of my potential interest in the project, the probability of me agreeing to the objectives and the methods of achieving the objectives, and the potential beneficial contribution I can make to the project as well as for my own personal development and aims. It is a “win-win” situation!

I therefore think that Libertarians are ideally suited for collaboration projects. Most other people will have to undergo the paradigm shift from command and control to a peer-to-peer collaborative structure, where there is no more “management” other than the self-management of the individual. Just as we believe in the “sovereignty” of the individual when it comes to government, in a collaboration project all members are “sovereign” and there is no hierarchy within the team. The team leader or manager is replaced with the facilitator. The facilitator does not issue orders or commands anyone to do something but acts as a mentor and above all as a communicator, making sure that everyone on the team has access to the same information as anyone else (hence the emergence of collaborative software to automate this process), in direct contrast to conventional management, whose prime purpose is to filter information, both on the way down as well as on the way up, to ensure the command and control structure is not challenged by too much information getting into the “wrong” hands.

As we saw in the quote from Friedrich Hayek in LT #9, one of the great benefits of Freedom is the fact that our knowledge, both personal and collective, can be improved when we are free to share it, so the knowledge derived from a collaboration project will also benefit not just the immediate stakeholders but even society as a whole.

My vision is to have Libertarian Collaboration teams in every country of the world with agreed philosophical, political, economic and commercial objectives work together for the benefit of spreading the message of Liberty, for the benefit of the individual participants in terms of personal enrichment, financially and intellectually, and for the benefit of society as only a world free from command and control will lead to progress in an increasingly complex world.

From the very outset of publishing Libertarian Times, my purpose for this newsletter was to “discover” those Libertarians that share my convictions on the attractiveness of collaborative ventures for the benefit of the “cause” as well as for the individuals concerned, especially in light of the global economic crisis and the government reaction we have witnessed so far. The invitation is still open!



What's the Matter With Rich Liberals?

What's the Matter With Rich Liberals?

Jun 15 2009, 10:40 am by Derek Thompson

Nancy Folbre hits on one of my favorite rejoinders to the annoying, if fading, liberal yawner that Democrats lost so many elections because millions of heartland Americans voted Republican against their self-interest. This argument, which received its most public treatment in Thomas Franks' "What's the Matter with Kansas?" posits that Republicans learned to make the class war about values instead of economics and tricked millions of poor, poor Americans into voting against their economic self-interest.

Worst of Crisis May Be Yet to Come: IMF Chief

The worst of the global economic crisis may be yet to come, International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Monday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Seizure of US government bonds from two Japanese men in Italy raises questions

Seizure of US government bonds from two Japanese men in Italy raises questions

Seized US bonds are worth US$ 134.5 billion. The whole affair touches a number of economic and political issues. For some the resignation of Japan’s Interior minister might be related to it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The State Expands its Reach: Better have a Democrat Congressman

US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive

US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive

Dozens of US cities may have entire neighbourhoods bulldozed as part of drastic "shrink to survive" proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Here Come the Cig Police

As a former smoker I can attest to the deeply addictive nature of cigarettes, but the nanny state is out of control.

Big Tobacco Up in Smoke

By bernhard.warner - The Big Money

Is this the beginning of the end for Big Tobacco? Yesterday the Senate took what surely will be seen as an historic step to pass legislation putting the tobacco industry under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration, the New York Times reports. The new Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act does not ban smoking outright, but it would give the FDA power to reduce nicotine content and regulate chemicals in cigarettes. Since 1998, the industry has spent nearly $308 million in lobbying to block the bill, but now it is expected to be signed into law by President Obama as early as next week. "This is a historic step changing the nature of tobacco in society forever," one leading tobacco academic tells the NYT. Cigarette companies complain that the bill will put "severe, perhaps unconstitutional, restrictions on advertising and packaging" and could derail their business plans to develop smokeless tobacco products, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed Bill Hits 207 Co-Sponsors

House Minority Leader Boehner joins bi-partisan coalition supporting Federal Reserve transparency

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--H.R. 1207, The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009, yesterday surged past the 200 co-sponsor mark, nearing a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, introduced by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), now has 207 cosponsors including 51 Democrats.

Signing on to the bill yesterday were Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and influential Rules Committee Ranking Member David Drier (R-CA). The bill has gained 28 co-sponsors just in the month of June.

Congressman Paul's legislation is aimed at pulling back the curtain from a secretive and unaccountable Federal Reserve. Congress and the American people have minimal, if any, oversight over trillions of dollars that the Fed controls.

With recent bailouts and spending decisions shining a spotlight on the actions of the Federal Reserve, more and more pressure is bearing down on Congress to take action and demand accountability and transparency.

Minority Leader Boehner joins a group of legislators from across the ideological spectrum. These Representatives include Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), former head of the liberal Progressive Caucus.

“Americans from every walk of life, across the country, are speaking out and demanding transparency at the Federal Reserve,” said Campaign for Liberty President John Tate. “Members of Congress, whether they are conservatives, moderates, progressives, business Republicans, libertarians or blue dog Democrats, are listening to their outraged constituents and coming together to support H.R. 1207.”

"The American people have had enough. Enough of an out of control Fed, enough of run away government spending and enough of the secretive Federal Reserve practices that won't even allow us to know where our money is going," continued Mr. Tate. "And the message is getting through loud and clear as indicated by the overwhelming support for this legislation across the country and in the halls of Congress."

To view a full list of co-sponsors, please click here.

H.R. 1207, would open up the Fed’s funding facilities, such as the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, Term Securities Lending Facility, and Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility to Congressional oversight and an audit by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. Additionally, audits could include discount window operations, open market operations, and agreements with foreign central banks, such as ongoing dollar swap operations with European central banks.

Fed Would Be Shut Down If It Were Audited, Expert Says

Fed Would Be Shut Down If It Were Audited, Expert Says

The Federal Reserve's balance sheet is so out of whack that the central bank would be shut down if subjected to a conventional audit, Jim Grant, editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, told CNBC.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pirate Party wins surprise Euro seat, calls for Web freedom

Pirate Party wins surprise Euro seat, calls for Web freedom

A Swedish political party which wants to legalize file-sharing on the Internet scored a surprise victory Sunday when it took a seat in the European parliament.

Cash for Clunkers from Congress: Get every piece of crap on blocks running cause now it's worth $4500

Congress Considers 'Cash for Clunkers' Plan

Consumers could receive rebates of up to $4,500 for turning in their gas-guzzling cars and trucks for more fuel-efficient vehicles under a House proposal.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Armageddon is upon us-Austrian economics discussed in positive light in the NY Times OP/ED.

The Economy Is Still at the Brink

Mr. Obama thinks that the way to revive the economy is to restore confidence in it. If the mood is right, the capital will flow. But this belief is dangerously misguided. We are sympathetic to the extraordinary challenge the president faces, but if we’ve learned anything at all two years into the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes, it is that a capital-markets system this dependent on public confidence is a shockingly inadequate foundation upon which to rest our economy.

Michael Lewis: Wall Street Made This Mess And Is Making Fortune Cleaning It Up (VIDEO)

Michael Lewis: Wall Street Made This Mess And Is Making Fortune Cleaning It Up (VIDEO)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Angela Merkel Anti Federal Reserve Bombshell

Merkel's central bank bombshell sparks debt debate

"We need to get back to an independent central bank policy and a policy of common sense."

Saturday, June 6, 2009



This week’s issue of LT is sent from Dubai, where the restaurants are still empty (I was the only customer in my favorite Italian eat-out last night), the traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road is flowing freely, taxis are plentiful, inflation dropped to an annualized 4.94% (the lowest in years), the stock market reached a 24-week high on Wednesday, and the newspapers are telling us that “the worst is over”. In the car park of the apartment where I’m staying are 2 BMW 5-Series cars (one about 5 years old, the other 10), covered in thick dust, each with a sticker from the Dubai City Council saying “would the owner of this car please remove it within a week, otherwise it will be taken to the scrap yard”.

None of the above could have been written about Dubai just 9 months ago. Times have surely changed. Will they change more or is the worst really over? More on that below.

Last week we discussed why Freedom was so great, at least for Libertarians. That it is not so great for the majority of people living in the democratic countries of the “West” (many are in the “East” as well now) was reinforced again recently when a group of people in the Netherlands, one of the “freest” countries in the West, was campaigning for a reduction of freedoms, as part of the European Union elections this month.

It is perplexing to us why some people would want to reduce the liberty they “enjoy”. Obviously, they are not enjoying it so much, otherwise they would value it more. However, we need to understand their mindset as we will be facing an increasing number of such folks in future.

In the past few weeks, we have also seen France and Germany introduce legislation to curb freedom on the Internet. Now it is no longer just China, Pakistan, Singapore and the UAE that are restricting Internet usage, the “western” countries are moving in this direction too. Iran briefly banned “Facebook” last week, as one of the presidential candidates was using it to get his message across to a younger audience. Even the “mullahs” have to come to grips with the Internet and its appeal to young people of all cultures.

It won’t be long now before we will have to pay taxes for Internet usage as more and more commerce moves to an electronic platform and as governments everywhere are scrambling to raise income.

As I reminded readers a few issues ago, the Internet is still the freest place on Earth and Libertarians should make full use of it while we can.

The message of Freedom will probably have greater appeal to a younger audience, especially late teens and early twenties, before they get “sucked in” to the “normal” life of jobs, mortgages, car loans, credit card debts, marriage and children, and the resulting daily grind. Once they are in the grip of “normality” (as defined by the societies they live in) it gets harder and harder to make Freedom attractive. It is one reason why we focus on this age group in our Liberty Camps organized by the Language of Liberty Institute (LLI). BTW, the camps are starting this month again, the first one being in Slovakia.

Governments know this “normality” only too well and make full use of this fact. People with mortgages and debt are only too willing to accept any government “favors” and incentives that come along. Australians rejoiced recently when they got a 900 AUD cheque in the mail from the government as part of its stimulus package. Nobody asks where this money is coming from. I pay my taxes, so I am “entitled” to get something back from the government. This pretty much sums up the attitude of the majority and the government loves it. The relationship is established. Government plays a real role in the lives of all citizens and this role is accepted as necessary, even though they may not agree every time and with everything the government says or does. That’s why we have elections. If we don’t like the guys in power now, we can always change them next time around. Never mind that nothing much changes even when we do have elections!

In times of crisis, especially a “big” one such as at the moment, the people look to the government to “do something” and to get us out of the crisis and back to “normality”. Government is only too happy to oblige.

Will government action get us out of this mess? If they do, the cause for Freedom will suffer a major setback. But if they don’t, if they “mess up” themselves, we Libertarians face a unique opportunity in our life times to make the case for Freedom and all that it implies.

What are the chances that governments will “mess up”?

In my opinion, the probability that government will fail in its effort to clean up the crisis mess is far greater than the probability that it will succeed. I am of course not the only one sharing this opinion and thanks to the Internet we can hear the voices of the skeptics loud and clear, even though they are largely drowned out by the “official” media pushing the government propaganda line.

Libertarians should be happy if governments fail as it will prove our point. On the other hand, I am not so sure that a failure will be good for us, let alone the rest of the world.

What would a failure look like?

First, let’s see what “success” would look like. I won’t dwell too much on this because to me “success” will mean a return to the status quo we had before the crisis and life will continue as “normal”. We go back to our jobs, our mortgages, our families, our debts and our daily grind. Boring!

Failure would be much more interesting but it could also be much more dangerous.

Failure will come about as a result of “printing” too much money. While the USA probably leads this group of “printers”, governments everywhere are engaging in this trick in order to pay for all the bailouts and stimulus packages they have “sold” to their electors. The USA has a greater advantage due to the fact that the US Dollar (still) is the world’s reserve currency and this gives them a “liberty” to really get the printing presses going. Of course, in our electronic age, “printing” money is merely an entry in a computer system and it doesn’t take long to fabricate extra money.

I won’t go into the nature and history of “money” here; there is plenty of excellent material available in books and on the Net on this subject and anyone interested to learn more on this topic is strongly advised and encouraged to do so.

For our purposes today, it is “merely” enough to understand that the reckless “printing” of money (today it is euphemistically known as “quantitative easing” or Q.E.) can only have one possible outcome: hyper-inflation! And what does hyper-inflation look like? Just look at Zimbabwe, where Gideon Gono, Governor of the Central Bank, has entered the history books as the first man to print the 100 Trillion Dollar bank note. If it buys you a loaf of bread, you are one of the lucky ones.

Now, Ben “Gono” “Helicopter” Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank, is proposing the same route as Mr Gono in Zimbabwe, even though he warned Congress just 2 days ago about addressing “fiscal imbalances” and a future debt trap for the USA. Throughout history, there have been plenty of examples of what happens when governments print too much money. I still have notes of billions of Marks from the Weimar Republic around the time when my mother was born in the early 1920’s. Workers were paid twice a day, so that their wives could come and collect the money at lunch time and spend it before it lost its value by dinner time.

Is it really possible, thinkable, or feasible, that we could see this happening in the USA, let alone other western countries? Not many people are asking the question and government officials, from the Treasurer to the Central Bank Governors will assure you that everything is “under control” and it won’t happen this time. Our problem right now is Deflation, not Inflation, they will tell you, so that a bit of quantitative easing will not hurt but will be necessary to provide the “liquidity” to get the economy moving again.

If you believe this, you will also believe a lot of other fairy tales.

As we know, Zimbabwe is in a real mess and, ironically, many workers including government soldiers I am told insist on being paid in US dollars or “hard currency”. Wait till they realize that the US dollar is going the same way as the Zimbabwe dollar!

If hyper-inflation is a real possibility for the USD (and possibly other currencies), what should we do to protect ourselves? Buying gold and silver and getting out of USD-denominated assets are the obvious moves – are there any others?

Will we see a collapse of American (western) society as we have seen in Zimbabwe? If yes, how do we protect ourselves against such a collapse? In the USA, you can still buy a gun; in other countries this is no longer an option for most people. Do we join Doug Casey and his friends in Argentina? Or start our own “Gulch”?

Is the Libertarian Diaspora prepared for such an event as hyper-inflation coupled with massive social unrest and a possible collapse of society as we know it? Even if it does not come to that drastic an event, is there something Libertarians could do today to minimize the impact of whatever consequences the current reaction of governments to the crisis (primarily the creation of inflation and debt) will inevitably have?

As I have mentioned in almost every issue of LT, I believe the answer is yes and the time is now for Libertarians to start collaborative ventures that allow us to create real assets and protection and that will ensure that we will not be dependent on governments or jobs or other people for our survival, be it physical or financial. The window of opportunity is still open. Let me hear your views! Do you think hyper-inflation is a real possibility? What about social unrest on an unprecedented scale since WWII? Zimbabwe-style living under Mugabe and Gono in the USA under Obama and Bernanke? Will current government bailouts and stimulus packages get us back to the status quo before the crisis?


Friday, June 5, 2009

Silver and China, A brief history

From silver to gold, from sterling to dollar


THE Chinese historian Professor Ray Huang used to say that the Qing Dynasty never understood monetary and fiscal policy and was therefore not able to compete with the West. Monetary policy in China was based on silver, which was the Chinese standard for money since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD).

Wayne Root Starts Nationwide Libertarian Talk Show

Wayne Root Launches Libertarian Radio Show

The Libertarian Party's 2008 vice presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root has a new talk radio show he's calling the libertarian/conservative version of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Limbaugh and Hannity "are very good at what they do, but there's room for someone like me," Root tells Newsmax.

About Me

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Nick Sorrentino is the Editor of The Liberty and Economics Review and CEO of Exelorix.com a social media management company.