What is a free market? It is the free exchange of goods or services without intervention from coercive elements. In a free market price signals can be found. Too much of something? The price goes down. To little? The price goes up. It’s a simple equation yet history has shown us that it is very difficult for humans to simply let the market work.
I won’t get into whether the market always works. I basically believe that it does, but some good arguments can be made against my position in some very limited situations. Generally speaking however I think that most people would agree that a non manipulated market is a market that serves the most people and does the most “good.”
What is interesting to me is that many folks on both the right and left agree on this principle. Sure there are those on the fringe who will argue that markets are somehow “immoral.” But most Americans I believe just want a level playing field. The left doesn’t want cozy deals for corporations and the rich, and the right doesn’t want cozy deals for corporations and the rich. Whoa, hey, here’s an area of real agreement.
Many on the left don’t believe that the GOP would ever seek to end sweetheart deals for corporations. Many see the Republican Party as a vehicle by which companies game the system for their benefit. Many on the left do not believe in their heart of hearts that rank and file Republicans would ever be against special deals for “big oil” or “big agribusiness” or “big pharma” or especially “big finance.”
Likewise many on the right don’t believe that the left would ever give business a fair shake. But the distaste that many on the left have for business is not simply a hatred of all things business. What I sense is that many of my liberal friends mostly object to the “unfair” aggregation of power by businesses. They see an ever expanding Military Industrial Complex, bailouts to banks which result in big bonuses for a relative few, lax regulations for oil companies, and so on.
I’m here to tell you that there are many on the right who are ready to look very closely at the special deals many businesses have been able to garner for themselves. In a time of extreme economic challenge lots of folks who may have looked the other way before now recognize that such deals are unaffordable and frankly indefensible from a free market perspective.
I am also here to tell you that there are quite a few thought leaders on the left are open to the idea of freer markets so long as the special deals for many entrenched business interests are eliminated.
There is an emerging consensus on both the right and left that we must put our economic house in order. Eliminating sweetheart deals for businesses and unions could be an area where right and left can come together and actually get something done that would help the country at large.
At this moment I think it is on the left to reach back out to the right. Right now the GOP has extended a hand.
On Monday Speaker Boehner was interviewed by ABC News and he stated publicly that oil subsidies for instance are on the table.
Also this week at a town hall meeting House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said;
“We’re talking about reforming the safety net, the welfare system; we also want to get rid of corporate welfare. And corporate welfare goes to agribusiness companies, energy companies, financial services companies, so we propose to repeal all that,”
In addition to these two very important statements this week, last month a letter released by the National Taxpayers Union and signed by 30 conservative groups including Heritage Action for America (part of the Heritage Foundation), Taxpayers for Common Sense, FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute called for the elimination of all energy subsidies and loan guarantees for the energy sector. This is a huge development. Subsidies are not free market, now it seems the freemarketeers are ready to come out and say it.
So, left, the ball is in your court. What are you bringing to the table?
Bernanke isn't turning off the spigot any time soon. The stock market continues its QE rally, while smart money continues to hedge with silver. Really the moderately smart money is coming into silver now. The beginning of stage 2 of 3 stages in the silver bull.
Researchers have discovered that the iPhone is keeping track of where you go and storing that information in a file that is stored - unencrypted and unprotected - on any machine with which you synchronize your phone. It is not clear why Apple is collecting this data.
U.S. Companies Shrink Packages as Food Prices Rise.
Reader Bryan E. wrote to mention: "Over the weekend we had visitors who are in the wholesale food distribution business. They were relating that they had experienced a 14% increase in wholesale food prices during just the month of March.
The humble quarter. Washington’s profile on the front. Eagle on the back. Simple. Silver. Well silver in color anyway.
There was a time when the quarter was made of real silver, until 1964 in fact. All quarters after 1964 are “clad” as coin collectors call them. They are 91.67% copper and the balance zinc.
Often called the Johnson Sandwich (after president Johnson) the current quarter was minted because the value of the silver in the old quarter was more than what the coin was worth. The Feds were losing money so they started making sandwiches out of copper and zinc, two much less valuable metals.
Why should you care?
Because you might want to pull out that old pickle jar and go through the mess of coins you dumped in there over the years. You never know, you might get lucky. Even better if your parents or grand parents have an old jar that you can haul out of the attic. You might have a tidy fortune tucked away that you didn’t even know about. Each one of those old quarters from 1964 and before are worth $7.95 at today’s silver prices.
That’s right 8 bucks.
It doesn’t matter if they are scuffed up or in poor condition. The fact that the coins are 90% silver is what makes them valuable.
It’s funny. Occasionally I’ll talk to someone and tell them of the “melt value” of pre-1964 coins and they give me a very skeptical look. After which I tell them that if they don’t believe me I’ll give them some fresh shiny quarters from the bank in exchange for their old worn out quarters. No one has taken me up yet, but this is a standing offer for anyone who prefers their quarters shiny and new. Just email me.
You’d be a fool to depart with an old quarter of course. Just look around. You’d be very hard pressed to find a pre-1964 quarter in your pocket change. The reason for this dearth is that long ago your parents and grand parents knew a good deal when the saw one and pulled the silver coins out of circulation. Hopefully you are the beneficiary.
For those who don’t know silver prices have been on a tear since October 2008 when silver made it’s most recent bottom of under $9 an ounce. It is now $43.96 an ounce and it likely has quite a bit to go.
Why are silver prices rising? Inflation baby.
Despite what we hear coming from Secretary Geithner and Chairman Bernanke, prices are rising due to an inflated money supply. The Federal Reserve, in it’s effort to print us out of the economic downturn we are mired in, has forced prices up. Gas, coffee, wheat, rice, silver, it’s all rising in price and quickly. This is a direct reflection of the actions of the Federal Reserve.
The CEO of Wal-Mart Bill Simon said in the March 30th USA Today that he expects “serious” inflation in the months ahead. When the CEO of Wal-Mart says in the USA Today that prices are going up, you can pretty much bet that prices are going up. Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the known universe. But even it is no match for the printing presses of the Federal Reserve.
So, if you are lucky enough to have a pickle jar full of coins now is probably a pretty good time to see if you have any good stuff in it. Who knows you might be able to buy a bag of groceries with that old quarter pretty soon.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Republican leaders have assured the White House they are prepared to lift the debt ceiling in time to avoid disruptions to capital markets and a potential credit default.
The big development at the current BRIC summit in China is the inclusion of South Africa. Traditionally alinged with the US (more or less) South Africa is now looking to Brazil, India, China, and to a lesser extent Russia in an effort to define its economic future. What does SA bring to the table? It is the doorway to the raw materials of Africa, not the least of which is gold.
"On 14th April South Africa will formally join Brazil, Russia, India and China in the Brics forum, to be held in Hainan, China. As South Africa’s minister for investor relations has said: “We do not speak for South Africa alone but also for all other African countries”; so “not only South Africa but a larger African market of a billion people” is the real addition to this forum." Click here for the story.
“A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”
It’s funny. There seems to be 2 streams of news and debate right now. There is the debate that is going on on TV and in the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post. Then there is the discussion going on online and on Facebook and in other social media. They reflect 2 completely different realities.
This morning I am watching Fox News Sunday (don’t worry I’ll watch Chris Mathews too) and the panel is discussing whether the budget compromise was a win for the President of for the GOP. The left folks Mara Liaison, and Juan Williams are working up a lather, and so is Bill Crystal. Brett Hume is not because his heart wont beat faster than 50 beats per minute. They are all convinced that what happened on the Hill this weekend really matters.
It does of course. But not nearly as much as the folks on TV think. For people who believe that the sun rises and sets depending on what the federal government decrees it is entirely understandable. They truly believe that world will end if the government is “shutdown.”
Many Americans agree with them. But I think many of the people who continue to agree with what is still the mainstream consensus also get most of their information from “legacy” media. This has more to do with age I think than political disposition.
My mother still watches the nightly news like it’s 1985. She still reads the local newspaper, in newspaper form. My bet is that many of my parent’s generation , the generation that votes in disproportionate numbers, continues to get its information from establishment sources.
I admit it. This irritates me. There is so much more information out there than there used to be just a few years ago. Interesting news with interesting perspectives from interesting news sources abound. Just go online and poke around. There is no comparison in terms of quality of information with the old way of doing things.
Most readers of this column know that my political disposition is that of a libertarian, but I am very thankful that if I choose to I can read the Communist Party’s news online, and then contrast it with what is going on over at Reason Magazine. And I can do this in minutes.
Sprinkle in some Huffington Post, a little National Review Online, the Wall Street Journal, and a little Zerohedge.com, and you get a pretty good sense of what is going on- what’s really going on. So lets take a look at what the headline is of each source at this moment.
The commies at Peoplesworld.com: Federal probe demanded in Wisconsin election scandal
The libertarians over at Reason: The Truth About Spending Cuts
The “liberals” at Huffpo: RELIEF AND DISGUST Comfort Marred By Contempt In Wake Of Budget Deal
The establishment “conservatives” at the National Review: Boehner Wins Big
The establishment money folks at the WSJ: Fighting Flares Across Eastern Libya
The antiestablishment money folks at Zerohedge: The Only Two Charts That Matter For The US, And A Q&A On The Fiscal "Debate" From Goldman Sachs
Drudgereport is a must also.
This is just one recipe for busting silos. There are infinitely more. I switch it up all the time in an effort to be informed, and I don’t spend all day doing it. 20 minutes a day, less time than it takes to watch the evening news should be sufficient.
Once one breaks out of one’s news silo I think that like me one will recognize that that people with widely diverging view points from one’s own can have important insight. So go bust those silos even if you’re over 50.
From a wonderful publication, The World Politics Review, a great article on how the FARC is diversifying out of cocaine and kidnapping and into wildcat gold mining.
What's happening is that as the price of gold rises (due to the Fed's inflationary tactics)the FARC is going out into the mountain streams to find the yellow stuff. Thing is they use mercury to separate it out which flows down the streams and likely kills all kinds of flora and fauna. So if you are for saving the rainforests, end the FED! Click here for the story.
“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”
-Defense Secretary Gates in a speech given at West Point February 25th 2011
The above statement was made by Secretary Gates fully aware that events were moving very quickly in the Middle East. The “Arab Spring” was in full bloom and spreading. He knew that there would be pressures on the US to intervene.
He was really making 2 points. One was that the army needed to become less enamored with tanks and other large heavy weapons, which have limited use in most modern military engagements. But the other point was to emphasize an American military adage that seems to have been forgotten since September 11th . Don’t go to war in Asia (or Africa.)
I am the son of a military officer. My father served in Vietnam. One of the lessons he taught me was that if the US was to engage in a war, it should have clearly defined objectives with an exit strategy already in place when fighting commences. This philosophy was very much on display during the first Gulf War. A generation of Vietnam vets who were then junior officers were in leadership during the first Gulf War. They had not forgotten the harsh lessons of a long, drawn out action. In and out with overwhelming force, this was the “best” way to wage a war. Colin Powell embodied this philosophy in 1991.
One of the other bits of wisdom handed down to me came not from our engagement in Vietnam, but from Korea. General Douglas MacArthur said that engaging in a land war in Asia was insane. And he knew what he was talking about. He commanded the Army during most of the Korean War.
Secretary Gates included Africa also in his updated warning. But did we listen? Some of us did. Unfortunately the White House did not. Right after Obama left for his Brazilian vacation we started bombing in Libya and enforcing a “no-fly zone.” But according to the President it wasn’t yet another war. It was a “kinetic military engagement.”
This is where we are now my fellow Americans. War is “kinetic military engagement.” Apparently the lawyer at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn’t want to go on record as starting a war. Kind of reminds me of the last time we had a lawyer in the White House. Remember, “That depends on what your definition of “is” is.”
At least in Clinton’s case the subject was of little real consequence. In Obama’s case such linguistic gymnastics have huge consequences.
Not just for the people of Libya, our military service members, or even the price of oil, but for Obama’s re-election prospects. I am in the business of following what people are talking about online and there is a large number of people on the left who are expressing deep dissatisfaction with the President and his adventurism.
Does that mean that there will be a mass migration away from Obama on election day 2012? No, that’s pretty unlikely. But the enthusiasm that the Democratic rank and file had for Obama has taken a huge hit. Many were willing to forgive Obama’s coziness with Goldman Sachs and the banking industry. They were willing to forgive his lack of leadership generally. But this “kinetic military engagement” was a bit too much. Though they won’t admit it in public, online many are questioning how Obama’s action is different from what Bush might have done.
Truth is it’s probably not all that different, and the left knows it.
We'll see how this goes. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is scheduled today to release a plan that would cut more than $6 trillion from President Barack Obama’s budget over 10 years, phase out traditional Medicare and call for a revamp of the tax code. Click here for the story.