America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
Bitcoin has been pretty quiet lately. But that doesn’t mean big things aren’t taking place behind-the-scenes for the digital currency. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell pulls back the curtain and shows you how Bitcoin is quietly slipping into the mainstream. He also shows you why now could be the time to buy now, or forever hold your peace. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
When’s the best time to invest in something? When everyone else is trying to get their money out of it. It might go against conventional thinking, but following the crowd usually makes you miss the real opportunities. At one monetary metal conference recently, the smartest guys in the industry sat down to discuss where these real hidden gems lay.
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
Greetings from Maine! Right now, I’m writing from within foghorn distance of the sea. And this gives me an opportunity to tell you a down east tale that should serve as a warning to every investor: Maine’s Great Gold Swindle.I’m not talking about central banks, or manipulation of today’s markets. I’m talking about something from […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
Let’s head back in time…In 2004, a mere decade ago, the US national debt rang the register at $7.4 trillion. That represents “debt per citizen” of over $25,000. You, me, your neighbor, your 4-yr old grandson, you name it and they’re portion of the U.S. debt is $25k.But flash forward to today and you’ll see […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
Remember that correction we’ve been quietly talking about over the past couple of months?Well, it might be right around the corner. Stocks waited until the last day of the month to nose-dive. The S&P 500 posted its first 2% down day since April — and the Dow wasn’t far behind. Early this morning, futures continue […]
A great technology solves a problem that we didn’t know we had. It makes us aware of deprivations we didn’t know existed until we discover the new thing. Once discovered, we can’t go back.People in the 1950s, for example, never missed the smart phone. They were pleased to have a phone at all. But today, […]
In early July 1944, delegates from 44 countries gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. A three-week summit took place, at which a new system was agreed to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the Second World War.The U.S. was already the world’s commercial powerhouse, having eclipsed the British […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
Here’s a fun fact: Although we all hate the U.S. dollar, as it continues to hemorrhage wealth, its foothold as the world’s reserve currency isn’t going to disappear overnight.A Russian gas deal with China won’t change that — as we’ll highlight below.But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s dive into a story that’s right […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
“As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding […]
The Keynesian disaster recovery plan has been to lower rates, force people to take more risk in search of yield, and entice others to borrow and spend and, magically, more jobs will be created. If people won’t buy stocks, central banks will.Back in 2011, Ben Bernanke, when asked if QE2 was driving up stock prices, […]
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices are rising at a 2.1% annual rate. This suggests to us that the current stock market boom will die with a bang, rather than a whimper.Fed economists say they don’t think inflation rates are rising. They think the most recent reading is a fluke. But why […]
Real progress happens through real people, ideas, and innovations. Not by legislation argued and debated in Congress. Right now, one of the most influential technologies is changing the way people do business. And reinventing the future in the process.
As the world gets more digital, people forget about the benefits of transacting in cash. And government officials know that.
The experts will tell you the recession is over, but they’re only torturing the data to hide the truth. The economy never recovered from the downturn it experienced. But the downturn happened in 2000, not 2008. The country’s been in the middle of a 14 year recession and hardly anyone knows the truth.
Is there anything that we can do to stop the government’s data mining of our email, phone calls, and other digital habits?
I moderated an entire panel on this subject during FreedomFest in Las Vegas last week. The room was packed from front to back, standing room only. Clearly, there is a great deal of interest in the topic.
Or maybe “fear” is a better word.
No matter how much people have come to expect that government is not really protecting us, it is still destabilizing to realize that our government is conspiring against the rights, liberties, and privacy of the public.
It’s true that for years, we’ve heard rumors that the government had been spying on our private online activities. But the revelations from the Edward Snowden files have been alarming, to say the least. Every few days, there are more. It’s not just you and I who are upset. Diplomats and politicians the world over are rocked at the news that the U.S. is spying on their emails as well.
Each new leak adds to the picture. And the seriousness and truthfulness of it is further reinforced by the U.S. government’s response. In fact, they have not apologized, backtracked, or even shown an ounce of embarrassment about the program, let alone fixed the problem or put in guarantees that it won’t happen again. They are hounding the messenger and attempting to stop him from gaining asylum somewhere in the world.
This is the way that American imperial power is being used. Not to advance liberty, but to turn the big guns on people who expose hypocrisy and show the truth.
The panel began with entrepreneur Terry Easton, who gave a good roundup of the extent of the surveillance and suggested alternatives. Encrypted email, encrypted chat, alternatives search engines to Google that don’t track your online history, browsing in incognito windows, using Linux instead of Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s iOS. All of these approaches figured into his solution set.
My only caution, which I shared as panel moderator, is that it is actually possible to be too paranoid about the surveillance. Not everything we do is necessarily private. Trying to make it that way might amount to a gigantic inconvenience with very little payoff. Familiarity with encrypted solutions is essential, but to throw your whole digital life into upheaval is giving into fear more than is probably necessary.
On the same panel, Anthony Gregory of the Independent Institute provided some historical perspective. Most governments in most times have spied on their citizens. They love the data. The more data the better. The first great wave of revelations of this in modern times came out in the 1970s, when it turned out that that Nixon had used the power of the surveillance state not to protect the citizens, but to spy on his political enemies.
The most surprising comments on the panel came from Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett. He is interested in the path of litigation against government activities. He is the man who argued the suit against Obamacare in the Supreme Court.
As he explained, the first step in bringing such cases is to find the thing about the legislation or the activity that is unprecedented. If you can do that, you can get away from the endless bog of case law and have the law or practice judged on its own merits.
For example, in the case of the Obamacare lawsuit, he argued that the mandate that employers collect premiums for a particular privately provided program is unique in the history of legislation. Unfortunately, that argument didn’t carry the day in the end, but it at least gave the plaintiffs an excellent basis for challenging and arguing the suit. Barnett further drew attention to the public education benefits for even losing cases.
So how might he argue the case against the NSA’s indiscriminate spying? Here was a surprise: He said it is a blatant violation of Fourth Amendment protections against search and (in particular) seizure. Instead of physical property, the feds are searching and seizing digital property that should belong to us and those with whom we want to share it. He further pointed out that what the NSA is doing actually has no basis in any legislation.
Barnett thinks of courts and judges as highly politicized institutions that are often swayed by public opinion. If the public is seething mad about a topic, that fact alone can turn around a case. In this sense, it actually matters what people say and think about real-life political issues. Efforts at educating our fellow citizens, contacting representatives through digital swarms, and even wearing shirts of protest can actually make a difference.
I’m not one for the antics of political agitation and activism. So I found his point to be a real challenge to the way I tend to view the world. It comes down to three points: 1) judges and juries are hugely influenced by public opinion, 2) you can’t trust either to do the right thing, but 3) litigating in favor of freedom and human rights can make a real difference even if you end up losing the case in the short run.
How should we respond to the news that the surveillance state is all around us? Professor Barnett urged us not to give up and go live in caves. On the contrary, he said, we need to be more active and public and jealous of our rights than ever before. The government cannot, in the end, control the thoughts of everyone in the population, and the more people who refuse to be intimidated, the harder the job of the government becomes.
What about the rest of FreedomFest? It was a gigantic conference. What I reported above constituted a tiny fraction of this incredible event that attracted some 2,500 people. It drew many academics, journalists, activists of all ages, vendors, investors, and a huge variety of professionals in all fields. And of course, Laissez Faire Books was there in full force. The level of fun was totally over the top. But the content of every session I attended was just spectacular.
I spoke on many panels, did what seemed like dozens of interviews, and even appeared on the Stossel show, which airs this Thursday night on Fox News, at 9 p.m. EST. There’s too much to report, but I can’t pass up the chance to mention another of my favorite panels.
We did an entire session on Bitcoin. Doug French and I spoke along with legendary libertarian activist Amanda BillyRock and anarchist entrepreneur Jeff Berwick. Can Bitcoin replace government currencies? We all said yes, but… there will be many bumps on the road. Some related to the natural pace of economic development, but others entirely artificial and created by government.
This panel caused our new book on Bitcoin by James Cox to be a hot seller. It is short, technically sound, rhetorically friendly, and loads of fun. The name of the book is Bitcoin and Digital Currencies: The New World of Money and Freedom. It provides an excellent introduction to the current situation and the likely future of Bitcoin, explaining all the significance of this implausible success for our lives and freedom.
This was the first time that any FreedomFest panel had addressed such an edgy topic as this. Young and old, professional and activist, were buying this book. And people are learning that it is not as hard to own as you might think.
This panel really sparked some serious interest. An alternative to the dollar? “I’m in.” To me, this is an indication that digital currencies have not only arrived, but will continue to play an important role in the economic development of our times.
Special congratulations are due to Mark Skousen for putting together such a wonderful event. It is rather remarkable to consider how many hats he wears. He just completed an excellent book on investing and the Austrian School, A Viennese Waltz Down Wall Street, yet he has also been the visionary behind one of the greatest and more encouraging freedom-oriented events on the planet.
My final takeaway from this event: There is cause for hope, and plenty of it. The future is made not by the NSA, not by the Fed, not by the Department of Homeland Security, and certainly not by the Obama administration. It will be made by the insuppressible longing of the human spirit to live free and make a great world for ourselves.