Ask a D.C. insider what’s the best way to solve the debt crisis. Nine times out of ten, they’ll recommend taking on more debt. That’s how things operate in the Potomac swamp. Up is down, right is left, digging yourself into more debt is the best way to get out of it. But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, there used to be common sense when it came to the economy. So where did it all go wrong?
Politicians talk about the uninsured. Special interests argue on behalf of those with pre-existing conditions. But why is no one wondering how doctors are affected by the new law? They’re the ones on the frontlines dealing directly with new patients, as well as the red tape that makes bureaucracies go round.
Politicians proclaim the benefits of small business while on the campaign trail. But when they meet in the seedy halls of Congress, they have no problem doing whatever they can to stifle, regulate, and subdue their progress. Instead of siding with entrepreneurs, these politicians often side with political allies and cronies that helped put them into office.
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Especially now that you have all the time in the world to do what you really want. Entrepreneurs don’t only come out of Silicon Valley. They come from all walks of life, from all different ages. If you’re retired and want to stay active while you relax, then find out the steps you need to take in order to start, manage, and grow your next small business.
Technology brought the world together. But has it gone too far? Decades ago, mail was delivered by hand. Now it’s delivered in seconds. How has that changed the way you live your life? How has it changed the way people act with each other? These are just some of the questions we need to ask.
The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency for almost a century, and already there are signs it may be in decline. But that doesn't mean it's not still valuable. On the contrary... As Chris Mayer explains, there are many reasons the U.S. dollar will remain relevant on the world stage for years to come. Read on...
Gun control isn’t a modern idea. The rise of gun control laws and limits on your 2nd Amendment freedom go hand in hand with the increase in the size and scope of government. Politicians want you to think the only people who can keep you safe are government forces. But as one renown libertarian economist and thinker will show you, their misguided laws do nothing but take away your freedoms and leave you less safe.
The government will do whatever it takes to make sure it has enough of your money to fund itself. On the surface you might think that means enduring a grueling audit. But the IRS and the government is more than willing to ignore your privacy in the cold relentless pursuit of the money they think they deserve. As they get bigger and bigger every year, the smaller and smaller your paycheck becomes as they leach off it.
The Congressional Budget Office said the government needed to reach 7 million people by the end of March. They claim to have reached the goal and now the debate about Obamacare is over. But what does this milestone really mean in the ongoing healthcare discussion? And more importantly, how will it affect reforms going forward?
If you’re good at something should you be penalized so others have a chance at success? Should award winning actors and actresses be barred from future Oscar ceremonies to give other men and women the chance to succeed? Success should always be rewarded and encouraged. But what happens when you have a government that wants to even the playing field and take away the spoils of success. Gregory Bresiger finds out...
In an effort to cut costs and keep track of patients' records, governments could institute a medical guideline cookbook. Bureaucrats might think they have the best of intentions in mind, but these new rules would drag down the medical process and destroy whatever quality is left in our current system.
Practical people often pooh-pooh fiction reading as a time wasting dalliance, dominated by a Marxist coloring of the world. However, fiction readers were given a scientific reason recently for spending hours absorbing fanciful figments of someone’s imagination.
Argentina is suffering the ravages of government debasement of the currency -- i.e., inflation, the process by which government pays for its ever-increasing debts and bills by simply printing more paper currency. The expanded money supply results in a lower value of everyone’s money, which is reflected in the rising prices of the things that money buys.
When government expansion is allowed to continue unabated or when it casts a heavy regulatory shadow on America’s entrepreneurial spirit, the freedoms that we’ve come to know, and perhaps take for granted, slowly begin to slip away.
The saga of All Saints could soon be coming to a community near you. Thanks partly to the scandal surrounding the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, the agency has proposed a new set of rules for a huge number of social-welfare groups that claim tax exemption under Section 501(c)4 of the tax code.
The new reality of Obamacare’s tax credits has left finance reporters to pen articles warning readers to “take care” when considering a tax credit and providing strategies for how best to “protect yourself.” So what do finance reporters know that the White House doesn’t?
Nihilo ex nihilo fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. First put forward by ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides in the fifth century B.C., Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine later used this axiom to prove that the universe needed a “first mover” to get things going. Even if the whole thing began with some kind of “Big Bang” moment, it still needed a banger to bang it. Who? God, of course.
What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
To be sure, this was a mind-bending experience. I watched Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln on the same weekend that I read Joseph Fallon’s Lincoln Uncensored, the e-book of the week released by the Laissez Faire Club. Worlds collided.
Fallon’s book, which is brilliant and the most useful Lincoln book I’ve read, sticks to the facts by organizing material from the 10 volumes of collected writings and speeches of Lincoln. The reader is given Lincoln’s own words on subjects like slavery, secession, Fort Sumter, equality of blacks and Mexicans, habeas corpus, war power, free speech, tariffs, debt, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union, and vastly more.
Fallon (educated at American University and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs) is, obviously, a master researcher. His editorial notes take advantage of all modern scholarship and are carefully cited.
Lincoln emerges as the consummate politician, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Political power was his driving principle. All else was malleable, words and rhetoric formulated as means to an end, and that end was centralization of the state. This is sadly true of his late-life sympathies to the abolitionist cause. They served his purposes well.
Fallon has added to each section some background discussion of the core issues. Just as an example, he assembles Lincoln’s pro-secession statements, such as:
“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better… Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.”
It’s a great statement, one that summarizes the classical liberal position for right of self-determination. Can this possibly be the same war president who ruled during the appalling bloodbath that killed 620,000 soldiers and perhaps another 100,000-plus civilians in order to prevent secession and shore up a forced union? Yes, it is. The year was 1848. He was speaking on behalf of the Texas secession from Mexico.
At the same time, Lincoln’s liberally minded words do not pertain to human rights generally. He did not oppose slavery in general. He was opposed to the extension of slavery for political reasons. By his own account, he “declared a thousand times” that that government cannot “rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists.”
Reading Fallon’s book, the contrast between the liberating demigod of the civic religion and the undeniable reality, as illustrated through Lincoln’s own words, could not be more stark.
Then you see the movie and all the portrayed events take on a completely new meaning. Instead of a charming humanitarian, you see a clever politician drunk on power. Instead of a liberator, you see how the language of liberation was used to support despotism. Parts of the movie hint at the truth. He suppressed free speech. He assumed dictatorial powers without legal justification. He jailed critics. In the name of union, he turned the land of the free into killing fields.
Reading Fallon, two great problems with Abraham Lincoln emerge: his means and his ends. The means were themselves horrifying, and the new Lincoln movie provides only a hint of it with the piles of limbs and bodies that variously appear in battlefield and hospice scenes. This war was ghastly and unnecessary (Britain ended slavery peacefully just 30 years earlier, as Thomas DiLorenzo frequently points out). He ordered mass executions. He made the Bill of Rights a dead letter.
In order to understand Lincoln’s passion for preserving the Union, you have to put yourself into a different era of federal finance. There was but one source of revenue: the tariff. There were no internal taxes. There was no “too big to fail,” because there was no central bank capable of bailing out an entire industrial base. As Lincoln himself said by way of explanation, “The tariff is to the government what a meal is to the family” (1861). The South’s ports collected 75% of all federal tax revenue. Without that revenue — that’s what secession meant — the federal government would be starved.
So in one sense, Lincoln was doing only what we’ve come to expect of presidents. One only has to imagine how Bush or Obama or any modern American president would react to the prospect of a 75% cut in incoming revenue — especially if there were no central bank to make up the difference. Would any modern president let the people go, just stand by, and let the federal government starve? Let every opportunity for graft, payoffs, spending on projects, and patronage just evaporate? No chance.
The controversy has raged for a long time about whether the Civil War was really about slavery. It depends on the meaning of “about.” In terms of Lincoln’s motivation, the Fallon book makes it indisputably clear that it was not the desire to end slavery that drove Lincoln’s prosecution of the war, but the need for national unity, which in turn comes down to enforcing the revenue stream. Anyone who knows anything about how politics operates can see this very clearly. In fact, I don’t even know why this would be a controversial claim at all. Why does the head of any state put down rebellion? To liberate people or to enslave them?
As for the motivation of the South to secede, matters become more complex. The desire to shore up slavery and protect the territory from the abolitionists played a large and even decisive role, given that most everyone assumed that slavery was essential to the South. There was also the desire on the part of Southern elites to set up a new government that could form its own trading relationships with foreign nations. And though the demand for secession is an essential right of a free people, the new Confederate government drafted, taxed, and inflated in a way that contradicts every other principle of liberty.
The lesson here is that no government or power of any size or scale can be relied upon to defend liberty. And governments in wartime come into their own, stopping at nothing to protect their power at the people’s expense.
The movie ends with a sequence that is supposed to inspire, but only gave me chills. Thaddeus Stevens has his wife read him the text of the 13th Amendment. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” He breathes a great sigh of relief.
Slavery is gone, and thank God. But what about involuntary servitude? Ask the hundreds of thousands of people now locked up for nonviolent crimes like smoking pot. Ask those who are jailed for failing to fork over enough of their earnings to the government. Ask those who are jailed for sharing files online. Ask those who are jailed for creating alternative currencies or just trying to run a business but failing to adhere to every jot and tittle of the central plan.
In the film, Stevens believes liberty has won. Yet I’m sitting in a theater full of involuntary servants. Indeed, involuntary servitude is the very essence of government. It is the very means by which government seizes control of society. A real 13th Amendment, one that actually got rid of involuntary servitude, would guarantee freedom in every sense. That is not what happened. How and why should be a concern of every citizen interested in the fate of liberty.
No one book and certainly no one movie can possibly capture the incredible complexities of this astonishing event in American history. But it seems reasonable to start with Lincoln’s own words as presented in his letters and speeches. This requires carefully going through 10 volumes of his collected works. Lincoln Uncensored has done the work for you. It is this week’s free download in the Laissez Faire Club.