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...
Americans expatriate because they want to get out of the country. Corporations expatriate for similar reasons. Clem Chambers explains...
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
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 […]
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 […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
The game of speculation is the most uniformly fascinating game in the world. But it is not a game for the stupid, the mentally lazy, the person of inferior emotional balance or the get-rich-quick adventurer. They will die poor.– Jesse Livermore, How to Trade in StocksThe trouble with capitalism’s guardians is that they have no […]
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 […]
John Foust, a Democrat running for the 10th congressional seat in Northern Virginia, is — like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state Democrats — gung-ho to expand Medicaid. His wife’s position is, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.Foust has slammed his opponent, Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, for her opposition to expansion. He has spoken […]
The midterm election season is upon us, and it’s a tossup whether the Republicans will win the Senate, or if President Obama, seemingly oblivious as conflict flares up around the world, will, through his continuous campaigning, keep Harry Reid in his majority leader seat.The only thing we know for sure is that sociopaths will be […]
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 […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
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 […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
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 […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
“In the beginning, all the world was America.” — John Locke“The Garden of Eden was a perfect place,” my friend Manuel explained. “Man had free will. He could live in harmony with nature and God — and everything would be fine. But if he defied God, the stain of original sin would be on his […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
It might sound like the latest new product from Apple, but IPAB is actually the newest major legal challenge to Obamacare.Recently, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member panel created by the Affordable Care Act and empowered […]
Americans have come to believe that the IRS and the income tax are inevitable parts of our lives. After all, most everyone alive today has lived his entire life under federal income taxation.It wasn’t always that way. For some 125 years, the American people lived without having any tax imposed upon their income.The obvious question […]
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, […]
In September 2009, when President Obama made a primetime speech pitching his not-yet-passed health care overhaul, he made the following promise: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. Period.” To prove his seriousness, he further promised that “there will be a provision […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
Now that hysteria over my original Brazil column has died down, let me add some comments and reflections about it and what gave rise to the reactions.
To review, I had written a piece praising the many glorious features of Brazil and especially the way in which civilization has managed to thrive by virtue of certain freedoms that we do not have in the U.S.: the freedom to pass on estates in whole to children and the seeming absence of the police-state security apparatus and military-industrial complex that represses us every day in this one-time land of the free.
Many Brazilians were appalled by what seemed to them to be my favorable comparison of Brazil to the United States. Don’t I know that their country is ruled by a wicked socialist dictatorship that strangles the life out of enterprise every day? Don’t I know about the other egregious forms of taxation they deal with constantly? Am I completely unaware of the stultifying bureaucracies that make it nearly impossible to open and run a business?
One thing that all the correspondents said again and again: if you think you have it bad, you should experience our disgusting lives and then you would really know the meaning of despotism.
I also detected in all these letters a sort of idealization of the U.S. that we often find abroad. No matter how much our government tries to wreck our reputation as the place where liberty thrives, many people around the world still like to imagine that we have full constitutional rights and free-wheeling enterprise that they do not enjoy.
As Americans, we should resist this flattery. It is an interesting exercise to travel abroad and discover that, behold, in some ways people living under democratic socialism experience elements of freedom that our current American system (democratic fascism?) denies to us. To me, this is the strongest case for traveling, just so that we can gain some perspective.
But all of this raises an interesting question. Why is it that we tend to be more critical of our own governments than those in other lands?
In a sense, I agree with Noam Chomsky (I’m a sometime fan but not a devotee) who was once asked why he is such a severe critic of the U.S. government but doesn’t have much to say about the evil of other governments around the world.
I’m paraphrasing his answer. First, he knows more about the U.S. government than other governments so he is in a better position to report accurately. Second, his criticisms of the U.S. government can actually have some influence whereas he would have no influence on the policies in Afghanistan or North Korea. Third, because he is a U.S. citizen he has a special and even moral obligation to object when the government that is stealing from him is using that money to murder and oppress people abroad.
He might have had other reasons too but those strike me as reasonable. I might add that we all have a tendency to believe that the government we know the best is probably the worst. For example, many people can tell grim stories of the corruption, graft, favoritism, and brutality of our local governments. We know its victims first hand. We’ve seen it up close and we are appalled.
Our heads should tell us that if it is this bad at the local level, it is surely worse at the state level and unimaginably bad at the central level of the federal government. Most of us have no direct experience with the feds, however, so its depredations are more abstract to us.
It doesn’t help that the sheer numbers that the feds play with are beyond human comprehension. The local official who steals $100,000 is a criminal but what does it mean when a federal agency loses track of $2,000,000,000 in loans? The larger the number, the more abstracted it becomes from our experience.
I take it for granted that all governments everywhere are parasitic, power abusing, thieving, grafting bastions of hypocrisy, depredation, and duplicity. This is not an accident of history but rather an outgrowth of a fundamental structural reality: government operates by different rules from the rest of us.
If we steal, we are doing wrong and everyone knows it. But the government does the same thing and claims it is sustaining the social order — and calls us unpatriotic if we disagree. And that’s only the beginning. The government punishes us for doing things — fraud, theft, murder, kidnapping, counterfeiting — that it does legally every day.
This is not a feature of bad government. The legal right to violate the laws it enforces against the population is the defining feature of the state as we know it. That is to say, there is evil at the very heart of the business of government. The more centralized the state, the less control we have over it and the more egregious the immorality, efficiency, graft, and lies.
I would go further than Thomas Jefferson, who said that the government that governs best governs least. Actually, the government that governs not at all is the best of all.
Returning to Brazil, the difference between the government there and the government here is not a matter of kind but of degree. So it is for all governments in all times and places, which is why we can read about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and find so many parallels with our own time. Measuring the degree of evil can be extremely tricky. Chomsky is right here: if we wish to decry evil in politics, our primary obligation is to focus on the state we know best, which is our own. In that sense my critics are right, from their point of view, and I’m right from mine.
At the same time, there is more to the task of liberty than hating and decrying the state. The other side of the coin is developing a genuine love of liberty, which implies a love of its most spectacular, people-serving feature: commerce.
Commerce keeps the world orderly and rational and free. It gives us drive and ratifies our efforts. It sparks imagination and defines its boundaries. It feeds the world, sustains and builds civilization, and unleashes the best in the human spirit. It keeps us materially connected and linked to our brothers and sisters across the globe. It makes possible, in our own time, beautiful worlds we could never dream up on our own.
Wherever there is liberty, there is commerce. And this commerce breaks down the barriers that the state erects between people. Commerce ignores borders, draws people together whom the state would like to see separated. It always tends toward the service of human needs rather than civic priorities.
Without some liberty, however restricted it might be, and the commerce it sustains society would die in a matter of weeks. The state alone sustains nothing. This is why, when I travel, I’m very much drawn to finding and watching those sectors where liberty lives and observing the massive contribution it makes to the social order.
I take it for granted that the state is too big, invasive, and horrible — not just in Brazil, not just in the U.S., but absolutely everywhere. What’s really exciting is to see people finding the workaround and making lives for themselves, and that usually means some commercial activity that thrives despite every effort to kill it.
This is what I saw in so many beautiful ways in Brazil. To see liberty work is to see a model for building the future. This is why it is so inspiring to visit real markets, to see what people can do with investable wealth, to observe all the ways in which people manage to make good lives for themselves despite every obstacle.
This is the spirit of liberty. The great merit of the work of Mises Brasil is that it encourages intellectual change throughout society, building from the liberty that currently does exist toward a full-blown free society. This is the path of change. It requires that we see more than what is bad but also see what is good, and build from that.
Wendy McElroy’s forthcoming book from Laissez Faire Books is called The Art of Being Free. She raises a very profound question for serious libertarians. If the state went away, what would you be left with to give your life meaning? Find that thing and you will have found your North Star, the inspiration and driving force for building a vibrant and free future.
Hate the state, yes, but love liberty even more. Decry the thicket, yes, but then find the seed, plant it, and see the garden grow.