“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 […]
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.
Innovation can change the world… if the world lets it. Unfortunately, society’s gatekeepers make it a point to constrain, regulate, and control these ideas. But their power is limited, and the power of innovation is too great. Unfortunately for regulators, there are some technologies they can’t control.
“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.” — Emperor Palpatine, The Return of the JediJon Stewart made great comedic hay during the Bush Administration out of the enormity of Dick Cheney’s “Sith Lord” malevolence. Events in Iraq in the past week have made especially palpable Cheney’s Palpatine-like quality.As Iraq unravels, you may suspect that Cheney might now […]
Entrepreneurs are high-tailing it out of the United States, and it’s the politicians’ faultThe U.S. government is driving some of its most productive citizens abroad. The only beneficiaries are countries such as Singapore and Switzerland, which offer sanctuary to Americans fleeing avaricious Uncle Sam.Three years ago Eduardo Saverin, one of Facebook’s founders, joined 1,780 other […]
Politicians love raising the minimum wage because they don’t have to ask voters to pay more in taxes. They just dump the costs onto shop owners. But they don’t act like politicians and go into debt to pretend like they have all the money in the world. They face real world situations. And sometimes that means replacing workers with more affordable options...
A cushy job in Hawaii that pays six figures. A beautiful girlfriend/boyfriend. Job security and professional experience that gives you plenty of future opportunities. Would you throw that all away to do what you think is right? Last year, one government contractor did just that. And now you see the world the government tried to hide from you.
As the world gets more digital, people forget about the benefits of transacting in cash. And government officials know that.
Regulation is supposed to keep you safe and make the economy function smoothly. At least that’s what they tell you in the news. But there’s another cost to regulation. One that you won’t hear about unless you have to deal with directly. And for the people in the economy who do, they’re the ones who have to pay the final cost.
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.
All paper currency has a shelf life. It could be 5 years or 500 years, but at some point, the value of any paper currency eventually reaches zero. That's why, for centuries, people have turned to one shiny metal to safeguard their personal store of wealth. And, as Jim Rickards explains, you still have that option. Read on...
Edward Snowden’s one year visa in Russia expires at the end of next month. With only a few weeks left before he finds himself without a safe country to live in, he sat down to give an exclusive interview. Here are the most important things he wants you to remember from his recent sacrifice.
Biotech breakthroughs and other transformative innovations are a few of the brightly shining spots in the U.S. economy. In fact, Paul Mampilly believes this is the golden age of biotech investing, and that you can earn massive returns while investing in companies with drugs that benefit all of humanity. Read on for his latest example...
It’s a destructive cycle that comes around everytime your politicians ask you to take to the polls. The government’s meddling creates unexpected problems that eventually overshadow the planners’ original intentions. But that only leads the way for even more interventions.
Politicians love inflation. It’s a way to pay for the government’s debts without upsetting the public by raising taxes, or their special interests by cutting government. So they’ll flood the economy with easy money and eat away at your savings. But that’s only part of the story...
You can count the number of people who went to jail over the 2008 financial crisis on one hand. Which is strange considering the U.S. loves to put people away in jail. But as one author discovered in his most recent book, having the right connections and a big enough bank account, can protect you from even the worst crimes.
Obama recently claimed this was the “Decade of the Brain”. But it not the first time the government made that promise. The last time they did it, they wasted millions of your tax dollars. Now they’re back for round two. But this time, their failure could mean more than squandered money. It could mean making Alzheimer’s even worse for those who suffer from it.
Obama has been too quiet lately. And when he does speak, he says little of substance. For example, on the looming fiscal cliff that has America panicked, he held a press conference on Nov. 28 to urge people to tweet Congress.
The only hard policy statement included was a reiteration of his well-worn proposal to not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year.
Tweets? Really? Why not have a bake sale?
In Everybody’s Autobiography (1937), the American expat Gertrude Stein expressed the futility of returning to her childhood home in Oakland, Calif., by writing, “There is no there there.” The phrase has come to indicate something that is empty of meaning or substance.
People who make the mistake of listening to Obama’s rhetoric often conclude there is no there there. His plans usually consist of sermons in which his voice rises and falls to emphasize phrases like “American exceptionalism” and “social justice.” They are packed with promises, but lack substance as to how anything will be accomplished. People should stop listening; they should start watching, instead, because the substance of Obama is not at the podium, but in the regulatory and other agencies he is creating to enforce de facto law without going through Congress.
OBAMA’S POLITICAL METHODOLOGY
In his crusade for a second crack at the presidency, Obama made many promises. He pledged to create “1 million manufacturing jobs by 2016″, to cut “oil imports in half by 2020,” and “cutting in half the growth in college tuition over the next 10 years. The means to accomplish these goals consisted of vague references to reforming tax codes and establishing “a new network of 15-20 manufacturing innovation institutes,” etc.
During his Sept. 6 speech to the Democratic National Convention, however, Obama gave particular emotional stress to one passage. “It will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.”
Obama has long prided himself on being a political reincarnation of FDR. For years, talking heads in the media have piled on to debate the similarities and differences between specific policies of the two presidents. This approach misses the point. Of course, their specific policies differ. The circumstances of their presidencies differ. For example, the outright confiscation of gold executed by FDR in 1933 is not likely to occur under Obama, because gold no longer serves the same political and economic purpose as it did in the 1930s; the U.S. is no longer on a gold standard.
The essential similarity lies in the political methodology of both presidents. The surface of the methodology is the application of charisma backed up by vague promises that bulge with noble phrases. The depth is the imposition of measures through backdoor means that bypass Congress and receive little to no public attention.
For example, during his presidency (1933-1945), FDR issued well over 3,000 executive orders. (The number varies depending on the type of order included.)
Generally speaking, an executive order is a presidential directive that implements policy, often by reinterpreting the Constitution or existing federal statutes. The order does not require participation by Congress and avoids public debate. Yet these orders are powerful political devices. For example, Executive Order 9066 authorized the internment of tens of thousands of Japanese-American citizens during World War II.
To date, the strongest methodology parallel has been the creation and expansion of regulatory agencies. A regulatory agency is defined as “a public authority or government agency responsible for exercising autonomous authority over some area of human activity in a regulatory or supervisory capacity”. In short, the agency dictates how life must be conducted in a sprawling range of areas from agriculture to human organ transplants, from airline travel to cutting hair.
The structures created under FDR were called alphabet agencies. Some were established by executive order, others by acts of Congress. More than a hundred government bodies dictated a New Deal for Americans that intruded government into virtually every corner of daily life. The alphabet agencies included: the Housing Authority, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Farm Security Administration (FSA), and what later became the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The power vested in them was immense. For instance, the director of the Office of Censorship could censor international communications at “his absolute discretion.” Many, like the Social Security Administration, had a profound impact on the basics and organization of American life that lasts to this day.
Under Obama, a similar proliferation of regulatory agencies and “czars” has occurred. “Czar” is the unofficial and popular label given to a high-level official appointed by the executive branch to oversee a policy or agency. For example, Obama’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator is usually referred to as the copyright czar. (The term came into popular usage during FDR’s tenure.) The number and faces of Obama czars vary widely over time, but as of May 23, there were 57 of them.
On Nov. 14, The New York Times reported of Obama’s second term, “Already, the Obama administration has been moving to install tougher regulators than it had in the early part of its tenure.” The new regulators “are likely to be less intimidated by the specter of being hauled in front of Congress and yelled at, especially by House Republicans.” Regulatory agencies and czars — the enforcement arms of the executive — will be paying no heed to Congress. And as long as they fly under the radar, they need not worry about public opinion. The agencies will be free to impose Obama’s sweeping New Deal on America.
WHERE THE REAL POLITICS ARE HAPPENING
To understand the political street fight that is American society, you need to turn away from Obama’s distracting sleight-of-hand speeches. You need to watch the regulatory agencies. Congress may be in gridlock, but the agencies are implementing presidential policy at a gallop.
Consider just one example: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A Nov. 19 article in the National Review opened, “On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency rejected petitions from the governors of Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, and North Carolina to suspend the biofuel-blending requirements established by the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.”
The petition asked for relief from the program’s requirement to convert corn crops into ethanol. National Review explained, “The 2012 target is to blend 13.2 billion gallons of biofuel into our gasoline, a quantity that ratchets up to 13.8 billion gallons in 2013. This year, about 4.7 billion bushels, or 40% of the nation’s corn crop, will be consumed by ethanol manufacturing.” The petitioning states are economically reeling from “the worst drought in 50 years,” and the EPA czar has the power to waive the program’s requirement. She chose not to.
So some food will become significantly more expensive in 2013. Those who follow the EPA know to stock up right now on specific goods that are dependent on corn.
Politics are being played out on the street level of regulation, not on the theater level of White House press conferences. The words coming out of Obama’s lips are distractions. Regulation is where you find the there.