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.
“This used to be a hell of a good country, I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.” said George Hanson in the movie “Easy Rider.”
My old friend Joe Sobran (1946-2010) loved that line and quoted it often.
Sobran, who worked alongside William Buckley at National Review during its heyday, was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. After a lifetime of thinking about politics, he eventually decided that there was only one way out of our troubles: the whole of the government has to go.
[Editor's Note: Joe's key influence was Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Hoppe's Book The Theory of Capitalism and Socialism convinced him that nothing that the government does contributes to the betterment of society as whole. A new edition of this book is now available for download in the Club.]
Sobran was ahead of his time. The latest polls show that 9 in 10 people distrust government to do the right thing. Forget partisanship at this point. The largest political grouping in this country is against government in general. Sure, people are glad to grab benefits as programs allow, believing that they might as well get something back for all the times they have been robbed.
Does public opinion matter? Absolutely. Government an inherently unstable situation because they are few and we are many. The real question is not why revolutions happen but why isn’t there a revolution every day? What is it that keeps these guys in power, aside from the threat of violence? There has to be more to it.
David Hume, in his First Principles of Government, argued that it is public opinion that keeps the racket going. That is a more important thing than violence or guns. It is what people believe about themselves and their government that is the key. Without it, government would collapse. And we see this in history. The precondition for every revolution is the lack of belief in the system that governs them.
The government has strong interest in shoring up public opinion.
According to Hoppe, it does this through the control of four institutions:
A government that fully monopolizes these four institutions and prevents any alternatives from forming is secure in its rule for decades if not centuries. But when they begin to fall, the rulers begin to lose their grip on power. For this reason, all governments have made the control of these institutions a priority.
Control of education allows the political class to inculcate a sense of civic obligation and duty, set the parameters of approved thought, and keep revolutionary ideas from entering into the culture. If you can get the kids at a young age and train them, all the better. This is why every state the world over has worked to secure its control over education. The goal is not to make everyone smart but rather to make everyone obedient.
Control of communication reinforces this tendency to properly filter the ideas that people hold. This is why censorship is one of the first and long-lasting functions of government. It is not to protect you and me against hearing or seeing things that would corrupt our hearts and souls. The idea is to maintain a firm grip over what people believe about the political system and to keep outlying ideas underground and at the margins of society.
Money comes next. Historically, this is one of the earliest institutions that the state seeks to monopolize. Only in the 20th century has the excuse been to keep unemployment down or keep the banking and financial systems stable. The real reason is, as Hoppe explains, to provide a funding source for government that doesn’t require taxation. Taxes make people mad. Devaluation and inflation flies under cover of night.
Finally, there is the need to monopolize the provision of security, which means controlling courts, police, and justice. The idea here is to be able to tell the population that the government is keeping everyone safe. If government is not there, terrible things will happen: monsters will take over.
Now, using this model, we are in a position to assess the stability any regime. Looking back at the anti-socialist revolutions of 1989 and 1990, we can see that all four conditions of control had collapsed, and so therefore the people no longer believed. We saw this too in the Arab spring. We can even look back at the American and French revolutions and see the same thing. In each case, the government systems of control fell and private alternatives took their place. The revolution happened.
How does this apply to us today in the U.S?
Consider communication. Twenty years ago, that monopoly was in tact. The government ruled the networks, controlled the press, owned the telephones, censored the radio, and there were few alternatives outside word of mouth and the ham radio.
Today? Wow. The communication monopoly is completely smashed. The internet, cellular networks, the explosion of media outlets, and the astonishing growth of all forms of human interaction on a global level mean that this side of state control has been obliterated.
The educational system is cracking in a huge way. We learn more from digital networks than from government-owned classrooms. The kids still show up but do they believe? Not really. The dream of inculcating generations in dedicated belief in the civic system is just gone.
Homeschooling continues on the march, and the products of this system are occupying important positions of influence in the culture. Online venues are huge. The university-level system is poised for massive correction in the downward direction.
The money system is seriously broken. The Fed prints and prints but it is not inspiring economic recovery or even bringing about the inflation that would be necessary to cover the government’s astonishing debt level. A measure of the monopoly’s effectiveness is the lockdown of bank lending and the downgrade of U.S. bonds that occurred last year.
Because of this failure, new forms of private money are flourishing: precious metals, digital currencies, gift cards, cash-based credit cards. Peer-to-peer lending is booming. More challenges to this monopoly appear by the day.
Police, justice, and security? This is an interesting case. Thirty years ago, the police were not militarized, the courts were not clogged to the point of being useless, the jails were not full to capacity, and there was a sense that the system was flawed but essentially workable. That is no longer true.
After 9-11, the state overreached and militarized the entire security system in this country, thereby exposing its essential nature. More and more people are catching on to the reality that the security system is not there to protect us but rather to protect the state itself from us.
Hoppe’s checklist provides an extremely revealing look at the stability of the political system today. How far are we from a real or de facto revolution in which private society displaces the corrupt and bankrupt public system? It could be sooner than anyone predicts.
A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism shows us what to look for and how to access the triggers that make dramatic change possible.
Final note: if the ideas in this article seems outlandish, it is wise to compare them to the ideas in circulation in the U.S. colonies in 1775. A whole general favored the abolition of government. “The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act,” wrote Thomas Paine. “A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.”
We’ve traveled a long way from these ideals. Thanks to technology and the breakdown of government monopolies, we are travelling down the other direction toward freedom.