Friday, March 17, 2017

Economic Ideas: Karl Marx’s Misconceptions about Man and Markets

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Though it may seem strange, Karl Marx was not always a communist. As late as 1842, when Marx was in his mid-20s, he actually said he opposed any attempt to establish a communist system. In October 1842, he became editor of the Rheinische Zeitung [the Rhineland Times], and wrote in an editorial:
The Rheinische Zeitung . . . does not admit that communist ideas in their present form possess even theoretical reality, and therefore can still less desire their practical realization, or even consider it possible.
In 1843, Marx was forced to resign his editorship because of political pressure from     the Prussian government, and ended up moving to Paris.  It was in Paris that he met his future lifelong collaborator, Friedrich Engels (who already was a socialist), and began his deeper study of socialism and communism, leading to his full “conversion” to the collectivist ideal.


The Zero-Sum World of Donald Trump

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Few American presidential elections have drawn as much international interest and concern as the one in 2016. Certainly, who is elected and sits in the White House in Washington, D. C. matters to many people everywhere since America remains a political, economic and military colossus influencing major and minor events around the globe.
Yet, the anxiousness about the possibility and then the reality of the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States is unique, at least in my lifetime. His blusterous language, his crudeness of verbal expression, his seeming refusal to play by the standard etiquette and rules of the political game during the Republican primaries and then through the presidential campaign leading up to election day in November of last year threw many people off balance, in America and elsewhere, wondering what to expect if Trump were to win.


House of Cards: Is Assange Right About Hillary Clinton's Plot Against Trump?

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, right, and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, left, walk together on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington to greet Harley Davidson Harley Davidson executives and union representatives
© AP Photo/ Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Ekaterina Blinova

Julian Assange's statement that Hillary Clinton is secretly plotting "a Mike Pence takeover" in the Oval Office together with US intelligence officials has stirred a heated debate. Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel shared his views on the possibility of a House of Cards scenario being implemented in his interview with Sputnik.

WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief Julian Assange announced Tuesday that Hillary Clinton is harboring a secret plan to replace US President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence.
​Assange specified that Clinton and her confidants within the US intelligence community spoke about nothing less than a Presidential impeachment.
​The assumption has immediately sparked a heated debate among observers and prompted sharp criticism from Vice President Pence.
"I find all of that dialogue to be absurd and frankly offensive," Pence told CNN on the same day, commenting on the issue.

US Officials Feel Morally Justified in Promoting Revolutions in Foreign Nations

The US flag
© Photo: Pixabay

US government officials have no qualms about intervening in the internal affairs of other nations to try and secure the election of candidates which it ideologically supports, but the results often backfire and prove unpredictable to Washington, analysts told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, a group of US Senators led by Mike Lee called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to investigate US funding political factions within other sovereign nations including through a George Soros-backed organization funded by USAID. Funds distributed through USAID programs in Albania and Macedonia were used to influence party politics, media, and civil society, the lawmakers claimed in a letter.
"The US government often intervenes to assist pro-US candidates in winning elections, but the victors are often not as pliable as the US government expects," political commentator and author James Bovard said on Wednesday.
Bovard said this type of activity was widespread and had been for many years.
"There is so much ‘pro-democracy’ flying around at this point — and the US government has done a very poor job of auditing its own efforts. The US government has been heavily intervening in foreign elections for decades," he said.
Bovard said there was a widespread assumption among US politicians and policymakers that such interventions were always justified morally as well pragmatically.
"This is justified because ‘God wants democracy to win.’ The US government is simply doing God's work — or doing what God would do if he knew as much as US government agencies," he stated.
Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) senior editor Jeff Steinberg said that the most blatant recent example of such activities was the toppling of the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014.
"Ukraine is the poster child for these ‘color revolution’ operations funded by both the US taxpayers and tax exempt groups like Soros' OSF," Steinberg said.
Steinberg recalled that Victoria Nuland, former president Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs had openly boasted of the active role that the US government had played in destabilizing and then toppling the government of President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev. "Nuland bragged that the US government spent $5 billion building the ‘democracy’ movement in Ukraine, which in that case also involved hardcore neo-Nazis, who shot up the Maidan and overthrew Yanukovych," he said.
Steinberg pointed out that seeking to topple any legitimate government was contrary to international law.
"It is criminal to engage in such violent regime change but Soros and the National Endowment for Democracy get away with it constantly," he concluded.
Earlier on Wednesday, a State Department official told Sputnik the department received the letter from the Senators to Tillerson, but it was standard practice not to release the contents of congressional correspondence

Adam Smith’s Moral Path through Quagmire

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Adam Smith’s book The Theory of Moral Sentiments offers a path through a dangerous social quagmire. Namely, the law increasingly demands that peaceful acts conform to a specific state-approved morality. The process turns morality into a matter of state and law rather than one of individual conscience.
The politically correct justify mandatory morality in the name of social justice or a paternalism by which the elite know what is better for people than the people do themselves. For example, in signing the recent minimum-wage law in California, Gov. Jerry Brown stated, “Economically, minimum wages may not make sense” but “[morally] and socially and politically, they make every sense.” By this, Brown meant the law made moral sense to him and to his ideological associates, who were willing to impose it upon anyone who disagreed.


Socialism: Marking a Century of Death and Destruction

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In August of 1993 I was in invited to participate in a conference in Vilnius, Lithuania on “Liberty and Private Business.” This was less than two years after the formal disappearance of the Soviet Union as a political entity on the map of the world.
During our time there my wife and I were offered the opportunity to be given a tour of the building that had served as the headquarters of the local KGB, the infamous Soviet secret police. Our guide was a man who had been a prisoner in its walls in the late 1950s. The most nightmarishly part of the tour was the basement containing the prison cells and the interrogation rooms.
Going Through Hell at the Hands of the KGB
As we reached the bottom of the staircase our guide pointed to a small closet-like space and said, “Here was the first stop on the victim’s journey to hell.” The prisoner would be stripped of all clothes, naked, and placed in this windowless, pitch-black closet for several hours. This was the start of the psychology of torture. Left naked in absolute darkness for hours, the victim could only have the most frightening imaginings about why he or she had been arrested, what might be done to them, and whether they would ever see their family and friends again.


The Government Is Still the Enemy of Freedom

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Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter. Sooner or later, the people in this country are gonna realize the government … doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety… It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing. Keeping it and expanding it wherever possible. — George Carlin
My friends, we’re being played for fools.
On paper, we may be technically free.
In reality, however, we are only as free as a government official may allow.
We only think we live in a constitutional republic, governed by just laws created for our benefit.
Truth be told, we live in a dictatorship disguised as a democracy where all that we own, all that we earn, all that we say and do—our very lives—depends on the benevolence of government agents and corporate shareholders for whom profit and power will always trump principle. And now the government is litigating and legislating its way into a new framework where the dictates of petty bureaucrats carry greater weight than the inalienable rights of the citizenry.


The Libertarian Mind

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The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom by David Boaz (Simon & Schuster, 2015); 417 pages.

Since the beginning of the so-called Progressive Era, advocates of big government have been on the offensive. They promised Americans more prosperity, better education, increased security, a cleaner environment, a society that’s more fair, and so on — provided they would allow government officials to wield much more power.
A great many fell for it. After all, wasn’t it desirable to move toward an improved country at what seemed to be little or no cost? Certainly our leaders would do only things that were in “the public interest.”


The National Debt Limit Equals a Balanced Budget

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Once again the United States government is rapidly approaching a fiscal debt ceiling: After March 16, 2017, Uncle Sam will not be legally allowed to borrow any more money to cover its budget deficits, unless Congress votes to raise the debt limit, once again, like it has every time in the past.
Uncle’s Sam’s debt has been growing at a frightening rate over the last several decades. It took almost two hundred years, from around 1790, when the government of the United States was established, to 1980 for the federal government to accumulate $1 trillion of debt through deficit spending.
In the twenty-year period, 1980 to 2000, that national debt grew to $5 trillion. Then during the eight years of the George W. Bush’s Republican Administration from 2001 to 2009 the debt doubled to around $10 trillion. And over the eight years of Barack Obama’s Democratic Administration the national debt doubled, one more, to just short of $20 trillion.


The Inequality of Wealth and Income

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What is most criticized in our social order is the inequality in the distribution of wealth and income, There are rich and poor; there are very rich and very poor. The way out is not far to seek: the equal distribution of all wealth.
The first objection to this proposal is that it will not help the situation much because those of moderate means far outnumber the rich, so that each individual could expect from such a distribution only a quite insignificant increment in his standard of living. This is certainly correct, but the argument is not complete. Those who advocate equality of income distribution overlook the most important point, namely, that the total available for distribution, the annual product of social labor, is not independent of the manner in which it is divided.


Lessons of the Orlando Massacre

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In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, a 29-year-old, American-born Muslim of Afghan descent, Omar Mateen, with allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), entered a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, armed with a semi-automatic, high-capacity rifle and handgun, and began shooting and taking hostages. Although an Orlando police officer serving as an armed guard outside the club engaged Mateen, the attacker was able to force his way into the nightclub. Within three hours, he had had killed 49 patrons and employees, and wounded another 53. Predictably, gun-control advocates Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, et cetera, berated Congress for not having passed more-stringent gun-control laws. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson declared gun control a matter of national security.” The New York Daily News went so far as to blame the National Rifle Association (NRA) for the massacre by running a front-page headline the next day saying, “THANKS, NRA.”


Rule by Thieves

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“The first and most important thing to understand about politics is this: forget Right, Left, Center, socialism, fascism, or democracy. Every government that exists — or ever existed, or ever will exist — is a kleptocracy, meaning ‘rule by thieves.’ Competing ideologies merely provide different excuses to separate the Productive Class from what they produce. If the taxpayer/voters won’t willingly fork over to end poverty, then maybe they’ll cough up to fight drugs or terrorism. Conflicting ideologies, as presently constituted, are nothing more than a cover for what’s really going on, like the colors of competing gangs.” — Author L. Neil Smith
The American kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves) continues to suck the American people down a rabbit hole into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry is powerless to defend itself against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Legacy of Russia’s Revolution a Hundred Years on: How Millions Died for a Horrible Idea

The Legacy of Russia’s Revolution a Hundred Years on: How Millions Died for a Horrible Idea

A century has passed since revolution came to Russia. But the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II on March 15, 1917 passed without an official remembrance in St. Petersburg, where a new Russia was birthed.
The Putin government may want to preserve national unity or fear encouraging modern revolutionaries. Indeed, President Vladimir Putin looks a lot like a tsar of old. Official silence has not, however, stopped a group of Russians under former television journalist Mikhail Zygar from creating Project 1917 to recreate the events of a century ago.


Negative Interest Rates Are a Dead End

Negative Interest Rates Are a Dead End

The Bank of Japan recently announced that it would follow the European Central Bank’s lead and implement a “negative interest rate” policy. Reducing interest rates is supposed to increase spending and investment, spurring growth.
It won’t work. Negative central-bank interest rates will not create growth any more than the Federal Reserve’s near-zero interest rates did in the U.S. And it will divert attention from the structural problems that have plagued growth here, as well as in Europe and Japan, and how these problems can be solved.


Are We Heading toward Another Subprime Mortgage Crisis?

By William Poole

The Federal Reserve bailed out Bear Stearns on March 14, nine years ago. What has the Fed learned from that mistake? Not enough, perhaps.
A little understood part of the Bear story is that in March 2008, the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, ignored critical facts concerning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Unfortunately, the Fed may be making the exact same mistake today.
Bear’s problems came from excessive investment in bonds based on subprime mortgages, which carry greater risk for one or more reasons, such as the borrower’s poor credit rating. Fannie and Freddie were the principal housing lenders, having been organized as “Government Sponsored Enterprises” or “GSEs,” and they were responsible for the creation of much of the subprime mortgages.


Fair-Weather Federalists

By Adam Bates

A common refrain from conservative Donald Trump supporters was that Trump would ensure the sanctity of the 10th Amendment through his court picks and his nominee for attorney general. Only a month into the administration, however, that hope is already in danger of collapsing.
While there is every reason to believe that Neil Gorsuch will be a solid federalist, the trajectory of the Department of Justice and the administration as a whole is threatening a much different path.
Recently White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that states that have legalized marijuana would see more federal enforcement action. This suggests that the Sessions Department of Justice would take a more federal line on marijuana than the Obama administration, which largely, albeit inconsistently, respected state laws legalizing marijuana.


Donald Trump’s Budget Starts Dismantling the Administrative State

By Ryan Bourne

President Donald Trump’s “skinny budget” is a striking read for a Brit imbued in the UK debate about “austerity”. The intent, according to his Office of Management and Budget, is to turn the President’s speeches, policies and ideas “from words to numbers”. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the effects of Conservative budgets on UK departments, Trump’s would cut spending from some more in a year than those vicious Tories will over a decade.
The numbers speak for themselves. Department for Agriculture spending down 20.7 percent between 2017 and 2018. Energy down 5.6 percent. Housing and Urban Development down 13.2 percent.


I Feel Hitler In These Bleachers: Ashley Judd Triggered At KY Basketball Game When Man Said 'We Like Trump'

I Feel Hitler In These Bleachers: Ashley Judd Triggered At KY Basketball Game When Man Said 'We Like Trump'

I Feel Hitler In These Bleachers: Ashley Judd Triggered At KY Basketball Game When Man Said 'We Like Trump'
“I didn’t know devils could be resurrected, but I feel Hitler in these streets.”
Do you remember when actress Ashley Judd said that at the Women’s March in January? It was over inauguration weekend. Well, Judd found Hitler in the bleachers of a Kentucky basketball game over the weekend and was triggered when a man told her “we like Trump.” She took to Facebook to detail the incident, which she said left her “very sad” and “scared.” Oh, and then proceeded to tell what she wanted to say to the man, like he’s a misogynist and he voted with the KKK, but refrained because basketball is a unifying space [emphasis mine]:
An older man with white hair came up to me at my seat today at a basketball game. He said "May I take your picture? I said "Yes." And before I could offer for him to be in the picture with me, 6 inches from my face, he took my picture with his phone. He said "I'm from Big Stone gap." I said, "I love Big Stone Gap! What a beautiful town, I loved making the movie there." I went on to say how good the cooking is, mentioning, of course, the pineapple upside down cake and pumpkin pie!

When Obama Compared Slaves to Immigrants, He Got Applause; Carson Gets Called 'Uncle Tom'

When Obama Compared Slaves to Immigrants, He Got Applause; Carson Gets Called 'Uncle Tom'

When Obama Compared Slaves to Immigrants, He Got Applause; Carson Gets Called 'Uncle Tom'
 Dr. Ben Carson, in a speech before employees of Housing and Urban Development, the department he now runs, likened slaves to "immigrants": "That's what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land."
Carson got hammered.