Monday, February 28, 2005

The Good Guys and the Bad Guys...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I smell a rat...

Such was Patrick Henry's observation when the Federalists (really, centrists) began pushing for a revision to the Articles of Confederation. He uttered these words after declining an invitation to represent his state at a Constitutional Convention, to draw up a new agreement between the states, The U.S. Constitution.

When I was kid I didn't really pay much attention to politics. Playing with my friends, dreaming of being an astronaut or a submarine commander occupied more than a little of my time. I remember family skirmishes between democrat and republican factions of my family, but for the most part it was low key (or kept from me so as to appear low key).

As I grew older I began to learn more about the history of the country and also of the rest of the world. It became clear that our country was not as descibed in history books or classes and, in fact, took on the aspects of many of our enemies. I turned toward libertarianism. I believed in the Constitution and felt that if government could just be made to obey its clear restraints, all would be well with the nation. And therein lies the rub,...restraint of government. The centralization of power is exactly what Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson feared most. In fact, they, and a few others made such a convincing argument about it that the result was the The Bill of Rights. Without it, the Constitution would never have been ratified.

I still support libertarianism as a rule, but no longer believe the system can be fixed within itself. It is too corrupt and too far gone to save. The only solution is a new, fresh start. I don't know if it will be by a constitution or by Articles of Confederation or a gentlemans agreement to abide by the Zero Aggression Principle. But, it will be based in liberty, and it will have the results of the first great experiment to draw from.

Ol' Patrick Henry would be horribly surprised to see how much the rat has grown. The Bill of Rights is dead. And we are now cursed with a living, growing, constitutional government, without restraint.

Is it Clarie Wolfe time yet???

Friday, February 11, 2005

Bread and Circuses...

The dog and pony show continues. As the republicrats argue about what programs to cut, the overall image is still one of massive government growth. When Bush first anounced cuts in government spending, on some of the unconstituional things government spends stolen tax loot on, I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, on further inspection, the numbers don't add up (well they do, but only to the biggest government budget EVER proposed...EVER).

I was trying to figure out what this years budget was supposed to be, but could only come up with this years estimated spending, currently at $2.4 TRILLION. The new budget is 7% over that at $2.6 TRILLION. Whatever cuts Bush made, to the wholly unconstitutional programs he sees no benefit in, he added, plus a lot more, to the unconstitutional programs he sees some merit in (he says "profit", but what goverment operates at or for a profit???).

Tom Knapp noticed this...

First, some arithmetic: 2.57 is greater than 2.4, no? I'm a little fuzzy on higher math, but I think that's right. If so, then Bush's FY2006 proposal ($2.57 trillion) would appear to be larger, not smaller, than the FY2005 budget ($2.4 trillion).

Even factoring in standard economists' tricks, there's not any reasonable way to make next year's budget proposal look smaller than this year's. If we control for inflation, then we have a range of statistics from which to choose. The lowball would be the forecast increase in consumer prices for 2005 -- 2.2%. That would yield us an "infation-neutral" budget number of about $2.45 trillion. On the higher end, economic growth forecasts for 2005 run as high as 3.6%. That would give us a "not really spending more" budget figure of $2.48 trillion. Once again, do the math. My calculator insists that both of these numbers are less than $2.57 trillion -- and I don't know about you, but I trust Texas Instruments more than I trust Texas presidents. Especially Texas presidents who actually hail from Connecticut.

The second dodge I've seen is that the budget is "tighter" because it "grows less than government revenues are projected to grow." No sympathy here. If revenues are growing, then what's called for is another round of tax cuts, not an increase in spending under the pretense of tightening our belts.

Finally, there's the "as a percentage of GDP" argument -- the idea that as long as government spending goes down relative to national production, that it's a real cut. That argument isn't persuasive, because it assumes that government expenditures should scale, in some particular way, to the size of the national economy. Most of them don't. If economic production goes up, that doesn't mean that the president needs more Secret Service agents huddling around him, or that an armored division requires more tanks, or, for that matter, that the nation requires more armored divisions.

Any truthful way you cut it -- pun intended -- the FY2006 budget proposal is bigger than the FY2005 budget. So, when a Republican begins to brag, or a Democrat starts to whine, about the "budget cuts," don't believe'em.

Why we continue to put up with this (or any) bunch of lyin', cheatin', stealin' politicians is beyond me. But it should make a good country song, day.

Harry Browne also took note of the shenanigans...

The game has begun. George Bush has introduced a budget that contains "tough cuts" in programs. The Democrats are screaming, and "libertarian" Republicans are cheering Bush's courage.

But let's see what's going on. For fiscal 2005, the latest estimate is that the federal government will spend $2.4 trillion.

For fiscal 2006, the President is proposing a tough, no-nonsense, program-slashing budget of $2.6 trillion.

So with all "Bush's proposed cuts," we wind up with a federal government that's 7% larger.

In addition, we must note that the actual budget almost always exceeds the President's proposed budget – usually by several percent. So what we're hearing is the same old "we're going to . . . " that we always hear from the Republicans. The reality undoubtedly will be only a tiny fraction of what they're promising now, and more likely will be the opposite of what they're promising.

But, all together now, let's give a round of applause to President Bush for holding the increase in spending down to 7%. Isn't that exactly what we've been hoping for?

I guess not.

The whole thing is a game. Republicans pretend to cut, to appeal to free-market Republicans – and the Democrats pretend to be outraged, to appeal to their socialist supporters. In reality, nothing will actually change. It never does.

Republicans are great at two things: (1) taking credit for promises that haven't been fulfilled yet, and (2) coming up with excuses when the promises aren't fulfilled.

But ya' all keep sendin' in those dollars and box-tops. It certainly seems to be true, that "the voters get the government they deserve".

On that note...a little more on why the best government is no government, from Per Bylund...

If government is to interpret its own limitations and protect its subjects from its own actions (where not within the limits stated) the potential threat or problem is obvious. As the example of the United States shows, such a constitutional structure is likely to be used as a sanction for expanding, not binding, the powers of government.

Given that a government of men created by men can only be limited through the actions of men, the actions of government will always be the actions of the men in government. The reasons for such men not to increase their own (i.e., government’s) power are not many and not obvious. Even if the founders of government were to be relied on, it is most likely that corrupt men will aim for and become part of government at some time in the future.

Government will in time tend to serve the people acting as government rather than the people subject to government. Since government is the ultimate power in society (which, in a sense, is the purpose of government to begin with), there will be no one having the power to object to such development. And there will be no one with the power to force the unleashed government back into its limited shape.

"The Statue of Liberty is kaput!?!...That's disconcerting!!" Captain John Miller, "Saving Private Ryan"

Friday, February 04, 2005

Social Security is already bankrupt...

...I know that with the main-stream-media (MSM) spouting dates from next year to 2525 for the demise of the Social Security ponzi scheme, most of you may find this hard to believe, but, lets look at some facts.

First, there is no Social Security trust fund. It looks like there may have been, for the first three years (called the "Old-Age Reserve Account"), but, then congress figured out what a cash cow it had and ended it. The money was transferred automatically to the general fund and the intake and disbursments became, simply, an accounting entry in the treasury reports. The tax is nothing more than another "income" tax and the payments are only another entitlement program.

Despite the term “trust,” the Social Security system contains nothing that remotely resembles the common law trust. There is no segregation of assets, no equitable property rights, no private right of enforcement (all characteristics of the common law trust). It is merely a system of taxation and appropriation sprinkled with trust terms to hide its true nature.[18]

Moreover, Social Security’s Trust Fund does not operate as a trust fund does. Social Security revenues go into the Treasury’s general fund and are automatically credited to the Trust Fund in the form of Treasury bonds. The Treasury pays Social Security benefits and administrative outlays out of general revenue and debits the Trust Fund an equivalent value of bonds. Any leftover Social Security revenue finances general government operations, with an equivalent value of bonds remaining in the Trust Fund as Social Security’s “surplus;” to cover any revenue shortfalls.[19] This is how a Treasury account, not a trust fund, works. And calling a Treasury account a “trust fund” to influence public opinion does not make it one.

In all respects, then, Social Security’s Trust Fund is bogus.

Second, there are no benefits. This is a federal entitlement program which you must qualify for to receive a disbursement. All monies contributed to the 'system' are forfiet at the time of your donation. You have no further claim to them. If they had not set it up this way, it would have been bankrupt just a few years after it was 'adopted'. They will be shrinking the benefits as time goes on. At the same time they will be blaming the current workers for problems in the 'scheme'. This will pit the retired against the working, the old against the youmg and, in fact, already is causing resentment and voter battles among these groups. Remember, the art of politcs is to keep society in dishevel.

Third, the federal government does not take in enough money[sic], right now, for its own operations. There is nothing left and they have been borrowing for a long time, but in the last four years they have increased borrowing exponentially. There is nothing left and we are running on borrowed time...borrowed from our childrens future...and their childrens future. What kind of un-caring and thoughtless parents would railroad their kids in such a fashion and not own-up or try to end it?

And finally, this privatization scheme is just another fraud. By the time you factor in brokerage fees, inflation and the fact that you will be taxed again when you start withdrawing, not to mention the so-far unstated 'administation' costs of having government control all aspects of the funds, you will find that you always have less than if you had just saved it yourself or better yet bought gold and silver (the only currency that has lasted 5000 years without failing).

From "The Mogambo Guru" November 25, 2004:

- Phil Spicer, whom I was going to refer to as "my friend and pal" with the hope that he would feel obliged to buy me a tall frosty one and maybe let me come over to his house and maybe, you know, I could sort of hide out at his place for awhile until things, you know, kind of cool down, and maybe we could send out for a pizza because that would be nice, too, But he says that he prefers to be addressed by persons of my ilk as "Chairman of Central Fund of Canada Limited, listed on the Amex as CEF and Co-Chairman of Central Gold-Trust listed on the TSX as GTU.UN". Well, not only is he good at putting worthless people like me in my place, but he is also somewhat of a whiz on the calculator, and writes, "$5.89 in 2004 dollars equals the purchasing power of $1.00 in 1966."

Seeing how that kind of mathematical wizardry stuff impresses the girls, I cannot resist putting on a little of calculator magic show of my own. With a flourish I whip out my calculator, and proceed to compute that this dollar devaluation works out to, ummm, 4.77% a year. So, anyone who invested a dollar in 1966 had better get back $5.89 just to break even, in terms of buying power. And that is before tax! And since the government is going to insist on taking at least a quarter of that gain, you had better have made a hell of a lot more than 5.89% on your money!

He notes that the Dow was at about 1,000 in 1966, and that "The DJIA closed at 10,549 on 17 Nov 04, equaling 1,791 in 1966 dollars. Thus, the DJIA has advanced by 79.1% over 38 years in constant dollars."

And what is THAT inflation-adjusted return? It is a real, inflation-adjusted annual gain of 1.54%! Hahahaha! Less than 2% real return a year! Hell, the government will take more than that away in taxes! Which only proves my point: You cannot make money in the stock market over the long-term, and you have to save like hell just to be able to break even after inflation and taxes eat your guts out.

The government will control (they use the term administer) your funds and determine which stocks and bonds you may choose from. They will also control the disbursement (and you won't have any say in the matter), that is, once you meet the Social Security qualifications.

All of this looks like they are trying to prop up the stock and bond markets with private funds. I think the "Plunge Protection Team" can't keep up with the wildly swinging markets (they are swinging wildly because manipulation always leads to unintended consquences and a progresively harder to control market).

Todd Andrew Barnett, over at the Liberty for All website covers more of this...

Once upon a time, Republicans held the high moral ground on the belief that the state should stay out of the economic and social affairs of the American people. That even includes their belief that government ought to get out of the retirement business. But that was only an aberration. By and large, Republicans have never supported economic and personal liberty on a grand scale, and they never will.

If people haven’t caught on by now, they ought to understand that Social Security must die. Along with many other government programs, departments, and machinations, retirement is the responsibility of an individual – not the state. Whether Americans want to acknowledge it or not, it’s time to get back on the fast track to individual liberty, personal responsibility, free enterprise, private charity, limited government, federalism, and the rule of law.

It’s time for Americans to jettison the ever-growing amount of socialism here in America and bring back the principles of libertarianism, which made this country so special and revered. And Americans will continue to do that in the years to come.

More here...

Such schemes are not just criminal in the moral sense, but also in the Constitutional sense...

In 1794, James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, wrote disapprovingly of a $15,000 appropriation for French refugees saying, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." This vision was restated even more forcefully on the floor of the House of Representatives two years later by William Giles of Virginia, who condemned a relief measure for fire victims. Giles insisted that it was neither the purpose nor the right of Congress to "attend to what generosity and humanity require, but to what the Constitution and their duty require."

In 1854, President Franklin Pierce vetoed a bill intended to help the mentally ill championed by the renowned 19th-century social reformer Dorothea Dix. In the face of scathing criticism, President Pierce said, "I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity." To approve such spending, President Pierce added, "would be contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded."

President Grover Cleveland was the king of the veto. He vetoed literally hundreds of congressional spending bills during his two terms as President in the late 1800s. His reason, as he often said: "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution."

Many Americans erroneously believe that the Constitution's "general welfare" clause serves as justification for congressional spending on anything they can muster a majority vote. That surely wasn't the vision of the Framers. In 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." Specifically enumerated referred to the listing of congressional authorization found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. James Madison elaborated on this limitation in a letter to James Robertson: "[W]ith respect to the two words "general welfare," I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." -- From "How Did We Get Here?" by Walter E. Williams

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Liberty and Democracy are incompatible...

We are not and never have been a democracy. Our system of government was set up as a republic. Unfortunately it had too many democratic chromosomes to survive very long. The republic died with the civil war. Since then we have become a socialist democratic republic. The Constitution is violated on a daily basis by the very government officials sworn to protect it. And not content with demonstrating to the world again, that democracies will not protect the rights of individuals, we have undertaken to spread democracy throughout the world, thereby contaminating other cultures and economic systems with the cancerous socialism of democratic government.

Gunner sends us to this article which decribes what liberty is ( I think many of you have no clue...)

To clear the decks, let me say right off the bat, that freedom is NOT the same as democracy. In fact, democracy can be shown to be inimical to freedom.

The counting of heads, or the will of the majority, in no way protects or guarantees freedom. In fact, freedom can be utterly obliterated under democracy--as the rise of Hitler's National Socialist Workers Party did prove.

So let's forget about democracy, and concentrate on freedom.

I'm all for spreading freedom around the world--but before you can do that, you need to understand exactly what it is.

Can freedom be defined in one sentence, one phrase, or one word? Is it possible to define freedom in a way that will eliminate confusion?

I believe there is. The foundation of freedom is the principle of "self ownership."

More here...

And...from "Democratic Dictatorships"...

Democracy has failed as a system of government, it has failed to protect the natural rights of the individual, it has failed to maintain a free enterprise system and it has failed to provide rule of law based upon objective justice. Democratic systems have become dominated by cartels formed between political parties, corporations and special interests that corrupt the system and turn the "law" into a weapon of exploitation and petty tyranny. Because democracy always leads to mob rule, no one's rights are safe, in its purest form, direct democracy leads to the passions of the mob overwhelming the rights of minorities, while the Republican system of representative democracy results in powerful special interests seizing power and running roughshod over the rights of individuals. The most corrupting effect of this system is the institutionalization of crimes against natural human rights, a system where the "law" is used as an instrument of theft, oppression and murder against those who exercise their rights in ways counter to the interests of those in power. Under the cult of democracy, any legislation, any program, any action which has the stamp of approval from the voters is seen as sacrosanct. This leads to an almost complete suppression of any meaningful public debate that questions the foundations of the democratic system itself. The public debate then becomes, how to go about plundering the world to serve the interests of those who compete for power.
More here...

Thomas Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia, stated: "One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one....An elective despotism was not the government we fought for.