Israel's Foreign Minister has warned Benjamin Netanyahu that the governing coalition will fall part if the Prime Minister doesn't take punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority for its decision to bid for independent statehood at the United Nations. A report in Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper claims that Avigdor Lieberman has demanded that Netanyahu responds to the unilateral Palestinian step by cancelling the Oslo Accords, annexing the large West Bank settlement blocs and withholding tax transfers to the Authority.
Earlier reports said that Lieberman had threatened the Palestinians with "very serious" consequences in the event of a UN vote in favour of an independent state. Israel, claimed Lieberman, "won't stand still" if a Palestinian state is recognised by the UN. Lieberman's deputy, Danny Ayalon, backed the call for punitive measures, although he expects the UN to reject the Palestinian application.
According to Netanyahu's deputy, Silvan Shalom, the Palestinian bid constitutes a violation of the agreements signed between the two sides.
To Occupy Wall Street:
Wall Street couldn’t have done it alone. It takes a government and/or its central bank, the Federal Reserve System, to:
Create barriers to entry for the purpose of sheltering existing banks from competition and radical innovation, then "regulate" for the benefit of the privileged industry;
Issue artificially cheap, economy-distorting credit in order to, among other things, give banks incentives to make shaky but profitable mortgage loans (and also to grease the war machine through deficit spending);
Make it lucrative for banks—and their bonus-collecting executives—to bundle thousands of shaky mortgages into securities and other derivatives with the knowledge that government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other companies, all subject to powerful congressmen looking for campaign contributions, would buy them after a government-licensed rating cartel scores them AAA;
Inflate an unsustainable housing bubble by the foregoing and other methods, enticing people to foolishly overinvest in real estate;
Work closely with lending companies to establish a variety of programs designed to lure people with few resources or bad credit into buying houses they couldn’t afford;
Attract workers to the home-construction bubble, setting them up for long-term unemployment when the bubble inevitably burst;
Implicitly guarantee big financial companies and/or their creditors that if they get into trouble they would be rescued;
Compel the taxpayers to bail out those companies and/or creditors when the roof finally fell in.
No bank or group of banks could do these things on its own in a freed market. It takes a government-Wall Street partnership—the corporate state—to create such misery and exploitation.
So demonstrators, you are right. Something is dreadfully wrong. But your list of culprits is far from complete. So go ahead and protest outside Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. But also spend some time outside the White House, the Fed, the Treasury, and the Capitol Building. Together they are responsible for our current economic woes. These are the entities that control our fate and over which we have no real say. It's time for things to change.
Greed without political power is boorish. Greed with political power is dangerous.
The freed market is the alternative to what you properly despise.
From A Man for All Seasons by Robert Boldt:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Government power ultimately will be influenced and controlled by those whom the occupiers despise. So, protesters, rail against Wall Street. But rail, too, against its indispensable partner – government, with its unique legal power to wield aggressive force – and realize that the genuine antipode of the system you oppose is the freed market.
A human catastrophe is taking place in Somalia, the result of drought, famine — and the savage war conducted by the Obama administration, complete with a CIA training facility and prison....
The catastrophe is often attributed to natural conditions, but neighboring areas are not experiencing the same threat.
The difference is Obama’s war. In the guise of fighting terrorism the U.S. government, beginning under George W. Bush and continuing with a vengeance under the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama, has turned Somalia into a hellhole. If Americans knew what was happening in their name, they would hang their heads in shame. Or would they?
Read the full op-ed: "Peace Prize-Winner Obama Savages Somalia" here.
I understand Rush Limbaugh has nominated George W. Bush for the next vacancy on Mount Rushmore because “the United States” has not been attacked since 9/11. Okay, if you ignore the fact that more Americans have been killed in aggressive foreign wars since 9/11 than were killed on the day the World Trade Center and Pentagon were hit and that Osama bin Laden got what he was after: American imperial overreach and a financial hemorrhage that won’t be stanched.
President Obama’s jobs program calls for cuts in both sides of the payroll tax. That tax finances Social Security and Medicare. Social Security and Medicare are already taking in less money than they need to pay retirees. So they will have to cash in more of the Treasury IOUs left behind when previous surpluses were used to finance general expenditures. But the Treasury is also already running a trillion-dollar-plus deficit. So it will have to borrow more in the capital markets in order to pay back the Social Security and Medicare funds. Unless Obama makes up the lost revenue by changing the tax code. But then money will be withdrawn from the economy in the form of higher taxes so it can be put back into the economy through the payroll-tax cut. Somehow that’s supposed to stimulate the economy.
Got all that? There’ll be a quiz later.
Ron Paul’s position on what I’ll call unauthorized immigration—or immigration sans government permission--is indeed strange. He calls for “secure borders” but opposes employer sanctions, Real ID, and a border wall (which he says could be used to keep people in as well as out). He also minimizes the importance of unauthorized immigration by saying it wouldn’t be such an issue if the economy were healthy (people are worried about jobs now) and the welfare state didn’t exist.
That odd mix leads me to wonder if Ron Paul is actually for open borders but doesn’t want to say it. (He was for open borders when he was the Libertarian Party nominee for president in 1988.) True, there are arguments against my speculation. His website says, “A nation without borders is no nation at all,” he’s against birthright citizenship, and he opposes amnesty, which it claims “will only encourage more law-breaking.” (I oppose amnesty too. There’s no need to forgive people for doing what they have a perfect right to do.)
But can one really be against unauthorized immigration if one opposes steps that seem necessary to even begin to stop it? Who wills the end, wills the means, it is said.
Hence my suspicion that Ron Paul secretly favors open borders. That may be the good news. The bad news is that if it is so, it doesn’t speak well of the candidate. Why not say what you think—that people, no matter where they were born, have a natural right to move in freedom? Imagine what a splash he would make with such a statement at a debate.
What does he have to lose? He's not even running for reelection to Congress.
[Cleveland] and its sponsors intended it not as a celebration of leisure but as a promotion of the great American work ethic. Work, they believed, was the highest calling in life, and Labor Day was a reminder to get back to it. It was placed at the end of summer to declare an end to the season of indolence, and also to distance it from May Day, the spring event that had become a symbol of the radical labor movement.I note that Wikipedia says:
Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 after the [Pullman] strike when President Grover Cleveland and Congress made appeasement of organized labor a top priority. Legislation for the holiday was pushed through Congress six days after the strike ended. Samuel Gompers, head of American Federation of Labor, which had sided with the government in its effort to end the strike by the American Railway Union, spoke out in favor of the holiday.As Russell writes:
When President Cleveland signed Labor Day into existence in 1884, the conservative American Federation of Labor endorsed the new holiday. In deliberate contrast to “slackers,” union members used their government-approved day off to march in their work clothes alongside floats showing off the tools of their trades. They carried signs declaring the “honor” and “nobility” of work. Labor Day marches were praised by the press as “sober, clean, quiet” demonstrations of “the honest American workingman.”Bottom line: Labor was being co-opted with promises of a junior partnership in the corporate state long before the New Deal and National Labor Relations Act.
Michael Lind writes at Salon.com: “Having denounced liberals as crypto communists for half a century during the Cold War, the American right now routinely accuses the center-left of being fascist.” Lind goes on to wonder why “American conservatives and libertarians” have avoided discussion of their own “heroes” who seem to have been soft on fascists. He specifically mentions Ludwig von Mises’s remarks about the Italian Fascists in the 1920s (in his book Liberalism) and F. A. Hayek’s and Milton Friedman’s alleged approval of Augusto Pinochet’s “free market” dictatorship in Chile.
The first thing I want to say is that by putting libertarianism on the right and linking it with conservatism, Lind indicates that his knowledge of the libertarian movement is rather superficial. Philosophically the differences are too fundamental to permit such a mistake in a conscientious observer. If libertarianism belongs anywhere, it is on the left.
Lind’s article contains much to comment on, but here I want to make just one or two points. Even if Mises, Hayek, and Friedman really approved of fascist regimes (one can disagree with them while maintaining that things aren’t quite so simple), it would take more than that to indict libertarianism. Lind never explains why this alleged record doesn’t merely reflect on the particular named individuals who for one reason or another departed from their stated libertarian principles.
After all, what is there in libertarianism that would incline an adherent to feel the least sympathy for fascist dictators? Certainly nothing obvious.
The closest Lind gets to answering that question is his pointing out that libertarians dislike democracy, the implication being that one who dislikes democracy necessarily likes autocracy. That’s a strange argument indeed, as Roderick Long points out here. As Long writes, “[L]ibertarians don’t oppose democracy (in the conventional sense) because they hanker after autocracy; they oppose democracy because it is too much like autocracy.”
It’s not as though there are no alternatives to democracy and autocracy. How about market anarchism, where majorities don’t rule minorities and minorities don’t rule majorities? And libertarian minarchists can say to Lind that they accept democratic decision-making but only in the smallest area necessary, while otherwise opposing rule by both majorities and minorities.
Lind commits a major gaffe by taking democracy at face value; it seems not to have occurred to him that democracy might not be exactly what it is purported to be. Indeed, it has long been argued that a façade of majoritarianism typically masks a form of aristocracy, or minority rule. The historian Edmund Morgan refers to this as the fiction of representation. I discuss Morgan’s thesis here.
Had Lind not swallowed the civics-book hype and understood that democracy is not actually rule by the people, he might have sized libertarianism up differently.
While inflation hawks understandably keep a close watch on the Federal Reserve’s money-creation activities, an equally worrisome Fed activity is taking place right under their noses. Under cover of addressing the financial crisis and recession, the Fed has become the central allocator of credit.
As San Jose State University economics professor Jeffrey Rogers Hummel points out in The Independent Review (Spring 2011), Fed chairman Ben Bernanke “has so expanded the Fed’s discretionary actions beyond merely controlling the money stock that it has become a gigantic, financial central planner.... [T]he Fed that emerged from the crisis is no longer the same as the Fed before the crisis.”
Read the full op-ed, "Federal Reserve Grabs New Powers."
My latest TGIF laments that libertarians haven't emphasized social cooperation, a la Mises, instead of individualism and self-reliance.
Media message to candidates: It's okay to oppose government spending and debt, but if you oppose war and empire, we'll marginalize the crap out of you.
My take on the morality of paying government bondholders is here.
We libertarians must be onto something. Why else would critics work so hard to construct straw men to demolish rather than contending with our actual arguments?
Right from the top you could tell that Stephen Metcalf’s recent blast in Slate would be no different.
Despite President Obama’s trumpeted force drawdown in Afghanistan, by the end of next summer more than twice as many U.S. troops will be fighting in that country’s civil war as there were when he became president in 2009. His soothing words notwithstanding, a force of about 70,000 will remain there at least until the end of 2014. We can be sure, however, that that won’t stop the president from campaigning for reelection on a peace platform.
President Obama apparently thinks that until the latest recession, no business realized it might reduce its workforce by substituting machines and other high-tech devices. When asked by NBC’s Ann Curry why he hasn’t been able to convince business owners to hire more people (as if the question makes any sense), Obama explained:
There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.
It is astounding to hear Obama invoke the old argument that technological advances create permanent idleness among workers. I haven’t heard that one in years.
Read the full TGIF here.
Let's trade faux polarization, which only serves the interests of power, for the real McCoy.
Carson’s article, “The Distorting Effects of Transportation Subsidies,” appeared in the November 2010 issue of The Freeman. It was selected from a list of five nominees by an outside panel of judges who knew and worked with Beth Hoffman for many years.
The prize consists of $2,000 and a plaque. A plaque will also be displayed at FEE’s headquarters, with the name of the new winner added each year.
The upshot of Carson’s winning article is that “subsidies to transportation have probably done more than any other factor (with the possible exception of intellectual property law) to determine the present shape of the American corporate economy. Currently predominating firm sizes and market areas are the result of government subsidies to transportation.”
Beth Hoffman (1950-2008) was the long-time managing editor of The Freeman, having joined the foundation staff in the 1970s. She also edited books, pamphlets and other materials. Over the years FEE supporters and seminar students came to know her as the friendly face or voice on the telephone ever ready to assist anyone seeking to learn the freedom philosophy.
Carson is an independent scholar and a public intellectual, whose books include Studies in Mutualist Political Economy; Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective; and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto. He is also a research associate with the Center for a Stateless Society and a prolific op-ed writer. He blogs at Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism.
Three honorable mentions were also named:James C. W. Ahiakpor, "Paying the Unemployed Does Not Stimulate an Economy" (December); Warren C. Gibson,"GDP: Who Needs It?" (May); and Chidem Kurdas, "Financial Regulation Snake Oil" (September).