Monday, May 30, 2011

Revolution, day 4 - Monetary Policy

I know, just the very words, "Monetary Policy" make my brain hurt and my eyes glaze over... however, this area is a fundamentally important area of politics to understand. Ron Paul breaks it down and makes it easily digestible.

He states, "The Constitution is clear about the monetary powers of the federal government. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to maintain the value of the dollar by making only gold and silver legal tender and not to 'emit bills of credit.'"

Throughout most of American history, the value of the dollar has been tied to gold - the value of $20 was one ounce of gold. Contrast that today, when we have paper money not tied to any commodity and one ounce of gold will cost you $1537.82. That's some serious inflation. If your great-grandfather had worked very hard for almost 4 days and managed to make $20 in 1930 and then shoved it under a mattress, you can see how devalued that money is when your find it after flipping his mattress 81 years later. What took him 4 days to earn, most people make in an hour. So inflation has stolen 3 days and 7 hours of labor from your great-grandfather. It's insidious and allowing it to happen or worse, causing it to happen, is theft - plain and simple.

So how does inflation happen? Why can't we still buy gold for $20 an ounce? or a Coke for a nickel like our grandparents did? When we untied the dollar from the price of gold and created the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913, inflation was inevitable. At this point in time, the Fed can create money, literally out of thin air, it doesn't even need a printing press. In fact, no one knows how much money the Fed has actually created. We literally have no idea how many dollars are out there! It then loans this newly created money to banks that eventually loan it to us. The more money in existence, the less valuable each dollar is. Consider this, if you have the only $30,000,000 winning Lotto ticket, your ticket is worth $30,000,000. But if 30,000,000 other people have one, yours is worth $1. The Fed is printing winning lotto tickets each time it creates money from nothing, devaluing the dollar you have in your pocket.

Inflation may seem somewhat harmless if wages rise with prices, but they don't. Wages lag behind prices. Also, the money goes to the banks and investment house first. So they and their cronys get the money before prices rise. For those at the top, wages rise before prices, but for the rest of us, the opposite is true. Also, consider the destructive effect inflation has on savings. If you put a dollar in the bank, even with the measly interest the bank may pay you, by the time you withdraw the $1 it will no longer be able to buy what it did when you deposited it. That's why inflation is theft.

The Fed decreases interest rates to create money. In doing so, it distorts the market forces and tells everyone participating in the economy that now would be a good time to borrow and spend, not save. So everyone, acting in their own best interest, borrows and spends. To save money at a time of very low interest rates makes no sense at all. All this borrowing and spending adds up and creates an artificial "boom" which eventually "busts" when the cheap money runs out. So not only does the Fed create inflation, therefore stealing, it also creates boom and bust cycles, destroying even more of people's hard earned wealth.

It's time to "End the Fed" and let the market set interest rates. Banks know how much money they have to lend. When they need more, they will raise interest rates so you'll deposit more. When they have too much, they'll decrease interest rates so you'll stop depositing and start borrowing. They will give clear and truthful signals to all the people participating in the economy as to whether it's a good time to borrow and invest in the future, or save and wait for another day to build that new factory. We would escape the damaging boom and bust cycles and people would be treated like grown-ups and given accurate information as to how to proceed.

The Bible says, "Let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no.'" This means, above all, be honest! Give people the dignity they deserve and tell them the truth. Do not try to mislead them or insult their intelligence with a vapid, "Trust us, we know what we're doing." Give people correct information and let them have the dignity of making their own decisions based on facts. The Fed distorts this basic principle when it distorts the market. It lies to people, so they make decisions based on bad information and eventually the whole house of cards comes crashing down. The poorest are always hurt the worst and the rich, who got theirs first, go on their merry way. This is the perfect example of the rich oppressing the poor and it is wrong.

End the Fed!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Revolution, day 3 - Civil Liberties and Personal Freedom

Ron Paul is a big supporter of abolishing the Patriot Act. I agree with him up to a point that our government has gone too far in curtailing our personal liberties in the name of the War on Terror. The recent decision by the TSA to begin groping airline passengers really put me over the top. What happened to the fourth amendment and illegal searches and seizures? Simple flying on a plane does not make you a suspect of a crime, so you should not have to be subjected to such a dehumanizing search. This becomes especially clear when you have young teen daughters. I do NOT want them being groped by anyone! They are not terrorists and the government has absolutely no reason to suspect that they are. For the same reason, I disagree with a lot of the other procedures put into place by the TSA, but I am willing to put up with a modicum of intrusion for the illusion of safety, but this is too far.

And it is an illusion of safety. They waste our time, money and energy searching for the terrorist they never find. Not once. It's not because terrorists are not boarding our planes, they are. It's just that for all the billions of dollars thrown to the TSA, they have yet to catch a single terrorist as he boards. They have however confiscated untold numbers of shampoo bottles.

Paul loses me when he comes to the part about holding or releasing prisoners at Gitmo. He believes we need to charge them or let them go. That's not how wars are fought. They declared war on us. They are not in uniform. They do not deserve the benefits of the Geneva Convention or our own Constitution. Let those benefits be reserved for those nation that engage in an honest, open war with us. For terrorists, they asked for this fight. They can sit it out if they are caught.

He continues in his libertarian vein in his discussion on the War on Drugs. After going into the history of drug illegalization, he makes a strong case for the advocates to either pass an amendment to the Constitution or make drugs legal. I'm with him 100% on this. When we try to make the immoral illegal, we run into trouble. The failed period of Prohibition proves that. Alcohol use did not fall at all during Prohibition, but only led to increased mafia-led crime. At the least the leaders of that movement had the integrity to convince Americans of their cause first and pass an amendment to the Constitution. The drug war has been created by fiat by our government based on bad science.

My biggest complaint about the War on Drugs is the horrific effects it has on law-abiding citizens. We must tolerate urban cities with rampant crime, children being shot by drug dealers for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, a narco-state right on our border, prisons that hold more drug offenders than all other criminals put together, people with serious life-threatening diseases denied potentially helpful drugs because they have been deemed illegal, and a whole sub-culture that sees dealing drugs as the best way to a successful life. Can people sitting in their own homes, getting high, be any worse than what we are already experiencing? I don't believe so.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Revolution, day 2 - Economic Freedom

"Economic freedom is based on a simple moral rule: everyone has a right to his or her life and property, and on one has the right to deprive anyone of these things." And while almost everyone agrees with that statement, we let our government get away with stealing from someone their rightfully earned money to give to someone who has no claim upon it other than "need."

And yes, it's stealing. And it violates the Biblical commandment against stealing. And when you vote to tax your neighbor (or "the rich"), you are complicit in the theft.

Frederic Bastiat, a political and economic writer calls the state, "the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." Imagine a world where we all lived at our own expense, rather than constantly trying to get someone else to support us. Do we not realize that we have the money to support ourselves, it's just that we send it to our government, who launders it, takes a chunk off the top, and then sends back a pittance?

Imagine also a world where people keep every dollar they earn, but also realize that they are responsible for their fellow humans. To see a person in need is not to direct them to the nearest government agency, but to dig deep in their own pocket and give of themselves and their own resources. It is to live out the Biblical model of providing for the widows and orphans, not the worldly model of holding a gun to your neighbor's head to make him take care of them. To steal from your fellow citizens to provide for the needy is to steal not only their money, but the life-affirming, soul-enriching opportunity to serve another. We steal our own humanity when we give every need a government solution.

Could we do it? Could we abolish the income tax and take a 40% hit to the U.S. treasury? All we would have to do is dust off a budget from 10 years ago. Could Americans meet the needs of their fellow Americans in dire straits? Well we did for the first 150 years of our country's history. We are a generous people with strong Judeo-Christian beliefs that lead us to be the most giving nation in the world.

Not only can we do it, we HAVE to do it. Entitlements are destroying not only our budget, but our soul. With more and more Americans holding out their hands and demanding what is "rightfully" theirs, our country is rapidly heading into insolvency, and Americans are rapidly losing our desire to be grown ups and take care of ourselves. We simply CANNOT keep doing what we have been doing. We have got to stop this train. Every dollar a politician receives, he will spend... twice. That is not sustainable. We need to stop sending them money.

In addition, the income tax makes Americans slaves of the government. We are forced to work for the first 6 months of the year and then hand over our hard-earned income to our government masters. Being forced to provide free labor is slavery no matter what kind of language and institutions it is couched in.

True freedom does not exist without economic freedom.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

No Clowning Around on This Issue

Esther Cepeda takes issue in her latest article with those who would go after McDonalds for using a child-friendly clown to sell junk food. She doesn't believe the clown is the problem since "No child give a hoot about clowns. Thsee days, clowns' grotesquely frightening imagery belongs to John Wayne Gacy, hard-core hip-hoppers the Insane Clown Posse and "The Simpsons" Krusty the clown."

On this point, we are in agreement. Clowns top the list of my "Seven Irrational Fears."

She does take McDonalds to task however for making their food appeal to children, decrying their mareketing campaigns "aimed at seducing children into 'lovin'' food that should be allowed to pass their lips only as a very special treat."

Good grief! Has this woman ever fed a child on a regular basis? Does she limit her children to lean meats and veggies at EVERY meal with the exception of the very rare fast-food junket? Really?

For those of us that actually feed children regularly, I for one, do not disparage the overworked, overtired, harried, on-the-go mom who makes a quick stop on her way to some sort of practice for a Happy Meal.

Go mom!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Revolution by Ron Paul

I like Ron Paul. I really like Ron Paul. This book has cemented that fact for me.

I know, I know, I've heard the standard criticism. "He's out there. He's a kook. He's an isolationist. He wants to legalize drugs." But read this book and get beyond the rhetoric thrown at him. He makes a lot of sense.

Ron Paul would unite Americans under a banner of liberty, whether it's the liberty of homeschoolers or anti-war activists. He would return us to the days of self-governance which appeals to a broad swath of Americans. It's part of our inherant DNA. We live and breath liberty, but that has been lost as more and more do-gooders want to take away your liberty "for your own good."

He seeks a return to the foreign policy of our Founding Fathers - "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." We should be the example, the "city on a hill" to be a model to look up to for peoples everywhere to strive for. We are not the world's policeman and we need the humily to understand that we cannot impose our values on others. As to the charge of being an isolationist, he quotes Henry Clay, "By the policy to which we have adhered since the days of Washington... we have done more for the cause of liberty than arms could effect; we have shown to other nations the way to greatness and happiness...Far better is it for ourselves... and the cause of liberty, that, adhering to our pacific system and avoid the distant wars of Europe..." Rather, Ron Paul states, he is not an isolationist, but a noninterventionist. It is the interventionist that seeks to send out military around the world (currently we have soldiers stationed in 130 countries!) using force to impose our views. This has not led to a more peaceful world, but a decidedly more dangerous one. Even if you disagree, this is a debate we have not had. We simply debate which foreign country to invade next.

Ron Paul understands the power of written Constitution with an onerous method of changing it. A "living" constitution is a dead constitution in that it has no power, but is constantly evolving to be whatever the powers that be want it to be. Our Constitution must stand as written and if changes are to be made, hearts and minds of Americans must be changed first. We must have consensus not dictates from unelected judges ruling from on high. Think of all the controversial problems we face today like abortion, gay marriage, or the role of the federal government. When these issues are decided by unelected, and unaccountable judges based on a new interpretation of the Constitution, turmoil remains in the country. No consensus has been reached, nor will it ever if the American people see themselves as beggars at the table of the government. Both sides will continue to fight to sway the government this way or that rather than reaching across to their fellow American and convince them with sound arguments.

More on REVOLUTION as I