Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Maybe it’s too much to hope for rational economic thinking among Louisiana and Mississippi government officials, but residents in those hurricane-stricken areas ought to hope that their politicians don’t follow the lead of Hawaii politicians and bureaucrats, who recently imposed price controls on gasoline, which will inevitably produce shortages, long lines, angry tempers, and nasty words hurled at OPEC. All too often, political rulers believe that they can simply repeal the laws of supply and demand.
The price system is nothing more than the intricate message-sending part of the free market. Skyrocketing prices send an urgent message to consumers: “Conserve!” and they (along with the prospect of high profits) send an equally urgent message to suppliers: “Supply!”
When government officials impose mandatory price controls, they screw up this intricate messaging system. By enforcing artificially low prices, the wrong message is sent to consumers: “No need to conserve,” and the wrong message is sent to suppliers: “No need to supply.”
Unfortunately, all too many politicians and bureaucrats don’t understand this basic and critically important principle of the free-enterprise system. Their reliance on Soviet-style economic interventions, especially in times of crisis, is one more “testament” to public schooling, another government enterprise, where this type of economic nonsense is taught.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Not surprisingly, President Bush has announced that the federal government is sending federal money to the Hurricane Katrina victims, thereby reinforcing the federal government’s role as national welfare daddy.
Isn’t it amazing that our American ancestors rejected any such welfare, paternalistic role for the federal government, correctly recognizing that such a role entails nothing more than using the federal taxing power to take from Peter to give to Paul? As President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, put it when he vetoed a farm bill that attempted to give federal aid to Texas farmers who were suffering under a drought, it is not a rightful role for the federal government to support the people in such a way.
Not only is such coercive redistribution of wealth immoral, it also weakens the moral fiber of the citizenry. Our ancestors correctly understood that when disaster befalls people, they grow stronger and heartier when they’re forced to confront it without the so-called safety net of the federal government. Equally important, the lack of such a federal “safety net” encourages a sense of responsibility in people in terms of purchasing insurance or living further away from high-risk areas or else taking responsibility for the consequences if they fail to do so. Depending on the federal government and its coercive IRS-welfare, plunder-redistribution schemes only encourages irresponsibility.
Finally, there is the important role that voluntary charity plays in disasters such as this. Charity means nothing unless it comes from the willing heart of an individual. Federal disaster relief, being based on IRS-welfare-state coercion, is completely opposite to voluntary charity. The fact that President Bush is helping the disaster victims with federal money does not reflect that he or any other federal bureaucrat, including those from the IRS, are good and caring and compassionate. It simply means that the federal government now has the power to take money from people, through the coercive taxing power of the IRS, and give it to others, thereby enabling federal politicians and bureaucrats to claim how good and caring they are, especially on reelection day.
Our ancestors had it right: Leave people free to keep everything they earn (i.e., no income tax) and decide what to do with it — save, invest, spend, or donate — and prohibit the federal government from serving as national welfare daddy, even in the midst of disaster.
Monday, August 29, 2005
An increasing number of commentators are questioning why the Democratic members of Congress are not opposing Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. In my opinion, the answer is twofold:
First, in the run-up to the war in what has to be one of the most cowardly acts in political history, Democrats (unconstitutionally) delegated their power to declare war on Iraq to the president because congressional elections were coming up and Democrats were more fearful about losing reelection for not being “patriotic” than they were about those infamous WMD that Bush was scaring everybody with.
Second, when those infamous WMD failed to materialize, Bush cleverly morphed his invasion and occupation into a welfare mission, one which purported to use the federal government to take care of the Iraqi people—ousting their dictator and rebuilding their nation because they supposedly lacked the competence, intelligence, and will to do so. Thus, once Bush recast his war in welfare-state lingo, it was not surprising that Hillary Clinton, along with other leftists, would combine with the conservatives to justify a war against a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. And what about the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, not to mention the 1,800 U.S. soldiers, who have been killed and maimed in this “welfare” mission? Well, as that supreme leftist Joseph Stalin pointed out, one cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Another example of what the military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned us against, has done to our country is provided by Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. According to the New York Times, Thune, a freshman U.S. Senator, “can finally breathe easy” because his political career has been saved. How so? Because Ellsworth Air Force Base, located in Thune’s state of South Dakota, has been saved from closure despite the fact that the Pentagon had recommended shutting it down. Thune, who the Times described as “wrung out” over the fact that his career was on the line, said, “It lifts a heavy burden. It is a huge sense of relief.”
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, what Thune was worried about was that South Dakota voters would oust him from office if he lacked the political influence to keep a military base, even an unnecessary one, within the state. Like U.S. military bases all over the world, the military industrial complex, led by the Pentagon, has over the decades produced a mindset of military-welfare dependency among the American people. And so when a congressman or a senator fails to bring home (or keep home) the federal bacon, many voters say, “How effective are you? Other representative and senators have influence. We want our share of the IRS money that has been taken from us.”
Of course, the military-welfare part of this plunder type of system is only one half of the welfare-dependency problem. The other half is the domestic welfare, where voters have become dependent on the federal pork largess that they expect their representatives and senators to bring home for the trough. See, for example, my recent article “Virginia Politicians and Highway Pork,” which describes how the domestic welfare system has created a system in which the IRS takes our money and how U.S. congressmen (i.e., Democrat Rick Boucher of Virginia) and U.S. Senators (i.e., Republicans John Warner and George Allen of Va.) expect voters to judge them on the basis of how much of the federal pork they bring home to local and state politicians.
The entire system is corrupt to the core. But given the dependency mindset that the federal government has engendered among the American people, it’s not surprising that federal politicians feel that their political careers will be judged by how much federal bacon is brought home and placed in the local trough for feeding.
Ultimately, it’s up to us — the American people — to reject this corrupt and destructive system and to restore the values of self-reliance, can-do, and independence that characterized our ancestors. Federal politicians will get the message when Americans send it.
Friday, August 26, 2005
USA Today has an article today entitled “Foreign Markets Leave U.S. in the Dust,” which points out that much of the world is prospering economically while the United States is languishing.
As we have been pointing out for so long, economic stagnation is the price of empire and perpetual war — it always has been and always will be. Yes — it accomplishes the goal of Big Government, which many conservatives and leftists now favor — but the economic cost (the cost in terms of death and destruction is something else) is paid by most of us in the private sector in terms of less income, less savings, less consumption, and less investment.
This is what the federal government’s foreign policy, including the Iraq adventure and the perpetual “war on terrorism” have brought to our nation: anger and hatred among the people of the world, terrorist attacks — including those on the WTC in 1993 and 2001, invasions of independent and sovereign countries, attacks on civil liberties, out-of-control federal spending, debasement of the currency, a perpetual color-code, warlike atmosphere, continuous fear, divisions and uncivil relationships among the citizenry, and anger and resentment toward foreigners.
What’s important is that it doesn’t have to be that way, unless Americans resign themselves to Big Government.
By dismantling the U.S. Empire, bringing all U.S. troops home from overseas and discharging them into the private sector, ending foreign aid and foreign interventions, and by dismantling the U.S. military-industrial complex here at home, and by dismantling America’s socialist and interventionist domestic programs (i.e., the drug war, Social Security, Medicare, income taxation, etc.) Americans would restore our nation’s founding principles and our nation’s rightful role in the world — establishing a model society of freedom, one based on individual liberty, economic prosperity, and harmonious relationships with the people of the world.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
A few cities with military bases around the country are celebrating the federal base-closing commission’s decision to overrule the Pentagon’s plans to close bases in those areas. The celebration only goes to show what the tentacles of the military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned us about, have done to the people of our nation. Never mind that the bases are unnecessary from a military standpoint. What matters is that Americans have become dependent on the military welfare — as dependent as those on food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, and other non-military welfare.
Not only is both military and non-military welfare akin to a narcotic that creates a sense of government dependency among people, it has the unseen consequence relating to what Americans would have done with the money that was taken from them to pay for other people’s welfare. That is, the federal government does not have a fountain of wealth and it doesn’t produce wealth. The only source of its welfare funds is the income and savings of the American people.
If people weren’t being taxed to fund the welfare, they would have used that money for consumption, savings, or investment, which would have brought increased jobs in those sectors. That would mean that those who are currently dependent on the military welfare would find alternative employment in those sectors.
Thus, by ending the military welfare, there is a doubly positive economic effect: Those who are currently having their money taken from them would now be putting it to positive use in the private sector. And those who are currently dependent on the government welfare would also be producing in the private sector rather than living off the welfare that is being funded by their fellow citizens.
Alas, however, as long as politicians and bureaucrats are gaining political advantage (i.e., votes, praise, and acclaim) by using government to tax the many to give government welfare to the few, dependency on government and barriers to economic prosperity will continue.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Advisory: For those who would like to continue operating under the unreality that the Iraqi people are now free, given the U.S. ouster and arrest of Saddam Hussein, you might not want to read the following excerpts from Sunday’s Washington Post:
“Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country’s divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.”
“In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents have said they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.” >
“The parties and their armed wings sometimes operate independently, and other times as part of Iraqi army and police units trained and equipped by the United States and Britain and controlled by the central government. Their growing authority has enabled them to control territory, confront their perceived enemies and provide patronage to their followers.”
Add the contribution that the Pentagon has made to this climate of “freedom” in Iraq: warrantless searches and seizures; arbitrary arrests and indefinite detentions; gun control; tens of thousands of collaterally damage killed and maimed; censorship; and torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of prisoners.
And for those who would like to continue operating under the unreality that a new constitution is going to bring even more freedom to Iraq, don’t read today’s lead editorial in Iraq, which points out:
“Right now, however, the Iraqi Assembly is dickering over a constitution draft that would not accomplish any of the American goals…. It’s an outcome that would make the violent religious extremists very happy.”
Think about all this “freedom” in Iraq the next time you hear someone say that U.S. soldiers are killing and dying for freedom in Iraq or, more perversely, to keep us free here at home.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Last year noted libertarian author Anthony Gregory wrote an article entitled “A Libertarian in Berkeley” in which he mentioned that an article I wrote entitled “The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent” is posted on the walls of an eating establishment at Berkeley named Top Dog.
Now, it just so happens that of all the articles I have written for the past 17 years, “The White Rose” is my favorite. It details the efforts of Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were brother and sister, to oppose their own government — the Nazi government — in the midst of World War II. The essay was later reprinted in a book of readings for high school students on the Holocaust. While in Munich a few years ago, I cycled to the University of Munich, where the Scholl siblings were students when the Gestapo caught them, and visited the nice plaza containing brick inlays of the White Rose pamphlets and a museum in honor of the White Rose.
Well, now another Top Dog patron has sent me photos of the walls at Top Dog where my article, along with lots of other good libertarian stuff including an article by Sheldon Richman, is posted. Hot dog!
Last week I wrote about those Americans with a military mindset — that is, those who believe that patriotism is synonymous with unconditional support of the federal government at least with respect to war. The story of the White Rose inevitably makes people with a military mindset very uncomfortable. The next time you encounter such a person, ask him what his opinion is with respect to German patriotism during World War II. That is, ask him who, in his opinion, were the patriots — those Germans who dutifully supported their government in the midst of World War II or those who opposed their government, such as the Scholl siblings and their friends, and who argued that the war was immoral, and who even called on the German citizenry to rise up in the midst of war and overthrow their government.
For more information about Hans and Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, see:
Monday, August 22, 2005
One question no one seems to be asking in the constitution hullabaloo in Iraq: What difference does a constitution make given the likelihood that Iraqi officials aren’t going to obey it anyway? After all, why should we expect them to do so, especially when the very U.S. officials who are pressing them to adopt a constitution, by their own example, don’t care about obeying the U.S. Constitution?
Keep in mind that a constitution is a higher law of restraints and constraints that the people impose on public officials, a law that public officials are required to obey, whether they agree with it or not.
The U.S. Constitution requires a congressional declaration of war before the president is permitted to wage war against an independent nation state. Did President Bush secure such a declaration before invading Iraq? We all know that he did not. He simply declared that he “knew” that Saddam had WMD (no doubt he knew because the U.S. had furnished the WMD to Saddam in the first place) and thereby assumed the power to declare and wage war against Iraq, a war that has killed and maimed countless people, both Iraqi and American. And the response is: “Oh well, other presidents have done the same thing.”
Or consider Bush’s and the Pentagon’s assumption of omnipotent power to arrest any American (and any foreigner), accuse him of being a terrorist, and jail or execute him without a jury trial, counsel, or due process of law. Where in the Constitution is such dictatorial power given to the president and the U.S. military? Nowhere! They simply assumed the power because they wanted to.
Or consider the Pentagon’s torture and sex abuse detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Why was it set up in Cuba rather than the United States? The answer: Because the president and the U.S. military wanted to avoid the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and federal-court enforcement of the Constitution? What kind of message does that send to Iraq and the rest of the world about how our officials view the Constitution?
If President Bush doesn’t obey the U.S. Constitution and if the Congress and the federal judiciary don’t make him to do so, why should anyone expect Iraqi officials to behave any differently? And as an increasing number of commentators are now stating, Bush’s war has not brought freedom to Iraq, constitution or no constitution. Which again raises the important question: What “noble cause” are U.S. soldiers in Iraq dying for and killing for?
Saturday, August 20, 2005
My hometown, Laredo, Texas, is still in the news, not surprisingly. Today’s New York Times has an article about the chief of police in Nuevo Laredo whose new policy seems to be to just leave the drug lords and drug dealers alone to do their thing. Hmm. Now that’s an interesting drug-war strategy. He also says he’ll resign immediately if he’s even threatened with harm. You’ll recall that the man’s processor was killed his very first day in office after promising a big crackdown on the drug gangs.
It seems that this might also be the attitude of a growing number of residents on both sides of the river. The article quotes an old friend of mine, Jack Suneson, who has owned a gift shop in Nuevo Laredo for more than 30 years: “People over here say we wish one of the gangs would win so that things would go back to normal.”
Another NYT article on the same page describes the anger and frustration of U.S. officials, who feel that the Mexican authorities just aren’t doing enough to win the war on drugs. How silly.
The Mexicans might finally be getting close to the answer to the war on drugs. But it’s not enough to simply look the other way. As long as drug distribution and drug possession remain illegal, there will be the violent drug gangs, the corrupt bribes being paid to government officials on both sides of the border, the ruthless killings, the government crackdowns on civil liberties, and the increased militarization of the border.
There is one — and only one — way to put the drug gangs out of business, to end the drug-war bribes for Mexican and U.S. government officials, to stop the drug-war violence, and to restore peace and stability to both the U.S. and Mexico: end, not reform, the war on drugs by repealing drug prohibition. Of course, that would not only put the drug gangs immediately out of business but would also obviate the need for any more U.S. drug-war law enforcement personnel, which might be why both drug gangs and drug agents so ardently oppose drug legalization.
Friday, August 19, 2005
One of the things that anti-immigrant proponents often say is, “It’s not fair that illegal aliens are breaking the laws when good, law-abiding foreigners are following the government’s rules on getting into the country legally.”
What the anti-immigrant crowd fails to understand, however, is that the immigrants who fall into the illegal category are, as a general rule, much more attractive to a society than those who fall into the legal category.
Think about it: Who would you consider to be the more hearty — the risk-takers — the entrepreneurs — the harder workers — the more spirited — those who dutifully spend years following the bureaucratic rules on seeking entry into the United States or those who decide to come without delay even though they know they are risking their lives in tiny boats on the high seas or on steamy deserts in the Southwest?
Recall the Berlin Wall. If you were a West German and you had a choice on the type of people you would want in your half of Germany, would you choose the types who were risking their lives trying to cross the Berlin Wall or those types who would spend years trying to legally emigrate to the West?
Given the welfare state Americans now live in — that is, a society where people are scared to death of nearly everything — scared of losing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidies, and grants; scared of the drug dealers coming to put them on drugs; scared of the terrorists coming to take them from their homes and spray WMD on them; scared of the immigrants coming to steal their jobs away from them; scared of the foreigner businessmen who might out-compete them; and scared even of the free market itself — illegal immigrants provide the heartiness and spirit that can be a welcome antidote to the fear and false sense of security that the socialistic welfare state has engendered in the American people and that can help restore the high-spirited, can-do confidence that characterized our pro-free-enterprise ancestors.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
As I have been arguing for some time now, I don’t think it has dawned yet on many Americans what all this really means, but I’ve got a strong hunch that it’s dawning on U.S. officials on what it means.
Keep in mind that the real purpose of President Bush’s invasion was not simply to oust Saddam from power but also to replace him with a U.S. puppet regime that would do the bidding of U.S. officials. After all, what good would it do to simply get rid of Saddam if he’s replaced by someone worse (i.e., more independent from the U.S. than Saddam)?
“Regime change” was in fact the aim of the brutal sanctions that U.S. officials enforced against the Iraqi people for more than 10 years. When the sanctions failed to accomplish regime change, U.S. officials simply took the next logical step to accomplish their mission — a military invasion whose goal was to get Saddam out of power and replace him with Allawi, Chalabi, or some U.S.-approved stooge, just as they did in Panama (Noriega) and Grenada.
But this operation has obviously gone awry, and I’ve got a feeling that more and more people in Washington are now starting to realize that. In fact, that might even be why an increasing number of Republican members of Congress are turning against the war prior to the 2006 congressional elections.
But the question that all too many Americans are unfortunately still doing their best to avoid asking (and answering) will undoubtedly continue to surface: What exactly are U.S. troops dying for in Iraq?
Here’s the uncomfortable answer: To protect the existence of a radical Islamic regime in Iraq that has aligned itself with the radical Islamic regime in Iran. Such being the case, is it any wonder that President Bush, while publicly maintaining that U.S. troops are dying for a “noble cause” is doing his best to avoid stating what that noble cause is?
The most recent article on this perverse outcome of the Iraq War is an excellent analysis in today’s Washington Times by Arnaud de Borchgrave, the editor at large of the Washington Times and of UPI.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
One of the biggest federal lies about the invasion of Iraq is the one that claims that the U.S. government invaded Iraq to free the Iraqi people from tyranny. After all, wouldn’t such a claim connote that U.S. officials have a deep and abiding concern for the well-being of the Iraqi people?
Well, if that’s true, then why are U.S. officials still prosecuting Americans for shipping medicine to Iraqis during the brutal U.S.- and UN-imposed sanctions against Iraq during the 1990s? Yesterday, a federal judge ordered Voices for the Wilderness to pay a $20,000 fine for what federal officials consider was the dastardly crime of furnishing medical supplies to the Iraqi people in violation of the fed’s beloved federal embargo that they enforced against Iraq for more than ten years prior to President Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
Of course, as the Washington Post reminds us today in its story on the Voices in the Wilderness federal prosecution, “A 1999 United Nations report found that under the sanctions child mortality in Iraq more than doubled from 56 deaths per 1,000 live births to 131 deaths per 1,000 live births in only a decade.”
And don’t forget that during the 1990s, when the sanctions against Iraq were being enforced year after brutal year, U.S. officials were maintaining that the resulting deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children were “worth it” — that is, worth the attempt to oust Saddam and replace him with a U.S.-approved, oil-producing puppet, which of course was the real reason that President Bush ordered the Pentagon to invade Iraq in the first place.
Meanwhile, even while prosecuting Voices in the Wilderness for sending medicine to help the Iraqi people, U.S. officials continue to puff out their chests and proudly announce that they invaded Iraq to express their love for the Iraqi people (presumably including those killed and maimed during the invasion and occupation) and to help them rebuild their schools and community centers.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The Washington Post reports that the Russian government is targeting criminal-defense attorneys. The Russian Department of Justice wants to end the attorney-client privilege and to bring lawyers under state control. The state also wants the power to disbar attorneys. “We are seeing more and more pressure on defense lawyers who are only doing their jobs,” said Yuri Pipipenko, a bar association official.
So, it seems that the Russian Department of Justice is keeping track of the policies and practices of the U.S. Department of Justice. Of course, once they get wind of the Jose Padilla case, they’re realize that the best solution, from the standpoint of oppressive and tyrannical government, is the old-fashioned one employed by the old Soviet regime: Simply abolish jury trials in independent courts for criminal defendants, thereby obviating any need for criminal-defense attorneys, and proceed directly to torture, execution, or other punishment, perhaps after a kangaroo military tribunal.
Monday, August 15, 2005
A front-page story in Sunday’s Washington Post pretty much sums up what the article was about: “U.S. Lowers Sights on What Can Be Achieved in Iraq.”
It’s what we’ve been saying from the get-go here at FFF. There is no freedom in Iraq and there never will be. Whichever faction wins control of Iraq — the Shiites or the Sunnis, it will be a nasty, brutal regime, whether it has been democratically installed, coup-installed, or U.S.-installed.
Do you remember Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi propaganda minister who conservatives and neo-cons loved making fun of for his sunny reports about what has happening in Iraq? Well, notice that the cons and neo-cons sealed their lips when U.S. officials started doing the exact same thing as Baghdad Bob — giving us all those sunny stories about how well things were doing in Iraq.
What was especially amazing about the cons was that they honestly thought that a brutal military invasion that killed tens of thousands of innocent people was intended to bring freedom to the Iraqis — when the federal government won’t even free the American people! Maybe that’s why some of the cons are now returning to the WMD rationale for invading Iraq, claiming that, oh well, everyone makes mistakes from time to time.
By the way, did you notice that even though the august members of Congress, who unconstitutionally delegated their power to declare war to the president, have continually told us about how Iraqi people were now free and about how they now love us, Iraq was never on Congress’ list of popular U.S.-taxpayer-funded congressional junkets? I’ll bet that not many of those courageous Big Spending congressmen took their families to Baghdad or Basra to play golf.
The truth is that the U.S. has lost the war, as Frank Rich pointed out in yesterday’s New York Times, and they’ve got to start letting the American people in on the secret. The fact is that they lost the war when their mission to replace Saddam with a U.S.-government stooge failed.
Moreover, the radical Islamic regime that is now in power has as much commitment to freedom and democracy as, well, the unelected military dictator of Pakistan, with which the U.S. government is closely aligned. In fact, a good example of the new regime’s commitment to democracy was its recent coup by which it ousted the mayor of Baghdad, who himself had been “democratically elected” by a panel of people who had been carefully selected by U.S. officials, and replaced him with one of their unelected stooges. As the U.S.-installed mayor put it:
“Elected officials are just removed by force. We live in a militia state even with American troops here. Imagine when they leave. It will be worse than Saddam Hussein’s time.”
Welcome to the new, free Iraq! Coups, curfews, indefinite detentions, gun control, closure of newspapers, warrantless searches, indiscriminate shootings, and torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of detainees. Anyone ready to take a vacation in Iraq?
So, Bush must now resort to whipping up another round of WMD scares, this time around Iran, with the hope of once again infecting the American people with a bad case of war fever and fake patriotism, especially as the 2006 congressional elections approach. Given U.S. air superiority, it shouldn’t be too difficult to inflict a massive bombing campaign against Iran, with the usual “We regret the collateral damage of women, children, and men that we just snuffed out accidentally with our precision weaponry.” And the resulting counter-attacks will be “terrorism,” of course.
If they do attack Iran, it must be on the minds of Pentagon planners that U.S. military forces in Iraq might immediately be surrounded by U.S.-trained and U.S.-armed Iraqi troops, given that the new radical Islamic regime in Iraq has aligned itself with the radical Islamic regime in Iran.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
In my September 8, 2003, blog (two years ago), I stated the following:
“As prices start to rise down the road in response to the growing debasement of the currency, and as people on fixed income start to see the value of their assets diminish, get yourselves prepared for the inevitable response: The president and his cohorts will blame evil, greedy, profit-seeking, bourgeois capitalist swine for those raising prices. It’s the political strategy that rulers on spending binges have used throughout history.”
And sure enough, U.S. officials are behaving according to my prediction. Oil prices are soaring, as is federal spending, and the response is, “Oh, my gosh, it’s the big bad, profit-seeking, bourgeois, capitalist swine in the oil companies who are gouging the people and making big profits!”
Yeah, as if the rising prices have nothing to do with out-of-control federal spending! “Big Federal Spending is just totally irrelevant,” say the patriotic members of Congress, who just passed one of the biggest Big Government pork-laden highway bills in U.S. history, so loaded with lard that one wonders whether there are any pigs left — a bill eagerly and enthusiastically signed by President Bush.
What’s going on here? Just like the Roman Empire, federal politicians and bureaucrats need to keep the masses pacified, especially because their most recent foreign military adventure is now starting to cause people to stir. With the august members of Congress now able to return home and say to their constituents, “Look, look, look at what I have brought you — projects for your community and our state, and they’re all free! I am a great representative for you. No one else is able to do as well as I. Return me to office so that I can be even more effective for you.”
And unfortunately, all too many people continue to be grateful for their political opiate, especially because they buy into the notion that it’s other people’s money that has been taken from them to fund the projects, as if that would make the corrupt process any more moral. The opiate satisfies and pacifies. And as people express their gratitude, praising and honoring their particular representative or senator, they tend to look aside as things in Iraq continue to go awry.
Moreover, as prices in the marketplace start soaring in response to out-of-control federal spending, unfortunately all too many people buy into the notion that it’s “external forces” (i.e., OPEC, Venezuela, oil companies, China, etc.) that are causing the problem. The last culprit they would ever accuse of being responsible for their economic woes is the federal government, in large part because they don’t want to — this is their daddy that gives them retirement pay, health care, unemployment, education, grants, and subsidies and protects them from the terrorists, the immigrants, the drug dealers, the profit-seekers, the speculators, and the entrepreneurs, just as any daddy would protect his child.
As the great 19th-century French (sorry!) free-market economist Frederic Bastiat put it, “The state is the great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” What better words to express the relationship between the American electorate and their federal politicians and bureaucrats? Bastiat might have added — and does his best to convince himself that it’s just not happening — that the federal largess brought home to him by his U.S. Representatives and his U.S. Senators is all free — and then he blames everyone but his federal daddy when economic conditions spiral downward.
Friday, August 12, 2005
The Colombian government has come up with a brilliant way to finally win the war on drugs once and for all. Why in the world hasn’t anyone come up with this one before now? It is going to buy the drugs?
Yeah, that’s right! Colombian government officials are going to use taxpayer money (some of which comes from U.S. taxpayers as “foreign aid”) to go into the marketplace and offer coca farmers more money than drug dealers in the private sector are offering them.
You see, the idea is that with the government buying the drugs, the drug dealers in the private sector will be precluded from getting their hands on the drugs. Voila! The drug war has finally been won!
What will those Colombian government officials do with the drugs they buy? Well, dispose of them, of course.
Yesterday, I made mention of the New York Times front-page article about how the 30-year war on drugs was ravaging my home town of Laredo, Texas, and especially its sister city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico with murders, assassinations, kidnappings, and government corruption.
A few people quoted in the article are old friends of mine, including my very own cousin Alan Jackson, who told the Times: “It’s not their [Mexico’s] problem — it’s our problem.”
The problem, however, is that despite 30 years of failure, mayhem, death, destruction, and corruption, Laredo officials still do not recognize that the problem is the drug war itself. For example, Laredo Mayor Elizabeth Flores, an old friend of mine, told the Times that more must be done to restore law and order in Nuevo Laredo. Recently, she implored Texas Governor Rick Perry to send more state troopers and helicopters to Laredo.
Yeah, as if there aren’t already enough law-enforcement people covering the streets of Laredo, including the DEA, Homeland Security, INS, Border Patrol, FBI, U.S. Customs, the county sheriff’s department, and the Laredo police department. Just turn the border into more of a police state than it already is and the drug war will finally be won.
Do you ever wonder how long the American people are going to put up with all this drug-war nonsense, especially after 30 years of it?
Thursday, August 11, 2005
My hometown of Laredo, Texas, made the front page of the New York Times today. The reason: the war on drugs, which has turned Laredo’s sister city, Nuevo Laredo, into a model city of drug-war violence. The situation has not only produced killings of federal and local officials in Nuevo Laredo but it also has resulted in the murder and disappearance of Laredoans who have dared to cross the river into Nuevo Laredo for shopping or other tourist activities.
When I returned to Laredo in 1975 to practice law, federal DEA agents and federal attorneys were fiercely fighting the war on drugs and, in fact, they sent a couple of my good friends to the federal penitentiary for drug violations and drove another into committing suicide. Doesn’t it say something that some 30 years later, the situation is worse than ever despite the high number of drug users and drug dealers that the DEA and federal attorneys have sent to jail during those three decades?
Not if you ask the current crop of DEA agents and federal attorneys as well as conservatives. They are more committed than ever to their beloved program despite the manifest death and destruction it has produced. And of course, given their deep aversion to the libertarian concept of “individual responsibility,” they refuse to accept individual responsibility for all the damage their beloved federal program has wreaked on so many people and communities around the world. They say that they should be judged by their good intentions rather than by the actual results of their program.
Unfortunately, the federal attitude toward the drug war is similar to the attitude toward the war on terrorism: Refuse to acknowledge that federal policies are at the root of the drug-war violence and the terrorism and instead crack down even more fiercely on the civil liberties of the people.
As Americans continue to be mugged by the reality of both the war on drugs and the war on terrorism, one can only wonder when they will require their public officials, including the ones in Congress, to pull the weeds out by their roots. To end drug-war violence, it is necessary to end the drug war. To end terrorism, it is necessary to end the U.S. government’s pro-empire foreign policy, including invasions, wars of aggression, occupations, meddling, intervening, and foreign aid.
Sure, ending these wars would put a severe damper on money and power for federal officials, but there is no other solution to the death and destruction that these federal fiascos continue to produce for the people of the world.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said this week that weapons found in Iraq are coming from Iran, the same thing he has said in the past about Syria. Rumsfeld said that the weapons were “a problem for the Iraqi government, for the coalition forces, for the international community and ultimately it’s a problem for Iran.”
If the Iranians (and Syrians) fail to heed Rumsfeld’s warning, one cannot help but wonder whether it’s because they’re aware of the U.S. government’s furnishing of weapons to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban (“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”) to help them oust the Soviet government from Afghanistan during the 1970s.
To gain a deeper sense of the moral perversity of U.S. foreign policy — and how long such moral perversity has been going on — consider the following answers that Zbigniew Brzenski, President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, gave in an interview in 1998:
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
B: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Of course, “drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap” and then furnishing Osama bin Laden and the Taliban with U.S. weapons to oust the Russians from Afghanistan meant that ordinary Russian soldiers were going to be killed with those weapons. It’s just one more reason that foreigners who are furnishing weapons to oust the United States from Iraq through the killing of American soldiers are unlikely to pay much attention to Rumsfeld’s complaints.
Monday, August 9, 2005
Sure enough, British authorities are treating the people who are accused of committing the recent acts of terrorism as criminal defendants within Britain’s criminal justice system — and rightfully so. This will mean, of course, that they will be entitled to all the due process rights that extend back to Magna Carta — and rightfully so.
Unfortunately, the president and the Pentagon continue to maintain a different position. If it were up to them, the suspects (whom the Pentagon undoubtedly has already are guilty) would be immediately delivered to military control as “enemy combatants” for punishment, denying them any due process protections and torturing, sexually abusing, and even murdering them, perhaps after some rigged kangaroo show trial by military officials in order to clothe the punishment within the aura of legality.
Unfortunately, rather than abandon British imperial foreign policy, including its co-invasion and co-occupation of Iraq, which have engendered the deep anger and hatred that has motivated the terrorists, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is instead lashing out against “hate speech.” Apparently he feels that if he can muzzle criticism of British policies, the anger and hatred will dissipate. If his proposed legislation passes, Americans traveling to England would be wise to leave their copy of the Declaration of Independence at home.
Monday, August 8, 2005
The lead article on the Washington Post’s website today details classified Pentagon plans to “take charge” of areas in the United States in the event of another major terrorist attack.
Oh, great! Maybe the Pentagon will bring us the same “military freedom” that it’s brought to the people of Iraq.
So, here we have another consequence of the enormous military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower tried to warn us against, and the enormous standing army, which our Founding Fathers tried to warn us against.
Here’s how the system works:
U.S. officials extend their military empire of bases all over the world, impose brutal embargoes and invade countries, which kill tens of thousands of innocent people. Then, when the victims become angry and retaliate, U.S. officials act shocked and innocent and declare a massive “war on terrorism.” They then spend U.S. taxpayer money as if it were going out of style. They lash out by attacking the rights and liberties of people at home. The Pentagon assumes omnipotent military power to seize Americans and foreigners and to torture, sexually abuse, and execute them, without federal court interference, jury trials, or due process of law. They continue killing people overseas and when the ever-growing anger produces another terrorist strike in the United States, U.S. officials act shocked and innocent again and, in response, establish martial law in America, formalizing military rule over the citizenry.
There is one — and only one — solution to this ever-growing military threat against America and it entails much more than simply withdrawing the troops from Iraq: Bring all foreign troops home and discharge them into the private sector, dismantle the entire U.S. Empire and the U.S. military-industrial complex, and abolish the taxes that fund them.
President Eisenhower and our Founding Fathers were right.
Saturday, August 6, 2005
U.S. officials are a bit chagrined by the decision of the brutal regime in Uzbekistan to evict the U.S. Empire from the country. Uzbek officials have given U.S. officials an eviction notice requiring the Empire to exit its military forces out of the country within six months.
What about the hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars (“foreign aid”), duly extracted by the IRS from the American people, that U.S. officials placed into the hands of the Uzbek dictators?
No doubt U.S. officials are tempted to say to their Uzbek landlord, “You can’t do this to us because we’re the U.S. government and also because we have lined the pockets of your government officials with hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer federal welfare.”
But the Uzbek regime has U.S. officials over a Uzbek barrel because officials from both countries know that if the U.S. government screams or protests too loudly about the money, the Uzbek regime might disclose the details by which it tortured, perhaps even boiled, U.S. detainees as a duly authorized torture agent for the U.S. Empire as part of the Empire’s dirty war it has been waging on terrorism.
Of course, the best thing that could ever happen to the American people is if every country on earth did what the Uzbek regime is doing — evict the U.S. Empire from its country, even if the U.S. taxpayer money that has been used to line the pockets of foreign officials is lost forever.
Friday, August 5, 2005
If anyone needed more confirmation of the moral bankruptcy of the U.S. Empire — and specifically the role that the members of Congress play in the political immorality — GOP leaders have provided it.
According to yesterday’s Washington Post, GOP leaders have instructed the Republican members of Congress that when they return home for the August recess, they should be sure to remind their constituents of the federal largess they have brought home.
You know, the federal pork — the grants — the subsidies — the highway projects — the schools — the welfare — the public housing. All the goodies that the conservatives (and leftists) have brought to state and local public officials.
The congressman will tell their constituents: “This is free money that I have brought to you, provided by your fellow taxpayers across the country, compliments of the IRS. I hope I count on your renewed support and vote when election time comes around.”
Of course, these are the same conservatives that have on their stationery and websites their old 1950’s bromide “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.” Sometimes you can even still find them exclaiming against Big Government and the Big Spending Liberals, even while they support every Big Government, Big Spending federal ticket that comes down the pike, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Iraq, the drug war, the terrorism war, the poverty war, the illiteracy war, the obesity war, and countless others.
What hypocrisy. What moral degeneracy. What shame.
Do you remember when Republicans used to cry, “The only reason that we can’t reduce government spending is because we don’t control the presidency and both houses of Congress.” Yeah, like that’s made a big difference. Federal spending under these people has been and is totally out of control.
At least the Republicans are smart enough to no longer publicly crow how they supposedly brought down the Soviet Empire — by making the Soviet government spend itself into national bankruptcy. Better to stay quiet on that point these days!
And when things do go south economically as a result of out-of-control federal spending, as they did in the Roman, British, and Soviet empires, you can bet your debased dollar that the Republicans will be the first to exclaim, “Oh, no, please, don’t blame things on us. We’re conservatives. The fault lies with the big-spending liberals and with the failure of America’s free enterprise system and all those greedy, profit-seeking, entrepreneurial foreign capitalists. We just need to spend more federal money, debase the currency, and pass new regulations to save our free-enterprise system. Please vote for me.”
Ultimately, the answer to America’s woes lies with the American people. When Americans finally see through the federal scam and refuse to be bought with the federal pork that their elected representatives proudly bring home, compliments of the IRS, that will be the beginning of the end of American socialism, interventionism, and empire and the beginning of the restoration of genuine economic liberty, free markets, and a limited government republic.
Thursday, August 4, 2005
If the deaths of 24 Marines, as well as the murder of free-lance journalist Steven Vincent in Basra, won’t cause Americans to confront directly what is going on in Iraq, what will?
Did those Marines die for “freedom,” as the Bush administration has claimed about all 1,800 U.S. soldiers who have died in the Iraq war and occupation, not to mention the countless others who have been maimed? Only if you consider a radical Islamic religious regime to be “freedom,” not to mention a way of life based on brutal military rule, mandatory curfews, indefinite detentions, torture, assassinations, corruption, etc. etc. In fact, the apparent reason that the journalist was killed was because he was investigating government corruption and murder under the new U.S.-approved regime in Basra.
To put the matter another way: There is no possibility that Iraq will be included in the libertarians’ “free-state project” (free places for libertarians to move to), not just because Iraqi is not a U.S. State but also because there is no possibility that Iraq will be free any time soon.
As I have been noting recently, more and more people are starting to figure out that the invasion of Iraq has produced a pro-Iran, radical Islamic regime, which U.S. soldiers are now charged with protecting. See my article “The Pentagon: Islam’s Newest Department of Defense” and my August 1 blog.
We also mustn’t ignore the possibility (likelihood) that the Iraqi forces that U.S. troops are training are in fact providing inside information on U.S. troop movements to the insurgents. If you were a U.S. soldier, how would you like Iraqis participating in your plans for troop movements, especially when you know that their very own government is making cozy agreements with the radical Islamic regime in Iran, which U.S. officials hate and are even considering militarily attacking?
An op-ed in today’s Washington Post describes, albeit indirectly, the quandary that U.S. officials are in. It says that the U.S. government cannot afford to permit an Iraqi regime that ends up denying genuine freedom to the Iraqi people. Which would mean, you guessed it: that U.S. officials must dictate what the new “democratically elected and newly independent” Iraqi regime is permitted to do and not permitted to do.
As we have noted from the very beginning, U.S. soldiers have not died for freedom in Iraq because there is no freedom and there won’t be any freedom under the new radical pro-Iran Islamic regime. Thus, U.S. troops, including those 24 Marines, are dying for nothing. Not only is there no pro-U.S. regime in power, which was President Bush’s original aim for the invasion, but as time goes on it will become increasingly clear that soldiers are dying so that U.S. officials won’t “lose face.” What a grand and noble sham to “support the troops” for — to protect the “public face” of U.S. officials around the world.
Hopefully, the deaths of those Marines and the death of journalist Steven Vincent will cause more Americans to begin recognizing the horror of what the Iraq invasion and occupation have wrought, not only for our troops, not only for our country, but also for the Iraqi people and their country.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Fortunately, there are still U.S. military personnel who believe in doing the right thing rather than blindly obeying orders or currying favor with their superiors.
Emails that the Pentagon has been keeping secret reveal that two senior military prosecutors complained that its military tribunals for suspected terrorists are being rigged in order to secure convictions.
The prosecutors’ disclosures confirm what we have been saying here at FFF ever since such tribunals were announced — that they are nothing more than kangaroo proceedings designed to cover up the legalized murder of detainees. These are the same military tribunals that American criminal defense attorneys have boycotted in order to avoid lending credibility to the Pentagon’s sham.
Murdering detainees, as CIA and military personnel did to an Iraqi army general they took into custody, is bad enough, but cloaking the murder in fake and fraudulent military tribunals only compounds the wrongdoing. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, this is not what America should be all about.
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Last Sunday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times had an interesting story about a Chinese factory in South Carolina that was producing lots of good will among South Carolinians. Here are a couple of representative comments:
“Our relationship with Haier has been a very positive thing,” said Steve Kelly, chairman of the Kershaw County Council. “It’s helped our community.”
“I’m very, very impressed that they’re here,” said James Bennett, 62, owner of a tiny downtown barbershop, of the 5-year-old, $40-million Haier complex. “Hopefully, they won’t just pick up and leave.”
As economic-liberty advocates have long argued, free trade creates mutual dependencies and friendships among the people of the world. That’s a good thing, especially given that it makes war very costly. After all, if people can acquire what they want peacefully at a relatively low cost, why go to war to achieve it, especially given that war customarily entails significant costs?
Thus, the paradigm of empire, self-sufficiency, protectionism, and isolationism that the U.S. government is pursuing is wrongheaded. It’s based on the notion that respect and admiration among the people of the world should be left up the U.S. government and its policies of military invasions, occupations, foreign aid, and federal p.r. people and that the private sector should be isolated from the people of the world through ever-increasing border controls, harassment of immigrants, forcible repatriation of refugees, and protection from foreign competition.
Of course, the result is exactly the opposite of what is intended. People all over the world are very angry over U.S. foreign policy, which produces terrorism, which produces more federal attacks on the civil liberties of the people, which means more money and power for federal politicians and bureaucrats whose policies started the problem in the first place.
The South Carolina experience is a reminder of the right course for Americans to follow, a course based on the principles of economic liberty, which entails reining in the federal sector and unleashing the private sector.
By unilaterally dismantling America’s military empire, thereby ending the federal government’s role as international policeman, meddler, and interloper, and by unilaterally dismantling all federal restrictions against international trade, the American people could lead the world toward freedom, peace, prosperity, harmony, friendship, and mutual dependencies.
Wouldn’t that be better than leading the world toward invasions, war, occupations, military rule, curfews, detentions, torture and sex abuse, military-industrial complexes, uncontrolled federal spending, foreign aid, and countless overseas military bases?
Monday, August 1, 2005
More writers are coming to the stark realization that rather than install a U.S.-friendly regime in Iraq, which was the true original aim of President Bush’s invasion, the invasion has actually produced an Iran-friendly regime, and one that is imposing a mandatory religious code upon the citizenry. See my July 29 blog for the growing list of people who are realizing what the Iraq invasion, occupation, and national election have wrought in Iraq.
Here are two more examples:
Iraq Dances With Iran, While America Seethes (New York Times)
Even When We Leave Iraq, We Face Years of Blowback (The Guardian)
I wonder how long it’s going to take the mainstream commentators to realize that the regime that U.S. military forces have fought and died to install into power in Iraq were the very groups that U.S. officials encouraged to rebel against Saddam after the Persian Gulf War but then knowingly and intentionally stood aside as Saddam tortured them, slaughtered them, and filled mass graves with them. The reason for standing aside: because U.S. officials feared that if those rebelling groups were permitted to oust Saddam from power and take control of Iraq, they would align themselves with Iran, which U.S. officials have long considered is an arch-enemy of freedom and the U.S. government.
Yet, these are the same groups that the President Bush invasion, occupation, and national election have now installed into power in Iraq.
Talk about irony!
The Guardian article had an interesting tidbit about the new prime minister of Iraq:
“The new prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was feted on a recent trip to the White House, but his hosts conveniently chose to forget that fact that his Dawa party was suspected of involvement in a string of terrorist attacks against western interests, including the 1983 bombings of the US embassy in Kuwait and the US marine barracks in Beirut. The latter, the worst act of terrorism against the US prior to 9/11, killed 241 American peacekeepers. In those days Dawa acted under the guidance of the Iranian intelligence services.”
What could be more ironic than that — U.S. soldiers being told that they’re fighting and dying in Iraq for “freedom” while instead fighting and dying to install and protect another anti-freedom terrorist regime in Iraq?
Could this be one reason (terrorist counterstrikes, of course, being another one) that U.S. officials are now publicly talking about pulling out of Iraq?