Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

Hornberger’s Blog, August 2007


Friday, August 31, 2007

Rotting Apples and the War on Immigrants
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Following in the footsteps of California and Colorado farmers, New York apple growers might soon face devastating financial losses thanks to the U.S. government’s war on immigrants. With a third consecutive year of near-perfect weather, New York is experiencing vintage apple crops. At the same time, the national demand for apples is at an all-time high.

New York apple growers, however, are not celebrating. Why? Because the federal war on immigrants might result in the farmers’ not having enough people to pick their crops, which means that all those “wine-like” apples might end up rotting on the trees. Estimates are that 70 percent of the farm workers are illegal immigrants, many of whom use fake Social Security cards. New federal regulations, which require employers to match Social Security numbers with the federal database, are likely to now eliminate the use of fake Social Security numbers, which means few illegal workers to pick all those apples. Employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants will be fined $10,000 per immigrant.

Let’s think about this for a minute. The farmers live in a country that purports to be based on the principles of private property, free enterprise, and limited government. The farmers own their farm. They own the produce on their farm. Their money belongs to them. They choose to invite people onto their private property to pick their apples. They pay such people with their own money. For their part, the workers agree to do the work in return for the money being paid to them. From their own individual perspectives, both sides are benefiting from the transaction because they are each giving up something they value less for something they value more.

Along comes a federal interventionist and interdicts this private-property, free-enterprise exchange between a private owner and a private worker. He issues an edict prohibiting the employer and the employee from entering into the voluntary exchange with each other. He imposes harsh penalties for disobedience. His rationale: To protect America from illegal immigrants, even if New York apple growers must suffer devastating financial losses and American consumers must pay higher prices for apples in the grocery stores.

And what about those farmers who can’t get their apples to market? Well, one option is a federal welfare plan that reimburses the farmers for their losses. That means, of course, taxing the American people, who had hoped to use that money to purchase apples. Now, they’ve lost the money, which must be paid to the farmers as welfare, but they don’t have the apples that the money would have paid for.

Another option is that all the people who support the federal war on immigrants will take personal responsibility for what they have wrought by traveling to those New York farms and doing the work that the immigrants were doing. After all, aren’t those people always claiming that immigrants are just stealing jobs from Americans? Another possibility is that the supporters of the immigration war will take out their checkbooks and send their own personal money to the New York farmers to help reimburse them for their losses. Neither outcome is likely, however, because in the anti-immigration world personal responsibility is customarily a principle that preached, not practiced.

The federal war on immigrants is part and parcel of the federal move toward isolationism, in which the federal government isolates the American private sector from the rest of the world, even as the federal Leviathan tramples unrestrained all over the world, creating new enemies every day.

Our American ancestors had it right: Restrain the U.S. government from meddling overseas and unleash the freedom of the private sector to interact with the rest of the world. Therein lies the key to peace, prosperity, morality, and harmony.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poking Iranian Hornet’s Nests
by Jacob G. Hornberger

What U.S. forces did on Tuesday to an official Iranian delegation visiting Iraq is incredible. In an appalling display of imperial power in Iraq, U.S. military forces took the six members of the delegation into custody, handcuffed and blindfolded them, and didn’t release them until Wednesday.

What obviously angered U.S. officials was that the Iranian delegation had the audacity to make an official visit to Iraq without U.S. permission, notwithstanding the fact that the Iraqi government, which supposedly is sovereign, had issued an official letter of invitation to the Iranian delegation. The delegation was visiting to help with Iraq’s electrical problems.

The delegation was arrested while having dinner at a hotel restaurant. Also taken into custody, but thankfully not handcuffed or blindfolded, was the wife of one member of the delegation.

What was the ostensible cause of the arrest? According to U.S. military officials, the delegation apparently violated U.S. government gun-control restrictions because the group’s Iraqi guards were carrying an AK-47 rifle and two 9-millimeter pistols without a permit. Imagine that: security guards in Iraq carrying weapons without complying with U.S.-imposed gun-control rules.

With the ever-increasing realization that Iran won George Bush’s war against Iraq, Bush and Cheney continue to beat their war drums against Iran, including poking every hornet’s nest they can find. Perhaps they’re figuring that instead of ousting the Iranian-aligned Iraqi regime that their invasion installed, which they’re increasingly displeased with, it would be “easier” to effect regime change in Iran and install another U.S. puppet there, as they did when the CIA installed the brutal dictator the Shah of Iran into power.

My hunch is that if Bush and Cheney do end up attacking Iran (without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war), they’re going to come up with some type of Gulf of Tonkin fake and false justification for the war in which they exclaim, “We’ve been attacked! We’re innocent! We’re defending America by starting another war, this time against Iran.”

The American people should use this time of continuous death and destruction to do some serious soul-searching and reflection. Not only is all this imperial meddling and aggression making life unsafe for Americans, by virtue of the threat of terrorist blowback, it is also being used as the excuse for ever-growing infringements on civil liberties, and it is threatening the economic viability of our nation with out-of-control federal spending that is increasingly being financed by foreigners, especially the Chinese communists.

The American people can do nothing to stop Bush and Cheney from attacking Iran, just as the American people can do nothing to prevent them from occupying Iraq for as long as they want. In the short term, they are “the deciders.” For the long term, however, Americans can begin thinking about something much more profound and meaningful — establishing a new direction for our nation by dismantling our government’s foreign policy of empire, intervention, and aggression and restoring our nation’s founding foreign-policy principles of a non-interventionist republic.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Socialism of Both Liberals and Conservatives
by Jacob G. Hornberger

It’s always fun to watch conservatives and liberals fight with each other because while they both pretend that there are philosophical differences between them, in reality there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between them. Liberals always have the advantage in such debates because while conservatives are always preaching the “free-enterprise, private-property, limited-government” mantra, both liberals and conservatives share the same basic socialist and interventionist philosophy with respect to the role of government in our lives.

The latest example of liberals vs. conservatives is an op-ed this week by New York Times liberal columnist Paul Krugman, entitled “A Socialist Plot,” where Krugman mocks and ridicules the Heritage Foundation, a noted inside-the-beltway conservative think thank.

Krugman correctly points out that Heritage’s opposition to government-guaranteed healthcare for children cannot be reconciled with Heritage’s support of public (i.e., government) schooling. Given that the Heritage scholars believe that education is a fundamental right endowed in American children, how can they maintain that healthcare isn’t also a fundamental right? Given that conservatives support state provision of education for children, why would they oppose state provision of healthcare for children?

Needless to say, Krugman doesn’t talk about libertarians, who, unlike conservatives and liberals, maintain a consistent devotion to free-market principles, including both the separation of school and state and the separation of healthcare and state. Ironically, however, in a paragraph intended to mock the hypocrisy of the Heritage conservatives, Krugman does summarize the libertarian position (without mentioning that it is the libertarian position):

“So let’s end this un-American system and make education what it should be — a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise. Oh, and we shouldn’t have any government mandates that force children to get educated, either. As a Republican presidential candidate might say, the future of America’s education system lies in free-market solutions, not socialist models.”

At least Krugman understands that public schooling is, in fact, a socialist program. That’s why public schooling and, for that matter, public healthcare are the core elements of Fidel Castro’s socialist system. The problem with conservatives is that they’ve convinced themselves that public schooling and, for that matter, Medicare and Medicaid are “free enterprise.”

In the midst of ever-growing crises in both public schooling and healthcare, Americans would be wise to reject the socialism and interventionism favored by both liberals and conservatives. The only solution to the woes that confront our nation lies with the free-market philosophy of the libertarians.

Side Note: The Final Jeopardy category in the college competition yesterday was “Fictional Characters.” The answer was “This character was mentioned in the first line of Atlas Shrugged.” Host Alex Trebak mentioned that the line came from the famous novel by Ayn Rand. Only one of the three contestants got it right: “Who is John Galt?”

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Heading Toward the Cliff
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Uh, oh! There is now more evidence that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s days in office are numbered. Last week, he lashed out at President Bush and members of Congress for ignoring Iraqi “sovereignty” by complaining that Iraq had not met U.S.-imposed deadlines. He reminded U.S. officials that Iraq has “other friends” it could look to for support.

This week, Maliki lashed out at Hillary Clinton for meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq by treating Iraq as if it were an American village.

Is this guy naïve or what? Listen up, Maliki: It’s a bit late to be complaining about U.S. meddling in Iraq, isn’t it? How the heck do you think you got into office? Duh!

And no, neither Hillary nor Bush nor any other U.S. politician is treating Iraq as a U.S. city. In the United States, cities are run by mayors, who are independent of Washington control — well, except when they’re on the receiving end of the federal dole.

Maliki and the rest of his Iraqi cohorts need to wake up and confront reality: Iraq is now a colony of the U.S. Empire — and members of the colonies must learn to take orders when orders are given.

What happens if Maliki remains recalcitrant and continues to talk back to his masters? He will meet the fate of other colonial agents who tried to seek independence. Either the Pentagon will forcibly remove him from office, as it did to Saddam and Antonio Noriega or, alternatively, agents of the president’s private army, the CIA, will do the dirty deed, as they did with the democratically elected prime minister of Iran and the democratically elected presidents of Guatemala and Chile and as it tried to do, unsuccessfully, with Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro.

What’s the real reason that U.S. officials are suddenly interested in ousting and replacing Maliki? By “other friends” Maliki was obviously referring to Iran, the country with which the Iraqi government quickly aligned after being installed into power. Thus, if President Bush unilaterally attacks Iran, which appears increasingly likely, U.S. troops might well find themselves fighting both the Iranian and the Iraqi regimes. Won’t that be a pleasant outcome for a U.S. military that is already stretched to the limit?

Finally, let’s not forget that all of this imperial adventuring must be paid for, which means greater and greater risks of a crashing dollar and severe financial crises for the American people. This is especially true if the Chinese communists, who have loaned much of the money to the U.S. to finance its imperial adventures, decide to suddenly dump its massive holdings of U.S. government securities.

Blithely going about their business and innocently following their rulers, American sheeplings are ignoring the cliff toward which they are being led.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pentagon Socialism Fails in Iraq
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Leave it to the Pentagon to provide some comic relief with respect to Iraq. About a year ago, it came up with a plan to restore socialism to Iraq as part of its efforts to “rebuild” the country. The Pentagon decided to reopen Saddam Hussein’s government-owned factories, with plans to sell the finished goods to Wal-Mart and J.C. Penny in the United States.

In other words, classic socialism — in this case, military socialism! Public ownership of the means of production! Just like in the Soviet Union and in communist China, North Korea, and Cuba. Just like under Saddam!

Well, pity the poor socialists at the Pentagon. At the end of the first year of production, Wal-Mart and J.C. Penny have advised the Pentagon that they’re not interested in purchasing its products, which has no doubt plunged Pentagon officials into an even deeper depression. After all, amidst all the death, destruction, violence, and chaos in Iraq that the Pentagon’s invasion and occupation have wrought, the government-owned enterprises were going to be a showcase that Pentagon officials hoped would pick up everyone’s spirits.

Alas, it was not to be. The reason given by Wal-Mart and J.C. Penny for rejecting the goods was “Iraq’s uncertain future and the questioned viability of potential suppliers there.” Yeah, sure! As if their decision didn’t have anything to do with the shoddy products that come out of socialist enterprises.

Of course, you can’t really blame Wal-Mart and J.C. Penny for trying not to hurt the feelings of Pentagon officials. After all, there is always the implicit threat of employing the IRS, SEC, INS, or OSHA against recalcitrant, unpatriotic American companies who refuse to support the troops and their country.

It seems that even Iraqis though aren’t too enthusiastic about the Pentagon’s products. Adding what seems to be a bit of fraud to the process, one Iraqi leather-goods factory stamps “Made in China” on soccer balls to induce Iraqis to buy them.

So, who bears the costs of these socialist enterprises? You guessed it — the American taxpayer! The Pentagon is funneling $50 million in U.S. taxpayer money into the Iraqi factories.

Hey, don’t complain! What better way to spend the hard-earned money of the American people than on military socialism as part of the Pentagon’s efforts to “rebuild” Iraq, after destroying it of course?

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bush and Congress Are Responsible for Iraq
by Jacob G. Hornberger

I can’t help but wonder whether President Bush’s reference to Vietnam isn’t a subconscious way to expiate his guilt at having dodged the Vietnam War and his guilt at having instigated the Iraq debacle.

While National Guard and Army Reserve troops are today being sent to Iraq, people of the Vietnam era know that such was not the case during the Vietnam War. The Guard and the Reserves were the rich boy’s respectable way to dodge the draft. Everyone knew that the Guard and the Reserves were not ever going to be sent to Vietnam, and it oftentimes took lots of political influence to get into a unit. Those guys who were poor and lacking political influence, especially the ones who couldn’t go to college, were the cannon fodder that got sent into the Vietnam hellhole, a hellhole that was built on lies and deception, as ultimately shown in the Pentagon Papers.

Not that I’m criticizing Bush or, for that matter, Vice President Cheney, who also avoided military service in Vietnam because he had better things to do than save America from the threat of the communists coming over here and conquering and occupying America, which U.S. officials said would happen if the U.S. wasn’t in Vietnam, much as they’re now saying with respect to Iraq.

In retrospect, people like Bush, Cheney, and the thousands of other draft dodgers were the smart ones. After all, look at them — they’re alive, healthy, and at the pinnacle of wealth, fame, fortune, and power. The chumps were people like John Kerry and Max Cleland and the hundreds of thousands of others who “patriotically” followed government orders to go Vietnam to fight for “freedom”, many of whom lost lives, limbs, or minds for nothing but lies and deception and who are now even accused of being cowards and traitors.

Today, not surprisingly, Bush and members of Congress are blaming everyone else for the Iraq debacle — e.g., those dumb Iraqis who can’t get their act together or the U.S. generals who followed the wrong plans for the occupation of the country. It’s also clear from the Vietnam comparison that Bush is now posturing himself into a position of being able to claim that when the withdrawal from Iraq finally takes place, the debacle in Iraq will all be the fault of those who pulled out too early, just like Bush says happened in Vietnam.

In other words, what Bush is saying is that there was no upper limit on American and Vietnamese lives and limbs that should have continued to be lost — so long as they didn’t belong to Bush and Cheney and their rich, influential friends. 58,000 dead American men? Not enough. A million or two dead Vietnamese? Too low. Keep dropping those bombs from those B-52s. Obviously, according to Bush, it would have been “worth it” to sacrifice another 60,000 American men and a few million more Vietnamese to “win” the Vietnam War and prevent the communists from coming to American and conquer and occupy our country. Of course, never mind that they never came.

It’s the same with Iraq. UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright said that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the brutal sanctions were “worth it.” Bush is saying that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from his invasion and the deaths of a few thousands of America are worth it. How cavalier! In Bush’s mind, there is obviously no upper limit to the number of people who should be sacrificed for the grand and noble aim of establishing a pro-U.S. regime in Iraq — as long as Bush and Cheney and their children and the children of the well-to-do are not among those being sacrificed.

Make no mistake about it: The moral and legal responsibility for Iraq, including the death, destruction, torture and sex abuse, lies not with the Iraqi people or those who are ultimately responsible for securing a total U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. In this war, George W. Bush was “the decider” — the person who decided to attack, wage a war of aggression against, and occupy a country that had never attacked the United States. It was the members of Congress, who had the sworn duty to impeach Bush for waging the war without a congressional declaration of war, who enabled him to do so. President George W. Bush and those members of Congress who supported his war bear full responsibility for what they have wrought in Iraq.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bush, Iraq, and Vietnam
by Jacob G. Hornberger

President Bush is now comparing his occupation of Iraq with the Vietnam War. He says he’s concerned about the Iraqis who are going to die if the U.S. exits Iraq, as people in Southeast Asia did when the U.S. exited Vietnam.

Unfortunately, President Bush’s latest justification for the continued occupation of Iraq is just as faulty and fallacious as his many previous ones.

First and foremost, in World War II Germany and Japan were the aggressor nations and the United States was the defending nation. That is, Japan attacked the United States without a declaration of war, which then was followed by a declaration of war by Germany against the United States.

With Iraq, the United States is the aggressor nation and Iraq the defending nation. The U.S. government attacked Iraq without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, making the invasion and resulting occupation illegal under our form of government.

In raising the Vietnam issue, Bush unfortunately failed to mention a critical fact — both the Vietnam War and Bush’s war against Iraq were based on lies. In the case of Vietnam, U.S. officials claimed that the North Vietnamese had attacked a U.S. ship in the Gulf of Tonkin, knowing that such a claim was false. In Iraq, Bush claimed that the reason the U.S. was invading Iraq was because Saddam Hussein was threatening the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction, a claim that was as false as the Gulf of Tonkin claim.

The alternative reason that Bush relied upon for his invasion — democracy-spreading — was also a lie. After all, if Bush was really so interested in democracy-spreading, would he be supporting the military dictator of Pakistan and the unelected dictators in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and other countries? Indeed, why would he still be angry with the Iranian people for ousting their U.S-installed dictator, the Shah of Iran?

Moreover, Bush’s supposed concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people after the U.S. exits the country also lacks veracity. After all, how many tears have been shed among U.S. officials for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who died as a result of the brutal sanctions or the hundreds of thousands who have been killed in the current invasion? Instead, the cavalier attitude has been — and still is — that these deaths have been “worth it,” as UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright put it.

Considering all the concern that Bush is showing toward the Iraqi people, wouldn’t you think that that would be reflected in a policy of open immigration for Iraqi immigrants, especially the Quislings who have cooperated with the occupiers? What Bush seems to be saying, in essence, is “We love you and we are willing to sacrifice the life and limbs of hundreds of thousands of you to free you, but don’t even think about coming to live near us.”

The true reason Bush invaded Iraq revolves around the core element of U.S. foreign policy — regime change, a policy in which recalcitrant rulers are ousted or assassinated and replaced with rulers who will do the bidding of U.S. officials. That’s what both Iraqis and Americans have died for in Bush’s war.

By the way, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki himself should be a bit concerned about Bush’s comparison with Vietnam. Don’t forget that when U.S. officials became dissatisfied with South Vietnamese President Diem, as they are becoming with Maliki, Diem was removed from office through coup and execution.

The central issue that the American people must confront is a moral one: The United States had no moral right to kill even one Iraqi, much less hundreds of thousands of them. The Iraqi people had the moral right to be left alone to decide for themselves the future direction of their country.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Sovereign and Independent U.S. Puppet
by Jacob G. Hornberger

President Bush and members of Congress have become frustrated and exasperated with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. They say he’s not meeting their deadlines. Bush even says that if Maliki doesn’t straighten up, the Iraqi people will oust him from office.

But wait a minute! I thought Iraq was now a sovereign and independent country. I thought that that was what the invasion of Iraq four years ago was all about — well, at least after those infamous and scary WMDs failed to materialize.

The fact is that Bush’s and Congress’s attitude reflects what U.S. foreign policy has long been based upon, especially in Iraq — the installation of a puppet regime that will do the bidding of U.S. officials.

In fact, the great offense committed by Saddam Hussein, the offense that cost him his job, was simply that he didn’t kneel and obey the dictates of U.S. officials, especially after U.S. officials had furnished him with those WMDs so that he could kill Iranians with them. (The reason that it was considered okay to kill Iranians was because the Iranian people had ousted their U.S.-installed puppet, the shah of Iran, without U.S. permission).

When President Bush invaded Iraq, the goal was the same as it had been throughout the period of the brutal sanctions, which year after year had contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. The goal was the ouster of Saddam and the installation of a U.S.-installed puppet, such as CIA or Pentagon favorites Iyad Alawi or Ahmad Chalabi.

Such regime change has long been a core element of U.S. foreign policy. Just ask the people of Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua, Grenada, Vietnam, Haiti, Afghanistan, and countless others.

What happened in Iraq, however, was something that U.S. officials never expected: The Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Sistani outsmarted and outmaneuvered President Bush by demanding nationwide elections rather than allow Bush to implement some type of electoral caucus plan that was obviously designed to get a U.S. puppet into power.

The result is something that I suspect most Americans still don’t realize, which we have long been pointing out here at FFF. President Bush’s invasion of Iraq brought into existence a radical Islamic regime that early on aligned itself with Iran. Yes, I said Iran — you know, the nation that Bush calls evil and that Bush is still threatening to invade.

For his part, Maliki hasn’t taken kindly to the subtle threats issued by President Bush and the members of Congress. Lashing out against them, he pointed out that no one has the right to impose deadlines on his elected government and that his country “can find friends elsewhere.”

Hey, you can’t really find fault with what the guy is saying, can you? After all, didn’t President Bush and the Pentagon tell the guy that Iraq was now a sovereign and independent country? And isn’t Maliki’s response exactly what President Bush would say if a foreign regime imposed deadlines on the U.S. government?

What undoubtedly set Bush off is that Maliki visited Tehran on August 8-9, after which he invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Iraq, an invitation that has now been accepted. Oh, did I mention that Maliki just returned from visiting Syria, which Bush also says is a terrorist nation (even though the CIA uses Syria to torture suspected terrorists on its behalf).

Thus, the Iraq adventure gets crazier and crazier as each day passes. Hopefully, as the craziness continues, along with the continuous stream of dead bodies, the American people will do some deep reflecting on the moral bankruptcy of the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy and come to the realization that the only genuine solution is a restoration of non-interventionist, pro-republic foreign policy to our land.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Enemy Combatants in the Drug War
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Don’t be surprised if the feds extend their “enemy-combatant” powers to the “war on drugs.”

As most everyone knows, the drug war has converted Mexico’s northern border into one of the world’s most violent war zones. All along the border, drug lords are killing or kidnapping people, especially Mexican government officials and Mexican journalists. Not surprisingly, the more the Mexican government has cracked down on the drug dealers, no doubt in the hope that U.S. officials will send more U.S. taxpayer money to Mexican officials, the worse the situation has become.

The Los Angeles Times is now reporting that the violence is moving north, into the United States. Compounding the problem, the war on immigrants is also now adding to the violence along the border.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush and the Pentagon declared a “war on terrorism,” which converted terrorism from the status of a criminal offense to the status of an act of war, at least for some suspected terrorists. Without any authorization from Congress, they assumed the authority to take anyone, including American citizens, into custody as “enemy combatants,” incarcerate them, torture them, deny them due process, right to counsel, and trial by jury, and punish them without judicial interference. We were “at war,” after all, they said. Such powers, they said, were merely temporary, expiring as soon as the war on terrorism was finally over. Of course, “temporary” has now extended into six years, with no end in sight.

In principle, there is no difference between the “war on terrorism” and the “war on drugs.” If the drug lords begin doing in the U.S. what they have been doing in Mexico — killing government officials, bombing government buildings, and kidnapping private citizens — there is nothing to prevent President Bush and the military from assuming the same “enemy-combatant” powers they have assumed in their “war on terror.” After all, they would say, we are “at war” against dangerous narco-traffickers who have declared war on the United States.

If the president and the Pentagon were to apply their enemy-combatant program to the drug war, that would mean that the military would then have the power to arrest any American accused of drug dealing as an “enemy combatant” and cart him away to some military dungeon, where he could be tortured and abused, denied due process of law, right to counsel, and jury trial, and remain incarcerated until the “war on drugs” is finally over. Never mind that the drug war has already gone on for more than 30 years, with no end in sight.

Ludicrous and horrific, you say? Absolutely. But no more so than letting the president and the Pentagon assume “enemy-combatant” powers in their so-called war on terrorism.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, August 10, 2007

The Welfare-War State’s Monetary Crises
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Yesterday, the Washington Post carried a front-page article about how President Bush, guided by his political advisor Karl Rove, have had a long-term political strategy is which they would target important electoral districts with announcements on federal aid to such districts. The idea was akin to bribery — sending federal money into a district in the hope and expectation that the voters would be so grateful for the “free” money that they would reward Republican candidates with votes. Of course, the Democrats play this same game, as does the CIA in political campaigns in foreign countries.

The sad part is that the strategy is so successful. Voters eat it up, even though they must know deep down that the money is coming from themselves or being taken from other voters around the country, compliments of the IRS. It’s a political game in which Americans do their best to plunder the wealth and savings of everyone else while at the same time doing their best to protect their own pocketbooks.

At some point, however, the game gets too expensive, with expenditures and taxes getting too high. That’s when the feds start resorting to massive borrowing. That’s how Bush and his cohorts have financed their military adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan — by borrowing the money. And no one can deny that ever since 9/11, the Bush administration has been spending money as if there were no tomorrow — on both domestic and foreign programs.

As we have repeatedly pointed out here at FFF for the past several years, this out-of-control federal spending will inevitably lead to a major financial crisis. Just as a family that consistently spends more than it earns will end up in bankruptcy court, so it is with a nation. After all, don’t forget how conservatives used to brag about how they brought down the Soviet empire — by making the Soviet government spend the nation into bankruptcy.

Since Americans no longer save large portions of their income (they’ve been taught that consumption is the key to wealth), U.S. officials have increasingly turned to foreigners to finance their spending binge, especially the Chinese communists, who now hold an enormous amount of U.S. securities in their reserves (and who recently threatened to dump their entire holdings onto the market).

Last week Americans got a taste of the price of domestic socialism and foreign imperialism, when financial markets began gyrating wildly because of an enormous worldwide credit squeeze. Something big and scary in the banking system was obviously happening because not only did the Federal Reserve step in to provide emergency liquidity to the banking system, so did several foreign central banks. Then, the Fed suddenly lowered the discount rate by half-a-percent, violating the Fed’s recently announced policy of combating inflation.

It had to happen. Given the Bush administration’s profligacy for the past several years, something had to give. A government, like a family, cannot continue to spend more than it takes in. Ultimately, the Fed buckled by accommodating the ever-increasing debt — and in my opinion, will continue to do so to accommodate the administration’s pro-socialism, pro-empire spending policies.

That means more debasement of the dollar, as I have long been predicting. Welcome to Welfare-Warfare State 101. And my hunch is that we ain’t seen nothing yet! Prepare yourself for some precarious financial times ahead, as the welfare-warfare expenditures continue to soar out of control. As the dollar crisis magnifies over the next couple of years, you can thank the federal official or your congressman the next time he’s in your community talking about “rebuilding” Iraq or announcing the latest “free” federal grant for your community.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ominous Financial Times Ahead
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The out-of-control federal spending to finance President Bush’s imperial adventuring in Iraq might be showing signs of an ominous economic crisis ahead.

As I have been warning for years, the massive federal spending binge that U.S. officials have undertaken, especially since 9/11, would ultimately bring a crashing dollar. As most everyone knows, that is exactly what has been happening to the dollar in the international arena.

But yesterday, the financial situation got a bit more ominous. Fears arising from the U.S. home-loan crisis spread to Europe where both the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve had to inject billions of dollars into the European financial system to keep it liquid.

If more funds are necessary to keep the financial system liquid (thereby discouraging runs on banks), then what is all that new, “free” money being injected into the financial system going to do to the value of the dollar? You got it — a bigger dollar crash is looming on the horizon as well.

We can add the federal dollar crisis to the crises in Social Security, Medicare, terrorism, drug war, Iraq, education, immigration, and just about everything else the feds have touched with their programs and interventions.

As I have written before, thanks to the federal government — or federal god as many American statists choose to perceive it — Americans just might be facing a perfect storm of crises, all of which are rooted in federal socialism, interventionism, and empire-building.

Meanwhile, the federals continue spending money as if there were no tomorrow, especially on their imperial adventure in Iraq. Oh well, if Americans do end up experiencing a deep financial and economic crisis, at least they’ll have the solace of knowing that their federal rulers are “rebuilding” Iraq, after destroying it of course.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

China’s “Nuclear Option”
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Even while many U.S. conservatives and neo-conservatives still refrain from taking individual responsibility for the massive death, destruction, mayhem, and chaos their foreign policy has wrought in Iraq, one would think that they would at least take individual responsibility for trading our freedom for security here at home, including the enemy-combatant doctrine, the loss of habeas corpus, the wiretapping, and the monitoring of email and telephone calls. Unfortunately, not so, once again confirming that holding the concept of individual responsibility up to a conservative or neoconservative is like holding a cross up to a vampire.

The same, of course, holds true for what they have done to America’s monetary system with their out-of-control federal spending to finance their overseas imperial adventures. As most everyone no doubt knows, the dollar has been crashing in international markets, and my hunch is that we haven’t seen anything yet. Of course, many people blame it on the feds because they think that inflation, like terrorism, is unrelated to federal policies.

Ever since the federal spending spree began, The Future of Freedom Foundation has been warning about the monetary dangers arising from out-of-control federal spending. As we have been repeatedly emphasizing, what the feds have been doing to pay for all this federal adventuring is borrow the money rather than raise the taxes to finance it. After all, taxpayers get angry over rising taxes but have no idea that rising prices are a direct result of inflating the currency to pay the bills.

This week, U.S. officials and the American people received a brusque and blunt reminder of the results of U.S. monetary policy. If U.S. officials don’t stop pressuring China to change its trade policy and its monetary policy, Chinese officials are threatening to dump their entire holdings of U.S. debt instruments. China, whose economy has been booming during the entire time that the U.S. government has been obsessed with building its military-industrial complex, has been using its reserves to purchase massive quantities of U.S. Treasuries, making China the second-largest holder of such securities in the world, after Japan.

Here is what a Chinese official stated in regard to what is being termed the “nuclear option”:

“The Chinese central bank will be forced to sell U.S. dollars once the [yuan] appreciates dramatically, which might lead to a mass depreciation of the U.S dollar against other currencies,”

As many people will recall, conservatives and neo-conservatives used to crow about how they supposedly brought down the Soviet Union by making the Soviet government spend the nation into bankruptcy. They still claim that they brought down the Soviet Union but they no longer say how. It’s not difficult to understand why. But wouldn’t it be nice if they at least accepted individual responsibility for the debacles they have wrought, both abroad and here?

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Arming “the Enemy” in the Middle East

The number of pro-empire, pro-war advocates who are relying on the “Muslims are coming to get us” rationale to justify the continued occupation of Iraq seems to be dwindling, but I still receive emails from some of them telling me that U.S. forces must continue occupying Iraq to protect us from the Muslim threat to conquer the world.

Yet, notice something interesting: None of the proponents of this rationale is openly protesting the recent decision by President Bush to deliver $20 billion in weaponry to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries that are headed by Muslim regimes.

Yes, I said Muslim regimes and I also said that the U.S. government is delivering massive amounts of weapons to such Muslim regimes. Aren’t these the people that the pro-occupation proponents are saying are waging a war against Christianity and the West? If so, then why are the pro-occupation proponents remaining silent in the face of the president’s decision to arm “the enemy”?

If the “Muslims are coming to get us” crowd really believed their own rhetoric, do you think for a moment they would be sitting on their haunches and just letting the president deliver billions of dollars of U.S. weapons to enemies who were coming to get us? Not on your life! They would be in the streets of Washington, D.C., holding protests and demonstrations. They would be writing letters to the president and the Congress. They would be telling President Bush that we are at war and that it is wrong to be delivering weapons to the enemy. Why, they might even be calling for impeachment. Isn’t it treason to aid the enemy during time of war?

Moreover, think about Iraq itself. The pro-occupation proponents say that U.S. forces must stay there to continue killing the proponents of Islam, who are supposedly committed to “following us home” with an invasion, conquest, and occupation of the U.S. (Never mind that there are no ships, planes, and supplies to accomplish such a feat.)

Yet, notice something important in Iraq: U.S. forces are not warring against all Muslims, only against those who are forming the insurgency in resistance to U.S. rule. The U.S. government continues to support and deliver weapons to Iraqis who are part of the U.S.-installed Iraqi regime — and even helping to train them to use such weapons.

But wait a minute! Aren’t the Iraqis that the U.S. government is arming and training Muslims too? In fact, haven’t many Iraqi officials even aligned themselves with the extremist Muslim regime in Iran? Why aren’t the “Muslims coming to get us” crowd protesting and demonstrating against that? Why aren’t they telling the president to attack and kill them too? Why not bomb everyone in Iraq, or at least all the Muslims, rather than simply those who are resisting the occupation? Because deep down, the pro-occupation proponents know their rationale for supporting the president’s occupation is a crock — just like the WMD, democracy-spreading, and liberation rationales were a crock too.

With the continuing reality of death and destruction coming out of Iraq on a weekly basis for at least the next two years, my hunch is that the “Muslims are coming to get us” rationale will ultimately go the way of the WMD, democracy-spreading, and freedom rationales that were initially used to justify the U.S. government’s imperial intervention in Iraq.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Weaponry Madness in Iraq

The Washington Post is reporting today that as British troops exit Basra, what was once considered to be a “success story” in Iraq is now disintegrating into the same type of violence, chaos, and mayhem that characterizes the rest of Iraq. As one unidentified senior U.S. official bluntly and honestly put it, “It’s hard now to paint Basra as a success story.”

An interesting question with respect to the violence in Basra and the rest of Iraq is what weapons are being used to kill people, both in the insurgency against the U.S. and in the civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

The reason I raise the issue is that U.S. officials in Iraq are not able to account for 30 percent of the weapons that the U.S. has delivered to Iraqi forces for the last three years. According to yesterday’s Washington Post, the U.S. military has lost about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols. Yes, that’s one hundred and ninety thousand guns — lost—in Iraq!

How does one lose 190,000 guns, especially in a country in which there is a lot of killing going on? Good question. No one seems to know the answer. But most everyone agrees that there is a good possibility that many of the missing guns have ended up in the hands of people who are killing both Americans and Iraqis.

Increasingly, there is just one good word that can be used to describe the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq, especially given the obsessive and irrational determination among many that “success” is just around the corner: madness.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Cowardice in Congress Again

The cowardly Democrats in Congress have done it again: Succumbing to fears that President Bush will accuse them of being soft on terrorism, they have enacted a law that expands President Bush’s wiretapping powers. You’ll recall that the same reason (together with fear of being accused of being unpatriotic) motivated them to approve the USA Patriot Act and, before that, the unconstitutional delegation of the power to declare war on Iraq.

Of course, that doesn’t make the Republican members of Congress any better. Ever since 9/11, they’ve been a bigger rubberstamp for whatever the president wants than even Saddam Hussein’s congress was for him.

This is what advocates of the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy must confront even if they don’t like confronting it: that such a foreign policy inevitably and inexorably generates ever-increasing infringements on the liberty of the American people and that such infringements are irreconcilable with a free (i.e., libertarian) society.

While it was once comforting for pro-interventionists to believe that U.S. foreign policy only impacted foreigners, reality has now set in, primarily because foreigners decided to retaliate. Once the retaliation took place — in the form of terrorist attacks on the WTC in 1993, on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, on the USS Cole, and on 9/11 — U.S. officials seized on those retaliations to declare their “war on terrorism,” which has involved cancellation of the centuries-old right of habeas corpus, the “enemy combatant” doctrine, spying on Americans, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, denial of due process and trial by jury, torture and sex abuse, Gitmo, kidnapping and rendition, and, now, expanded wiretap powers.

Life and circumstances have placed Americans who cherish a free society, especially libertarians, in a position of having to make a choice that can no longer be avoided. Do we want a pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy along with the unfree society at home that such a policy inexorably brings or do we instead want a limited-government, nonintervention foreign policy along with the free, peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious society that comes with it?

Friday, August 3, 2007

They Don’t Hate the South Koreans for Their Freedom and Values

South Koreans are experiencing the agony that comes with an interventionist foreign policy. The entire nation is feeling anger, shock, and helplessness over the Taliban’s kidnapping of 21 South Koreans in Afghanistan. Two other South Korean captives have been killed.

At least many South Koreans are confronting reality. Unlike many conservatives and neo-conservatives here in the United States, they’re not exclaiming about how the terrorists hate South Koreans for their freedom and values or about how the kidnappings are part of a centuries-old Islamic War on the Far East.

Many South Koreans recognize that the reason for the kidnappings is the South Korean government’s decision to join the U.S. government in its intervention in Afghanistan. If the South Korean military forces had stayed home, those 21 South Koreans would not be in captivity today.

The captives are not part of the Korean government but instead are church missionaries, which has prompted some people to suggest that their religious activities have something to do with their kidnapping.

Such people are missing an important point. Most everyone hates an occupier, whether the occupier is the Soviet government, the U.S. government, the British government, or the South Korean government. When people have a foreign occupying power within their midst, they not only resent the occupying forces themselves but also the private citizens of the occupying nation who come to visit or conduct business while the occupation is going on.

Iraq provides a good example. Whenever you hear President Bush or U.S. military officials giving glowing reports about the progress of their occupation of Iraq, consider taking a vacation to Iraq — a vacation in which you tour around the country openly singing “Well, I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free and I’m also proud to be bringing freedom to the Iraqi people.”

The Iraqi people will hate you and despise you. They will kidnap, torture, and kill you. Even though you’re not part of the U.S. occupying force, as an American you’re not welcome in their country as a tourist or businessman while the country is under occupation by your government.

By the way, many (but certainly not all) Americans would feel the same way. If the Chinese communists were occupying the United States, Americans would resent Chinese citizens who came to visit the United States during the occupation.

In the wake of the Iraq debacle, and the growing disintegration of the situation in Afghanistan, we can only hope that Americans will achieve a “breakthrough” and recognize that the solution to America’s (and South Korea’s) foreign-policy woes lies in ending foreign interventions and occupations and unleashing the private sector to interact to interact with the people of the world. While the world might well continue to be a dangerous place in which to travel, at least the motivation among foreigners to punish private tourists and businessmen for the interventions and occupations of their government will disappear.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The World’s Biggest Military Welfare Provider

What better confirmation of the need to end the U.S. government’s role as international welfare provider than this week’s announcement of a massive military aid package to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab regimes in the Middle East. How much are American taxpayers paying for this armaments welfare package? $60 billion! To both sides!

Is this crazy or what?

Of course, one side would say, “Well, the U.S. government needs to keep sending military welfare to Israel to protect it from a possible attack by Arab countries.” The other side would say, “There has to be a balance of power and so we’ve got to keep providing military welfare to the other side too, especially since it has oil.”

Of course, the U.S. government is saying that all this military welfare is to protect everyone from the latest official enemy — Iran, even though there is no indication that Iran is doing anything more than trying to protect itself from another U.S. government regime-change operation. (The U.S. government, through the CIA, effected regime change in Iran in 1953.)

So, how about not providing military armaments to any side in the Middle East — and, at the same time, ending the taxation that the IRS is collecting from Americans to fund this welfare junk, thereby providing Americans with some much-needed tax relief?

Meanwhile, U.S. officials, led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are in the Middle East asking Arab leaders to support the U.S-installed Shiite government in Iraq (a regime that has aligned itself with Iran). The idea is much like that here in the United States with respect to domestic welfare recipients: We give you welfare and, therefore, we expect you to do as we want.

Not surprisingly, however, Rice and Gates are discovering that centuries-old religious and political differences in the Middle East are not going to be resolved through the payment of U.S. military welfare. According to the New York Times, the Arab regimes “made only vague promises to deliver on earlier commitments of support for Iraq.”

As we continue emphasizing here at FFF, as the Iraq debacle continues to grow the American people would be wise not to settle for simply a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. What is needed to restore a sense of peace, prosperity, and harmony to our nation and to the Middle East (and to the world) is a total reevaluation of U.S. foreign policy — a reevaluation that leads toward a non-interventionist foreign policy, restores limited government in foreign affairs, and rejects the U.S. government’s role as international policeman, interloper, intervener, invader, sanctioner, and welfare provider.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Farm Bill Reflects Welfare-State Immorality

The farm bill passed by the House perfectly exemplifies the moral bankruptcy of the entire welfare state that modern-day Americans have embraced.

Like all welfare-state programs, the farm program gives “free” money to people, in this case farmers, usually big farmers, as in big agricultural corporations.

Of course, as libertarians have long pointed out, the money is not “free.” The federal government is not like a business in the private sector in which the owners produce wealth and then decide how to spend or invest it. The government gets its money by taxing people — that is, by forcibly taking money from people who are earning it or have saved it. (We’ll set aside government borrowing as a source of government money since ultimately the debt must be repaid by taxing people.)

So, welfare-state programs involve government’s forcible taking of money through taxation from one group of people (to whom it belongs) in order to give the “free” money to another group of people (to whom it does not belong).

Now, normally we’re talking about American taxpayers. But guess what the august members of the U.S. House of Representatives have done in their farm bill. In a shameless act, their farm bill imposes a new tax on U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies in order to give the “free” money to American farmers.

In other words, let’s not get Americans angry at us by taxing them. Let’s instead using the federal taxing power to plunder foreigners and then give the loot to big U.S. agricultural companies, who then can garner votes for us in the next election.

How’s that for a bit of moral bankruptcy? I suppose their attitude is that since Americans don’t care that U.S. officials are torturing, abusing, and incarcerating foreigners in the “war on terror,” they won’t mind if Americans plunder and loot foreigners to fund the “war on poverty.”

The American people might be wise to reflect upon the words of Thomas Jefferson: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice will not sleep forever.”

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.