From the Comments: Loose Fiscal and Monetary Policy is the Cause of the Problem, not the Solution

From the Comments: Loose Fiscal and Monetary Policy is the Cause of the Problem, not the Solution.

There is a comment on one of my posts. It is really off-subject, but since I rarely get comments that aren’t pure spam (I even suspect that the comment in question is cleverly disguised spam), and since it is something that I talk about here on the site, replying to it and bringing it to my readers’ attention seemed like a good option. I don’t do this with all of the comments, just the ones that give me a clear opportunity to get a point across. It is probably bad blogger etiquette to do it at all, but at the moment I am working on several fairly extensive projects so I need a quick and easy post.

Mercadee: We have used both monetary and fiscal policy to battle this recession, and without the Fed’s actions to limit the downturn things would have been much worse. Fiscal policy in the form of the stimulus package, though too little, too late, and too tilted towards tax cuts, also helped to limit the damage to the economy. But when it comes to promoting a faster recovery, both monetary and fiscal policymakers have failed to do enough to help the economy return to full employment.

Me: Wrong! You are suggesting that policymakers should do those things which brought about the bubbles in the first place. What caused the depressions of 1920-1921 and 1930-45, and what made the latter one so long that did not occur in the case of the former? Loose fiscal and monetary policy. Stimulus to fund World War One, stimulus to pay off debts accrued from World War One, stimulus to fund public works projects, and stimulus to fund World War Two. What caused the housing bubble and its burst? The malinvestment that arose from the stimulative monetary and fiscal policy that was supposedly necessary to soften the blow of the dot-com burst, which was itself the result of prior loose policies. And here you are arguing for the same thing again. This time the bubbles are in student loans, car loans, and sovereign debt. It would be fine if there was a never ending series of bubbles that could burst and re-inflate, but there isn’t. Sovereign debt and government bonds are the end of the line. When that bubble bursts it will destroy the dollar, as the bubble and the false confidence it gave rise to is the only thing that has been propping it up. What gave rise to this bubble? There are many factors, and I suspect that, unlike the case of the other bubbles, this one was intended. Whether it is/was the Nixon Shock and completely detaching from a commodity standard; or wars for oil (the first one arguably being World War Two, as evidenced by the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, but perhaps more notable than this being the 1953 coup in Iran); or the creation of Bretton Woods in 1945; or the creation of the Fed in 1913; or the strengthening of the Fed in 1917; or the price controls and confiscation of gold in 1933; or the social programs and public works projects that created the current high levels of National Debt and Unfunded Liabilities, leading to the need to print more unbacked dollars; that is/was the chief cause I know not. And I care not as they are all contributing factors and all were misguided policies. The effects of these policies must be diminished. And similar policies must be prevented.

Does This Commenter Want To Revive Bimetallism? Greenbackism?

Does This Commenter Want To Revive Bimetallism? Greenbackism?.

I have had someone called “Silver Account” posting on some of my articles recently. I want to post their comments and my replies, all of which have to do with the Gold Standard and the Federal Reserve. Judging from their chosen username and what they said, I would say they are somewhere slightly to the left of William Jennings Bryan on more than a few issues. That’s just fine by me, home grown American Leftism is usually preferable to most imported varieties, although I have developed a soft spot for mutualists of late.

Comment from my piece Why I Am Writing In Paul And Not Voting For Johnson:

She [a voter quoted in my article] should stay in it [voting this election] and vote for the president [Obama]. Real people know the repubs are being swayed by the racist teabags. Paul has a good idea, but the resultant people elected (repubs) would be a disaster for working folks.The banks would take your houses like in the 1890′s, women and blacks would not be able to vote. And the copper(aka, robber)-barons would be back in charge of owning (stealing) stuff. And the ignorant south would be worse-off than they are now. There would be no subsidies the blue states are giving them.

My response:

For Obama? I doubt she would even consider it. If only the Republicans WERE being swayed by the Tea Partiers! All they are doing is using empty rhetoric to get the Tea Party to vote for them. The Republicans were listening to half of what the Tea Party was saying, they would at least have some credibility. But even if they did all of what the Tea Party wanted, it wouldn’t truly be enough in my opinion.

I take it you are referring to the Long Depression (1873-1896) and the ill effects of the hastily adopted Gold Standard? The Gold Standard actually improved the overall economic situation, and this period was the best, economically that the country had ever known. Unfortunately, the implementation of the Gold Standard after so many years of fiat greenbacks made the situation of debtors even worse. This was unjust. But what bimetallists and silverites won’t tell you is that the same thing would have happened with a silver standard or a gold-silver standard, just to a lesser degree.

In any case, no Gold Standard (see this post) should be implemented from on high. Not only does this grant a monopoly to those who already have the most gold, but you may see a repeat of some of the goings on in the 1890s. You are correct on that count. That is why I support competition in currencies. Those whose debts are in fiat dollars won’t be forced into harder to pay off debts because they won’t be forced to use a gold standard currency. Commodity backed currencies will eventually beat out fiat currencies, but ideally at a slow enough rate that debtors in the fiat system won’t have their situation worsened. Everyone wins. No one is pitted against somebody else. Debtors, industrialists, lenders, depositors, etc. It is not a zero sum game.

And the women and blacks statement is absurd. No one jumps all over themselves, disgustingly so, to appease women and blacks more than the Republican party. Real racists and sexists will never have a real voice in the GOP. They can’t afford to be bludgeoned by the Democratic party. Besides, it was historically the Republican party that stood for equal rights for all races and genders, at the same time that they were the party of corporatism and corruption.

And for your information, the robber barons of today are much worse than the ones around the turn of the last century, and they are already in control. Most of the robber barons were monopolists and thugs, but at the same time, they brought many good things to this country, to all classes, races, and genders. Maybe not as good or as cheap as a more free system would have, but still faster than bureaucrats, populists, proletarian revolutionaries, or simply “nobody” could have.

The South is full of ignorant people to be sure, but no more so than most other regions. But you are on shaky ground to label an entire region or its entire population ignorant. The patronizing collectivism inherent in your statement is in fact responsible for most of the ignorance you allude to. Do you know why the South needs subsidies? Because it STILL hasn’t recovered from the Civil War. White and black alike are still suffering from Reconstruction, and exploitation from Carpetbagging Yankees. They are both kept on the two-party plantation. They have both been utterly destroyed by the public school system, in both the segregation and integration eras.

Comment from my piece Let Us Not Be Crucified Upon A Cross Of Gold:

The Fed’s performance since 1991 has been unquestionably superior to its record at any time since 1913. However, the larger, long-run question remains: Can the Fed as an “independent” central bank maintain price stability contrary to the wishes of an executive branch that seeks to use its fiscal powers to manage the federal government’s burgeoning long-term debt?

My response:

I am not sure what metric you are using to say the Fed is doing a good job, but I really beg to differ.

From 1913 (actually 1915) to 1917 was the Fed’s best era. This was before they were allowed to trade bonds, which is when the fiat currency really got off the ground.

Its policies from 1917 to 1919 led to two depressions, one lasting from 1920-1921 and the other 1929-1945. This latter Depression was the worse of the two, and obviously worse than anything we have experienced since. Having said this, the Fed’s main role was to trigger it. The length was more the result of the Federal Government’s reaction to the Depression, though the Fed did have something to do with it as well. Keynesians and Monetarists claim that the Fed didn’t expand the money supply enough. They are wrong. While contracting the supply of money would have its own problems, expanding it was what caused the problems in the first place. The best thing to have done would have been nothing, whether by the Federal Reserve or the Federal Government. During this period, the price of gold was fixed. One of the reasons the dollar didn’t collapse in this period is because gold (including that which was stolen from the American public) was used to prop it up.

But because price fixing eventually leads to shortages, this arrangement couldn’t last either. Hence Bretton Woods, which increased the flow of and access to gold. But just as before, this could only last so long. Shortage was still inevitable. At the same time the money supply was increasing. Hence the Nixon Shock.

As if the money supply wasn’t increasing at an insane rate before, taking the dollar completely off of gold only accelerated the process. Now the only thing holding the dollar up is its reserve status, something which coincided with the period between 1945 and now because of the United States’ increased influence after World War Two, which had greatly diminished the other powers.

Fed Policy didn’t really change much in these early years. But as it was no longer constrained by a scarce commodity, it could let lose. We saw the effects of this with stagflation, the dot com crash, and the housing crash. I put it to you that the Fed actions that caused these three things have only gotten worse since 1991, and continue to go down that path.

Price stability is only good in the short run or relative to increased prices. Decreased prices are not evidence of a recession, they are the result of deflation, which is a natural economic trend that has nothing to do with monetary policy.

The debt can not be managed. It can only grow until default. Default will occur whether hyperinflation happens or not. So you either have a default without Fed involvement (the better option) or default with Fed involvement (instead of just “austerity”, it will be austerity AFTER currency collapse).

Wary of Gary

Wary of Gary.

Let me start off by saying that I would like nothing more than to be able to support a Liberty candidate and vote for him this November. I have tried so hard, many times to get myself in the mood for Gary Johnson. Each time I was kidding myself.

You should know that you are free to comment and argue with me, but the purpose of this post is not necessarily to convince people not to vote for Gary Johnson, but just to further explain why I am not going to do so. This may seem unnecessary, but seeing as how this blog had hitherto been given the expressed purpose of supporting Ron Paul, in its own limited way, and that I will be ramping up the volume and frequency of posts, I feel obliged to explain why none of these posts will be featuring support for Johnson’s candidacy, and will instead be more issue-oriented (with the occasional hit piece on Obama or Romney).

So. What exactly is my problem with Gary Johnson? I’ll tell you. It’s not that he’s not a nice guy. It’s not that I doubt his sincerity. It’s not that I would prefer Obama or Romney.  And it’s not just the very few (or perhaps there are more than I initially anticipated) things that he and I disagree on.  But it is, in part, the things he, at times, seems focus on. I can’t listen to the guy without him blah-blah-blahing about gay marriage, taxing marijuana, flip-flopping on everything from heroin to NAFTA, and plenty of other meaningless distractions, all the while that they are mostly distractions he is still going in the wrong direction or not near forcefully enough in the right direction. Sure, he brings up the wars, the Pentagon budget, says he wants to bring the troops home, audit the fed, things like that. And the strange thing is I don’t necessarily disbelieve him. I just think that these things, the real issues, the real issues, the real issues, would be put on the back burner, or more so than they should be. It’s the economy stupid! And as long as you are going to talk about and do things that have virtually nothing to do with the economy, the very least you could do, if you want my support, or my vote, is talk about and do these things in a way I can agree with.

I have said that I would vote for Gary Johnson if he would address some of my concerns satisfactorily. When I originally listed them, I was mainly waxing rhetorical. In my mind, I was (and still am) certain that Gary would answer almost none of them to my satisfaction, which is why those particulars (re-listed below) were ever sticks in my craw in the first place.

What is it about Gary that makes me lose hope of he and I ever seeing eye to eye on these things?

I have seen and heard enough interviews where these things were touched on. None of the interviewers were anywhere near as precise on these issues as I was with my list. Nor would one think there should be a need for them to be so. You see, libertarians make a name for themselves being very rational and analytical about things. So when some radio host or some high mucky-muck in the freedom movement/free market blogosphere asks Gary Johnson, straight up: Do you support humanitarian interventionism? (just one example!), and he opens his mouth and fumbles but you think he’s eventually going to say something rooted in some clause of the Constitution or some fundamental libertarian axiom, and then he basically says “yes,” without hardly a qualification (and then one usually appealing to emotion), and changes the subject to his stance on the current wars, which are winding down and unpopular anyways, and therefore happens to be the same stance as 70% of the American public, who, and I hate to sound like an elitist, are some of the most vacuous and bloodthirsty people on the planet, I am forced to choose between two options in terms of what I can think of him: He is either weak willed (worse yet, a coward) or he is a complete ignoramus.  And let me tell you, I am not sure which one scares me more: Is he afraid of alienating the average Libertarian Party member who is a bleeding-heart socially liberal utilitarian minarchist (nothing necessarily wrong with any ONE of those things, or even a mixture of two or three, but I am not the biggest fan of the overall combination), or does he really know less about basic libertarianism, noninterventionism, and economics than some kids I know who aren’t even old enough to vote?

There have been times when I listen to him speak and after a while I am just cringing in dreadful anticipation of what answer he is going to give next. Don’t get me wrong, the man is a great orator when he gets a softball interview, which is just about all of them these last two months because his handlers won’t let him talk about the real details of the real issues with real people anymore. They already milked that cow and she’s bone dry.

Or maybe I shouldn’t blame it all on his handlers, maybe I should blame it on the fact that because Ron Paul is out of the picture and this is an exciting election, the media, even its libertarian wing, has chosen to fawn rather than vet. 

Anyways, lets delve into those particulars again:

1. Does his pro-choice stance mean he would uphold the Tenth Amendment or ignore it and further erode it?

Gary has stated that he thinks each state should decide. This is a stance I can live with and may even be the best of all possible political alternatives. Except…

Johnson is really in no position to alienate the pro-life vote, so it would stand to reason that he would bring up the states’ rights argument, that he says he adheres to in this case, just a tad more often. Unfortunately for him, he usually just says that he PERSONALLY BELIEVES in a woman’s “right” to choose up until the fetus is “viable.” He needs 15% polling nationwide to get in the debates with Obama and Romney, something I would have hoped for even if I was not going to vote for him, just to get some of his alternative views in the public square (his opposition, though at times mild, to things like the Federal Reserve, suspension of habeas corpus, the income tax, ObamaCare, executive orders, undeclared wars, budget deficits, entitlements, welfare, eminent domain, the UN, bailouts, gun control, etc.). I suspect after alienating a good portion of his potential base, the Ron Paul supporters, he will not get into the debates, let alone win the presidency. We basically have three pro-choice guys running. One is Planned Parenthood’s bosom buddy. Another has ties to abortion mill disposal companies, and has had every conceivable stance on the issue (except this one). And the other, while opposing public funding of abortions, and possibly in favor of states’ rights on the issue (thereby appointing judges who might overturn Roe v. Wade), still would not make life a priority in any way, shape, or form because a) he personally is pro-choice and b) he is against states’ rights on the marriage question and who knows what else.

Here is one article I read that says it is okay to vote for a personally pro-choice candidate because the president, not even through the courts, has absolutely no effect on policies regarding abortion: Abortion, Religion, and the Presidency by Laurence M. Vance. Mr. Vance is essentially arguing that you can vote for the lesser of two evils if the evil in question has no policy consequence. I would buy that argument if I knew for certain that that same candidate would reduce abortions through some indirect mechanism (states’ rights), if given the opportunity to do so, even if he is unwilling or unable to use more direct mechanisms (executive order, signing a law banning abortion, advocating an amendment banning abortion, or appointing judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade).

There are three ways to implement a states’ rights solution to abortion. One is to overturn Roe v. Wade by appointing pro-life or pro-states’ rights justices. Another is to pass a law taking jurisdiction over abortion away from the courts, thus invalidating Roe v. Wade and any other federal court’s decision in the past or future that overturn state laws against abortion. Both of these ways are direct. The third way is simply by refusing to prosecute or punish the states that choose to ban abortion, even if Roe v. Wade is technically still in effect. The President can direct his Attorney General, Justice Department, and other relevant officers to not go after states that nullify federal law or court decisions. Johnson has not clearly stated that would do any of these things. And until he does, no pro-lifer should even consider him. I hope he clarifies whether he would do these things or not. There are so many issues that he has made unclear or conflicting statements on.

2. Does “humanitarian intervention” mean things such as Letters of Marque and Reprisal and Spanish Civil War-type volunteerism (which is illegal these days) or does it mean more undeclared or unjust wars, unilateral or otherwise?

He still has never gone into detail on this, besides, just recently, specifically as it pertains to Kony. I mean, are we just supposed to make the assumption that he’s alright just because of the L that comes after his name? I thought that sort of thinking was what gave us the two-party duopoly! My gut instinct is that Gary really would send in taxpayer-funded US troops. He would probably go to Congress and get a Declaration of War first, and would probably define the mission, engage the enemy, win, and then pull out. Probably. This would therefore be a “legal” war, but by no means a “just” war. Ron Paul (yes, I know, he is not running anymore, but that has nothing to do with the point I am making) on the other hand would only go to Congress if we were attacked first, and then presumably in an even handed way. And if Congress on its own, with no prompting from the Commander-in-Chief, was to unjustly, but legally Declare War, Ron Paul as Commander-in-Chief would probably weigh the two following options: Resign or carry it out as quickly and painlessly as possible. Gary, so far as I can tell would weigh these two options: Carry it out because there is a humanitarian reason to do so or don’t carry it out because there is no humanitarian reason to do so. And need I remind you that George W. Bush campaigned on a humble foreign policy and gave us two quagmires and a world ready to explode. How much more should we be wary of someone who has stated they would go gallivanting across the globe in search of monsters to destroy (or am I wrong in thinking that is the corollary of using trained killers in a humanitarian fashion)? All other things being equal of course.

Gary Johnson did say, and I think this is only a recent thing as a result of pressure put on him by the Ron Paul vote, that he “think[s] Kony could have been more effectively dealt with by letters of marque and reprisal.” And while I could go on about why Letters of Marque and Reprisal are preferable to sending in the troops, the reality is that volunteers acting on their own, expecting no aid from the US government, whether their mission succeeds or fails, would be even better, especially in a situation that has nothing to do with US national security. Letters of Marque and Reprisal would have been the perfect thing to go after Osama bin Laden with, but in the case of Kony, this would be no different than the president having private mercenaries doing his bidding, taking out whomever he deems unfit to continue living. That kind of power in the hands of Johnson would probably not be of too much concern, but to establish that precedent would be unwise, especially in light of the fact that assassinating United States citizens, no charges, no trial, is an accepted prerogative of the executive office these days.

3. When he says, “end the war on drugs,” does he mean, “decriminalize all substances” on the federal level and let the states and individuals decide for themselves, or simply, “legalize marijuana, which we can then tax and regulate like we do alcohol and tobacco,” well?

He means the second one, which I am fundamentally in disagreement with.  I don’t think the Federal government should even be regulating alcohol and tobacco.

4. Is his love for liberty rooted, at least partially, in a hatred for injustice and tyranny, or is it more from a utilitarian, the-greatest-benefit-to-the-greatest-number philosophy?

I already know the answer to this. And as with most other questions, it is the second answer.

5. Should the federal government only prosecute and punish crimes actually listed in the Constitution, or just about any crime that may be a real or perceived problem?

You know, counterfeiting, piracy on the high seas, treason, and international crimes? Gary has never even touched on this issue, one way or the other, to my knowledge. This is a much bigger deal than most people give credit for, and though it is related to the drug issue, is a lot broader than that.

6. Will states be allowed to ignore laws they deem unjust or should the federal government take measures to prevent this, whether through the courts, the legislature, or the executive branch?

Gary has spoken about nullification, but this seems inconsistent with his view of marriage. He wants a nation-wide law providing for one, all-inclusive definition of marriage, all the while maintaining separation of church and state, but why bother with such laws (which, like provisions of the Civil Rights Act, are in clear violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, as well as the Fourteenth, which is often misinterpreted in the same way that the Thirteenth is to give the children of illegal immigrants automatic citizenship, that is to superficially uphold the letter of the text through modern interpretation while completely ignoring the spirit of the text through original intent) on the one hand, when you support nullification on the other? It makes no sense!

7. Is getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with the Fair Tax part of a broader plan to eliminate all taxes unnecessary to the legitimate constitutional functions of government, or is it an end in itself?

I’m serious. Taxation is theft. Period. But I have further questions: Does getting rid of the income tax mean abolishing just the IRS and the tax code, or does it include abolishing the Sixteenth Amendment? This question has not even been asked, let alone answered. Given that fact, I would say it is because Gary does not want to waste time on politically inexpedient policy issues that bear no immediate fruit when all he has to do is say something popular. When most people hear abolish the income tax, they just assume you mean permanently. And perhaps in your heart of hearts you do, but that doesn’t cut it. Johnson has basically said (and here is the link) that he would push for the Fair Tax whether the 16th Amendment was gotten rid of or not, which to me is plain stupid. If you are not for completely abolishing one tyranny before you “replace” it with another, how can you guarantee that further down the road there won’t be both at once? You can’t. Especially not as the Government’s need for revenue increases, exponentially no less, with each passing year, thanks to our national debt and unfunded liabilities and the high interest rates that are inevitable in the future. In my book, bad things should not be replaced with slightly less worse things. Once you have gotten rid of the bad thing, that should be the end of it. If that is an impossibility, it should still be the stated goal. Why compromise before you are even asked to? As H.L. Richardson wrote in Confrontational Politics, ”When the liberals step dialectically backward, the conservative attack must be intensified, not diminished.” This means don’t stop pushing just because you have gained some ground. It applies equally to all corners of the political compass, not just “liberals” and “conservatives.”

And those are my concerns and observations, and they are subject to revision. In any case, I do not think Gary Johnson will win, so as I have said before, the only reasons for someone who otherwise is not enthused to vote for him, are, to help him get matching funds, which in my opinion is not a worthy goal unless you plan on handing them back directly to the Treasury or better yet the taxpayer; or to send a message. Sending a message is a great idea. Unless of course, it is the wrong message. And what message would I be sending by voting for Gary Johnson?

I would be sending a message to the Libertarian Party that they can go ahead and keep sending in watered down libertarians and I will loyally support them because I don’t mind watered down libertarians and enjoy sending messages that are about how much I like sending messages rather than actually getting a real point across.

I would be sending the Republican Party a message that says I would vote for whoever they nominate as long as he has more in common with Gary Johnson than he does Barack Obama, which, though that hypothetical person would absolutely be better than Romney or Obama, is absolutely not true and therefore not a message I want to send.

I would be sending the Democratic Party a message that says I would vote for whoever they nominate as long as he has more in common with Gary Johnson than he does Mitt Romney, which, though that hypothetical person would absolutely be better than Obama or Romney, is absolutely not true and therefore not a message I want to send.

I am neither willing nor able to send any of these messages, all of which would emanate from a vote for Gary Johnson. This obviously does not apply to those who would be voting for Johnson for other reasons (like agreeing with his positions) or who think that sending messages that they may not entirely agree with is their civic duty or a dire necessity.

And what weight does winning (whether you define that as winning the election, changing the game, or simply as sending a message) have against violating one’s conscience? If I were slightly more of a compromiser, and if I thought Gary Johnson could win, something I did briefly think was possible, perhaps that would be heavy enough of a thing, for me to consider going against my conscience and making that expedient choice. But so long as there is no likely reward (a win), why would I, hypothetically more of a compromiser, even bother sticking my neck out? It would be pointless.

That is only a hypothetical; I like to think that I would not compromise like that, even with a chance at success. So if I find out on November 7th that Gary Johnson could have been a game changer or even a winner had he just one more vote, I will still not regret the decision I made to write-in Ronald Ernest Paul, M.D.

And in case you don’t believe me, here are some links that went into my decision:

Has the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had an overall benefit for the US? – 2012 Presidential Election – ProCon.org

Gary Johnson disappoints:LP candidate doesn’t understand libertarianism – Richmond Libertarian | Examiner.com

The Humble Libertarian: Gary Johnson vs Ron Paul: The Respective Cases for Ron Paul & Gary Johnson in 2012

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson to Announce His Run for the Republican Presidential Nomination

Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election. « keimh3regpeh2umeg

Gary Johnson’s false claims spinning out of control – Washington DC Conservative | Examiner.com

Ron Paul or Gary Johnson? Division In the Liberty Movement | The Unconventional Conservative

Gary Johnson’s Foreign Policy: Libertarian or “Strange”? – Hit & Run : Reason.com

Gary Johnson, the Statist Alternative to Libertarian Ron Paul » Scott Lazarowitz’s Blog

“Where Is His Spine?” – Scott Horton & Tom Woods Discuss Gary Johnson – YouTube

Gary Johnson – “Libertarian” Candidate – is Out of His Element « Antiwar.com Blog

Gov. Gary Johnson: I Smoked Marijuana from 2005 to 2008 | The Weekly Standard

Interview: Is Gary Johnson a “Fake” Libertarian? | Washington Times Communities

TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: Gary Johnson’s strange foreign policy | The Daily Caller

Why I Am Writing In Paul And Not Voting For Johnson « keimh3regpeh2umeg

Gary Johnson Is Seeking the LP Nomination | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

There Is Still No Such Thing As a Fair Tax – Laurence M. Vance – Mises Daily

Somin on Gary Johnson and Ron Paul: A Reply — The Libertarian Standard

The Flat Tax Is Not Flat and the FairTax Is Not Fair by Laurence M. Vance

Ron Paul vs. Gary Johnson on foreign policy – Bob Zadek Show – YouTube

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson Does the National Press Club

Will Young People Choose Johnson Over Paul? « LewRockwell.com Blog

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson as a Lightweight Libertarian

Gary Johnson vs Ron Paul on the issues of the 2012 Presidential election

Yes, Gary Johnson Endorsed Humanitarian War | The Weekly Standard

The Consumption Tax: A Critique – Murray N. Rothbard – Mises Daily

Lustful Foolishness Does Not Mix With Principles in [Market-Ticker]

Gary Johnson: Caveat Emptor by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com

Tribalistic Libertarianism | Strike-The-Root: A Journal Of Liberty

Gary Johnson: Keep Guantanamo Open « LewRockwell.com Blog

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: How Libertarian is Gary Johnson?

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Ron Paul versus Gary Johnson

Ron Paul vs Gary Johnson in 2012 Presidential Candidates

‘This Is a Libertarian?’ | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

Gary Johnson’s Libertarianism « LewRockwell.com Blog

Getting It Straight on Johnson « LewRockwell.com Blog

Sarah Palin and Gary Johnson « LewRockwell.com Blog

Don’t Criticize Gary Johnson? « LewRockwell.com Blog

Give Jon a Dollar: An Open Challenge to Gary Johnson

Lessons from a Bloated Budget by Laurence M. Vance

Gary Me Not On The Lone Prairie, by L. Neil Smith

A Libertarian sales-tax party? « Notes On Liberty

Gary Johnson Gary Johnson; Libertarian failure.

Harry Browne – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gary Johnson: Statist » Scott Lazarowitz’s Blog

Paul vs. Johnson | The American Conservative

Gary Johnson Gary Johnson supports NAFTA

Can a Tax Be ‘Fair’? by Laurence M. Vance

Free Trade versus Free-trade Agreements

BIG-GOVERNMENT LIBERTARIANS

Two Visions « LewRockwell.com Blog

If I Were Gary Johnson | Tom Woods

WHY THE PRO-NAFTA HYSTERIA?

http://www.lprc.org/tenpoints.html

Gary Johnson 2012?! – YouTube

What I Learned From Paleoism

Libertarianism lite

STOP NAFTA!

Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election.

Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election.

I have been on a sort of hiatus these last few weeks. I was not able to attend to this blog as I created another one that took up most of my spare time. It’s focus was to possibly bring about any one of four things,

1) Have Gary Johnson and Jim Gray both resign in favor of Ron Paul. Gary Johnson would then get back on the Libertarian ticket as the Vice Presidential nominee. Within about a day I realized that this option was not viable because of the Sore Loser laws. Ron Paul “lost” running for one presidential nomination so he could not legally run for president in several states.

2) Have Jim Gray resign in favor of Ron Paul. This option soon came to the forefront as it maximized support without all the legal challenges and loss of ballot access that would occur were Ron Paul to run for president on a post-primary ticket. The effort had until Monday, September 17th to lobby Doctor Paul to tell the Libertarian Party, Gary Johnson, and Jim Gray that he wanted to be on their ticket. Given that that was today and nothing has happened, it appears that this effort has failed.

3) Have Gary Johnson promise to pick up Ron Paul for a cabinet position. Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Treasury, Fed Chairman, what have you. This will be the main focus of my other blog in the weeks ahead. Unfortunately, Gary Johnson has already indicated that he was not likely to do this. There is still time to change his mind and to lobby Ron Paul to accept such an offer, though. This may not even be allowable, so I will be looking into it before I go any further in that direction.

4) Have Ron Paul give an endorsement, preferably conditional, to the Gary Johnson ticket. This could turn out to be the most fruitful option, but quite possibly the least likely given Ron Paul’s seeming commitment to not endorsing anyone. He did endorse all third party candidates in 2008, but that was before he made inroads into the GOP. The progress from these inroads is debatable in my opinion, but I understand why he might be reluctant to jeopardize it.

Having said all this, I stand by my words: I do not plan on voting for Gary Johnson in November. But I would like to qualify those words: Unless Ron Paul is on Gary Johnson’s team. Even then, I would have trouble voting for Gary Johnson, for reasons I will touch on below. A cabinet pick would be the most tempting, followed by a conditional endorsement, and then an unconditional endorsement.

The conditions I would like to see have to do with Gary Johnson’s serious need to clarify several, major points, namely:

Does his pro-choice stance mean he would uphold the Tenth Amendment or ignore/further erode it?

Does humanitarian intervention mean things such as Letters of Marque and Reprisal and Spanish Civil War-type volunteerism or does it mean more undeclared or unjust wars, unilateral or otherwise?

When he says, “end the war on drugs,” does he mean “decriminalize all substances” on the federal level and let the states and individuals decide for themselves, or simply “legalize marijuana, which we can then tax and regulate like we do alcohol and tobacco,” well?

Is his love for liberty rooted, at least partially, in a hatred for injustice and tyranny, or is it more from a utilitarian, the-greatest-benefit-to-the-greatest-number philosophy?

Should the federal government only prosecute and punish crimes actually listed in the Constitution, or just about any crime that may be a real or perceived problem?

Will states be allowed to ignore laws they deem unjust or should the federal government take measures to prevent this, whether through the courts, the legislature, or the executive branch?

Is getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with the Fair Tax part of a broader plan to eliminate all taxes unnecessary to the legitimate constitutional functions of government, or is it an end in itself?

There are other things I wonder about him that are very important, but those listed above are the potential deal-breakers. If he picks the first option in the majority of questions, some being more important than others, I just might vote for him. If he picks the second one in the majority of questions, not only will I not vote for him, but I will continue to be critical of him, being hostile when necessary. Some of these questions have been asked before. But the way they were asked, or the time allotted was not conducive to a meaningful answer.

A lot of conservatives are not too happy about Romney, but they justify voting for him in several ways, most of which are absurd on their face. One of these is that “we will hold him accountable, if he does something we don’t like, we’ll hold his feet to the fire.” This sounds just wonderful. Heck, if I thought it would work, even I would vote for Romney. And I absolutely hate the guy! But anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Reagan administration, George W. Bush, or the Class of ’94 should reject such folly outright. I say, if you can’t get someone on your side BEFORE the election, cast any thought of voting for them aside. Do not vote for them. Not in the primary, and certainly not in the general election. The same goes for Gary Johnson, which is why I listed the above conditions.

In any case, whether I end up supporting him or not, I do hope Gary Johnson makes it into the debates. I would support ANY third party candidate getting into the debates, even a Communist, because ending the two party monopoly is just as important to advancing the cause of liberty as having a good candidate is. I just don’t think it will happen without Gary Johnson first convincing all (or much more than just “most”) of the Ron Paul vote to support him. 15% is a hard threshold to attain, let alone maintain, especially when most people that might otherwise consider voting for you think getting rid of Obama is priority number one.

Let Us Not Be Crucified Upon A Cross Of Gold

Let Us Not Be Crucified Upon A Cross Of Gold.

A new Gold Commission. It’s going to be a plank in the Republican Party Platform for 2012! Thanks in no small part to Ron Paul’s educational efforts affecting not only his delegates but Republican voters and the occasional establishment-type. In this era of the printing press (actually, computer-clicks), and all of its trappings—inflation, bailouts, corporatism, militarism—the American people, whether conservative or liberal, can’t help but notice the Federal Reserve’s role in growing the government and weakening the dollar. And while there are many disagreements about what should be done, most informed people that are not a part of the mainstream Republican apparatus or the mainstream Democratic apparatus know that something needs to be done.

Whether its ending the Fed, auditing it, tying it to a commodity, subjecting it to competition, allowing the market to set the interest rate, getting rid of interest rates altogether, replacing the Fed with some other body, replacing it with Congress or one of its Committees, replacing it with nothing, or some combination thereof, these people know something needs to happen if we are to discontinue our reckless monetary policy, the Fed needs to change its ways or take a hike.

Ideally, from an Austrian perspective, the Fed should first be fully audited so that Congress and the American people can be made aware of just how bad things are. Things like how much gold is really in Fort Knox, how much money political favorites and special interests really got, how large the payments to Europe and places like Libya before Gaddafi’s ouster really are, why the interest rate is where it is and who benefits either financially or politically, and the effects of other policies.

Then, perhaps after some of these things are dealt with, legal tender laws should be repealed, making it fully legal for other currencies to arise and compete with the Fed. Should should accompany the elimination of the Federal Reserve’s Dual Mandate of steady prices and maximum employment, or as this piece states, its Triple Mandate of “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” With this, the Fed will either dwindle, making it that much easier to end, or will have to compete, perhaps by going back to some sort of commodity backing. Historically, both before and after the Fed, the US Dollar (AKA Federal Reserve Note) has been backed by gold and silver.

Congress should be made fully responsible for the Fed’s actions and the Fed should be made fully accountable and answerable to the Congress. As soon as fully ending the Federal Reserve or its favored status is no longer a threat to the economic livelihood of hard working people and corporations that have not been engaged in legal or illegal plunder, it should be fully privatized and if this is not plausible, ended. Its cartel status should be ultimately revoked, so that when fully privatized (it is already quasi-private), it is no longer in a position of favor. To keep Congress from merely filling in the void left by the Fed, something which could conceivably be worse than what we have now, given enough time, Article One, Section Eight, Clause Five of the United States Constitution, which states

[The Congress shall have Power] To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures,

should be interpreted as strictly as possible. This means understanding that having the power to do something is not necessarily having the duty to do something, nor does it mean having the sole power to do something.

It is important that the Gold Commission does not simply call for a return to Bretton Woods, because Bretton Woods itself was unstable. The answer to it should not have been Nixon’s untying of the dollar from gold, but a return to the system before Executive Order 6102, if not also to Pre-Liberty Bond Act (1917) or Pre-Federal Reserve Act (1913) monetary policy. It is also important that whatever happens, especially the implementation of a Gold Standard still under the Federal Reserve Cartel, it should not be done abruptly or without taking precautions such that one special interest gains at the expense of another. Remember William Jennings Bryan and his Cross of Gold speech? It is easy enough to label him a monetary crackpot, for he surely was. But understand that he never could have made his case if it weren’t for the plight of the farmers not being able to pay off their debts being exacerbated by the de facto re-implementation of the Gold Standard in 1873. The Coinage Act was passed in the midst of an economic emergency, and led to an era of deflation (called the “Long Depression” despite being nothing of the sort). This was good for the economy as a whole, but as deflation is harmful to debtors, it hurt many a borrower, most of whom were the nations’ farmers.

So, it is a good thing that along with a Gold Commission, there will also be a plank calling for an Audit of the Federal Reserve. For were it just the one, the danger of abrupt changes would be all the greater. Assuming, that is, Republicans take any of the planks seriously. But seriously!

The Debate (And Now Discussion) On Usury Continues

The Debate (And Now Discussion) On Usury Continues.

I have two prior blog posts bringing attention to this debate, here, and here. The latest threads involving me (though, in all modesty, there are others there more worth reading) are:

THIS IS AN OLD COMMENT OF MINE THAT I HAVE BLOGGED BEFORE, BUT THE RESPONSE BELOW IS NEW

[Context: Someone claims that charging interest is usury and that usury is theft, ergo, charging interest is theft]

How is it stealing if the person in debt entered the contract voluntarily?

Say I voluntarily decide to give all my food and money and shelter away. Then say I die of exposure and starvation. Are the people I gave my stuff to guilty of theft and murder?

Let’s look at Leviticus 25:35-37.

“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.”

Seems like there is a caveat (he must be poor, unable to maintain himself, and a “brother”) on interest, not a prohibition on it.

But if I interpret it rather as a broad prohibition, I must interpret the rest of the passage in the same manner. Therefore, it must be criminal to sell food to not just poor people, but to anyone that is hungry.

How about Exodus 22:25-27?

“If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”

More caveats. “My people” and “who is poor”. And how about the cloak. What if he has more than one?

And Deuteronomy 23:19-21

“You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.”

Interest sounds perfectly legal to me. And we could argue all day about who constitutes a brother, and who a foreigner in the modern era.

Nehemiah 5: 6-13

“Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”

“I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. I also shook out the fold[a] of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.”

This has a bit more detail. It definitely comes down a lot harder on interest and mortgages. But it is still within the context of “brotherhood” not only in lineage but in faith. It also speaks literally of slavery. Are debtors enslaved today? Surely in a sense they are, but not in a truly “biblical sense”. Also notice the purpose of these mortgages. They were taken out to pay the king’s tax. So is the root of the evil in question interest or taxation (which is real theft)?

And Ezekiel 18:5-9.

“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right—if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.”

This may be ideal. But it is still a tall order. The command to feed the hungry and clothe the naked comes before the prohibition against charging interest. If it should be illegal to charge interest, should it not also be illegal to NOT share every spare piece of bread and article of clothing you have with every hungry and naked person one comes across?

HERE IS THE RESPONSE, NOTE THAT HE DOES NOT ADDRESS MY SCRIPTURAL CITATIONS OR GIVE HIS OWN

“How is it stealing if the person in debt entered the contract voluntarily?”

This is the crucial ruse Keith [sic]. The question is: what choice did the person have? Could he choose between a 5% mortgage and a 0% mortgage? Or could he choose between renting at even higher cost, 5% at Bank of America and 5,1 at Citigroup?

This is how ‘choice’ in the libertarian sense always works out. This is how the tyranny of Monopoly Capitalism parading as ‘free markets’ with ‘choice’ and ‘liberty’ work out.

ME AGAIN

But you are arguing that interest is always bad, even when there is choice. Say I take out a loan for something I can live without. Say I knew what I was getting into. Say I knew that interest would be charged because I was told by the person I was borrowing it from that it would not be worth it for them to loan their money “at cost”. How in the world is anyone forced into this situation? Make no mistake, not all loans are given to the needy. I would agree with you that some loans should be charitable, but that it is not the responsibility of banks to determine who is needy and who isn’t. They are there to make loans to people that can pay them off, not take up the responsibilities of poor or the ignorant. If people slip through the cracks, blame their “brothers” for not taking care of their needs, or better yet, blame them for being to proud to accept charity, or live in a hovel because they don’t have the skills, health, or ingenuity necessary to live in a McMansion. This is ALL the scriptures say: If your BROTHER is in NEED, do not charge them interest. This does not and can not translate into “if your CUSTOMER has a DEMAND, do not charge them interest.”

HIM AGAIN

If there is choice there is no interest.

There is only interest if you can’t get it interest free! that’s why it’s so important to look behind the grandiose words: ‘choice’ ‘liberty’ ‘human action’; What is actually happening that is the questionl.

If you can go to a Mutual Credit Facility for a mortgage at 0% or bullion mortgage at 5%, where would you go?

Clearly you only go to the gold bank if there is no alternative, so no ‘choice’, even though you can ‘choose’ between hundreds of banks all offering the same silly specie.

End of story.

I HAVE THE LAST SAY (ACTUALLY, HE CHANGES THE SUBJECT, NOT THAT I MIND)

The same is true for when you purchase anything. There is no choice to get it for free unless someone gives it to you. In the case of money, this is known as charity.

I am not opposed to mutual credit, per se, but personally I would rather see my money appreciate with interest than depreciate with inflation. But these days the interest rate on savings is so artificially low that the average person probably wouldn’t notice the difference between the two types of banking. The problem with no interest is that it does not foster savings, and therefore drives investment lower than it would if people had incentive to save.

With this last sentence I admit I was making a deduction (some might call it speculation). But think about it: If there is no incentive to lend money, because no-interest loans means not only are you out the money until it is paid back, but you are not even being paid for your temporary loss of money. This has far-reaching ramifications. The first and most obvious (though for some reason I didn’t mention it in my comment, but was reminded that I should with an answer I received from a fellow blogger after having inquired for his opinion on mutual credit) is that people simply won’t lend to anyone but their friends and relatives or for infinitesimally brief periods of time. Then, because there are very few lenders, most people in need of a loan will have to forgo the purchases they would otherwise make, be it necessary or frivolous. Not only that, but people will start pulling their money out of banks. Why have your money sit in someone else’s (a greedy banker, no less) vault not appreciating a penny’s-worth (and likely depreciating thanks to the inflation caused by mutual credit creation) when you can spend it all at once, put it in black market banks that still lend for interest, or stuff it under your mattress and guard it with a sawed-off shotgun? With people taking their money out, bank runs could ensue. We all know where that sort of thing can lead. But, wait! There’s more! With banks failing and those that survive being savings-starved, where will entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists, and just ordinary people go for the liquidity necessary to fund their projects? Its a double-whammy for borrowers, because not only will there be no incentive for lenders to lend to them, but for the few lenders that decide to go on lending, there will be a scarcity of funds for them to loan out to borrowers. Scarcity, of course, leads to higher prices. If you can’t charge those prices in the form of interest, you will have to tack them on somewhere else or, and I hate to burst your bubble (pun intended), face the consequences.