Friday, October 21, 2011

Crony Capitalism

From the General Motors bailout to subsidies for Solyndra, crony capitalism is as serious a threat to liberty, free markets and civil society as ever. Cato Institute Senior Fellow Tom G. Palmer recently discussed The Morality of Capitalism (free pdf), the financial crisis and cronyism at the John Locke Foundation.

click for link to video of speech

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Top 1 Percent

Well, there were just under 1.4 million households that qualified for entry. They earned nearly 17% of the nation's income and paid roughly 37% of its income tax.

Collectively, their adjusted gross income was $1.3 trillion. And while $343,927 was the minimum AGI to be included, on average, Top 1-percenters made $960,000.

Cartoon: Meaning of Life

Blame the Fed for the Financial Crisis

Ron Paul writes:

To know what is wrong with the Federal Reserve, one must first understand the nature of money. Money is like any other good in our economy that emerges from the market to satisfy the needs and wants of consumers. Its particular usefulness is that it helps facilitate indirect exchange, making it easier for us to buy and sell goods because there is a common way of measuring their value. Money is not a government phenomenon, and it need not and should not be managed by government. When central banks like the Fed manage money they are engaging in price fixing, which leads not to prosperity but to disaster.

The Federal Reserve has caused every single boom and bust that has occurred in this country since the bank's creation in 1913...

What the Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek victoriously asserted in the socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s—the notion that the marketplace, where people freely decide what they need and want to pay for, is the only effective way to allocate resources—may be obvious to many ordinary Americans. But it has not influenced government leaders today, who do not seem to see the importance of prices to the functioning of a market economy...

What exactly the Fed will do is anyone's guess, and it is no surprise that markets continue to founder as anticipation mounts. If the Fed would stop intervening and distorting the market, and would allow the functioning of a truly free market that deals with profit and loss, our economy could recover. The continued existence of an organization that can create trillions of dollars out of thin air to purchase financial assets and prop up a fundamentally insolvent banking system is a black mark on an economy that professes to be free.

read the entire WSJ essay

Department of Defense

This 129 page report cost $38,000.

My thoughts: Bloated budget?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2011 Budget Deficit: $1.298 Trillion

The Congressional Budget Office recently finished tallying the revenue and spending figures for fiscal 2011, which ended September 30, and no wonder no one in Washington is crowing. The political class might have its political pretense blown. This is said to be a new age of fiscal austerity, yet the government had its best year ever, spending a cool $3.6 trillion. That beat the $3.52 trillion posted in 2009, when the feds famously began their attempt to spend America back to prosperity.

What happened to all of those horrifying spending cuts? Good question. CBO says that overall outlays rose 4.2% from 2010 (1.8% adjusted for timing shifts), when spending fell slightly from 2009. Defense spending rose only 1.2% on a calendar-adjusted basis, and Medicaid only 0.9%, but Medicare spending rose 3.9% and interest payments by 16.7%.

The bigger point: Government austerity is a myth.


Samsung’s move to have iPhone 4S sales banned in Australia and Japan is just the latest battle in the patent war between Apple and Samsung. It follows the EU's banning of the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab (on hold for now). The war highlights the sorry state of the world’s patent laws...

The Apple/Samsung patent war is an example of patents at their worst. There’s a big deadweight loss associated with lawsuits and restrictions on commerce. And most of the challenges are completely spurious – should Apple really “own” the pattern of a four-column grid of apps on a tablet home screen, or the concept of a rectangular tablet computer? Apple and Samsung have created enormous value to a huge number of people, but in this case they're acting against consumer choice. Like blaming gravity for plane crashes or greed for financial crises, it's silly to blame the firms themselves. Fundamentally, it's the patent system that's at fault.

Soft Drink Sales 2010


Monday, October 17, 2011

National Debt by President

Herbert Hoover and the New Deal

Politicians and pundits portray Herbert Hoover as a defender of laissez faire governance whose dogmatic commitment to small government led him to stand by and do nothing while the economy collapsed in the wake of the stock market crash in 1929. In fact, Hoover had long been a critic of laissez faire. As president, he doubled federal spending in real terms in four years. He also used government to prop up wages, restricted immigration, signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, raised taxes, and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation—all interventionist measures and not laissez faire. Unlike many Democrats today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's advisers knew that Hoover had started the New Deal. One of them wrote, "When we all burst into Washington ... we found every essential idea [of the New Deal] enacted in the 100-day Congress in the Hoover administration itself."

Hoover's big-spending, interventionist policies prolonged the Great Depression, and similar policies today could do similar damage. Dismantling the mythical presentation of Hoover as a "do-nothing" president is crucial if we wish to have a proper understanding of what did and did not work in the Great Depression so that we do not repeat Hoover's mistakes today.

from: Herbert Hoover and the New Deal (pdf)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gary North on Voting

North writes:

This world is governed by ethical cause and effect. When people vote for a living, they create an economy that is dependent on more theft. Theft-based economies are Ponzi schemes. It's not just Social Security that is a Ponzi scheme. So is Medicare. So is the FDIC. All governments over-promise. They ask us to become dependent on government promises. The governments issue more promises than taxes and borrowing can fund. Then they inflate.

Government will prove to be the god that fails. That will be a good lesson in theology for hundreds of millions of voters. "Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote" will prove to have been a destructive principle, although widely believed.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Lew Rockwell on the Fascist Threat

Lew Rockwell writes:

Everyone knows that the term fascist is a pejorative, often used to describe any political position a speaker doesn’t like. There isn’t anyone around who is willing to stand up and say: "I’m a fascist; I think fascism is a great social and economic system."

But I submit that if they were honest, the vast majority of politicians, intellectuals, and political activists would have to say just that.

Fascism is the system of government that cartelizes the private sector, centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers, exalts the police State as the source of order, denies fundamental rights and liberties to individuals, and makes the executive State the unlimited master of society.

This describes mainstream politics in America today. And not just in America. It’s true in Europe, too. It is so much part of the mainstream that it is hardly noticed any more.

It is true that fascism has no overarching theoretical apparatus. There is no grand theorist like Marx. That makes it no less real and distinct as a social, economic, and political system. Fascism also thrives as a distinct style of social and economic management. And it is as much or more of a threat to civilization than full-blown socialism.

This is because its traits are so much a part of life – and have been for so long – that they are nearly invisible to us.

If fascism is invisible to us, it is truly the silent killer. It fastens a huge, violent, lumbering State on the free market that drains its capital and productivity like a deadly parasite on a host. This is why the fascist State has been called The Vampire Economy. It sucks the economic life out of a nation and brings about a slow death of a once thriving economy.

read the entire essay

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cartoon: What is Apple's Future?

RIP: Steve Jobs

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

- Steve Jobs at the Stanford University commencement address in 2005

Cartoon: Wall Street Protesters