Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Economics

The Income Tax and Sovereignty

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller...

Image via Wikipedia

April 15th is the day when American taxpayers must file their income tax returns, and Tea Partiers are protesting those taxes all across the country. One question not being raised is: If these citizens are sovereign over their government, who can explain the income tax? How did this happen? Are the citizens not sovereign after all?

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he clearly relied on the thinking of his mentors, especially including John Locke. According to Jim Powell,writing for The Freeman, Locke “expressed the radical view [at the time] that government was morally obligated to serve people, namely by protecting life, liberty, and property. He explained the principle of checks and balances to limit government power. He favored representative government and a rule of law.”

Locke published two treatises on government in 1689 in which he said:

Keep reading…

47 Percent Pay No Taxes? Actually, No.

Seal of the Internal Revenue Service

Image via Wikipedia

In a recent article here about the VAT (Value-Added Tax) being floated as another way to raise taxes, the author stated that a VAT “would force the 50 percent of people in the poor and middle classes who pay no income taxes at present to start to contribute to the ever-increasing costs of the nanny state.” Fortunately, the New York Times published a correction and a clarification.

According to the Times, which took a closer look at the data from the Tax Policy Center, “The stimulus programs of the last two years [under the Bush and Obama administrations] have increased the number of households that receive enough of a tax credit to wipe out their federal income tax liability…but income taxes aren’t the only kind of federal taxes that people pay.”

Keep reading…

Will America Get a Value Added Tax (VAT)?

President's Advisory Panel for Federal Tax Reform

Image via Wikipedia

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker sent up a trial balloon at the New York Historical Society April 6 when he said that a Value-Added Tax (VAT) needed to be considered in light of the huge deficits facing the country. According to Volcker, the VAT is “not as toxic an idea” as many have considered it to be in the past, and “if at the end of the day we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes.”

He wasn’t the first one to float this recently. Charles Krauthammer wrote late last month that “as the night follows the day, the VAT cometh” and that “a national sales tax near-universal in Europe is inevitable.” Because of the huge deficits facing the nation, exacerbated by the newly passed ObamaCare bill, there is no way out except to raise taxes, according to Krauthammer.

Keep reading…

Strategic Defaults: Morality vs. Reality

Stuffed

Image by demandaj via Flickr

According to RealtyTrac, nearly 3 million foreclosures were filed in 2009. And with almost 10 percent of all mortgages now delinquent nationally, those homeowners are faced with a painful decision: continue to make payments even if they are underwater, or do a “strategic default.”

In January, 2006, a young professional couple with two children bought a three-bedroom home in Salinas, California, for $585,000.  With excellent credit, they signed the papers for a no-money-down, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, with payments of $4,300 a month. Today, the balance they owe is $560,000, but the present market value of their home is estimated to be about $187,000. Here is their dilemma: They made a promise, and signed on the dotted line, fully expecting to make timely payments over the term of the loan. But there is a home for rent just down the street with payments of just $1,000 a month.

Keep reading…

Fed Ends MBS Intervention

The Federal Reserve: The Biggest Scam In History

Image by CityGypsy11 via Flickr

The Federal Reserve ended its largest intervention in the housing market on April 1, ceasing its purchase of Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) that began in September of 2008 in order to keep the housing market from imploding.

According to the New York Times, the program succeeded in keeping “mortgage interest rates at near-record lows and slowing the nationwide decline in home prices.” Professor Susan Wachter at the Wharton School explained: “We were in a deflationary spiral, causing mortgages to go underwater, more foreclosures and a further decline in housing prices. The potential maelstrom of destruction was out there, bringing down not only the housing market but the overall economy. That’s what [this program] stopped.” She added that this Fed program was “the single most important move to stabilize the economy and to prevent a debacle.”

Wachter’s statements reveal many errors in her thinking, but especially her belief in interventionism as a cure for the inevitable effects of previous inflationary policies.

Keep reading…

Citigroup Bailout Retrospective

Citigroup

Image via Wikipedia

In the announcement that the U.S.Treasury was likely to make a profit selling its stock in Citigroup, much was made about the great returns that sale would generate, and very little was said about how it all happened in the first place.

The potential profit was estimated to be about $7.5 billion assuming that the price of Citigroup’s stock stays at its current level through the end of the year. The article joyfully announced that “it’s a 14 percent rate of return on the $165 billion invested in the biggest banks. Hundreds of smaller banks also received [TARP] money and have been paying the government a steady stream of dividends and interest.” Banking analyst Bert Ely said, “Overall, TARP may cost taxpayers money. But the banking part of it is going to be a moneymaker.”

Keep reading…

Housing: Washington Only Delaying Inevitable

Foreclosure Sign, Mortgage Crisis

Image via Wikipedia

Friday’s announcement of more intervention in the housing mortgage market will result in a deeper, longer, and more painful delay in the inevitable decline in housing prices that are necessary to clear the market. According to the Obama administration, the “broad new initiatives” will help troubled homeowners to refinance their existing mortgages with more favorable affordable ones provided directly by the government. Part of the new program is “meant to temporarily reduce the payments of [those] borrowers who are unemployed [but are] seeking a job.” In addition, the enhancements include inducements to “encourage lenders to write down the value of loans [already] held by borrowers in modification programs.”

In simple English, HAMP (the Home Affordable Modification Program), announced with great fanfare and high expectations early on in the Obama administration, isn’t working, and so more of the same is required.

Keep reading…

ObamaCare: The Final Nail, or the Last Straw?

Barack Obama addressing a joint session of Con...

Image via Wikipedia

In responding to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) incredulous “Are you serious?” about the constitutionality of Obamacare, many have written persuasively that the healthcare law is in fact unconstitutional.

Michelle Morin in her blog reminded her readers that Article 1, Section 8 limits the federal government to specific and enumerated powers, with all other unenumerated powers being left to the states or to the people. Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center analyzed the purpose of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as limitations and restrictions on the power of the federal government. He concludes his analysis with these words:

Keep reading…

Greenspan’s Implausible Denial

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Board o...

Image via Wikipedia

In his 48-page paper presented on March 19 to the Brookings Institution, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan now blames the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resurgence of the Chinese economy as causes of the Great Recession that was ushered in on his watch. And his arguments have just enough plausibility to be considered, if only briefly. But looking more closely is another matter.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, millions of workers were then free to “enter the global marketplace,” creating huge demand for consumer goods. And with the Chinese government allowing a modicum of free enterprise to placate their workers, many of them have created such significant savings that many billions of dollars were looking for a home. And consequently, many of those dollars returned to the United States in the form of mortgage capital that helped fund the housing boom. Greenspan said, “In short, geopolitical events ultimately led to a fall in long-term mortgage interest rates that in turn led, with a lag, to the unsustainable boom in house prices globally.”

Keep reading…

Free Markets, Deregulation, and Blame

Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

Image via Wikipedia

Free markets, in the full sense of the phrase, exist only in the minds and imaginations of free-market economists from the Austrian School, such as Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard.

The classic definition is simply a market without intervention or regulation by government. In truth, commerce in any developed country is always controlled to some extent by government. A free market requires the right to own property, which means that the wages, earnings, profits, and gains obtained by providing products and services to others belongs to the individual generating them. The assumption is that an individual with this kind of freedom would only make an exchange that gained him a benefit.

Keep reading…

Jobs Bill: The Law of Intended Consequences

London | 2009

Image by thiago.carrapatoso via Flickr

With great fanfare, the Obama administration celebrated its first policy victory of the year—the $17.6 billion jobs bill. Eleven Republican Senators helped push the bill through the Senate, 68-29.

The economically flawed and unconstitutional law provides employers an exemption from Social Security tax withholding through the end of the year on any employees added to the payroll who have been unemployed for at least 60 days. And if the employees stay on that payroll for at least a year, the employers would receive an additional $1,000 tax credit. In addition, the law spends $20 billion on federal highway construction and other public improvement projects.

Keep reading…

Social Security’s Nest Egg is Officially Cracked

Broken Egg

Image by Samuel M. Livingston via Flickr

In a misleading article by Associated Press that IOUs “stashed away” in an investment account in Parkersburg, West Virginia, were going to have to be sold to meet Social Security shortfalls, all the attention was on the location of the account instead of what was in it.

Analyzed here and elsewhere, Social Security is now suffering in the open as a result of unconstitutional and unsound financial assumptions starting in 1935. First of all, the gigantic welfare program, the largest government transfer program in the world, was sold to the American people during the Great Depression as an annuity guaranteed by the federal government. In fact, it still retains the early efforts to link Social Security to the insurance industry (which, at that time, still retained a high degree of public trust) by calling it the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA.

Keep reading…

Lehman Bros.: Pinprick That Burst the Bubble

Balloon POP !!!

Image by Marc Forrest via Flickr

The culprits blamed for the failure of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008 included the company’s top executives, their accountants, their highly-leveraged loans that had started going bad, their success at hiding those bad loans by cooking the books, and their lenders demanding more and better collateral, according to Anton Valukas in his 2,200 page report released Thursday.

There is certainly plenty of blame to go around, and it looks like there will be criminal charges filed too. The biggest lie, however, wasn’t mentioned: that this implosion of Lehman Brothers caught everyone by surprise.

Keep reading…

Obama Healthcare II is Financial Lunacy

Selling Obamacare - July 22, 2009

Image by Mark Sardella via Flickr

Even if the Obama administration is able to persuade (or bludgeon) enough Democrats into passing his latest version of healthcare, it would still be financial lunacy.

Last summer CNS News reported on the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of President Obama’s initial public offering for healthcare, which they called “fairly blistering…concerning the ability of the…plans to save money and control health care costs for the long term.” According to CBS, the Director of the CBO, Doug Elmendorf, told the Senate Budget Committee that none of the bills he has seen would reduce health care costs: “In the legislation that has been [analyzed so far] we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of…health care spending by a significant amount…On the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.”

Keep reading…

Latest Unemployment Numbers: Shoveling Snow?

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Image via Wikipedia

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last Friday that the economy lost only 36,000 jobs in February, the usual choristers took that as good news. Christina Romer, the Chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers said, “Today’s report on the employment situation is consistent with the pattern of stabilization and gradual labor market healing we have been seeing in recent months.”

Keep reading…

Financial Reform: Pressing On, Regardless

Bob Corker

Image via Wikipedia

Last month, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) pushed back against the Obama administration’s plans to create a “standalone” Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and some Washington-watchers held their breath to see if Corker would hold his ground.

Keep reading…

U.S. Postal Service: Time to Free the Mail

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 06:  Postmaster General Jo...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

When U.S. Postmaster General John Potter recommended eliminating Saturday delivery service in order to save money, he was merely responding to the postal service’s continuing inability to make money, or even cover its costs, delivering the mail. In a microcosm, the postal service’s difficulty is reflective of the government’s attempt to operate anywhere outside the constraints of the Constitution.

Keep reading…

The Economy Looks Like “L”

The Letter "L"

Image by dumbledad via Flickr

Just when the headline news about the economy was beginning to look good and the talking heads were beginning to sound good, along came a barrage of bad news that was so bad that it couldn’t be covered up. Gallup began with the news that in January nearly 20 percent of the U.S. workforce “lacked adequate employment”, which was worse than the numbers reported by the Labor Department. According to Reuters, these “findings appear to paint a darker employment picture than official U.S. data,” with about 30 million Americans “underemployed.” And Gallup misses the mark by at least 2 percent, according to John Williams of ShadowStats.com.

Keep reading…

For Goldman Sachs, the Greece Fleece is Another Ripoff

Goldman Sachs Headquarters, New York City

Image via Wikipedia

When Goldman Sachs was implicated in helping Greece deceive the European Union and its own citizens about the extent of its debt and deficits, it was another stone in the growing pile of evidence illustrating the incestuous relationship between governments and central banks.

In order to conform with Eurozone rules, Greece must limit its annual deficit to less than three percent of its GDP, and its total outstanding debt to no more than 60 percent of its GDP.  Now that it’s clear that Greece has been in significant violation of both of those rules for several years, experts have discovered that efforts were made to hide those violations through the use of “obscure derivatives provided by [Goldman Sachs and] other U.S. banks to delay payment on obligations, borrow even more money and to keep the true figures off the official books.”

Keep reading…

Will the U.S. Be Able to Pay its Debts?

debt

Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

An Associated Press writer says “the crushing weight of its debt threatens to overwhelm everything the federal government does,” even under the best-case scenario. This theme of unsustainable debts and deep holes has been reviewed elsewhere on this site, and it’s small comfort that it is now making headlines in the controlled mainstream media:

Keep reading…

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.