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: Politics

Forbes: Rich Nations Go Broke by Overpromising and Overspending

Russian coins in ice castle

Cato Institute senior fellow Jim Powell wrote in Forbes magazine about the inevitable and predictable decline of rich nations that debauched their currencies in order to pay their bills. Powell said that politicians’ urge to promise and then to spend is almost overwhelming, calling it “a visceral urge to spend money they don’t have. They can’t control themselves. They’ll weasel their way around any efforts to put the lid on the cookie jar.”

The Roman Empire was on a gold standard, minting and using the aureus from the 3rd century B.C. until the 4th century A.D. The aureus initially contained 10.9 grams of gold, which was worth about 25 denarii, or about a month’s wages. As the empire devolved into promising more and more services (grain subsidies, public entertainment, and a huge bureaucracy and military establishment) it soon exceeded revenues generated through taxation. To make up for the difference, the aureus was steadily debased so that by 50 B.C. it contained 9.09 grams of gold, 8.18 grams by 46 B.C., 7.27 grams by 60 A.D., 6.55 grams by 214 A.D., 5.45 grams by the year 292, 4.54 grams in 312, and 3.29 grams by 367.

Paper money was more easily debased, as the Chinese discovered. Powell noted that seven different Chinese dynasties issued paper money to pay their bills and all of them eventually collapsed or were

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Black Friday Redux: Cornell Professor Wants to Tax Black Friday Away

Black Friday shoppers at Walmart

On the lookout for perceived injustices in the marketplace, Cornell University professor Robert Frank decided that Black Friday needed his attention and wrote in the New York Times about just what was needed: more taxes to discourage unreasonable behavior.

His first complaint was about the unreasonable hours that stores were opening in an effort to respond to consumer demand: “For many years, stores opened at reasonable hours. Then, some started opening at 5 a.m., prompting complaints from employees about having to go to sleep early on Thanksgiving and miss out on time with their families. But retailers ignored those complaints, because their earlier start time proved so successful in luring customers away from rival outlets.”

He then iterated the now-familiar theme of major retailers opening earlier and earlier, also in response to consumer demand. He said it was thoughtless of those greedy merchants to

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Smackdown: Green Jobs vs. Real Jobs

English: Wind Turbine

The Wall Street Journal virtually called the Obama administration’s efforts to create “green” jobs a joke, decrying the President’s efforts to jump-start the economy with them as mere “conjuring” and suggesting instead that he drop his “ideological illusions” and face reality.

The reality is that no matter how much of other people’s money the President throws at the “clean” renewable alternative energy sector to force it to generate jobs, his efforts have been an abysmal failure. The name Solyndra is now synonymous with “loser” and the Washington Post reported last month that Obama’s green loan program of $38 billion has created just 3,500 jobs in two years instead of the 65,000 anticipated by the White House.

Instead, real jobs are being created in the real energy industry—in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. In the first six months of this year,

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Latest Economic Surveys Show Little Optimism

South façade of the White House, the executive...

The Republican Small Business Committee reported on November 8 that small-business optimism “remains extremely low,” and that business owners “simply are not hiring because they are pessimistic about consumer sales, the nation’s economic climate, and the amount of regulations to comply with.” Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) added, “The overall mood of the nation’s job creators is still at historic lows. The [Optimism Index of the National Federation of Independent Business] shows that over the next three months, only 9 percent of small business owners plan to increase employment [while] 12 percent plan to lay off workers. These numbers are…worse than the previous two months.”

NFIB’s Optimism Index has shown precious little change going back to January of 2009 and is matched by the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, which noted that “more households reported that their finances had worsened rather than improved for the 48th consecutive month [and that] just

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Market Economy Now a Game of Russian Roulette

Russian Roulette (game show)

Four of MF Global’s former clients have made public their experiences with the failed financial derivatives broker, each of them losing their money and two of them their businesses as a result of MF Global’s bankruptcy.

One, a commodity trading advisor who wishes to remain anonymous, described her experience when she first learned that MF Global was in trouble:

At first, as I heard, I was quite relaxed because I thought we’ve been through this a number of times in the industry. Usually the client has the opportunity to move [her] accounts—it just gets moved. [But] I knew on Monday something was fishy when they turned off my terminal…. Later in the day when [my] funds were frozen—that had never happened before. And then I knew that we were in trouble, because things were not happening in the way they were supposed to happen…. This was unprecedented.

Not only did she lose $100,000 of her own money, she lost her business as well, with three of her major European clients telling her that they never

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Options After the Supercommittee Failure

Newly Released Superman Returns Logo

Barring a miracle, the Supercommittee will announce Monday morning its failure at coming up with legislation to reduce the projected combined federal budget deficits over 10 years by $1.2 trillion, or $120 billion per year, starting in January 2013. Without enactment of these cuts, under the Budget Control Act the automatic option, called a sequester, will kick in, with $600 billion of the $1.22 trillion in cuts coming from defense spending. Social Security, Medicaid, and other low-income programs are exempt from the cuts, and cuts to Medicare would be modest.

Of course, there is the slim possiblity that the Supercommittee could come up with the cuts, in which case Congress would be expected to vote the legislation up or down without amendment. There are other possibilities too. The Supercommittee could “split the baby” and come up with a bipartisan deal that cuts less than the $1.2 trillion, leaving Congress to find the balance before the automatic cuts kick in. The Supercommittee could even hand Congress a package that includes tax increases as well as spending cuts.

But as of this writing, these possibilities appear unlikely. What appears more likely to happen is that, following a failure of the Supercommittee to present a bill, Congress will

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New York Times Distracts from the Real European Story

German Logo of the ECB.

Thursday’s article in The New York Times by writers Jack Ewing and Nicholas Kulish about the “rift” between factions over the role of the European Central Bank (ECB) was a distraction and misdirected attention from what is really happening there. The piece makes it sound as though the ECB is standing firm against pressures to have it buy up the debt from Greece and Italy in order to keep the debt “contagion” from spreading elsewhere.

For instance, the article quotes Spain’s Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, as saying that he expected the ECB to do whatever was necessary, for “this is what we transferred power for…[to] defend the common policy and its countries.” Of course Zapatero would have to say that or he would be gone, just as unelected bankers replaced elected leaders in Greece and Italy. Just a reminder as to who is in charge was reflected by the recent rise in Spain’s borrowing costs, the highest since 1997, and exceeding the “default” level of 7 percent on its 10-year bond. But nothing was said in the article that Zapatero’s comments reflected a desire to save his skin.

In fact the ECB has been taking an active role economically and politically by buying up the debt of those countries in massive amounts, already in excess of $250 billion, and manipulating interest rates to favor the newly installed rulers Mario Monti in Italy and Lucas Papademos in Greece. But authors Ewing and Kulish prefer to present the ECB as being run by “fiercely conservative stewards” who have “steadfastly resisted letting it take up the mantle of lender of last resort.” And to support that falsehood the authors enlisted the help of

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Germany’s Merkel Yields More Sovereignty to the EU

EPP Summit Helsinki 4 March 2011

At a joint briefing on Wednesday with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the next step towards the creation of the supra-national European state: “Germany sees the need…to show the markets and the world public that the euro will remain together, that the euro must be defended, but also that we are prepared to give up a little bit of national sovereignty…” It must be done, she said, so that the euro is “strong and inspires confidence on international markets.”

This could be done through changes in the Lisbon Treaty that comprises the basis for the European Union, or more likely through the signing into law the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) by December 31, 2012. Merkel explained that, either way, this would allow for “an intervention and oversight role in respect of the preparation of national budgets…” among the member states.

This would represent the culmination of more than 60 years of efforts by the Bilderberg Group with the help of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), David Rockefeller, and funding of the effort by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. Joseph Retinger, one of the founders of the Bilderberg Group in 1954, was also one of the principal architects of the European Common Market. As early as 1946, in a speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), the British counterpart of the CFR, Retinger said that Europe needed to create a federal union and that it would be necessary for the European countries to “relinquish part of their national sovereignty” to secure it. As noted by Andrew Gavin Marshall, research associate for the Centre for Research on Globalization, the effort to create the dictatorship of Europe goes back many years and is the creation of many hands: 

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More Recycling, Less Liberty

Trash Recycling with Disposal Containers

To celebrate America Recycles Day, the Tellus Institute published a study showing the benefits of increased recycling, by force if necessary. The Tellus Institute’s mission is “to advance the transition to a sustainable, equitable, and humane global civilization,” and has published 3,500 studies, analyses, and reports on everything from energy, water, sustainable communities, corporate social responsibility, and climate change.

Its latest study, “More Jobs, Less Pollution,” prepared for several interested parties including the BlueGreen Alliance, the Teamsters, and the SEIU, purports to provide

strong evidence that an enhanced national recycling and composting strategy in the United States can significantly and sustainably [there’s that word again] address critical national priorities including climate change, lasting job creation, and improved health.

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Obama’s Reelection Tied to Dead Weight Economy

Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign

Writing in Business Week, Hans Nichols announced that with the improvement in the economy President Obama’s chances for reelection in 2012 are improving as well.

He noted that the unemployment rate fell last month (from 9.1 percent to 9.0 percent) while unemployment claims dropped (by 10,000). And the outplacement firm of Challenger Gray & Christmas noted that government layoffs have slowed as well. Then he reviewed several different polls that showed improvement in President Obama’s ratings (each still below 50 percent), and then concluded that this mass of positive data is improving the president’s “political prospects.”

The data excluded from Nichols’ analysis shows a different picture. First, the real unemployment rate is nowhere near 9 percent, but is much closer to 15 percent, with some analysts suggesting more than 20 percent.

Second, the number of unemployed, if he had bothered to check the numbers published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was

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Solyndra Just the Tip of the Alternative Energy Iceberg

Solar Panels

In late October White House Chief of Staff William Daley ordered a complete review of all loan guarantees the Department of Energy has made to various energy projects. The review “is a tacit acknowledgement that the loan program [that supported the now-bankrupt energy company Solyndra]…has raised enough internal concern that an outside assessment is necessary…”, according the Washington Post.

While the review is supposed to take 60 days and will no doubt be an attempt to whitewash failed efforts by the government to jumpstart the economy through its support of the green industry, a look at past efforts is more than sufficient to conclude that such “investments” are more properly labeled “boondoggles” and an enormous waste of taxpayer money.

The spin on the review is already in. When Daley named Herbert Allison, a former assistant Treasury secretary, to head it up, he said:

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Niall Ferguson Ignores God-Given Rights

Crop of Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson, professor at Harvard and the London School of Economics, summarized his latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest for Newsweek magazine’s The Daily Beast by stating that he is not a “declinist” but is instead expecting an imminent collapse of the United States. He wrote: “I really don’t believe the United States…is in some kind of gradual, inexorable decline…. …in my view, civilizations don’t rise…and then gently decline, as inevitably and predictably as the four seasons…. History isn’t one smooth, parabolic curve after another. Its shape is more like an exponentially steepening slope that quite suddenly drops off like a cliff.”

As evidence Ferguson points to the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, which was built over a hundred years and collapsed in less than ten. He notes that the Roman Empire collapsed in just a few decades in the early fifth century, while the Ming dynasty ended with frightening speed in the mid-17th century.

He tries to explain why the West, and especially and specifically the United States, is set up for a similar collapse through the use of

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The Best Way Back to a Gold Standard

Dollar versus DOW

In his Forbes magazine article published Thursday, Nathan Lewis makes it sound easy to get back to a gold standard. After all, it has been accomplished numerous times in history around the world, including in America following the Civil War.

The first way is a “return to prior parity,” which would mean making a dollar redeemable in gold at $35 an ounce. Lewis points out that this would be impossible as it would entail a huge shrinkage in the money supply and a consequent depression. So option one is out.

The second way is to make a dollar redeemable in gold at a figure close to gold’s current price at between $1,500 and $1,700 an ounce. Lewis notes that this would also require a major restructuring—“a long price adjustment”—in his words, and “would probably cause a recession.” Not such a good option.

Lewis says there is a third option:

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Keynesian Hacks Slander Republican Candidates

Caricatures: GOP Presidential Debate Participants

CNN’s article by Charles Riley quoted several of the Republican candidates for President out of context and then asked several unknown Keynesian economists—Keynesians believe in growing and empowering the government to stimulate the economy—to comment on those quotes. The result was a one-sided dismissal of anything the candidates had to say about the economy and how they might fix it.

For instance, Riley quoted Jonathan Lanning, an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr, as saying that “there are so many economic ‘misstatements’ being made, and it isn’t confined to any one candidate.” He went on to contend that if any of the Republican candidates were in his introductory economics class, Econ 101, they certainly wouldn’t

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Obama Counting on Myths, Errors, and Ignorance for Reelection

Obama

Nate Silver’s article in the New York Times on President Obama’s reelection chances looked carefully at three major influences that could determine the outcome in November of 2012 and concluded that the President is a slight underdog: “It is early, and almost no matter what, the election will be a losable one for the Republicans. But Obama’s position is tenuous enough that it might not be a winnable one for him.”

A skilled forecaster, Silver looked at three major factors that he thinks will influence the election: approval ratings, the economy, and the President’s opponent’s ideology. At the moment the President’s negative approval ratings across the spectrum of pollsters doesn’t concern him, and he thinks that even if the economy dips further as many are increasingly predicting, the electorate is suffering from bad news “fatigue,” and more bad news won’t really count for much. When it gets to ideology, however, it is clear that if

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Bernanke Defensive as the Fed Loses its Luster

Protest against the Federal Reserve during eve...

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s news conference on November 2 included the admission that the Fed is depending on hope and patience to see if its continuing strategies of Operation Twist and zero interest rates will grow the economy out of recession. In his session with reporters, Bernanke defended Fed actions in the face of increasing criticism from both the left and the right.

Three years after the Federal Reserve’s massive and continuing interventions in the financial markets, Bernanke was forced to admit that “recent indicators point to continuing weakness in overall labor market conditions and the unemployment rate remains elevated…and consequently [the Fed] anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually…. Moreover, there are significant downside risks to the economic outlook.” He added that “we did underestimate the pace of recovery for some fundamental reasons,” including the continuing declines in the real estate markets and “a certain amount of bad luck.”

Bernanke was forced to reduce further his estimates about the rate of

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Four Ways to Reinvigorate Private Sector Job Growth

"Big Pete" Ramagos, rigger at work o...

There was precious little good news in the latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for October. Employment rose by 80,000, less than economists expected, and much less than the 250,000 needed to begin to bring down the unemployment rate significantly.

But inside the numbers there was a little good news: The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 9.0 percent, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 365,000 and private-sector employment increased by 104,000. At the same time government payrolls have been decreasing, reducing slightly but inevitably the drag on the private sector that ultimately pays for that government overhead. In fact, according to the BLS,

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Jon Corzine Proves Regulation is Rigged

Our Governor

After spending the entire weekend trying to sell his company, MF Global, Chairman Jon Corzine finally capitulated, and his board declared bankruptcy on Monday morning, October 31. It was during negotiations with a potential suitor for the business, Interactive Brokers (IB), that word leaked out that customers’ monies were missing, and IB left Corzine to fend for himself. A board meeting was hastily called and ended Corzine’s dream of building another Goldman Sachs with other peoples’ money.

It isn’t as if the regulators were asleep. According to the New York Times, alarm bells went off last June when regulators from the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency (FINRA) first discovered that

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No Treats, Just Tricks: National Debt Surpasses GDP on Halloween

Trick or Treat 2008 - Halloween - Yongsan Garr...

A little-noticed event occurred at approximately midnight on Monday, October 31, 2011: The national debt of the United States exceeded, for the first time since World War II, the country’s gross domestic product. The website USDebtClock.org showed the gross domestic product crossing the $15 trillion mark for the first time on Monday, while earlier in the day the numbers from TreasuryDirect showed the total public debt outstanding at $14.993 trillion and growing by more than

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The Oil Map of the World Is Shifting to the West

Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline

Writing in the Washington Post on Friday, Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power (which was adapted into a mini-series by PBS in 1992) explored the shift of oil’s epicenter from the Middle East to the Western Hemisphere, expressing his surprise that “what appeared to be irreversible is being reversed.” He explains:

The new energy axis runs from Alberta, Canada, down through North Dakota and South Texas, past a major new discovery off the coast of French Guyana to huge offshore deposits found off Brazil.

The transformation is happening not as part of some grand design or major policy effort, but almost accidentally. This shift was not planned—it is a product of

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