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

Tag Archives: Free Market

Internet Freedom to Disappear on Thursday

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Thursday, February 26, 2015:

Ronald Reagan wearing cowboy hat at Rancho del...

Ronald Reagan was right:

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: if it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Tom Wheeler, the current FCC Chairman, doesn’t think that’s funny. He thinks they are his marching orders. Encouraged by his boss, Wheeler is reaching for the biggest hammer in his toolbox to bludgeon the internet into submission and turn it into a utility. On Thursday Wheeler will

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FCC to Vote on Net Neutrality Rules on Thursday

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 24, 2015:

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

On Thursday consumers will finally be able to see and read the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) planned new rules to regulate the Internet. Deliberately hidden from public view, the 332-page document is expected to be passed by the FTC, as demanded by President Obama last November when he told FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to adopt the “strongest possible rules” in regulating the Internet.

Leaks from the document were inevitable, and critics have slowly pieced together the latest attack on Internet freedom.

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Tax Foundation Counts All Income Except Underground

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 23, 2015:

Tax Foundation

Tax Foundation

Not one single word of the 10-page report “Sources of Personal Income” released by the Tax Foundation mentioned the “black market” — that vast swirling uncounted (and largely uncountable) part of the U.S. economy that some estimate in the trillions. Accordingly, that throws off the foundation’s attempt to draw any more than tentative conclusions about how much the average taxpayer earns.

According to the Foundation, Americans reported a total of $9.2 trillion in income in 2012, the latest year for which numbers are available, with $6.3 trillion of it coming from “wages, salaries, tips” and “other” compensation. They get those numbers mostly from the infamous

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Milton Friedman, the W-2 Withholding form, and the Underground Economy

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 23, 2015:

English: Portrait of Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman

With Americans about to file their income tax returns, most of them will look at their W-2 withholding forms to get the numbers without any background on how paying the government first came to be accepted as normal.

At age 16 this writer worked as a helper on a Canada Dry delivery truck. It was a plum job if one could get it. A “helper” load was 160 cases (the heavy glass-bottle kind), and it paid $20 for the day. There was great incentive to dump those cases as fast as possible (without breaking them!) and get back to the warehouse and put in the time sheet.

The first week generated $100, and this writer had never seen a $100 bill before. Imagine his surprise when his pay envelope had “change” in it. The slip showed Gross $100.00. Net: $92.43. The government got into this writer’s pay envelope before he did!

He’s never forgotten that moment, and was surprised, so many years later, to learn how much a hand one of his favorite economists, Milton Friedman, had in creating the entire withholding system in the US back in 1943.

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Will this be OPEC’s Final Failed Gamble?

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 18, 2015: 

Cover of "The Prize: The Epic Quest for O...

Six years ago historian Daniel Yergin wrote in The Prize about OPEC’s failed gamble in 1986. The cartel tried to secure its preeminent place among the world’s oil producers by forcing crude oil prices down:

Was the price now poised for a great fall? Most of the exporters [primarily OPEC] thought so, but they expected no more than a drop [from more than $30 a barrel] to $18 or $20 a barrel, below which, they thought, production … would not be economical….

 

Actually, operating costs – the cash costs to extract oil – were only $6 per barrel [at the time], so there would be no reason to shut down production at any price above that.

The cartel was hoping to squeeze out marginal producers, which would result in cuts in supply, allowing it to raise prices at will. It didn’t work then, and it isn’t working now. The Saudis apparently suffer from an appalling lack of understanding about how the free market works.

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Re-fracking Old Wells Is Extending the Fracking Revolution

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 17, 2015:

English: A natural gas well (produces gas only...

A natural gas well

News that the oil industry is importing many of the new technologies developed by natural-gas producers, which led to steadily declining natural-gas prices, was greeted with great disappointment by at least one green group. Upon learning that fracking was not only a long way from disappearing in the face of declining oil prices but was actually on the verge of a resurgence, Sharon Wilson, a Texas organizer for Earthworks, told Bloomberg, “It’s terribly disappointing.”

It might be disappointing to Wilson, but

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China’s Economy Headed for a Hard Landing

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 9, 2015:

The China bubble is imploding at an accelerating rate and has caught Wall Street economists off guard, according to the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

Why they should be surprised is hard to fathom, given the predictions offered for months on end about the ending of the great Chinese economic “miracle.” As recently as three weeks ago, Minxin Pei, professor at Claremont McKenna College and professional observer of the Chinese economy, said, “If the official Chinese data should be believed at all … China’s GDP growth at 7.4% in 2014 … could have been worse.”

Indeed, it probably was.

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Economic Forecasting is a Dangerous Business

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 9, 2015:

English: New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra i...

Yogi Berra

Nearly everyone has an opinion about forecasting and its dangers. Some, like Yogi Berra, will tell you, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Others, like John Kenneth Galbraith, will say, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” Still others will warn about setting either the exact event, or its timing. Do either one, they say, but not both.

Apparently the forecasters enlisted by the Wall Street Journal last week to give their best estimates of growth in China weren’t listening, or didn’t care. Or perhaps they believe in Keynesian miracles alongside those of the Tooth Fairy.

Nevertheless, when asked about import and export growth in China for the month of January, they missed reality by a country mile. The Journal tallied up the results and their seers and prognosticators concluded that

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FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules are ObamaCare for the Internet

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 6, 2015:

If the real intentions behind the benign phrase “net neutrality” were truly exposed, the conversation would be very short. As Will Durant noted in his The Story of Philosophy:

“If you wish to converse with me,” said Voltaire, “define your terms.” How many debates would have been deflated into a paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms! This is the alpha and omega of logic, the heart and soul of it, that every important term in serious discourse shall be subjected to the strictest scrutiny and definition. It is difficult, and ruthlessly tests the mind; but once done it is half of any task.

Opponents in the freedom fight have for years used obfuscation and false front words to advance their cause, but none more effectively than its term “net neutrality.” How could anyone object to that?

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Obama’s FCC to Issue “Net Neutrality” Rules on Thursday

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 3, 2015:

net neutrality world logo

Net Neutrality world logo

Following President Obama’s lead, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will announce new rules on Thursday changing Internet providers from “information services” to “telecommunications companies” in order to impose the president’s demand for “net neutrality” rules onto them.

The Federal Communications Commission regulates telecommunications companies with a heavy hand, but five previous attempts to force Internet providers into the net neutrality category have failed, having been met with stiff resistance, especially from the courts. Now, however, major players are forcing the issue for another try.

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Obama Goes on Offense, Wants to Spend Even More

This first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 2, 2015:

English: Obama speaks at American University.

Taking a page not only out of the Super Bowl on Sunday, but also out of the statistical study proving that offense is more effective in winning than defense, Obama is offering a grievously offensive and logically indefensible budget for 2016 today (Monday, 2/2/15). His proposal is morally offensive in that he proposes to take money earned by some and give it to others. It is logically flawed in that it will increase deficits each year for the next ten years, adding yet another $6 trillion to the $18 trillion already extant (up from the $10 trillion when he took office in 2008). It will limit job growth, stifle innovation, keep tax lawyers and accountants busy into eternity, and do nothing for his favorite target: the beleaguered middle class.

None of that matters. It’s all for show and to keep the Republicans on the defensive by couching his proposal in terms that only progressives could love:

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United States Remains in 12th Place in Economic Freedom

English: The 2010 Heritage Foundation Index of...

The 2010 Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom.

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 30, 2015: 

Except for a modest and temporary decline in federal government spending, the United States would have fallen even further from its current 12th-place spot in the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom just released this week. The authors were brutal in their assessment of the reasons behind the country’s frightful fall from near the top of the index a decade ago: 

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A Billion Dollars to Elect Good Conservatives?

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Thursday, January 29, 2015:

The assumption behind raising and spending a billion dollars, as the Koch brothers Charles and David seem to support, is that with enough money, enough grassroots action, and sufficiently elegant voter software, election successes like that of last November can be repeated in 2016. This past weekend, Freedom Partners, the Koch’s equivalent to a chamber of commerce for wealthy conservatives (each of its 200 members pays a minimum of $100,000 in annual dues), announced at its Palm Springs winter meeting that it was going to raise $900 million to pour into the upcoming presidential election.

Part of the money would go into advertising,

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Crude Oil Prices: The Politics, Implications, and Backlash

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, January 6, 2015:

With the price of crude dropping significantly below $50 a barrel, prognosticators have come out of the woodwork predicting drops to $40, $30, $20 a barrel, and even lower before it rebounds.

Jon Ogg, writing at 247Wall St.com, noted that the precipitous drop in crude oil prices “has serious implications for consumers and companies alike,” and not all of them are unblemished blessings. On the surface the winners are

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Venezuela’s Welfare State Collapsing Along with Oil Prices

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 29, 2014:

 

As oil prices have dropped, so has Venezuela’s revenue stream that supports its welfare state. Ninety-five percent of Venezuela’s export earnings come from crude oil, and the industry makes up one quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. With oil prices setting new lows last week, Venezuela’s economy, already on the ropes, is set to descend into chaos, anarchy, and looting. The decision by Saudi Arabia to continue to pump in order to maintain its market share reveals not only the inherent inability of any cartel to maintain itself over time, but also the inability of a welfare state to sustain itself without outside help.

With the world’s largest oil reserves, surpassing those even of Saudi Arabia, an uninformed observer would be unable to explain how a country as richly blessed with natural resources as Venezuela could go broke,

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Gas Prices: How Much Lower and Longer?

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, December 5, 2014: 

On November 17, gas prices had dropped to $1.9...

It made headline news when a OnCue Express station in Oklahoma City dropped its price for regular unleaded gasoline to $1.99 gallon on Wednesday. What didn’t make the headlines is what happened next: Drivers seeking to save a few pennies created long lines at OnCue, and so another station down the street, responding to the competition, cut its price to $1.98 a gallon. By the end of the day, another station located in nearby Moore, Oklahoma, cut its price to $1.95 a gallon. 

Gas wars are back, helping consumers and providing living, breathing proof that, despite everything, the free market still works. 

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The Great Thanksgiving Hoax

This article was written by Richard J. Maybury and appeared a the Mises Institute’s website, Mises Daily this morning, November 27, 2014:

"The Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Del...

“The Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Delfthaven in Holland” (1844) by Robert Walter Weir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each year at this time, schoolchildren all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.

It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving’s real meaning.

The official story has the Pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America, and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620–21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard-working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.

The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.

The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hard-working or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.

In his History of Plymouth Plantation, the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years because they refused to work in the field. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.” 

In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, “all had their hungry bellies filled,” but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first “Thanksgiving” was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.

But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened? After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take only what he needed.

This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that were most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of the famines. 

Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609–10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from five-hundred to sixty. Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614 Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.” He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”

Before these free markets were established, the colonists had nothing for which to be thankful. They were in the same situation as Ethiopians are today, and for the same reasons. But after free markets were established, the resulting abundance was so dramatic that annual Thanksgiving celebrations became common throughout the colonies, and in 1863 Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Thus, the real meaning of Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them.

Taxi Union Flexes Its Muscle, Shuts Down San Francisco International Airport

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, November 20, 2014: 

International Terminal of San Francisco Intern...

International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport

Stung by increasing competition from ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, independent taxi drivers in San Francisco — where Uber got its start in the summer of 2010 — decided to do something about it: They joined a union. And the first thing that union did was what unions always do: They conducted a “work stoppage” — right in front of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) — with more than 600 taxis blocking traffic, honking their horns and flashing their lights from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday night, while refusing to pick up passengers.

Most unions are wont to picket employers, hoping to blackmail them into

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Pressure Building to Repeal Two Laws Keeping Oil and Gas Prices High

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 17, 2014:

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, soon to chair the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, is already setting the table for a serious conversation about getting rid of at least one archaic law dating back to the mid-1970s: the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.

That law bans the export of crude oil (with some minor exceptions) and could endanger the oil shale boom as a result. Said Murkowski:

The price American drivers pay for gasoline at their local station is linked to the price of oil set by the global market.

 

Exporting U.S. oil to our friends and allies will not raise gasoline prices here at home and should, in fact, help drive down prices.

As the price of crude oil drops, it increases the chances that smaller marginal crude oil producers will be forced to close unless they are allowed to find buyers outside the United States willing to pay more for their product. One of the bottlenecks has already been opened:

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Food Police Targeting Sugar Just in Time for Halloween

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 31, 2014:

Joe Helm’s exposé on the food police’s next target — candy — enraged Fred Smith, a self-admitted sugarholic who saw immediately what the food police are after: control. Helms, for his article in the October 24 Washington Post, tracked down the chief of the food police, Margo Wootan (pictured above), director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), who told him:

Governments are deciding that it really doesn’t make sense for them to have obesity campaigns, which are often high-profile and a big priority, and then you walk into the health department or any public building and they have these vending machines that are chock-full of candy and soda and chips.

Being fully persuaded that government has the right, and the power, to do something about this awful contradiction — people ignoring government’s plea to do the right thing and stay away from fatty foods — Wootan believes government should use force to get its way, rather than persuasion: 

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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.