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: Monopoly

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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Tesla Sales Model Upsetting Traditional Auto Dealers

Tesla S, close-up on the rear.

Tesla S, close-up on the rear. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Washington State, Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, has created a way to sell his cars without having to go through a car dealer: by persuading the state legislature to

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The Rise of “Saudi America”

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 6th, 2013:

 

Back in early February Citigroup apologized for missing the huge explosion of oil and natural gas occurring in Texas, North Dakota, and elsewhere. Its report, entitled “Energy 2020: Independence Day” began:

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Unanimous Supreme Court Ruling on Human Genes is a Split Decision

On Thursday the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that patents on human genes are now void, while the successful creation of synthetic genes may continue to be patented. Both sides of the lawsuit celebrated victory. Mike Adams of Natural News exclaimed: “Sanity prevails: human genes are not eligible for patent protection!” while the ACLU declared: “Victory! Supreme Court Decides Our Genes Belong to Us!”

On the other hand, Myriad Genetics, Inc., the biotechnology company that holds dozens of patents on human genes, wrote:

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Newsweek’s last Print Issue is December 31st

The Wall Street Journal noted the end of an era with the final print edition of Newsweek magazine coming out on Monday, December 31st. It will transition to an online-only format with plans to charge subscribers for its content after the first of the year.

The end has been coming for some time. On October 18th, Tina Brown, Newsweek’s editor, announced the change on the same day that she

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Changing Minds on the Sugar Tariff

Sugar

Sugar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Economist Donald Boudreaux has a way with words, but sometimes he uses them as grenades rather than cinnamon rolls. He got upset with Florida Rep. Tom Rooney‘s remarks when he tried to justify tariffs and dressing his arguments up to look “conservative.” This is what ticked Boudreaux off:

Like most conservatives, I don’t like subsidies or government intervention in markets. But I do like U.S. sugar policy, which, according to some, runs counter to these core conservative ideals.

America’s sugar policy has my support and the support of so many other conservatives because it’s the best line of defense we have against an OPEC-like market that threatens our food security and 142,000 U.S. jobs…

The policy we have chosen — placing tariffs on imported sugar — guarantees imports into the U.S. market (America is the world’s biggest sugar importer) but keeps subsidized foreign oversupplies from bankrupting U.S. producers. And, it operates without a federal budget outlay, which means it doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

True, this policy isn’t perfect. But it’s necessary. Until Brazil and other countries stop distorting the market with excessive subsidies, our no-cost policy is the least intrusive way to keep 142,000 Americans off unemployment rolls and prevent America from becoming dependent on the OPEC of sugar.

First, I checked Rooney’s voting record vis-à-vis the Constitution and it’s a forgettable 73.  What that rating tells me is that this guy needs help. He is muddled in his thinking, but perhaps he is worth saving rather than

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Obama Unleashed

The Debt StarAs if he ever intended to pull his punches in his continuing drive to establish a totalitarian state in America, newly reelected Obama has wasted no time in extending and expanding his illegitimate powers. As Mike Adams (one of the more astute and insightful of writers I try to read daily) noted in his daily blog on Wednesday:

He’s the one who issued an executive order claiming  government ownership over all farms and farm equipment, in case you forgot  that little fact.

He’s also the guy who just  recently issued an executive order merging Homeland Security with local  corporate entities to grant the executive branch of government a power  monopoly over the nation, bypassing the courts and Congress. You probably  haven’t even heard about that one, because he secretly signed it during  Hurricane Sandy.

From there, Adams speculates on Obama’s second term and his continuing attack on our freedoms:

  1. He sees an expansion of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the surveillance state by setting up arbitrary “check points” on roadways, at sporting events, at shopping malls, and other “surprise” locations. He expects to see even more belligerent and invasive  behaviors, conditioning us for the coming police state.
  2. He expects secret arrests of American citizens and even “kill orders” to be issued against his political opponents.
  3. He anticipates additional government spending without limit, the current debt ceiling notwithstanding.
  4. He thinks our foods will increasingly be modified genetically (GMO) while attempts to let consumers know about them will be overridden and rejected.
  5. He is sure that health care will look more and more like a government agency, with mandatory vaccinations and the war against raw milk continuing.
  6. His push to emasculate the Second Amendment will drive gun and ammunition sales much higher, along with prices for them. It’s interesting to note that Wednesday’s selloff in the stock market didn’t include shares of Ruger and Smith & Wesson, both of which rose substantially.
  7. He expects to see continued and accelerating disregard for the niceties contained in the Bill of Rights.
  8. Government expansion will include increases in food stamps and other entitlement programs.
  9. He expects more and more large employers to move their operations offshore to avoid the onerous demands and mandates under Obamacare which is now firmly cemented into place as a result of the election.
  10. Preppers and veterans will increasingly be targets for reprisals, with the government calling them “potential terrorists” for engaging in what he calls “fundamental preparedness strategies” such as storing water, food, medicines and ammunition.

There are millions of us who see clearly, some perhaps for the first time, exactly what’s coming. Adams just sees over the horizon a little farther than most.

Post Office Privatization Moves Closer

English: United States Postal Service, Ford Wi...

United States Postal Service, Ford Windstar Minivan. In Olympia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will be unable to make a $5.6 billion payment to its employees’ health benefit plan due on September 30th, calls for privatization of the archaic service are mounting.

The service already failed to make last year’s payment of $5.5 billion which Congress had allowed to be delayed until August 1st. And it’s no wonder that the service can’t make those payments: it lost $5.2 billion in the third quarter this year, up from a loss of $2.1 billion a year ago. Estimates are that the service will lose at least $10 billion this year without counting the default of $11 billion in payments to its benefit plan.

USPS spokesman David Partenheimer thinks the service can still be salvaged through “comprehensive reform” of the laws that govern the service. He said:

They are urgently needed in order for the Postal Service to fully implement its five-year business plan and return to long-term financial stability.

Missing from his statement was any mention of profitability, just

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They’re Coming For Your Gold Coins

Jared Cummans – Marc Faber Warns: Store Your Gold Overseas

You ought to own some gold but don’t store it in the U.S., the Fed will take it away from you one day.

Hoard of ancient gold coins

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My reaction to this statement by Faber, otherwise known as Dr. Doom, is just short of incredulity. He’s been right, albeit early, about a number of predictions, including that the US is already in a recession and that gold will eventually hit $10,000 or higher as the currency debauchery continues and accelerates with the Fed’s new QE3 program.

But coming to take it away from us? Why would they do that?

Gary North is full of reactions to Faber’s statement:

  1. The Fed doesn’t have the authority.
  2. It doesn’t have the police power.
  3. Such a move would further sully its already grievously damaged credibility.
  4. It would admit that it has been playing with monopoly money all along.
  5. Why bring attention to gold? Everyone knows it’s a relic from the dark ages.
  6. There would be lawsuits.
  7. How could such a decree be enforced? Who would actually come to the door and demand your gold?
  8. In the 1930’s when FDR confiscated gold coins from the people, the people were a lot more trusting of government than they are now.
  9. Faber says to hold gold outside the US. Why? In order to do that a citizen will leave all sorts of tracks that would lead confiscators to the gold.

I have some further thoughts on the matter. If the president (Obama, Romney, Biden, Ryan…take your pick) were to issue an executive order, who would enforce it? Would that be Treasury agents swarming all over the countryside? IRS agents? BATF agents? And while they’re at it, how about guns and ammo: “While we’re here we might as well pick these nasty items up as well.” Who’s going to go along with that?

Such an announcement or decree would be extremely costly to enforce. Where would the money come from? Wouldn’t the House of Representatives, where all spending bills start, begin to hear howls of outrage from you and me?

How would they “know” that we have a cache of coins, anyway? If we have been buying them for cash over the past many years, where is the paper trail?

I think North is right. Here is what he said about Faber’s statement:

When I hear that the federal government is going to confiscate all of our gold coins, I am amused. When I hear the Federal Reserve is going to do this, I am amazed that anybody who knows anything about gold owners of the United States would believe this is probable, let alone inevitable.

“Please, please don’t homeschool your kids!”

Tom Coyne: Indiana public schools try to woo students away from vouchers

Struggling Indiana public school districts are buying billboard space, airing radio ads and even sending principals door to door in an unusual campaign aimed at persuading parents not to move their children to private schools…

Homeschooling - Gustoff family in Des Moines 020

Homeschooling – Gustoff family in Des Moines 020 (Photo credit: IowaPolitics.com)

Now this is amazing. This is simply beyond my comprehension: “principals [going] door to door…?” Perhaps it’s the recognition of the reality that homeschooled kids turn out better. Perhaps it’s because the school administration knows it, and can’t stand the competition. Perhaps it’s the money.

There is antipathy towards homeschooling:

“If we don’t tell people the great things that are happening in our schools, no one else will, especially not now,” said Renee Albright, a teacher in Fort Wayne. “There are private enterprises that stand to benefit if they can portray us as failed schools.”

And wouldn’t that be awful: private enterprise might benefit? Of course! This is what the public—read: government nee socialist—schools are afraid of: breaking their monopoly that turns kids into socialists and atheists.

Somehow the Indiana legislature allowed this to happen:

The Indiana voucher program, passed by the legislature last year, is the biggest test yet of an idea sought for years by conservative Republicans, who say it offers families more choices and gives public schools greater incentive to improve.

There’s that word again: incentive. “We can’t have that! We know what we’re doing! Trust us! You don’t! We’re professionals! We’ve been trained to teach! You haven’t! How dare you!”

The stakes are high:

But school officials worry about the potential loss of thousands of students, especially those from the middle class, and the state money.

Oh, the money. We forgot to mention that! If the students leave we won’t get state money! Oh no!

Leaders of poor urban schools, which suffered the most defections last year, are especially worried. A district loses $5,300 to $8,400 for each student who leaves…

Fort Wayne Community Schools lost 392 students to vouchers last year, the most in the state. That cost the district more than $2.6 million in state aid and led officials to cut 10 art, music and physical education teaching positions at elementary schools.

How delicious! How delightful! It’s been a long time coming.

Ticketmaster is a Monopoly That Must Be Stopped!

Mark Perry: Fans should ultimately own the concert and game tickets they purchase

Ticketmaster is no stranger to controversy. Often criticized for its outrageous service fees, poor customer service and monopolistic control over the primary ticket industry, the ticketing giant—along with others in the ticket and live event industries—is now threatening to completely eliminate fan ownership of the tickets they buy.

admit one : san francisco (2012)

admit one : san francisco (2012) (Photo credit: torbakhopper)

Mark Perry is a free market economist and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His contention here is that Ticketmaster—a service that I have never used and therefore cannot substantiate with personal experience his claim about its service and “monopolist control over the primary ticket industry”—is a monopoly.

But in a free market monopolies aren’t supposed to exist, right? Rigorous examinations of companies like Alcoa Aluminum and their monopolistic ownership and control of bauxite have revealed that even if they were monopolies, they behaved as if they were in competition with other companies.

But this is a conundrum. Ticketmaster somehow is supported, as Perry says, by “the venues, artists and sports teams…as a way to curb ‘ticket scalping,’” which is the free market’s way of handling inequities between supply and demand. So there is some kind of outside intervention in the ticket business that prevents competitors from entering the industry, thus allowing Ticketmaster to continue its attempts to monopolize it.

Perry’s solution, however, is government intervention and that’s where I think he crosses the line. Let the market sort things out. And keep the government out.

The Post Office isn’t Supposed to Be a Monopoly

Townhall.com: The U.S. Postal Service and the Constitution

Article 1, Section 8 says that [The Congress shall have the power] to establish Post Offices and Post Roads. It does not say that the federal government shall have the exclusive power to deliver mail. Nor does it require that the mail be delivered by an agent of the federal government to every home in the country, six days a week.

Image taken by User:Minesweeper on December 14...

From left to right, the post boxes belong to FedEx, UCB, UPS, and two from the USPS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a thoughtful and useful article on the Post Office, about which I have written from time to time. Although I don’t think anything will change by any act of Congress, the Post Office itself is increasingly irrelevant and will someday disappear altogether or, even better, be bought out of bankruptcy by UPS or FedEx, privatized, and made profitable.

But it clarifies exactly what the Constitution says about the Post Office. And the history of mail delivery is interesting: private companies delivered the mail in the early years of the republic. James Campbell, in his 1996 book “The Last Monopoly” published by the Cato Institute, said:

Delivery of local, intracity letters was pioneered by private companies such as Boyd’s Dispatch in New York City and Blood’s Dispatch in Philadelphia. One authority counted 147 private local postal companies. The “locals” introduced adhesive postage stamps at least as early as 1841. The Post Office did not introduce stamps until 1847 and did not require their use until 1851. Efforts by the Post Office to suppress the locals failed when, in 1860, a federal court ruled that the postal monopoly pertained only to the transportation of letters over “post roads” between post offices and did not prohibit the delivery of letters within a single postal district.

Private delivery of the mail? Who woulda thunk it?

What is “Internet Freedom,” Anyway?

The Atlantic: Why Conservatives Must Heed Congressman Issa’s Call

Both conservatives and progressives believe the Internet should remain free. But they have very different views about the potential threats to Internet freedom, which is what tends to drive disagreements on policy.

An icon from icon theme Crystal Clear.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a very important article, one that deserves more attention than I can give it here. I hope you read it.

According to Fred Campbell, writing for The Atlantic,

Conservatives generally believe that governments are the primary threat to Internet freedom. The Internet became a global engine of economic growth, political discourse, and cultural transformation without centralized governance of its technologies or access policies. The highly decentralized nature of the Internet means that no single individual or company can dictate its future. Even the wealthiest private company in the world cannot force people to buy its products and services, prevent people from buying the products or services of its competitors, levy fines and taxes on the people, send people to prison, or declare war.

Whereas the progressives have their own definition:

Progressives generally believe corporations and property owners are equally as dangerous to the Internet as the government. In their view, regulation is necessary because government is the only guarantor against private threats to Internet freedom. Their ultimate goal is for the government to treat the Internet as a public utility subject to the same 1930s-style regulations that supported the Ma Bell telephone monopoly for decades. That’s why progressive advocates often analogize the Internet to public utilities like the electricity grid, waterworks, roadways, and the analog telephone system.

And there it is, in plain view: conservatives (I am one) believe in property rights and free markets. Progressives believe in total government control, all in the name of freedom. Individual rights don’t matter. It’s all about “collective” rights.

Thanks, Mr. Campbell, for a well-crafted and important article on internet freedom.

For a more detailed look at the parallels between “Net Neutrality” and the Ma Bell monopoly, read this article.

Is General Motors Now China Motors? [VIDEO]

In less than 24 hours, Vince Wade’s YouTube video of General Motor’s CEO Dan Akerson’s speech touting the car company’s increasing investment in China has gone viral, with nearly 500,000 views. Noting that GM—derisively called Government Motors by some–received nearly $50 billion of bailout funds in 2009, Wade asked: “Did we bail out General Motors to have it become China Motors?” According to Akerson, GM now:

  • Makes almost 70 percent of its vehicles outside the US
  • Has more than 2,700 dealerships in China
  • Operates 11 assembly plants in China
  • Has 11 joint ventures in China with two Chinese government-controlled companies
  • Regards these joint ventures “as 11 keys to success.”

Akerson added:

Our commitment to working in China, with China, for China, remains strong and focused on the future. We’re now building out the advanced technology center which will bring our research and development that is centered largely in the United States…we’re going to diversify that more into China because we think this market is so critically important to the success of our company… [China] is the crown jewel in the GM universe.

As evidence that GM is willing to do business with the Chinese government as long as it’s profitable, Wade notes the largely unknown purchase of GM’s Saginaw Steering Gear facility, now known as Nexteer, for half a billion dollars in 2010, giving the Chinese government ownership of

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Speech: Bernanke Fails at Transparency, Rails at Gold Standard

M6 - Money

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke donned his professorial cap and addressed 30 undergraduate students at George Washington University on Tuesday, he claimed it was all in the interest of transparency. According to the New York Times, “The Fed is concerned that it is neither loved nor understood by many Americans, and that public anger could lead to constraints on its powers.”

A close look at his actual presentation, augmented by slides, confirms his attempt to direct the students’ attention away from the Fed’s obvious dangers, faults, and failures and instead concentrate on its alleged virtues.

For example, his attack on the gold standard was filled with falsehoods and half-truths that failed to convince, only to confuse:

The gold standard as an alternative to a central bank: The gold standard sets the money supply and [the] price level generally with limited central bank intervention.

What the professor fails to state is that there is the gold standard and there is a paper standard that can only be enforced when a central bank is given a monopoly over what citizens may use as money. He fails to make clear that it’s the quantity of gold that “sets the money supply” and from that is derived the value of each piece, which is reflected in its purchasing power in the marketplace. It’s the citizen, freely accepting, using and exchanging gold for goods and services in the marketplace, who sets the price level. Buried in the comment “with limited central bank intervention” is the core of the problem: Bernanke doesn’t want people making those choices and decisions for themselves. Those decisions must be left to experts like

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Friday’s Unemployment Numbers: Correcting the Corrections

English: President Barack Obama discusses his ...

The news released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday appeared to be all good: The unemployment rate was down by 0.2 percent to 8.3 percent, the lowest since the month after President Obama was inaugurated. November and December estimates were revised upward. Most private industries showed growth, including 70,000 new business services jobs, 50,000 new manufacturing jobs, and a remarkable 21,000 new jobs in the construction industry. The labor force expanded by 500,000 which appeared to indicate that more people are coming back into the market looking for work. But the skeptics were legion: the Wall Street Journal, while accepting the numbers at face value, said, “Even with the recent gains, this is by far the worst jobs recovery since the Great Depression, and the U.S. still has about 5.5 million fewer jobs that it did before the recession began in December 2007.” Across town, the Washington Times said the numbers looked better than they should because of the number of young people dropping out and the paper even found an economist at the Federal Reserve to agree with it. Brian Holter, who works at the Minneapolis Fed, said: “However these factors stack up, the improvement in unemployment is largely the work of declining participation rates and, unfortunately, not job growth.” John Ransom, writing at Townhall.com, was blunt in his assessment of the BLS report: 

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Tennessee Lawmaker Breaks Law He Wrote

P-64 (pistol)

When Curry Todd was arrested last October for driving under the influence, he unknowingly set off a string of consequences, some predictable, that continue to resonate today.

Todd, a former Memphis police officer, is a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and was, until a few days after his arrest, the state chairman of the influential State and Local Government Committee. His arrest warrant stated that at about 10:50 p.m. on the evening of October 11 he was pulled over by Officer Knaggs: “Upon exit from the vehicle, the subject was extremely unsteady on his feet…. The subject demonstrated numerous indicators of his impairment…(almost falling down at times). His speech was slurred, his eyes were red, watery and bloodshot and he had an obvious odor of alcohol about his person and on his breath as he spoke, all indicative of his intoxicated state.” The warrant continued:

In addition it was learned that this subject was in possession of a loaded Smith & Wesson 38 Special that was discovered in a holster stuffed in between the driver seat and the center console.

The subject was obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun.

When it was also discovered that Curry was the sponsor of a bill in 2009 that eventually became law allowing persons with concealed weapons permits to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol provided that they themselves don’t drink, the roof fell in. 

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The Free Market is Brutal: Kodak Loses; Consumers Win

English: Kodak Easyshare C613 Digital Camera

After 131 years, it appears that Eastman Kodak will be declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy before the end of the month, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is currently seeking to sell off some of its 10,000 patents in order to stave off the inevitable, but the company is burning through its remaining cash reserves and credit lines rapidly. The last time Kodak was profitable was 2007 when its stock traded at $30 a share. On Friday, its last trade was at $0.37 a share. It’s in the process of being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange, and Moody’s has downgraded the company’s credit to junk status.

By the mid-1990s the company had a virtual monopoly on photographic film that was enormously profitable and may be have been part of the cause of its failure to adapt to changes in the marketplace and in consumers’ tastes. Ironically, its success in developing the first digital camera in 1975 was heralded by its developer, Steve Sasson, as an invention that could “substantially impact the way pictures will be taken in the future.” There was no way he could have known then just how close to the mark he was, or the negative impact such an invention would have on his own company. He called it “film-less photography” which took a “year of piecing together a bunch of new technology that ran off 16 nickel-cadmium batteries, an unstable imaging array, and some parts stolen from a digital voltmeter.” It took 23 seconds to record an image to a cassette tape which was then placed in a reader that displayed it on a black-and-white TV set.

But the company’s highly profitable dependency upon its film business kept it from seeing the coming change, and it

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Yglesias, Brown: Free Money Will Solve Everything!

Day 3 Occupy Wall Street 2011 Shankbone 8

Image by david_shankbone via Flickr

Writing for the left-wing blog ThinkProgressMatthew Yglesias noted his difficulty in coming up with a suitable slogan representing what the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators really wanted. He explained:

My view is that the best demand of all…is “free money for the rest of us.” There are a lot of different specific ways this can be implemented, but the…Powers That Be…have been willing to provide all manner of free money to players in the banking system. Debt cancellation is a form of free money for the indebted. But why give free money only to banks? And why give free money only to the indebted? Why not free money for everyone? “Everyone,” of course, includes the indebted. But it also includes ordinary people who didn’t happen to avail themselves of the credit binge. It’s an idea so good that it sounds almost silly.

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The Internet: Gutenberg Press of the 21st Century

Gutenberg Press Replica

Image via Flickr

Introduction

In a remarkable coalescence of time and circumstance, Michael Hart typed the Declaration of Independence into his computer on July 4th, 1971, Independence Day, and launched Project Gutenberg, the world’s largest non-profit digital library available on the Internet.

On his way home from a fireworks display, Hart stopped in at a grocery store and was given a copy of the Declaration of Independence, printed on parchment. He typed the text into his computer, intending to send it as an email to his friends on Arpanet. A colleague persuaded him that his message would cause the system to crash and so Hart merely posted a note that the full text could be downloaded instead. And thus, according to the obituary noting his passing on September 6th, 2011 in the New York Times, “Project Gutenberg was born.”

Project Gutenberg now has more than 36,000 free eBooks in 60 languages available to download to a computer, Kindle, Android, iOS or other handheld devices in a number of text formats, and the number is growing daily. Hart’s goal, formulated on that day in 1971, was “to encourage the creation and distribution of e-books to help break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy.” Even in its early stages, Hart saw the power of the Internet that would allow for the infinite reproduction of information with the potential, according to the Times, of “overturning all established power structures.” (emphasis added) In 1995, Hart wrote:

For the first time in the entire history of the Earth, we have the ability for EVERYONE to get copies of EVERYTHING…to all the people on the Earth, via computers. Think about what you have just read for a moment, please: EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE…

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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.