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Monday, November 26, 2012

Ex America - Book Review

It is easy to see how The State can grow like a cancerous tumor in current day America.  The population is addled by reality TV, Black Friday, wretched music, and a mainstream media that is beneath contempt.  Empty phraseology like "hope and change" and "compassionate conservatism" can sway millions of voters - sometimes to the point of tears.  War is a bad thing under President X, but under President Y it is ignored or explained away with pithy justification.  Massive deficits under President X are terrible, but under President Y it counts as "trying to help America".    We're told that home prices will never go down, or before that .com stocks will permanently rise - all the while gold and silver constantly go up in price.  Talking about gold and silver seriously as an investment naturally means you are a "nut".  The school system is in shambles.  The Global Warming Hoax is talked about as fait accompli, economics is ignored, and literacy levels are frighteningly low.  America is populated by a horde of 'citizens' bereft of common sense and intellectual self defense.  The State, naturally, grows unchecked with the consent of the governed because much of the governed was denied a classical education.

But how did the population in the 1930's, under FDR, fall for the massive government intervention that was the New Deal?  It never made sense.  You had a population that had been classically trained, the school system was much smaller, and the schools that existed were, for the most part, rigorous and steeped in logic and rhetoric.  Literacy levels were higher and academic rigor was commonplace.  With all of these things, how was a libertarian, independent and proud electorate duped by the avalanche of brazen government intervention into affairs into which it had never gone before?  Garet Garrett explains this in the first of three lengthy essays "The Revolution Was" (1938).  He begins with this classic: "There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom." Garrett eloquently makes the case for a revolution based on stealth, a 'revolution within the form'. The wording of this "revolution" was all proper and acceptable for an America that understood freedom and the constitution. However, the actions of the FDR administration were planned, quick, efficient and forceful. The population was not used to the specter of radical change, as that was something for Europe - not a free America. It was this flat footedness that enabled the US government to go from a servant of the people to the people becoming the government's servants. Garrett lays out the steps clearly and concisely in this, the most radical of the three essays.

The other two essays "Ex America" and "Rise of Empire" were written in the early 1950's. Garrett continues his analysis of America's regrettable decline. "Ex America" goes into the folly of debt based, non gold backed fiat currency, and the speed at which the debt and the money supply has to expand to maintain such an economic fiction. The bedrock of capitalism - the inviolability of contract is discussed and noted how it began to erode in Europe after WWI and the repudiation of war debt. Garrett sounds the alarm to the economic problems today - 60 years before the bill came due.

"Rise of Empire", written in 1952, could easily have been written by Ron Paul last month. This final essay deals with the erosion of American sovereignty and the parallel of the American Empire to the inevitable fall of Rome. Such a collapse requires the willingness of the population to respond to bread and circuses, the endemic overreach, the debasement of the currency and the defenseless populace willing to trade freedom for ethereal "security". Garrett skillfully shows how all of the moves done since the beginning of the FDR administration and particularly those done after WWII were designed to create an American Empire, which demands a bottomless purse and serf-like Americans. Garrett ends the monographs noting the evils of globalization, and lamenting the fact that Americans lack the strong leader to show them what a once free country was like.

I found "Ex America" to be fascinating and haunting. My questions about the ability of strong Americans to get duped were answered. His laying out of the FDR plan, which had to be planned in advance as it was so seamless and specific, is fascinating to read. It was also a horror as it seemed as if I was watching a free people and a libertarian society vanish before my eyes. We're taught in school that FDR is a godlike figure, and criticism of him is the purview of kooks and nuts. Garrett takes that idea and obliterates it. He'll also prove to you that the critics of the New Deal had a great case, and the Establishment had to work very hard to stifle the words of Garrett and Flynn and Nock. If you want to know why we're in a country that lacks freedom and is a ticking financial time bomb, Garrett's "Ex America" will tell you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ask a Question and PAY

ZeroHedge, a site I enjoy immensely, had a post today featuring Michael Burry giving the commencement address for the UCLA Economics Department.  Burry is one of the stars of the Michael Lewis book The Big Short, which analyzes the few people who went against conventional wisdom and made huge amounts of money.  Good for them.  Burry and the few others who called the crisis correctly (Peter Schiff comes to mind) are examined in Lewis' book.  They are fascinating characters and the fact that they were able to summon the monumental act of will in order to go against conventional wisdom is inspiring.  Reading Lewis' book coincided with my introduction to Austrian Economics  and libertarianism - both non mainstream schools of thought and it made the transition easier as I had inspiration to guide and help me down a path ridiculed by the mainstream.   It has now gotten to the point that I enjoy being the odd man out, asking the questions that just shouldn't be asked.

Burry's 15 minute speech is worth it.  As I get older I listen much more closely to those who went against the grain.  What is noteworthy is 14:05 into the speech.  Burry describes what happened to him after he published an op-ed in the NY Times called "I Saw The Crisis Coming, Why Didn't The Fed?" Within 2 weeks, his 6 defunct funds were all audited.  The Congressional Economic Crisis Commission demanded all of his correspondence dating back to 1993.  The FBI showed up at his door.  It should be noted that a government that is incapable of doing anything right is suddenly able to react with efficiency and speed when it comes to someone who criticizes the FED in print.  I wouldn't trust the government to fix a pothole as it is so cloddish.  This is the same government that botched the response to Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, missed the economic crashes of the dot com bubble and the housing bubble, blew the chance to catch Madoff's ponzi scheme even after the SEC was tipped off ten times, is trillions of dollars in debt and has an approval rating near the single digits.  Despite whiffing on huge issues, it is able to, with pinpoint accuracy, go after Burry with dedication and skill.  This is what a once proud country has come to.  Burry asked a question, and he paid - about a million dollars in legal fees and hundreds of hours of wasted time, all for naught as he broke no laws.  All he did was state (1st amendment?) that the emperor has no clothes.  What government apparatchik made the call?  Which of the obsequious toads decided that this guy needed to 'be taught a lesson?'  This is a pathetic response from a government that exists at the consent of the governed.  That anachronistic phrase should be retired, as we are now servile whelps who bow and scrape before our overlords.  Good for Michael Burry to "bet against America, and win."  America deserves to take some losses as collectively we have become soft minions genuflecting before our god, The State.  Perhaps we have already lost.

Recommended reading:  Harry Markopolos' Nobody Would Listen.  Mr. Markopolos continually figured out that Madoff was running a ponzi scheme.  He repeatedly informed the SEC.  Nobody would listen, nor would they take him seriously.  Anyone who thinks that 'government regulation' is worth anything should read this book.

For those who are upset at my disdain for the much of America:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Non Fiction Short List

A friend of mine and former student SM, along with another, KP, asked me to provide a short write up as to which books might be worthwhile.  As their young active minds crave knowledge I always attempt to give them the answers they seek.  Here's the comment:

1) G. E. Griffin's "The Creature From Jekyll Island". This book changed many things for me. It is a wonderful historical romp and covers the lead up to and the birth of the FED. Sounds dull but is not, as you get LOTS of history you never learned in schule. Highly recommended. 2) J. Grisham's "The Innocent Man" - I just finished this and it was pretty good. A true story about a guy getting the death penalty for something he not only did not do, but couldn't have done. 3) Ron Paul's "The Revolution". This morphed me from an odious Establishment Conservative to a free thinking libertarian. Well written and a quick read. 4) If you want to know why I type 'schule' and my reform plan for skoool is to close them all down, then read (for free) John Taylor Gatto's "The Underground History of American Education". Again - rife with history and info that is impeccably researched and the prose is poetic. (I know, oxymoronic but forgive me). It's one of the few books I'd wished I'd read 10 years ago. For a shorter version of his philosophy "Weapons of Mass Instruction" is a winner. It's the book that is my pic. One fiction selection: "Watership Down" by Richard Adams. Anyone who can read English should read it. It's that elegant and wonderful and beautiful. Let me know if you have a specific brand of nonfiction as these may not be your cup of tea...

Here's G. Edward Griffin talking about his Magnum Opus, The Creature From Jekyll Island.

I followed with this tepid list of fiction books - just off the top of my head but worth a look....
Ayn Rand's "Anthem" is really good - a dystopian collective nightmare where the group is all encompassing. It does not contain the subject pronoun "I" - that's how hard core it is. Bradbury's "F451" is spectacular - another future dystopia where firemen burn books because they are illegal and make people smart - sort of like now. I just read the uncut version of Stephen King's "The Stand". It was complex, wonderful, strange and engrossing. His serial "The Green Mile" is also exceedingly well done. I like his work.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ron Paul Retires

Politics in the United States is a mess.  Normally I would limit it to 'federal politics', but local politics is a disaster as well.  The Good Ole Boys are running all of the local districts into the ground.  At the federal level, a titan has retired.  Ron Paul is retiring from Congress.  Here is his farewell speech.  I recommend you listen to it all, as it harkens back to how politicians in the US used to speak.  We hear about eloquence when it comes to Obama, but he is not in Ron Paul's class when it comes to rhetoric.  Ron Paul was one of the seminal forces that changed how I think.  I was an establishment thinker until my mid thirties; Ron Paul and Peter Schiff were responsible for the paradigm shift in my personal philosophy.  I learned more about economics and government from Ron Paul than I did in high school and college, and I went to good schools.

The man is right, and the message is clear.  No welfare, no warfare, just liberty and following the Constitution.  Now that Mr. Paul is unshackled by the constraints of Congress, the word is that he'll dedicate his time to teaching young people.  I think he'll be extremely successful.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Library

There was an interesting blog post on the LRC blog this morning.  Here's a key quote: "I chose three books from the meager selection of science books and proceeded to checkout. The clerk scanned my library card and told me he would have to confiscate it. It was no longer valid. He told me that to get a new card that I would have to bring in a utility bill postmarked in the last thirty days and a state approved picture ID. Remember I have had a library card continuously for over 55 years. I have lived in the same house in this town for 32 years, and I have checked out more than 10,000 books from this library in my lifetime, without incident. I was the former chairman of Friends of the Library. To no avail. I was informed that Homeland Security requires these new rules. It is interesting to me that the library, which removed all the old pockets which showed previous borrowers and which might help a patron find another person of common interests, and which removed these supposedly in the name of privacy, now requires a scannable ID from a continuous user of over 55 years."

There are two fundamental concepts in this quote.  The first is that the process of bureaucratization dehumanizes people.  Here is an old man who has lived in the same Rust Belt town for decades, and he has to 'prove' who he is.  This is not a natural state for human interaction.  The bureaucrat cannot think outside the box - he must follow the protocol on the paper and must not deviate from the plan.  The second is that these orders come from 'Homeland Security'.   The name of that bureaucracy should give an historically literate reader pause.  Also, what do library habits have to do with 'security'?  Here you have the justification for information gathering regarding American citizens under the Bill of Rights in the name of 'security'.  This is not freedom.

Here's Benjamin Franklin: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

The post also lamented about the poor state of the science section in the library.  The NY Times bestseller section was well kept, as were the DVD's and the audiobooks.  "I was shocked by the lack of periodicals, but I thought that, perhaps, it was because of the prevalence of the internet, and they were no longer needed. I was more shocked when I found that all of the old first editions which I had read as a child and the old bound magazines going back to the 1870s were no longer there. They had been in the library for over 100 years. It is a grand old Carnegie library built in 1905. I was told by a librarian that they discarded them because they wanted the shelves to look better with only new books. Of course, the old classics were no longer there in a new form either, be they science or literature."

This is how bureaucracy dumbs down a people.  The only block to this is a populace, an electorate, a people who are independent thinkers, logically sound and critical of authority.  This old man shows my premise that the older, more rigorous schools were superior, and the citizens they produced recognized it when their freedoms were infringed upon.  I'm not so sure we recognize this today.  Go here for the old periodicals.  I recommend the Mencken articles in the American Mercury.

Here's your right to privacy - it's also known as the 4th amendment.  "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."  Think about this when you hear a pundit or a politician talking about a "living constitution".  They are not your ally.

Here's the rulebook.  It's a pretty good one to follow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012

Maybe it should be called sElection 2012.  I wrote in Ron Paul's name.  It basically means my vote not only didn't count - it was probably erased in the voting machine - the same machine that 'counted' my vote.  I have no idea what it counted, if it got it right, if the vote was changed - there was no receipt or record of anything.  The screen did say 'thank you for voting' when it was done reading my sheet.  Why am I not confident in our future?  I remember during the W Bush years how the Establishment Left was infuriated (justifiably) by the electronic voting idea.  The makers of the machines, the lack of receipts, the ability to steal elections - these were huge issues.  When Bush Was President.  Not any longer.

Many other things are no longer issues amongst the Establishment Left.  War, for instance.  The Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace is raging hotter than ever.  Now, in addition to stalwarts Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military is involved in Libya, Yemen and soon to be (if not already) Syria.  Mentioning these things on Facebook is of course taboo - it means you're on the 'bad' side of things and, well, a horrible person.  As the propaganda gets stupider and stupider, the Herd falls for the same tricks that worked 100 years ago.  Adam Curtis' documentary "A Century of the Self" explains the bamboozlement of the people to whip up frenzy about WWI.  We see the same Bernays style propaganda working now.  I posted this on FB: "It's interesting to see the justifications for voting for a person who has increased the illegal wars, ramped up the drug war that tosses brown people in jail at absurd rates, has done nothing to curb the police surveillance state and totally caters to the Big Banks and the FED. There sure are lots of opinions and feelings out there, but not much reasoning, facts or logic. Both candidates are trash, stop voting for the Master Who Will Whip You Less."

After posting that it was suggested that I move out of the country.  Someone also suggested that perhaps I didn't understand how things worked, and that war and the police state are things about which to not worry, because the police and the President work for me.  The ability to justify the cognitive dissonance is spectacular.  Things that were repellent to the Establishment Democrats and Liberals from 2001 - 2009 are now justified using statements about their feelings, or sound byte style defenses.  The people who got compulsory Prussian style schooling into the United States during the 1800's did so so they could inculcate the people into the religion of The State.  They have succeeded spectacularly.

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace