Home » May 25th, 2010
Entries posted on “May, 2010”
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Dr. Ron Paul
Congress, with its insatiable appetite for spending, is set to pass yet another “supplemental” appropriations bill in the next two weeks. So-called supplemental bills allow Congress to spend beyond even the 13 annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government. These are akin to a family that consistently outspends its budget, and therefore needs to use a credit card to make it through the end of the month.
If the American people want Congress to spend less, putting an end to supplemental appropriations bills would be a start. The 13 “regular” appropriations bills fund every branch, department, agency, and program of the federal government. Congress should place every dollar in plain view among those 13 bills. Instead, supplemental spending bills serve as a sneaky way for Congress to spend extra money that was not projected in budget forecasts. Once rare, they have become commonplace vehicles for deficit spending.
The latest supplemental bill is touted as an “emergency” war spending bill, needed to fund our ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. The emergencies never seem to end, however, and Congress passes one military supplemental bill after another as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on.
Many of my colleagues argue that Congress cannot put a price on our sacred national security, and I agree that the strong, unequivocal defense of our country is a top priority. There comes a time, however, when we must take stock of what our blank checks to the military industrial complex accomplish for us, and where the true threats to American citizens lie.
The smokescreen debate over earmarks demonstrates how we have lost perspective when it comes to military spending. Earmarks constitute about $11 billion of the latest budget. This sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the $708 billion spent by the Pentagon this year to expand our worldwide military presence. The total expenditures to maintain our world empire is approximately $1 trillion annually, which is roughly what the entire federal budget was in 1990!
We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined, and far more than we spent during the Cold War. These expenditures in many cases foment resentment that does not make us safer, but instead makes us a target. We referee and arm conflicts the world over, and have troops in some 140 countries with over 700 military bases.
Submerging Execs Could Be ‘Win-Win’
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – At a conference of oil leak experts in Washington today, attendees proposed plugging the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico with executives of BP, the company responsible for the catastrophic spill.
“We’ve tried containment domes, rubber tires, and even golf balls,” said William Cathermeyer of the National Oil Leakage Institute, a leading consultancy in the field of oil leaks. “Now it’s time to shove some BP executives down there and hope for the best.”
Submerging the oil company executives thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface could be a “win-win” situation, Mr. Cathermeyer said.
“Best-case scenario, they plug the leak,” he said. “And at the very least, they’ll shut the f**k up.”
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
In their new book, Nullifying Tyranny: Creating Moral Communities in an Immoral Society, James and Walter Kennedy address the case for nullifying unconstitutional federal legislation to “fellow Christians who . . . understand that the government . . . has been slowly taken over. . . by an anti-Christian secular humanist element . . .” It is, in essence, an attempt to wake Christians up to the fact that the “god” of democracy results in a situation where immoral people can force everyone to comply with their edicts. “Government, even when sanctified by a majority vote, cannot turn an otherwise immoral act into a moral act.”
Government under democracy is nothing more than legalized theft on a massive scale, the Kennedy brothers say in their Rothbardian analysis of the state. Whether it is monarchy or democracy, government steals private property (through taxation, mostly) “in order to pay for the loyalty of . . . supporters those close to the source of power who have a natural interest in maintaining the status quo.” Moreover, “A loyal court, a loyal police and military, and a loyal religious establishment” all “lead parasitic lives. The cost is paid by the productive who must labor to earn enough for the king” (or the state in general, under democracy).
Many Christians misread Jesus’s command, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are Gods,” they write. What Jesus said was NOT to obey ALL of Caesar’s commands, but only to “render unto Caesar things that belong to the realm of government, obey [only] legitimate laws enacted by government . . .” For “the larger the government the greater harm it will eventually do to society’s morals . . . . the only way to maintain a moral community is to keep the corrosive power of government at a minimum.”
by Michael Collins
hat tip: Economic Populist
This analysis looks behind the scenes at how the ban on offshore drilling was lifted and what that had to do with the ultimate prize for big oil, the American Power Act. It focuses on the current administration. That in no way implies that the problem originated in January 2009. The out sized and destructive influence of the oil monopoly has been with us for since the 1870′s.
Banning Offshore Drilling
In 1969 a Unocal oil rig off the coast of Santa Barbara, California began leaking oil. The extent of the leak, damage to wildlife, and the shoreline caused considerable outrage. The state of California banned offshore drilling shortly after the leak. In 1980, Congress banned offshore drilling in most federally controlled waters. President George H.W. Bush reluctantly banned off shore drilling in 1990 for California, Florida, Oregon and Washington and in the North Atlantic.
by Doug French
hat tip: Mises Daily
Monday, May 24, 2010
Anyone who follows financial markets has to wonder at times, “What are people thinking? How did they come to make those decisions?”
It’s hard to imagine that John Muth and Robert Lucas came up with what’s known as the “rational-expectations theory,” wherein, as explained in Wikipedia,
it is assumed that outcomes that are being forecast do not differ systematically from the market equilibrium results. That is, it assumes that people do not make systematic errors when predicting the future, and deviations from perfect foresight are only random.
Muth and Lucas should watch daily programs on the financial channels like Jim Cramer’s Mad Money, which is supposedly to help individual investors, or CNBC’s Fast Money, a show clearly geared toward speculators. No viewer can watch these shows and walk away believing, “people do not make systematic errors when predicting the future.”
So while financial markets have been a series of speculative bubbles as the Federal Reserve creates money ad infinitum, rational-expectations economists Robert Flood and Robert Hodrick daringly conclude, “The current empirical tests for bubbles do not successfully establish the case that bubbles exist in asset prices.”
hat tip: The Daily Bell
Monday, May 24, 2010 – by Staff Report
Who owns America today? … Perhaps the greatest threat to … the tea party is that they appear to be arguing a case that, for all practical purposes, has already been settled for the majority of Americans. The America of the Founding Fathers roots – a modest, decentralized, and agrarian nation – is gone, or is at least being pushed to the demographic margins, inhabiting the great red swath of the country’s middle. Politically, the America of today is as much a product of Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson – of the sprawling government programs of Medicaid and Social Security as much as the Second Amendment and its provision for nongovernment militias. Though he was speaking of … the Civil Rights Act specifically, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s comment Sunday morning on “Fox News Sunday” appears to be broadly relevant to the tea party as a viable political movement: “The philosophy was misplaced in these times,” he said. “The philosophy got in the way of reality.” – Christian Science Monitor
Dominant Social Theme: It’s ovah! The blue states have won. Federal government activism is gloriously ascendant.
Free-Market Analysis: Working closely together, we Bell staffers have developed a most un-libertarian, hive-like mentality. These days, buzzing in our brains are recollections, often, of the compelling Claudius books by Robert Graves. What comes to mind, however, is not so much the pomp and decrepitude that Graves brought to life as the books’ over-riding, semi-tragic perspective that the Republic was gone and could not be brought back.
Indeed, the theme of Roman republicanism-now-lost hangs over these books and in our humble opinion lifts them into the realm of great art. Not only does Graves have an apparently thorough grasp of ancient times, but he is able to bring these times to life and to inhabit them with living, breathing creatures who are often among the most maleficent and fascinating since Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote his great character-driven plays (Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, etc.).
By Tom Devine and Coleen Rowley
(Rowley is a Former FBI Special Agent)
hat tip: Huffington Post
Posted: May 22, 2010
One month before 9/11, instructors at a Minnesota flight school call the FBI. Among other suspicious happenings, the most unusual “student” they have ever encountered just plopped down thousands in cash to learn to fly a 747, claiming his only purpose was “ego-boosting.” Agents in the Minneapolis FBI Office immediately confirm the information and seek permission to search by warning FBI Headquarters in over 60 emails and frantic telephone calls that “this is a guy who could fly into the World Trade Center.” Although the ‘Director of Central Intelligence’ is briefed within days with a presentation titled “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly“, neither the FBI or CIA staff does anything until after 9/11. Right after the attacks, however, the officials quickly cover-up these pre 9/11 lapses — actions hastened by internal repression.
This wasn’t the first lapse. In the years before 9/11, an FAA “Red Team” warns that it breaches airport security 90 percent of the time, but is censored from writing its findings and banned from retesting. The same Logan Airport gate exploited by the 9/11 hijackers had flunked just months before. After the attacks, the government grounds and reassigns the Red Team leader (a whistleblower) to remedial duties.
Hat tip: Tenth Amendment Center
by Rob Natelson
May 22, 2010
It is a document designed to protect our freedom by imposing law on those who wield political power. Without such law, Americans would be under the constant threat of tyranny.
The word “constitution” did not always refer to a particular document. The word is based on the Latin verb constituere, which means to arrange or decide. In its original English sense, a “constitution” was how a political system was set up. People spoke (and sometimes still speak) of the unwritten and evolving “constitutions” of Britain and of the ancient Roman republic.
As I explain in The Original Constitution, the American Founders acknowledged a huge debt to the British and Roman traditions, but they consciously rejected the British and Roman approach to constitutions. Specifically, they rejected the “evolutionary” and “unwritten” constitutional idea in favor of a written document that would lay out the rules in an clear and organized fashion.
There were only a few precedents for this approach: Sweden’s “Instrument of Government” was probably the first. Under Oliver Cromwell (1649-58), the English adopted a short-lived “Instrument of Government,” and then a short-lived “Humble Petition and Advice.” The name of the latter English constitution suggests how little those documents tempered Cromwell’s autocracy.
hat tip: Washington’s Blog
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The government failed to properly ensure that BP used adequate safety measures, BP and their contractors were criminally negligent for the oil spill, and BP has tried to cover up the problem. See this.
But why hasn’t BP stopped the leak?
Some people assume that BP hasn’t stopped the oil leak because it’s people are wholly incompetent.
Others have asked whether BP’s $75 million liability cap is motivating it to stall by taking half-hearted measures until it’s relief well drilling is complete.
But there is another possible explanation: the geology – as well the deepwater pressures – at the drilling site makes stopping the leak more difficult than we realize.
Does the Geology of the Spill Zone Make It Harder to Stop the Oil Spill?
We can’t understand the big picture behind the Gulf oil spill unless we know the underwater geology of the seabed and the underlying rocks.
For example, if there is solid rock beneath the leaking pipes, with channels leading to various underground chambers, then it might be possible to seal the leaking risers and blowout preventer, with the oil flowing somewhere harmless under the floor of the ocean.
by Prof James Petras
May 22, 2010
Latin America’s current relations with the US as well as its present political and economic configuration can best be understood in the context of large scale changes over the past twenty years and the relative stability of the past five years.
We will proceed by schematically highlighting the salient features leading to the rise and crises of neo-liberal regimes and policies and the emergence of diverse “post neo-liberal” regimes in the present period. We will analyze the nature and performance of the ‘post neo-liberal regimes’ to bring out their strengths and weaknesses in the context of world market conditions, as well as the emerging political and social contradictions and alternatives.
US Imperial Power and the Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Regimes
US imperial power and influence reached its maximum influence between 1976-1999. The military and civilian regimes throughout this period backed US international and regional positions and embraced “free market doctrines”. The neo-liberal rulers denationalized and privatized all strategic economic sectors, deregulated the banking and financial systems and submitted to the dictates of the IMF and World Bank. Nearly one trillion dollars in profits, interest and principle payments, rents and illegal funds were transferred to US and European banks and corporations.