Nov 23, 2011

What is Constitutional Money?

This ain't no monopoly money, folks

In the following video, Harvard PhD Edwin Vieira discusses- in historical context- the issue of Constitutional money.  It is an issue we must give due diligence if we are to understand where our economy lies historically, and where we are headed as a nation.  There is perhaps no greater threat to liberty than when the economy collapses.  As Vieira points out, this phenomenon always leads to tyranny as an economic catastrophe sends the public into a frenzy.

Near the end, as he is concluding, Vieira makes the following precient statements:


"They (the Fed*) cannot face the consequences of a depression- can you imagine what a 1930's style depression in this country would be like?  That's what they don't want to have happen, and the one tool that they have that they think can prevent that in the short term is what?  Quantitative easing- inflation, generating money, generating paper currency, bills of credit- well, bills of discredit because they are not going to be paid.  We keep generating this stuff and we hope something will happen.  We are playing for time- financially.  But I think it was Machiavelli that said that's a fallacy because time brings all things- bad as well as good."

"...The only solution here, I think, is to come up with an alternative currency- and a lot of people have proposed exactly how to do this.  This isn't something that's difficult, on the shelf technology, we could set this thing up in 30-60 days after the statute is passed- an alternative sound currency based on silver and gold.  Start using that in the marketplace, start transitioning the governments into using it for purposes of taxation and spending, and let the banks figure out how to solve their own problems."

As Vieira points out, we don't have to go down with the Titanic that is our economic system today.  There are workable, rational, and realistic solutions that are literally the lifeboat for the citizen.  If we ignore scholars like Vieira we will drown in the icy waters of turmoil and, quickly awaken to a new reality of tyranny.    

*It would be important to note the government cannot face this reality for obvious reasons- and is complicit, as well.  That explains why the government was all too happy to pass legislation such as TARP and support quantitative easing as a solution to the threat of economic collapse due to bank failure.

Nov 11, 2011

Oh My Tannenbaums!

I recently came across an interesting story on the LRC Blog about the fledgling American Christmas tree industry.  It seems there was quite a ruckus over a proposed 15 cent/tree tax on importers and producers of fresh Christmas Trees.  Here are a couple of links about it:

ABC news article
FOX news article

I also had a debate (via email) with the public relations manager of The National Christmas Tree Association- an industry association for Christmas Tree Growers, and the primary activist group involved.  It was an interesting exchange and one that highlights the difference in perspective of what the role of government ought to be:

(Since we are both named Rick, I will refer to myself as Me and the spokesman as Him.)

I just read the following on the Fox News website:

"The program and fee were supported by some in the Christmas tree industry. The money was not meant to pay down the debt or fund any other program, but designed to go back into the new Christmas Tree Promotion Board.  The board, proposed earlier this year, is the culmination of a years-long effort by the fresh Christmas tree industry to promote itself, according to background information provided in the Federal Register. The industry has faced increasing competition from producers of artificial trees, but efforts to collect voluntary contributions for a fresh-tree marketing campaign have repeatedly run out of funding. So the government stepped in to mandate a fee to support the promotion board"

So, your solution to competition and a lack of marketing money is to use the coercive power of the federal government to achieve these goals?  I think I am going to contact the "player piano" industry and let them in on this new strategy!  Also, the horse and carriage industry....LOL!

Does that mean you also stopped wearing cotton T-shirts?  Because cotton growers have for years had a very successful checkoff program promoting the use of cotton.  Have you also stopped drinking milk?  Have you stopped eating blueberries, beef and watermelon?  A checkoff doesn’t have anything to do with Obama or taxes as has been erroneously reported.
 Bottom line:  Real Christmas trees are grown by American farm families.  Fake Christmas trees are made in Chinese factories.  Merry Christmas.

Thanks for the reply.

I find your first example- cotton to be an interesting choice.  Indeed, most American consumers of clothing wear cotton.  But to imply that it is out of some wholesome, patriotic reason would be to ignore where these clothes are made.  Most consumers likely choose (foreign manufactured) cotton T-shirts because they are comfortable- both on the body, and in the pocketbook.

When it comes to Christmas trees, people choose real or fake trees for a variety of reasons.  To blame the consumer's ignorance of the plight of the American Christmas tree farmer is tantamount to asking people to trade in their iPODs and stereos for a player piano.  You could say, BOTTOM LINE:  real music is made by American player pianos- fake music is digital and put on Chinese iPODs.  Some consumers prefer a fake tree over a real one, just as people over time decided new technology in music was more desirable than changing the rolls on a player piano.

What consumers are saying, as shown by the slump in sales, is they don't desire real Christmas trees.  A business is traditionally designed to respond to consumer demand, and make predictions as to what future demand will be.   Miscalculations leading to loss can not be blamed on the consumer- they are the sole responsibility of the firm who did not have the foresight to predict the change in the market demand for their product.  Unless the producer innovates, the firm is likely to go the way of the player piano, horse and carriage, and the dodo bird.  A fancy government marketing campaign will not change consumer demand- to ignore the market is to ensure your own peril.

A checkoff is not a “government marketing campaign” …why do you insist on believing that in spite of all the easy to understand facts?  A checkoff is a group of farmers pooling their OWN MONEY to market their crop and pay for ag research.  Please learn more about it.   This program is industry’s effort to persuade US consumers to buy US-grown, farm-raised Christmas trees instead of plastic trees imported from China.  Why would you be against family farms trying to make their businesses more successful?

I didn’t imply that people wear cotton for wholesome, patriotic reasons…I would think people, myself included, wear cotton clothing because it’s a quality product.  I cited it as an example of how a farmers’ checkoff program can be successful.  A Christmas tree farmer posted a guest blog about it this morning.  You can read it “from the horse’s mouth” proverbially speaking.

Let's look at the term "checkoff" using the information you gave me:

"The term 'checkoff' refers to the collection of a fee and comes from the concept of checking off the appropriate box on a form, like a tax return, to authorize a contribution for a specific purpose, such as the public financing of election campaigns, or, as in this case, the financing of programs to enhance producer welfare."

Anyone who has voted is likely familiar with this concept.  A checkoff in this instance is voluntary.  However, the article later states:

"Contributions to the earliest check-off programs were voluntary. These voluntary programs, however, were plagued by the problem of free-riders, which motivated the supporters of some programs to pressure state, and later federal, legislators to provide them with legislative authority for mandatory checkoff contributions."  (from the article you sent me)

When the program shifts from being voluntary to mandatory, it is by definition not a checkoff!  It is now a mandate.  You can call a rock a flower, and even make it to be legally named a flower, but that does not change it in the real world.

To answer your first question, I insist on calling this a government marketing campaign because it is a marketing campaign that the government administers.  How much more clear could it be?!

Your second (loaded) question is quite off-base.  A successful business is responsive to the demands of the consumer.  A business that miscalculates or ignores the reality in front of them will fail- as they should.  This is what spurs innovation, and creates the wonderful world of products around us- like iPODs, PCs, etc.  We could be having this chat over a telegraph or by snail mail, but I rather enjoy using email on the internet.  Should I be concerned for the families in the typewriter industry?

I find it interesting that you never really address the slumping demand for your industry's product in a meaningful way- your case instead revolves around emotional stories and bizarre guilt trips about buying American.  I wonder, will you make the contention that ignoring the consumer is a positive thing- that it is beneficial in any way?  To actively ignore the realities in front of you, with seemingly no market solutions in mind is a major disservice to the members of your organization.  They will either innovate and be successful, or languish forever- producing a good that increasingly becomes a novelty.

Postscript:  Although I was quite surprised the PR person was seemingly rude and confrontational, I was excited for the chance to defend liberty and discuss the relevance of the market economy.  Usually, one would expect a computer generated or otherwise benign response to such an inquiry, and it was refreshing that Rick was willing to engage in such a debate.  For more from their perspective, The National Christmas Tree Association has a blog called Tree Talk.

Nov 5, 2011

Crime DOES Pay!

Did I do that?

Eric Peters is one of my favorite contributors to LRC and this article he wrote recently is spot-on:

I cannot add anything to his commentary, here.  It is time we call these henchmen and women of the State out for what they are- fascists.  As Eric points out, they don't walk around in military uniforms filled with meaningless medals- rather they masquerade in suit-and-ties, nice dresses, with happy smiles as they deal out economic and social  havoc 'for our benefit.'  As Peter Schiff recently said (paraphrasing), the State and it's profiteers are like dogs who are always getting in the trashcan...time to kennel up!

Nov 3, 2011

Raw Milk Renegades...Continued

The Raw Milk Freedom Riders did indeed make it to the FDA with their contraband, and proceeded to serve it to children and other adults who then consumed it without incident:

Group of moms defies U.S. law in raw milk protest

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the event:

The FDA considers it "perfectly safe to feed your kids Mountain Dew, Twinkies and Cocoa Puffs, but it's unsafe to feed them raw milk, compost-grown tomatoes and Aunt Matilda's pickles," said Joel Salatin, the Virginia farmer made famous by the documentary "Food, Inc.," who joined the protesters. (SF Gate)

"It's totally natural for me as a parent to want to feed my children good food that makes them healthy," said Liz Reitzig, 31, a mother of five in Bowie, Md., who organized the protest. "In this case that is fresh, clean, raw milk from farmers we know and trust. The idea that we become criminals for engaging in that transaction is what is so appalling." (SF Gate)

"This product right here is found in 450 stores in California," said Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno, Calif.  "It's never made anybody sick -- 12 years of production, 65,000 people a week drinking raw milk," he added. (CBN)

Jonathan Emord, an attorney and author of the book The Rise of Tyranny, defended raw milk "criminals."  He said he's appalled that the FDA has set law enforcement officers on ordinary citizens, "barging into a company whose only sin is that it makes raw milk and treating them as if they're drug lords, throwing them down on the ground, handcuffing them, escorting them off to prison." (CBN)

"Our goal here today was really to establish a precedent whether or not the FDA would go so far as to arrest parents for bringing raw milk across state lines for their families," said Liz Reitzig, co-founder of the Farm Food Freedom Coalition.  "If not, they're setting the precedent that this is a law that they enforce only sporadically or only selectively," she added. (CBN)

"The FDA has never taken, nor does it intend to take, enforcement action against an individual who purchased and transported raw milk across state lines solely for his or her own personal consumption," the statement said.

The statement said pasteurization was "adopted decades ago as a public health measure to kill dangerous bacteria and largely eliminate the risk of getting sick from one of the most important staples of the American diet," adding that there have been 143 reported outbreaks of illness related to raw milk since 1987, "some involving miscarriages, still births, kidney failure and deaths." (CBN)

So, the FDA's position is that they are not enforcing the law, so these protests are silly.  Here is a timeline of the FDA's raids on raw milk producers, dietary supplement manufacturers, and natural health practitioners...Search the page for the word "raw," and you will find many examples to call this claim in to question.  (Complete with links to the original news source)  In any case, if they are actively "not enforcing" this law, than what is the point of the law in the first place?

The FDA's statement also reveals that around 10 deaths per year are attributed to raw milk.  Of course, they have no concerns of the processed foods that are practically the only choice consumers have when going to the store.  I wonder, with all of the different food related illnesses attributable to fresh produce items, when the FDA will decide to eliminate fresh veggies and fruit from the dietary equation?

Bottom line:  I don't trust the FDA to provide an environment of safety in food anymore than I trust them to provide safe drugs*.  They are- like every other tentacle of the State- the slave of their industry masters, and the "Judas goat" for unwitting consumers.  With the FDA denaturing food, then criminalizing choice all the while masquerading as our saviors- there is no wonder we have a health catastrophe in this country.

*Prescription Drugs - Leading Killer in USA

According to information we have received, a statistical study of hospital deaths in the U.S. conducted at the University of Toronto revealed that pharmaceutical drugs kill more people every year than are killed in traffic accidents.

The study is said to show that more than two million American hospitalized patients suffered a serious adverse drug reaction (ADR) within the 12-month period of the study and, of these, over 100,000 died as a result. (emphasis mine) The researchers found that over 75 per cent of these ADRs were dose-dependent, which suggests they were due to the inherent toxicity of the drugs rather than to allergic reactions.

The data did not include fatal reactions caused by accidental overdoses or errors in administration of the drugs. If these had been included, it is estimated that another 100,000 deaths would be added to the total every year.

The researchers concluded that ADRs are now the fourth leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Source: Jason, et al. (Lazarou et al), Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Vol. 279. April 15, 1998, pp. 1200-05. Also Bates, David W., Drugs and Adverse Drug Reactions: How Worried Should We Be? JAMA, Vol. 279. April 15, 1998, pp. 1216-17.

(From: Cancer Cure Foundation)

Nov 2, 2011

Tyranny Watch

I found this interview of Lew Rockwell by Judge Nepalatano of Fox's "Freedom Watch" to be very interesting:

I like how Lew puts it at the end:

@ 3:48
"We have to educate ourselves.  We have to understand what our freedoms are, who are enemies are- and it's not some guy in Yemen.  The enemy is in Washington, D.C. and in every other capital- state capital, local government office building- that's where the enemy is.  Those are the people that want to take away our freedoms, are taking away all our freedoms, taking all our money, too."

What starts as an examination of the new drone helicopter recently purchased by a police department near Houston quickly becomes a critique of the function of the State.  Why do our police departments have S.W.A.T. teams that include tanks, armored vehichles, and now drones?  And, why on earth are we giving police departments federal grants to seemingly prepare for war?

The point Lew brings up that is crucial to understand-  is that with the passage of the Patriot Act, the rule of law is out the window.  President Obama's recent state-sanctioned killing sprees prove that being from the United States is irrelevant.  Don't expect a day in court, or even a charge.  One day you will be just walking along and ZAP!

Consider the son of Al-Awlaki, a 16 year old boy who had an unfortunate last name, but has never been proven to have done anything to threaten or harm Americans.  Even if he had, who are we to treat these kids worse than Nazis- who were indeed executed, but at least given their day in court?  Terrorism is a totally vague term in today's context, an open book utilized by the State to justify endless rights abuses, violence, and destruction.  Obama didn't just murder a few kids that day, he reiterated that the State is above the Rule of Law.

Perhaps we should revisit what terrorism actually is- the use of violence to achieve political objectives.  An honest evaluation of the actions of the State will reveal who the real propagators of terror are.  The terrorists are the people who feed us the hype about the "bad man" with one hand, as they take away freedom with the other.  Only when we face this truth, will we regain the liberty and human dignity these governments have taken from us.  And, only then, can we have a serious prospect of peace.