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December 18, 2016

America as Animal Farm, Victor Hanson [nc]

America as Animal Farm
December 14, 2016 10:01 am / Leave a Comment / Megan Ring
By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

New commandments replace the old ones on the barn wall.

The socialist essayist and novelist George Orwell by 1944 grew depressed that as a cost for the defeat of the Axis Powers the Allies had empowered an equally nightmarish monster in the Soviet Union.

Since his days fighting for the loyalists during the Spanish Civil War, the left-wing Orwell had become an increasingly outspoken enemy of Communism. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, when Stalin renounced all his wartime assurances and steamrolled Eastern Europe, Orwell came to see state socialism under authoritarian auspices as the greatest threat to human freedom. It was not as if right-wing dictators were not equally lethal, but the inclusion of the words “socialist” and “republic” in a left-wing tyrant’s official lexicon tended to fool millions.

Indeed, it was precisely the leftist totalitarians’ habit of embroidering their murderous pursuit of power with professions of “equality,” “fairness,” and “egalitarianism” that so often allowed them to employ any means necessary to achieve their supposedly exalted ends. In sum, in Orwell’s eyes, the radical Left’s erasure of historical memory and its distortion of reality through the manipulation of language were the chief threat of the 20th century.

His 1945 novella Animal Farm — initially difficult for Orwell to publish and deeply hated by Western leftists — was an allegorical warning to liberals of the dangers of left-wing propaganda. Words and phrases changed their meanings — again and again — to serve a tyrannical agenda. The assorted creatures of Orwell’s fictional barnyard frequently wake up to new commandments posted on the barn wall by their Stalinesque pig leaders, with yesterday’s edicts crossed out or modified — and soon to be forgotten.

Given the political sympathies and self-interest of the present mainstream media and cultural elite, when the Obama administration came into power in 2009, we crossed out prior, out-of-power edicts and wrote new establishment versions in their place — as if no one would ever quite know the difference, or would soon forget if he did. Many of us at the time wrote about the nearly Orwellian change in liberal mentality required to accommodate Obama’s many contradictions.

Rich people were suddenly not all bad blue-stocking Republicans, but also hip, valuable Silicon Valley progressives in flip-flops who, with some reluctance, outsourced and off-shored.

In our past eight years of historical revisionism, huge political contributions — like the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies given by multi-billionaire financial speculator George Soros — were now helpful for democracy if only they were given to left-wing causes.

Once-liberal public campaign-financing laws and limits on fund-raising applied to all candidates except Barack Obama, who became the largest recipient of campaign cash in election history.

Drone assassinations were suddenly, in 2009, no longer proof of Bush’s efforts to kill the innocent abroad, but sophisticated tools in the Obama’s sober anti-terrorism tool kit. Radical Islamic terrorism simply vanished from our collective minds.

Terrorist killing was reinvented as vague “man-caused disasters” and “workplace violence” that occasionally called for American “overseas contingency operations.” If we did not have the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” then there would be no radical Islamic terrorism — apparently on the theory that if we ban “gravity” from our vocabulary, we will all instantly float upwards.

More recently, “fake news” did not mean promulgating the lie “Hands up, don’t shoot,” doctoring George Zimmerman’s 911 call, or insisting on national TV that the Benghazi attacks were spontaneous riots sparked by a right-wing American-based video maker, who, for his provocations, was perp-walked and jailed on trumped-up charges of parole violations.

Fake news certainly does not denote the decades-long myth that the hard-Communist and pro-Castro presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was emblematic of the right-wing haters of Texas, or the fantasy mythography of Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father passed off as an autobiographical memoir.

Instead, a supposed epidemic of “fake news” became a means to explain how Donald Trump, the supposedly incompetent buffoon, defeated the polished sure winner Hillary Clinton — who at one time in 2008 presented herself as a heroic stateswoman who had flown into Bosnia while under sniper fire. Executive orders are critical presidential prerogatives when Congress won’t act undermine the Constitution’s separation of powers.

In another classic Orwellian moment, the on-air fabulist and serial prevaricator, newsreader Brian Williams, jumped on the bandwagon to loudly editorialize about the dangers of not telling the truth and passing it off as news. Left unsaid was Williams’s subtext: Believe me about the dangers of fake news, because I was the biggest news faker in network anchor history. Or maybe he wasn’t, given Dan Rather’s “fake but accurate” memos about Bush’s supposedly having gone AWOL during the Vietnam War, a fabricated scandal that Rather peddled to harm the reelection chances of George W. Bush in 2004.

No sooner did the progressive media and bureaucracy establish new barn-wall rules than Obama got set to leave office, soon to be replaced by a President Trump. Now the leftist project must scramble to hit reverse and start all over from the beginning.

On the lighter side, after 2016, expect that the sight of a president golfing in sports attire and shades will be proof of his indolence and privilege, not necessary downtime as it was for an overworked and harried Obama.

If First Lady Melania Trump takes two jumbo jets full of aides and government junketeers to vacation on Spain’s Costa del Sol next year — as did Michelle Obama for her 2010 getaway — expect media outrage over her supposedly callous selfishness and indulgence.
Here are the more serious and latest samples of the corrected Animal Farm Commandments on the American Farm barn wall for the age of the Trump presidency.

1. The Senate filibuster is an archaic and disruptive obstacle to government an essential tool of legislative democracy.

2. The Senate’s “nuclear option” of approving nominees by majority votes is a legitimate tool to restore legislative balance crackpot idea to erode Senate traditions.

3. Pen-and-phone executive orders are critical presidential prerogatives when Congress won’t act undermine the Constitution’s separation of powers.

4. Past Supreme Court decisions are always fluid rulings and hold no real sway over present court prerogatives established judicial precedents that should not be tampered with by current politicized justices.

5. Pressuring private companies like Boeing or Chrysler for political purposes like Carrier to keep jobs in the U.S. is unwise presidential intrusion into the marketplace.

6. Edgy, out-of-the-box foreign-policy outreach to democracies like Taiwan dictatorships like Cuba and Iran is proof of presidential leadership and imagination.

7. Presidential informality like inviting rappers with rap sheets to the White House or doing interviews with GloZell like tweeting and videos are ominous signs of presidential frivolity and immaturity.

8. States-rights nullification of federal law has been traditionally racist, and subversive to the idea of the United States, leading to crisis or war is a legitimate expression of progressive cultural exceptionalism.

9. Running up huge deficits in Keynesian fashion primes the economy is a dangerous sign of presidential laxity.

10. Regular press conferences with vigorous cross-examinations of the president are noisy anachronisms from the bygone age of print journalism a must for a functioning democracy.

11. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio voting twice for Barack Obama over John McCain and Mitt Romney was at last proof that the white working class was tolerant and enlightened for Trump shows that these deplorable voters are still irredeemable white clingers and supremacists.

12. Worries that registration and voting can be rigged Rioting, demanding superfluous recounts, damning the legitimacy of the Electoral College, and threatening Electors are efforts to subvert American democracy.

13. Criticizing a former president allots proper blame where it belongs for current messes is bad sportsmanship, cheap, and unbecoming.

14. Former presidents making business deals and earning exorbitant speaking and consulting fees as they cash in and globe-trot demeans the office is an acceptable right and welcome duty of an ex-president.

15. Weighing in on contemporary news stories such as the Skip Gates psychodrama or the Trayvon Martin murder case a flag-burning incident is symptomatic of presidential puerility.

16. Vladimir Putin was unfairly alienated by George W. Bush, sophomorically hyped into an existential threat by Mitt Romney, and deserving of reset is dangerous, a Trump fan, and an inveterate enemy of the U.S.

All the above have a shelf-life of about four years and may be recalibrated according to the results of the 2020 election.

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December 7, 2014

From 1939, Thanks to Butch and www.vonmises.org [c]

Hard to believe this was written in 1939.

The Criminality of the State

http://mises.org/library/criminality-state

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DECEMBER 29, 2006Albert Jay Nock

TAGS Big GovernmentWar and Foreign PolicyInterventionism

[This essay first appeared in The American Mercury in March 1939.]

As well as I can judge, the general attitude of Americans who are at all interested in foreign affairs is one of astonishment, coupled with distaste, displeasure, or horror, according to the individual observer’s capacity for emotional excitement. Perhaps I ought to shade this statement a little in order to keep on the safe side, and say that this is the most generally expressed attitude.

All our institutional voices — the press, pulpit, forum — are pitched to the note of amazed indignation at one or another phase of the current goings-on in Europe and Asia. This leads me to believe that our people generally are viewing with wonder as well as repugnance certain conspicuous actions of various foreign States; for instance, the barbarous behavior of the German State towards some of its own citizens; the merciless despotism of the Soviet Russian State; the ruthless imperialism of the Italian State; the “betrayal of CzechoSlovakia” by the British and French States; the savagery of the Japanese State; the brutishness of the Chinese State’s mercenaries; and so on, here or there, all over the globe — this sort of thing is showing itself to be against our people’s grain, and they are speaking out about it in wrathful surprise.

I am cordially with them on every point but one. I am with them in repugnance, horror, indignation, disgust, but not in astonishment. The history of the State being what it is, and its testimony being as invariable and eloquent as it is, I am obliged to say that the naive tone of surprise wherewith our people complain of these matters strikes me as a pretty sad reflection on their intelligence. Suppose someone were impolite enough to ask them the gruff question, “Well, what do you expect?” — what rational answer could they give? I know of none.

Polite or impolite, that is just the question which ought to be put every time a story of State villainy appears in the news. It ought to be thrown at our public day after day, from every newspaper, periodical, lecture platform, and radio station in the land; and it ought to be backed up by a simple appeal to history, a simple invitation to look at the record. The British State has sold the Czech State down the river by a despicable trick; very well, be as disgusted and angry as you like, but don’t be astonished; what would you expect? — just take a look at the British State’s record! The German State is persecuting great masses of its people, the Russian State is holding a purge, the Italian State is grabbing territory, the Japanese State is buccaneering along the Asiatic Coast; horrible, yes, but for Heaven’s sake don’t lose your head over it, for what would you expect? — look at the record!

That is how every public presentation of these facts ought to run if Americans are ever going to grow up into an adult attitude towards them. Also, in order to keep down the great American sin of self-righteousness, every public presentation ought to draw the deadly parallel with the record of the American State. The German State is persecuting a minority, just as the American State did after 1776; the Italian State breaks into Ethiopia, just as the American State broke into Mexico; the Japanese State kills off the Manchurian tribes in wholesale lots, just as the American State did the Indian tribes; the British State practices large-scale carpetbaggery, like the American State after 1864; the imperialist French State massacres native civilians on their own soil, as the American State did in pursuit of its imperialistic policies in the Pacific, and so on.

In this way, perhaps, our people might get into their heads some glimmering of the fact that the State’s criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscation — that is to say, in crime. It originated for the purpose of maintaining the division of society into an owning-and-exploiting class and a propertyless dependent class — that is, for a criminal purpose.

No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose. Like all predatory or parasitic institutions, its first instinct is that of self-preservation. All its enterprises are directed first towards preserving its own life, and, second, towards increasing its own power and enlarging the scope of its own activity. For the sake of this it will, and regularly does, commit any crime which circumstances make expedient. In the last analysis, what is the German, Italian, French, or British State now actually doing? It is ruining its own people in order to preserve itself, to enhance its own power and prestige, and extend its own authority; and the American State is doing the same thing to the utmost of its opportunities.

What, then, is a little matter like a treaty to the French or British State? Merely a scrap of paper — Bethmann-Hollweg[i] described it exactly. Why be astonished when the German or Russian State murders its citizens? The American State would do the same thing under the same circumstances. In fact, eighty years ago it did murder a great many of them for no other crime in the world but that they did not wish to live under its rule any longer; and if that is a crime, then the colonists led by G. Washington were hardened criminals and the Fourth of July is nothing but a cutthroat’s holiday.

The weaker the State is, the less power it has to commit crime. Where in Europe today does the State have the best criminal record? Where it is weakest: in Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden, Monaco, Andorra. Yet when the Dutch State, for instance, was strong, its criminality was appalling; in Java it massacred 9,000 persons in one morning which is considerably ahead of Hitler’s record or Stalin’s. It would not do the like today, for it could not; the Dutch people do not give it that much power, and would not stand for such conduct. When the Swedish State was a great empire, its record, say from 1660 to 1670, was fearful. What does all this mean but that if you do not want the State to act like a criminal, you must disarm it as you would a criminal; you must keep it weak. The State will always be criminal in proportion to its strength; a weak State will always be as criminal as it can be, or dare be, but if it is kept down to the proper limit of weakness — which, by the way, is a vast deal lower limit than people are led to believe — its criminality may be safely got on with.

So it strikes me that instead of sweating blood over the iniquity of foreign States, my fellow-citizens would do a great deal better by themselves to make sure that the American State is not strong enough to carry out the like iniquities here. The stronger the American State is allowed to grow, the higher its record of criminality will grow, according to its opportunities and temptations. If, then, instead of devoting energy, time, and money to warding off wholly imaginary and fanciful dangers from criminals thousands of miles away, our people turn their patriotic fervor loose on the only source from which danger can proceed, they will be doing their full duty by their country.

Two able and sensible American publicists — Isabel Paterson, of the New York Herald Tribune, and W.J. Cameron, of the Ford Motor Company — have lately called our public’s attention to the great truth that if you give the State power to do something for you, you give it an exact equivalent of power to do something to you. I wish every editor, publicist, teacher, preacher, and lecturer would keep hammering that truth into American heads until they get it nailed fast there, never to come loose. The State was organized in this country with power to do all kinds of things for the people, and the people in their short-sighted stupidity, have been adding to that power ever since. After 1789, John Adams said that, so far from being a democracy of a democratic republic, the political organization of the country was that of “a monarchical republic, or, if you will, a limited monarchy”; the powers of its President were far greater than those of “an avoyer, a consul, a podesta, a doge, a stadtholder; nay, than a king of Poland; nay, than a king of Sparta.” If all that was true in 1789 — and it was true — what is to be said of the American State at the present time, after a century and a half of steady centralization and continuous increments of power?

Power, for instance, to “help business” by auctioning off concessions, subsidies, tariffs, land grants, franchises; power to help business by ever encroaching regulations, supervisions, various forms of control. All this power was freely given; it carried with it the equivalent power to do things to business; and see what a banditti of sharking political careerists are doing to business now! Power to afford “relief” to proletarians; and see what the State has done to those proletarians now in the way of systematic debauchery of whatever self-respect and self-reliance they may have had! Power this way, power that way; and all ultimately used against the interests of the people who surrendered that power on the pretext that it was to be used for those interests.

Many now believe that with the rise of the “totalitarian” State the world has entered upon a new era of barbarism. It has not. The totalitarian State is only the State; the kind of thing it does is only what the State has always done with unfailing regularity, if it had the power to do it, wherever and whenever its own aggrandizement made that kind of thing expedient. Give any State like power hereafter, and put it in like circumstances, and it will do precisely the same kind of thing. The State will unfailingly aggrandize itself, if only it has the power, first at the expense of its own citizens, and then at the expense of anyone else in sight. It has always done so, and always will.

The idea that the State is a social institution, and that with a fine upright man like Mr. Chamberlain at the head of it, or a charming person like Mr. Roosevelt, there can be no question about its being honorably and nobly managed — all this is just so much sticky flypaper. Men in that position usually make a good deal of their honor, and some of them indeed may have some (though if they had any I cannot understand their letting themselves be put in that position) but the machine they are running will run on rails which are laid only one way, which is from crime to crime. In the old days, the partition of CzechosLovakia or the taking-over of Austria would have been arranged by rigmarole among a few highly polished gentlemen in stiff shirts ornamented with fine ribbons. Hitler simply arranged it the way old Frederick arranged his share in the first partition of Poland; he arranged the annexation of Austria the way Louis XIV arranged that of Alsace. There is more or less of a fashion, perhaps, in the way these things are done, but the point is that they always come out exactly the same in the end.

Furthermore, the idea that the procedure of the “democratic” State is any less criminal than that of the State under any other fancy name, is rubbish. The country is now being surfeited with journalistic garbage about our great sister democracy, England, its fine democratic government, its vast beneficent gift for ruling subject peoples, and so on; but does anyone ever look up the criminal record of the British State? The bombardment of Copenhagen; the Boer War; the Sepoy Rebellion; the starvation of Germans by the post-Armistice blockade; the massacre of natives in India, Afghanistan, Jamaica; the employment of Hessians to kill off American colonists. What is the difference, moral or actual, between Kitchener’s democratic concentration camps[ii] and the totalitarian concentration camps maintained by Herr Hitler? The totalitarian general Badoglio[iii] is a pretty hard-boiled brother, if you like, but how about the democratic general O’Dwyer[iv] and Governor Eyre[v]? Any of the three stands up pretty well beside our own democratic virtuoso, Hell Roaring Jake Smith,[vi] in his treatment of the Filipinos; and you can’t say fairer than that.

As for the British State’s talent for a kindly and generous colonial administration, I shall not rake up old scores by citing the bill of particulars set forth in the Declaration of Independence; I shall consider India only, not even going into matters like the Kaffir war or the Wairau incident in New Zealand. Our democratic British cousins in India in the Eighteenth Century must have learned their trade from Pizarro and Cortez. Edmund Burke called them “birds of prey and passage.” Even the directors of the East India Company admitted that “the vast fortunes acquired in the inland trade have been obtained by a scene of the most tyrannical and oppressive conduct that was ever known in any age or country.” Describing a journey, Warren Hastings wrote that “most of the petty towns and serais were deserted at our approach”; the people ran off into the woods at the mere sight of a white man. There was the iniquitous salt monopoly; there was extortion everywhere, practiced by enterprising rascals in league with a corrupt police; there was taxation which confiscated almost half the products of the soil.

If it be said that Britain was not a sister democracy in those days, and has since reformed, one might well ask how much of the reformation is due to circumstances, and how much to a change of heart. Besides, the Black-and-Tans[vii] were in our day; so was the post-Armistice blockade; General O’Dwyer’s massacre was not more than a dozen years ago;[viii] and there are plenty alive who remember Kitchener’s concentration camps.

No, “democratic” State practice is nothing more or less than State practice. It does not differ from Marxist State practice, Fascist State practice, or any other. Here is the Golden Rule of sound citizenship, the first and greatest lesson in the study of politics: you get the same order of criminality from any State to which you give power to exercise it; and whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you. A citizenry which has learned that one short lesson has but little more left to learn.

Stripping the American State of the enormous power it has acquired is a full-time job for our citizens and a stirring one; and if they attend to it properly they will have no energy to spare for fighting communism, or for hating Hitler, or for worrying about South America or Spain, or for anything whatever, except what goes on right here in the United States.

Editor’s Notes

[i] Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg (November 29, 1856 – January 1, 1921) was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1909 to 1917. He was particularly upset by Britain’s declaration of war following German violation of Belgium’s neutrality in the course of her invasion of France, reportedly asking the departing British Ambassador Goschen how Britain could go to war over a “mere scrap of paper” (the Belgian Neutrality Treaty of 1839).

[ii] Horatio Herbert Kitchener (24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916) was an Irish-born British Field Marshal, diplomat and statesman. During the Second Boer War (1899–1902), Kitchener’s policy was to destory Boer farms and move civilians into concentration camps whose conditions led to wide opprobrium in Britain and Europe.

[iii] General Pietro Badoglio succeeded Benito Mussolini as Prime Minister of Italy (Provisional Military Government), from July 25, 1943 to June 18, 1944.

[iv] Sir Michael Francis O’Dwyer (April 1864 – March 13, 1940), was Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab from 1912 to 1919, where he oversaw the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on April 13, 1919. According to official figures, 379 unarmed civilians were killed by Gurkha troops. Unofficial estimates place the figure much higher, at perhaps 2,000, with many more wounded. In the wake of the massacre O’Dwyer was relieved of his office.

[v] Edward John Eyre (5 August 1815 – 30 November 1901) was an English land explorer of the Australian continent and a controversial Governor of Jamaica, where he ruthlessly suppressed the Morant Bay Rebellion, and had many black peasants killed. He also authorized the judicial murder of George William Gordon, a mixed-race member of the colonial assembly who was suspected of involvement in the insurrection. These events created great controversy in Britain, leading to calls for Eyre to be arrested and tried for Gordon’s murder. John Stuart Mill organized the Jamaica Committee — comprised of such classical liberals as John Bright and Herbert Spencer — calling for his prosecution. Eyre was twice charged with murder, but the cases never proceeded.

[vi] General Jacob Hurd Smith (1840–1918) was a veteran of the Wounded Knee massacre and well known among Indian campaigners. As brigadier general in charge of the Samar campaign in the Philippine-American War (1899–1913), Smith became infamous for his orders to “kill everyone over the age of ten” and make the island “a howling wilderness.” He was dubbed “Hell Roaring Jake” Smith, “The Monster”, and “Howling Jake” by the newspapers.

[vii] The term “Black and Tans” refers to the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, which was one of two paramilitary forces employed by the Royal Irish Constabulary from 1920 to 1921, to suppress revolution in Ireland by targeting the IRA and Sinn Féin.

[viii] On March 13, 1940 — one year after Nock published this essay — Punjabi revolutionary Udham Singh shot O’Dwyer dead in Caxton Hall in London as an act of revenge for the massacre.

[Both “The Albany Plan Re-Visited” and TAPR 2nd Edition, solve this problem in the section on Federal Authority and Citizenship. Of the three ways to curtail this form of federal criminality, only Secession may be peaceful. The other two require an armed revolution or insurrection as one, and the other is conquest by an outside force. Both are violent, bloody, and expensive. Secession.]

August 11, 2014

Who lost the Viet Nam War, by Bruce Herschensohn, [nc]

Course Description
Did the United States win or lose the Vietnam War? We are taught that it was a resounding loss for America, one that proves that intervening in the affairs of other nations is usually misguided. The truth is that our military won the war, but our politicians lost it. The Communists in North Vietnam actually signed a peace treaty, effectively surrendering. But the U.S. Congress didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. In just five minutes, learn the truth about who really lost the Vietnam War.
Taught By
Bruce Herschensohn

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Transcript
Decades back, in late 1972, South Vietnam and the United States were winning the Vietnam War decisively by every conceivable measure. That’s not just my view. That was the view of our enemy, the North Vietnamese government officials. Victory was apparent when President Nixon ordered the U.S. Air Force to bomb industrial and military targets in Hanoi, North Viet Nam’s capital city, and in Haiphong, its major port city, and we would stop the bombing if the North Vietnamese would attend the Paris Peace Talks that they had left earlier. The North Vietnamese did go back to the Paris Peace talks, and we did stop the bombing as promised.

On January the 23rd, 1973, President Nixon gave a speech to the nation on primetime television announcing that the Paris Peace Accords had been initialed by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and the Accords would be signed on the 27th. What the United States and South Vietnam received in those accords was victory. At the White House, it was called “VV Day,” “Victory in Vietnam Day.”

The U.S. backed up that victory with a simple pledge within the Paris Peace Accords saying: should the South require any military hardware to defend itself against any North Vietnam aggression we would provide replacement aid to the South on a piece-by-piece, one-to-one replacement, meaning a bullet for a bullet; a helicopter for a helicopter, for all things lost – replacement. The advance of communist tyranny had been halted by those accords.

Then it all came apart. And It happened this way: In August of the following year, 1974, President Nixon resigned his office as a result of what became known as “Watergate.” Three months after his resignation came the November congressional elections and within them the Democrats won a landslide victory for the new Congress and many of the members used their new majority to de-fund the military aid the U.S. had promised, piece for piece, breaking the commitment that we made to the South Vietnamese in Paris to provide whatever military hardware the South Vietnamese needed in case of aggression from the North. Put simply and accurately, a majority of Democrats of the 94th Congress did not keep the word of the United States.

On April the 10th of 1975, President Gerald Ford appealed directly to those members of the congress in an evening Joint Session, televised to the nation. In that speech he literally begged the Congress to keep the word of the United States. But as President Ford delivered his speech, many of the members of the Congress walked out of the chamber. Many of them had an investment in America’s failure in Vietnam. They had participated in demonstrations against the war for many years. They wouldn’t give the aid.

On April the 30th South Vietnam surrendered and Re¬education Camps were constructed, and the phenomenon of the Boat People began. If the South Vietnamese had received the arms that the United States promised them would the result have been different? It already had been different. The North Vietnamese leaders admitted that they were testing the new President, Gerald Ford, and they took one village after another, then cities, then provinces and our only response was to go back on our word. The U.S. did not re-supply the South Vietnamese as we had promised. It was then that the North Vietnamese knew they were on the road to South Vietnam’s capital city, Saigon, that would soon be renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Former Arkansas Senator William Fulbright, who had been the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a public statement about the surrender of South Vietnam. He said this, “I am no more distressed than I would be about Arkansas losing a football game to Texas.” The U.S. knew that North Vietnam would violate the accords and so we planned for it. What we did not know was that our own Congress would violate the accords. And violate them, of all things, on behalf of the North Vietnamese. That’s what happened.

I’m Bruce Herschensohn.

September 7, 2012

Basic Economics for the Taxpayer – Consumer

Filed under: Political Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — justplainbill @ 6:38 pm

Wealth = Productivity – Waste

Productivity = Available Labor X Available Resources

Waste = (100% < Effort) + (100% < Resource Use)

7 September 2012

Definitions:

            wealth, Black’s Law Dictionary 9th Ed. 1730: 1. A large quantity of something, 2. The state of having abundant financial resources, affluence. Dictionary of Banking and Finance 3rd Ed. 377: (wealth tax), (a tax on) money, property or investments owned by a person.

            productivity, Black’s no definition labor, Black’s 952, 1. Work of any type, including mental exertion * the term usually refers to work for wages as opposed to profits. 2. Workers considered as an economic unit or a political element, 3. A Spanish land measure equal to 177 1/7 acres. DB+F 273, the rate of output per employee or per machine in a factory.

            waste, Black’s 1727 + 1728: Permanent harm to real property committed by a tenant to the prejudice of the heir, the reversioner, or the remainderman. (List of acts follows.) (List of specific types of waste follows.) DB+F 376: material left over from a production process which is of no value and is thrown away. To use more than is needed

Justplainbill’s definitions:

            wealth: that which enhances the human condition beyond the necessary

            productivity: human effort

            waste: crime, inefficiency, negligence, incompetence; in the above equation, waste is actually the difference between 100% effort and that actually put forth; and it’s the same type of difference when figuring resource use

            effort: total human involvement in the production process

Additional references: The works of James Q. Wilson, Ph. D.; The works of Thomas C. Sowell (pronounced soul) Ph. D.;  The Albany Plan Re-Visited, www.bn.com/ebooks, & Ng’s coursera. (Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse is ok, too.) For the sake of brevity and carpal tunnel syndrome, the abbreviation T-C is being used to denote the long suffering Taxpayer-Consumer.

The current political climate has caused so much confusion regarding fair share, rich vs. poor, income gap, welfare & disability, and the social obligation of the wealthy, that some basic discussion has become necessary. The definitions that I’ve put up show the disparity between groups on what’s what, but almost all of the arguments made ignore the key ingredient in the creation of wealth: productive people.

Rather than repeat myself, at this point you should read the first section of the earlier posting on entrepreneurship and education where the basic point is made that man’s labor, both intellectual and physical, is necessary for raw material to be converted to a product or service that has value. The headlined equations are socio-legal, not mathematics or economics. These are the equations that taxpayers and consumers (T-C) should use when evaluating all situations requiring those decisions affecting our political community.

Fair Share, simply put, means that you receive in proportion to what you contributed. All else is coerced charity, and as such, is NOT a government function, but is, instead, theft. A good example of this is a few years ago in Missouri, there was a large enough surplus such that the legislature voted to return the excess to the taxpayer, if memory serves, like the Missouri Balanced Budget, because the Missouri Constitution requires it. Various civil rights groups, (isn’t it amazing how civil rights groups often conjures up thievery?) filed suit in federal court saying that the return of collected taxes to the taxpayers was unconstitutional because it meant that the colored would not be receiving their fair share of the money. Unlike subsequent federal rulings in Missouri, in this case the court ruled that you only got back if you put in, meaning, each taxpayer received his fair share of the excess collected taxes. Fair Share IS proportional, NOT absolute.

Income Gap has existed since before time, now, and will continue until the end of time, however, the concept that this is anything more than a minor statistic in certain economic theories, is a political trap to force guilt on the taxpayer in order to coerce charity through forced taxation. The concept of this gap being both eternal and universal is historically obvious. It shows up in The Bible, in Chinese literature from The Warring States period, in Pre-Columbian (before Columbus reached North America) Civilizations, in fact, in ALL cultures and societies. The points to be made here are that before The Industrial Revolution, the gap in terms of wealth was immensely greater than now. Some examples:

During the Diaspora in Egypt, a huge segment of Hebrews was held in slavery. 100% of their labor and their person was owned by Pharaoh. In Latinium, 100% of the labor of the slaves, plus their person, was owned by Roman Citizens. In the antebellum U.S., slaves were allowed in most states, to own property, and in fact, to work to a very limited degree, for themselves (with occasionally making enough to buy their freedom. Freehling’s Secession has some excellent in-context historical commentary on this). Prior to The Industrial Revolution, even though the income gap was huge, what you could buy was limited to food, clothing, shelter, and savings. There was nothing else to own! The purposes of Wealth Accumulation were limited to creating an inheritance, good health, and easing your work situation! Historically, just consider the condition of the French Peasant in 1790, and the Russian Serf in 1917, or for that matter, the East German Citizen in 1985 and the Chinese rice farmer in 2012, or heck, just about anybody in sub-Sahara Africa! So, how huge is the gap between Roman Slave and Roman Caesar, and how do you compare that with today’s arbitrarily proclaimed income gap?

All were subject to the same diseases, climate trauma, famines, old age, wars, &c.! Post-Industrial Revolution, the variety of goods and services available for purchase & use, is huge, and let us not forget that such services such as health care, are now among the benefits brought to us by that Industrial Revolution. So, what is now being speciously argued by this income gap is that the less productive are somehow entitled to goods and services that they cannot afford without charitable subsidy by the more productive. The fallacy with income gap is simply that there is so much to buy, and so much of it has been made “necessary”, that only the very rich can afford it all, yet, those at the poverty level, at least in the industrial countries, are well-to-do by all other standards.

[And, not to hurt your feelings in here, but as a matter of cold, hard fact, the disabled, the very young, and the elderly are not productive, that is, their activities, generally, are not contributing to the creation of Wealth – and, yes, the elderly buy goods & services, but they are using either savings or charity to pay for them. BTW, I give a greater share of my wealth to charity than, Obama, Biden, Kerry, &c., so please don’t send me emails about how these people should be taken care of. As a matter of economic fact, not emotion or socio-religious morality, the disabled, the young, and the elderly, are not productive members of society. Actually, if you wish to argue this, let’s start with how health-care is rationed in Europe, Asia, India, Africa, and South & Central America. The aforementioned three groups are excluded through rationing, of the tax supported health-care systems!]

Consider how many “poor” people have cell phones, cable, year-round housing, 100% access to health-care (and this pre-PPACA [Obama-Care], Patient Protection Affordable Care Act – and as an aside, prior to PPACA there was 100% access to health-care for every person, legal or not, walking within the U.S.A., including both free birth-control and pre & neo-natal care! Rather than enter into an argument here, just remember that during the 2008 Presidential Primary Cycle, Hon. Senator (NY) Hillary R. Clinton, Esq. (AR), made a big deal about it, pointing out that the, then current, situation was that although everyone had access, it was the hidden surcharge of $800 that each health insurance policy holder paid to cover those who did not have insurance, and she included those on Medicaid and Medicare in her computations!), school breakfasts and luncheons, paid education from K – 12, and even beyond with Pell Grants, accessibility to sub-prime student loans, scholarships, and even unqualified direct support from both public and private sources. So, how is that ‘poor’ to the point of justifying taking over 50% of my gross in taxation?

The availability of necessary products and services to those at the low end of the income gap is the same as that for those at the high end. The difference is in those goods beyond the minimum needed for good health and a basic education. Community basketball courts, “summer programs” for the poor, special +/or remedial courses, set-asides, &c., are in fact, waste, unless those accessing such charity perform some communal productive function, and even then, without 100% return on wealth, there’ll still be waste, but, it will be a socially acceptable waste, if the T-C has set the standard, one not arbitrarily set by politicians for the purpose of vote buying.

Bill Gates can buy a Ferretti Yacht; I cannot. The income gap between Bill Gates and me is huge and is based on his productive contribution to the global economy compared to mine. He’s earned his yacht, I have not. The gap factor between us is over 10,000X. Now, the gap factor between a person legally designated as poor by The Federal Government and me, is less than 4X, based on the federal standard of $27,000/yr. And, if the reporting on www.snopes.com is accurate, the complaint of the woman with the $10,000+ wall TV, receiving welfare & AFDC in New Orleans stating that after Katrina she wasn’t getting enough aid, is a showing of the uselessness of income gap as a factor in any reasonable decision making. The income gap between the middle class and the poor is less than a factor of 4.

Let’s cover the nomenclature of these groupings, too, while we’re here. When using income gap as a measure, Keynesians refer to the different groupings of poor, working poor, blue collar, lower middle class, white collar, upper middle class, lower upper class (aka nouveau riche) and upper class (old money). While “the name remains the same”, membership in these various classes, until recently, has been in constant flux with the two poor classes, and the blue collar class, shrinking, and all of the others increasing, as a percentage of the population. Lots of factors for this, but free market post industrialism, coupled to minimal reasonable government intervention, have made this so. Reaganomics and the silicone chip have made wealth creation less expensive, Clinton’s abuse of the Community Recovery Act (CRA), and his combine with Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup (Corzine, Weill & Co getting Glass-Steagall repealed, Clinton single handedly creating the sub-prime mortgage bubble – along with the corrupt political appointees at Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac; and before you say that it ain’t so, the historians are already reporting it as such, just read William D. Cohan’s House of Cards, as one of many already out there reporting this, Charlie Gasperino’s last two books give more insight to what went on, too. BTW, if you get FBN, Lou Dobb’s chalk talk on 6 September 2012, gives an almost adequate summary of this.), coupled to the Swiss, who, for the second time in 100 years, refusing to take US brokerage-house collateral for cash, (last time was 1929 – oh, you didn’t know that it was Swiss refusal to accept collateral that caused the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the ensuing depression? Well, now you do;) which caused the global financial collapse of 2008, since exacerbated by Bernanke & Co.’s release of paper into the system without the concomitant creation of the wealth necessary to give that paper value.

Price is different from Value, and in fact, not related to each other. Both are quantifiable and qualitative. Professor von Mises’ work Currency and Money explains this from the economist’s perspective, yet from the viewpoint of the consumer, two simpler examples show clearly the differences, and, yes, there are many differences but we usually only see one or two. Basically, price is an arbitrary number of a specific meaningless paper currency which a buyer and seller agree to trade for a desired product or service. This transaction need not, in fact rarely does, take place in a free and open market place. Empirically, I have yet to find an actual or reference to an actual, free and open market place. TANST (There Ain’t No Such Thing!)

It’s impossible for the T-C to know enough about any transaction or occurrence such that he can make the best/ most informed decision. This is primarily because T-C must work for a living, which means that T-C simply hasn’t got the time to get the necessarily extensive education nor the time necessary to gather enough data, to be able to make the best possible decision. However, T-C can acquire the necessary basics of things to make good guesses. Refer back to the Education & Entrepreneur posting for one acceptable and adequate methodology. Another would be to require test-able standards of all government positions, especially judicial and elected positions. The Albany Plan Re-Visited (www.bn.com/ebooks) has two approaches to this problem, neither perfect, but both are better than what we currently have.

Gold ore has zero value. Once processed into bullion or coin, it has both price and value. You can find the price of gold by googling it, getting The Wall Street Journal, or just by following most adequate News sources. Today, it’s about $1,700 a Troy Ounce, ten years ago it was about $800 tr/oz. Whether in 2002 or 2012, it’s still just one troy ounce of gold! Only the price has changed. Price has NO relationship to Value!

The value of gold, or any other product or service, is more than its purchasing power. Ok, where to go to learn about purchasing power? Best discussion that I’ve ever found is in Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Go enjoy the good read. For those who want the quick reference, answer this question, who is richer: the man with $5, who must pay $5 for a loaf of bread, or the man with $3 who must pay $1 for a loaf of bread?

Value includes the satisfaction value, the aesthetic value, and the resultant, of the product or service. That Canadian Maple Leaf has more than 1 tr/oz. of gold in its value. It has the art work of the dye maker, the sweat of those who manufactured the gold, the distribution expense, the pleasure of the warmth of its glow and feel (only metal that I think actually feels warm; yes, I know that’s subjective, but I really do like gold), and the secure feeling that one gets knowing that this little coin has a future use directly related to my health & welfare! Think about it: how many people with their savings are purchasing gold and silver in the expectation that at some time in the future, they will be able to purchase food, water, shelter, clothing, and medical care? Remember the Weimar Republic and where that led the world! Will the pretty paper be able to do that?

So, what actually happens when Bernanke & Co. use quantitative easing? You’ve already got the necessary basics, price and value.

Yup, more paper, the same amount of gold, no increase in wealth.

Unless more gold is dug, processed, and manufactured, in which case, and you should refer back to the equations at the top of the page because that means: more wealth!

But there’s more. Because of Clinton’s repeal of Glass-Steagall, brokerage houses are now allowed to access the “cash window” at the Federal Reserve. Goldman-Sachs is not a bank in the traditional sense of holding consumers’ deposits and then loaning that money out. It is an investment bank, meaning that it deals in instruments of debt and equity. von Mises and Hazlett are good for all of the details, but the key for T-C is this, businesses use brokerage houses, consumers use banks; brokerage houses deal in stocks, bonds, letters of credit, DBO’s, CBO’s, Mutual Funds, &c., consumers deal with home mortgages, credit cards, auto, and appliance loans, i.e., personal financing including savings accounts, and checking accounts. (Yes, there are many individuals who deal directly with brokerages, but they are acting as businesses, not consumers, think about it, but you should be looking some of this stuff up in The Dictionary of Banking and Finance, or Black’s, and you really should own a current copy of each and update them every three years.) Because of the Crash of 1929, they were made separate and as such, not one of them became “too big to fail”, primarily because T-C’s money was kept separate from speculator’s money. Now consider what happened to the $1,600,000,000.00 of T-C’s money missing from MF Global, oh, BTW, that’s Corzine of Goldman-Sachs fame, that just got off Scott-free of all liability +/or responsibility for the T-C loss.

Accessing the cash window means that they can get tax dollar cash to finance leveraged purchasing of financial instruments. Think like this, it means that they don’t have to put up their own capital to buy/speculate in the markets; think the aforementioned MF Global. They get to use our money instead. It’s part of why the stock market keeps going up, think price increase, while the economy is so bad, think no change in value. Think why large companies are keeping cash on hand, trade in currencies because the price of other currencies is tied to the dollar, and small companies are losing ground, think steady value with no wealth increase. Think about the relationship between the currency number on your IRA or 401(k) and its actual value. You may have a large dollar amount, but to what value does that dollar amount relate? Think $5 vs. $3, which is what the big companies are thinking.

So, where are we? Y’all should now have enough knowledge to make rational decisions when people start talking to you about price and value. Y’all now have enough to know whether or not you’re better off now, four years ago, and you should be able to rationally speculate on how well you will be four years from now!

And better yet, you will be able to use this little bit anytime, anywhere, and anyplace that people try to talk to you about economics. Just keep in mind that there’s no correlation between price and value, and be able to answer the question of who’s richer, the man with $5 cash and $5 cost for a loaf of bread, or the man with $3 cash and $1 cost for a loaf of bread.

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