Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fast and Furious

For those not paying attention, the Obama administration knowingly allowed criminals to purchase U.S. weapons and ship them to Mexico. Why? Noah B. summarizes the situation nicely:

The only plausible explanation is that they wanted more guns from the United States to turn up at crime scenes in Mexico. Now the Obama regime has been caught red-handed in a conspiracy to illegally smuggle weapons to criminals and terrorists, aid and abet the killing of Mexican citizens and anyone else who happened to get in the way, and use the bloodshed as a further excuse to violate the 2nd Amendment rights of US citizens.

We live in an age of "black-flag" operations, where our own government perpetrates crimes against our own people, to be solved by *surprise!* bigger, badder, stronger, costlier, freedom-robbing government!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Greatest Heist

This blog is mostly derivative. In fact, without the influence of great thinkers like Vox Day, Simon Black (both pseudonyms), Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and others, I wouldn't know what to think! I'd be in the dark about economics...history...women....

As Vox recently pointed out, the greatest theft in human history is currently under way. Government's principal function has become transferring wealth from the productive class (mostly men) to the unproductive class (mostly women).

One of the great, unexpected, and "unseen" mechanisms of this wealth transfer is government borrowing. When government incurs debt on "the people's" behalf, the monies rarely benefit everyone. Rather, they go to privileged interests who aren't expected to repay much, if any, of the debt: jobless females who are heads of households, dependent children, government workers, Social Security and other welfare recipients, illegal aliens, criminals, etc.

Meanwhile, the American productive class (those making and building things, mostly men) are expected to keep paying the bills, taxes, and interest (while maintaining themselves and their families).

The poor, needy, unproductive, and greedy now outnumber those who work and produce. Thanks to our "one (wo)man, one vote" democracy, the latter have become "slaves" to the former and, by law, are kept in perpetual servitude. Their children and grandchildren, likewise, are born into debt and slavery.

Just as a former government which kept blacks unjustly enchained was overthrown, the productive will reassert their freedoms and topple the forces that now enslave them: by force, if necessary.

Those who handsomely profit from the labor of slaves can hardly be expected to let them easily go free.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

American Serfdom

I read another email from Simon Black that has transformed my opinion regarding "illegal immigration" and "accidents of birth".

Date: June 8, 2011
Reporting From: Panama City, Panama

This morning I enjoyed a sumptuous buffet breakfast at the Hotel RIU with my longtime friend and Panamanian attorney, Augusto. He's just had a new baby, and from the way he was pounding the coffee, Augusto's not getting much sleep.

He's also swamped at the office; Augusto is a key figure in a rapidly growing practice area for his Panamanian law firm -- tax compliance. Funny thing, though, it's not Panamanian tax compliance, it's US tax compliance.

That's right.

There are a lot of Panamanians who, for one reason or another, have US citizenship. During Latin America's tumultuous times several decades ago, many families with means temporarily moved to the United States so that they could watch the turmoil from their television sets instead of their living room windows.

Most of these families popped out a child or two while living in the US, and, per US law, those children were automatically US citizens.

A few years later, they moved back. The kids grew up in Panama, became adults in Panama, went on to take over the family business, etc.  Along they way they had a number of bank accounts in Panama, owned Panamanian companies, formed Panamanian foundations, and definitely earned healthy profits.

As it turns out, however, those Panamanians who were born in the US were required to file tax returns and disclosure forms annually with the IRS, as well pay the US government its "fair share" of their income. And now, with so much stink being raised about offshore tax compliance for US citizens, these dual nationals find themselves caught in a tough situation.

Most were completely unaware and were recently tipped off by their local banker here in Panama, a conversation that went something like:

"Hey don't you have US nationality as well as Panamanian? The US government is breathing down our necks to make sure customers are in compliance. You should see these stupid regulations they expect us to follow."

"Um... compliance for what?"

After a few uncomfortable phone calls, they find out that they're obliged to file 10+ years' worth of 1040's, 5471's, and FBARs, as well as pay steep tax bills with penalties and interest.

I have no doubt that a great many of these dual nationals are going to march down to the US embassy to renounce their citizenship. Unfortunately for them, they won't even be 'allowed' to do so until they become tax compliant.

It's amazing -- many of these folks have never lived in the US, have never earned a penny of US-source income, and have never even heard of an FBAR... yet literally by accident of birth, they are now obligated under penalty of imprisonment to pay a huge portion of their assets to another government despite never having been made aware of such obligations.

What's more, they can't get out of it. They can't even renounce this obligation without first paying off the debts that they never signed up for.

In 1762, Genevan philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau argued in Du Contrat Social that while people are born free, they surrender a bit of sovereignty in exchange for the benefits of living in a society. For Rousseau, who is commonly held with John Locke as an important influence on US constitutional principles, this social contract has two willing counterparties.

In other words, the individual must volunteer to accept the obligations of society, as well as be free to leave at a time of his or her own choosing. Furthermore, the contract cannot be unilaterally altered without overt acceptance of the other party-- if they decide to put their hands down our pants... to impose a draft... to triple tax rates, we should be free to leave.

Yet the system we have today is one in which people are simply born into obligations beyond their control, whether they like it or not, whether they even know it or not. Despite all of our plasma screen TVs, SUVs, and McMansion mortgages, this is nothing more than dressed-up serfdom, a system in which people exist to serve the state, not the other way around.

Americans today -- white, black, and brown -- are involuntarily born into indentured servitude every bit as real as the slavery of the Deep South 150 years ago. Each taxpayer (as of today) is liable for $1,023,686.

Why (many) teachers are over-paid

I had lunch yesterday with several teachers. We discussed economics. It did not go well.
Dear Mr. Paz,

I was taken aback by our conversation yesterday. Not by the fact that we disagreed, but because you abruptly ended the discussion with the argument that “Neither of us is going to change the other’s mind.” Quite frankly, I find that “blind allegiance” to whatever dogma one espouses to be rather silly. Either it’s true, or it’s not. And if one (or both) of us embraces ignorance and error – and sticks with it – well, that type of misinformation is nothing less than damning. For how can one progress under the delusion of error and misinformation?

I’m taking the time to address this issue again because I like you. I also find your ideology to be rather dangerous – particularly as it applies to macroeconomics – inasmuch as the forced “redistribution of wealth” (by other than market forces) always leads to penury, misery or death. Every government system founded upon this misguided economic principle invariably experiences tyranny and/or ruin simply because it defies human nature.

Case in point:

You may one day choose to pay each of your children a “living wage” (allowance) for chores done that may sustain them under their own roof, with their own chef, chauffer, etc. (What “wage” would that be? $10? $20? $100 per hour?) However, I think you would go bankrupt in short order, or your children would find themselves unemployed. Either that or, perhaps, in return for your patronage and obligation to support them, you would compel them to work, but you wouldn’t pay them.

That is precisely the danger inherent in (what I called) your “utopian” vision of economics, where everyone receives a “living wage” and a “guaranteed” job, regardless of the value of their services rendered.

There are no “sacred cows” here. If older, more experienced, more talented (and expensive) teachers can be replaced by younger, less experienced, less talented (and cheaper) teachers – or no teachers at all! – then they should be!

You don’t drive a Rolls-Royce, do you? Why not? Shouldn’t your family ride in (what has historically been considered to be) the “best” car?

Rolls-Royce has been around for 105 years. (Almost as long as public schools!) With so much experience and capital invested, shouldn’t Rolls-Royce deserve your business now? In fact, shouldn’t you be forced to buy a Rolls-Royce, regardless of how expensive it is?

Otherwise, Rolls-Royce might go out of business! And all those wonderful people building Rolls-Royces might be thrown out of work. They’d lose their homes, together with their livelihoods! Think of the children!

As much as you care about the children, I’m sure, you won’t be buying a Rolls-Royce any time soon. Why? Because so many “better” alternatives exist for you.

Forcing you to buy a Rolls-Royce (and no “cheaper” option) compels you to reallocate resources that might have been used for other purchases (clothes, food, housing, entertainment). Oh, sure, you’d have an expensive car. But you’d be poorer for it! And because you weren’t buying those other things, other people wouldn’t have jobs making them. And everybody would be poorer and less employed.

You could simply not buy a Rolls-Royce. But then how would you get around?

In the same way, minimum wage laws (tenure, unions, etc.), requiring employers to pay “above-market” wages to those who lack “marketable” skills, force employers to misallocate resources. Rather than do so, employers simply refuse to hire under-skilled workers.

How, then, are individuals to gain experience (and skills) if they cannot get a job? How are they to (eventually) support themselves?

Minimum wage laws effectively lock out millions of unskilled (and under-skilled) laborers from the working pool, making them certainly poorer and dependent upon others for their support. This support requires taxing the wealth or labor of others, making them poorer. Hence, everyone is made poorer by “minimum wage” laws.

A “free market”, conversely, inspires innovation and better allocation of resources. If we over-pay one person for a job – because “it’s their livelihood” or because “they’re tenured” or because “they belong to a union” or because “they deserve a living wage” – then we must under-pay (or not pay at all!) others who, perhaps, could do the same job (or another job) more efficiently. What about them? Do you not care about others who are under-paid (or unemployed) because someone else is being over-paid, contrary to market forces?

Communist / socialist / Marxist economies are wonderful at putting people to work, “giving” them jobs. (I recall seeing hundreds of Chinese digging a canal by hand, doing the work of one mechanized earth-mover.) Frequently those types of authoritarian, top-down, market-controlling governments shift from “giving” people jobs to “forcing” them to work, even directing which job each person will do. (“It’s all for the greater good! Don’t be selfish!” they say.) And, invariably, those economies are stifled. The people suffer.

What would just be a ludicrous misallocation of funds were you to over-pay your kids for doing menial, perhaps even unnecessary, chores becomes a disaster on a municipal or national scale. At some point it becomes theft and, taken too far, tyranny.

Before our discussion was cut short, you argued that, historically, people generally worked at the same job, in the same line of work, for their entire lives and that this is no longer the case. Ruthless “capitalism”, you suggested, is to blame for this cruel “instability”. Unions, minimum wage laws, tenure and other employment protections are all necessary to keep people (like us!) from being savagely unemployed by “market forces”.

However, “capitalism”, “instability” and “market forces” are the very things that have spurred the present innovation, progress, and wealth creation we now enjoy! Because of innovation, people are no longer required to work at the same job all their lives. Without the ability to hire and fire or pay “true value” as needed, people in factories would still be making buggy whips – even though buggy whips are no longer used.

When people don’t have to compete, innovate, or improve to keep their jobs, not surprisingly, they don’t! They work at a slower pace. They put less effort into it. They lose incentive. They even take on an air of “entitlement”. They begin to believe they “deserve” their jobs.

None of this is good.

In fact, only in places where unions, tenure and employment protections are in place is innovation stifled and cost excessive. Think government-run, “protected” operations like AmTrak, the postal service, DMV, and public schools. They’re all mired in inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

It’s never “comfortable” or “nice” to lose one’s job. Competition is fierce! But the struggle for survival is a necessary evil, both in our nature and in our economy. It “weeds out” inefficiency and lesser utility. It spurs innovation, health and improvement.

Tenure, union wages, employment protections – they’re all largely to blame for the current morass in which government schools find themselves. Millions of kids today receive equivalent – or better! –  educations in private schools, home schools, even no schools! Teachers are ill advised to ignore these “market forces”. Technology is rendering the classroom superfluous. Children are now learning their “3 Rs”, together with history, science and the other subjects, by computer, without a teacher present.

Sure, someone needs to produce and provide all that software. But one person, or a relative few, can now replace the labors of millions.

Should we keep employing millions in the labor of education, at higher-than-market salaries, simply because teachers need jobs and few have other marketable skills? Do we need a million more buggy whips? Or millions of buggy whip makers?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Game 8: BYU 30, Bears 0

Daniel, Kyson, Caleb and Everett(!) scored touchdowns, with Nicholas, Hanyi, and Daniel at quarterback. Hanyi made numerous outstanding back-field “tackles” while Trenten, Nicholas and Daniel broke up several passes and plays on defense.

The first half was nearly scoreless, until our fourth possession, when Kyson took a handoff from Nickolas and made a great field-length run, stopping just short of the goal line. On the next play, Everett caught Nicholas’ pass in the end zone for our (his) first touchdown! We ended the half up by 6.

Anthony Holder (our cameraman) predicted we’d have a great second half…and we did, scoring on every possession!

Daniel started the rout with handoffs from Hanyi on our first two possessions, running the length of the field for touchdowns. On our next possession, a Hanyi-handoff-to-Daniel-pass-to-Kyson play resulted in another touchdown. After Daniel was stopped twice in the backfield, Caleb took the ball and ran ALL THE WAY for our fifth and final score! BYU won 30-0!

Not only did the Cougs win 8 games and remain UNDEFEATED this season, we outscored our opponents a whopping 224 points to 38! (That’s nearly 6 to 1!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

2nd American Civil War Inevitable

Fred Reed (one of my favorite bloggers) has reported on Jared Taylor's politically incorrect analysis of the implications of racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S.

The tea leaves portend an American future torn from the pages of the Book of Mormon: a godless, ignorant, mostly brown-skinned majority pitted against a mostly white, educated, Christian minority. The latter group's numbers dwindle through intermarriage, corruption, apostasy and warfare.

It's not good. But practically inevitable. This is the future I must prepare my children for.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

American Ideals or American Idols?

After writing about "the hand", I read this email from Simon Black, sent on Memorial Day from Chile, where I served my mission. It expresses my sentiments, exactly.

Date: May 30, 2011
Reporting From: Santiago, Chile

I had the opportunity to tour Chile's national military school yesterday. As you may know, I spent some time in the military myself in places that were not especially pleasant, so the visit was quite meaningful for me.

My host was a particular gung-ho Chilean Army officer; curiously, he told me that many of his fellow officers in Chile petitioned the government to authorize a deployment of soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. They want to participate in the action, if for no other reason than for the opportunity to improve training at home.

Chile's politicians wouldn't hear of it, their response being something slightly more eloquent than "no way in hell are we sending Chileans to die in that f'ing desert." My host seemed rather disgruntled.

"Trust me," I said, "you don't want to go over there... and you should consider yourself lucky that your civilian leadership has the good sense to boycott the conflict. There is nothing good waiting for you in Iraq or Afghanistan."

Young, gung-ho soldiers just want to get in the fight and don't think much about morality, cost, or danger... so it was incredibly encouraging to hear how opposed his government was to the idea.

I further explained that, when I was at West Point in the post-Desert Storm era, the biggest thing we had to prepare for was the conflict in the Balkans. After graduation, things changed; the embassy bombings in Africa, the USS Cole, then the September 11th incident, all revolutionized the US military's role.

In the 1980s, there was one single enemy... and the entire US military was focused on the Soviet Union. When the wall fell, the US aimlessly wandered the 1990s as the world's policeman until ultimately adopting the role of 'pre-emptive strike force' in the 2000s (assuming official explanations are to be believed).

During my own career, I realized that the military was little more than a blunt instrument for bureaucrats to achieve political gain. I remember the night before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 so clearly: as all the forces were huddled at the border in Kuwait waiting to advance, I couldn't stop thinking about the people on both sides who were about to die because George W. Bush had something to prove.

In the subsequent years, little has come from that conflict other than shattered lives, lost limbs, and a mountain of debt.

You can peel back the onion further and question the benefits of nearly every conflict-- Mogadishu under Clinton, Panama under Bush I, Grenada under Reagan, the entirety of the Vietnam War under five presidents, the invasion of Greece in 1947, the occupation of Haiti in the 1920s... Cuba, the Philippines, Mexico, etc.

There are scores of other instances going all the way back to the late 1700s. And for what? To install a ruthless, puppet dictator? To maintain the country's addiction to oil? To expand America's domain until it matches the size of its government's ego?

Libya is simply the latest in an endless string of folly. This logic of "let's indiscriminately bomb a country in order to protect the civilians" can only come from the mind of a politician who quantifies benefit in votes and awards taxpayer money to defense contractors that make warfare more lethal.

Consider that there are entire industries with some of the most brilliant minds on the planet dedicated to making the military more 'powerful', i.e. deadly.

Today, politicians can watch a predator drone or stealth bomber rain death and destruction on a foreign population from his plasma screen. They brag about their smart bombs (which are racking up the civilian death toll) or how powerful their nuclear arsenal is, as if the efficiency of one's destructive power is honorable.

Donald Rumsfeld famously used the phrase "shock and awe" as a promotional tool during the invasion of Iraq. It was something for the press to latch onto and fill the country with a dreamy spin on the military's ability to exterminate foreigners like cockroaches.

They show us videos of massive explosions and Americans shriek like chimpanzees in boastful approval. Not exactly a far cry from the Roman Colosseum, is it?

In reality, there's nothing romantic about this; the ability to kill efficiently should not be a source of pride. And the fact that a small group of elites has the power to send thousands of people to fight, die, and kill, as well as cajole an entire society into tacit support, is a total aberration of humanity.

Our descendents will surely look back on this time and wonder how we could have been so foolish-- to let these people rob our freedoms; destroy our economies; kill foreigners on their home soil; and shower themselves with Peace Prize medals... all while keeping society quietly subdued with games, tricks, and bombastic patriotism.

They tell us to wave the flag, to buy yellow ribbon bumper stickers, and to remember the fallen on days like today. Truthfully, though, the memories of the fallen would be much better honored if the government quit making more of them... and stopped destroying the freedom that they supposedly died to defend.

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black
Senior Editor,

Give this man a hand!

When servicemen (and women) lose their lives or limbs for no other reason than because they were “following orders” or because they were saving other soldiers' lives (in a place they shouldn’t have been, either), it cheapens the value of that sacrifice.

They bleed and die in vain.

“Look, fair lady” the gentleman says, as he lays his coat in the gutter for her to step on.

“Dude! Don’t be stupid!" she mutters, "I don’t need your coat!”

These valiant men and women are being WASTED in far-off lands FOR NOTHING! Arms, legs, eyes, minds, lives, families…DESTROYED...FOR NOTHING!

We aren’t “saving” ANYONE over there.

If Americans want to go to Afghanistan or Iraq to help “liberate” those fellows, let them go as private citizens. It’s not our fight. The very people we are “saving” would burn our own Constitution and lay waste to our nation, if they could.

While I wish my sons could serve in the military (as I did), I cannot condone them now “serving” for causes (as our military now does) which serve neither our people nor respect the Constitution we, as soldiers, are sworn to uphold.

Our military has been hijacked by global interests that are clearly un-American. To serve in our military now means, sadly, to serve The Beast.

I’m sorry Sgt. Petry lost his hand. We are all poorer for it.

EDIT: How would you feel if Chinese helicopters routinely flew over American cities and blew the hell out of your neighbors' houses, killed their families at wedding parties, and claimed they did it all in the name of "protecting China" from "anti-Chinese terrorists" living in California, Ohio, or Florida? Wouldn't those attacks actually CREATE in you the desire to HATE and ATTACK China?! Of course they would! (If you're a true American.)

We are CREATING terrorists in the Middle East. We shouldn't be there. The only reason they haven't NUKED us yet is because they haven't got one. But if they ever get one....heaven help us.