Hurricane Sandy was one of the worst natural disasters the east coast has ever seen. Clean-up and recovery will take months, if not years and estimates run in the tens of billions of dollars. Parts of New York and New Jersey will never be the same. Entire seashore communities have been wiped out, but the determination to rebuild has been lauded as courageous and admirable. Yet as with all natural disasters, Sandy raises uncomfortable questions about the extent to which taxpayers should fund the cleanup and the extent to which government programs create moral hazards.
For example, FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are expected to pick up the tab for much of the flood damage caused by the hurricane. Of course this will mean more federal debt and inflation for the rest of us, since the program only has about $4 billion to work with and is already $18 billion in debt from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Many think there is a need for the government to provide flood insurance of this kind. After all, the market would never provide insurance in flood prone areas at an affordable price. But shouldn't that tell us something?
Shouldn't that tell us that it is a losing proposition to insure homes in coastal areas and flood plains often threatened by severe and destructive weather patterns? And if it’s a losing proposition, should taxpayers subsidize the inevitable losses arising from federal flood insurance?
The NFIP disguises the real cost of flood insurance in flood prone areas, which influences homebuilding and sales in such areas. Recklessly taking unwise risks when risk is underpriced is known as moral hazard. When politicians decide that private insurance premiums are too high, as with houses built in flood plains, the solution is to under price the risk through federal subsidies. The obvious and expected outcome is more danger to life and limb when disaster strikes.
Even NFIP has been forced to raise rates significantly in coastal areas, and is now dropping second homes from coverage altogether,
Many assume it is compassionate to entrust government central planners with disaster recovery. However, the greatest compassion brings results, not just good intentions. And we’ve seen how bureaucratic organizations like FEMA mismanaged recovery and relief in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Ike. Organizations such as the Red Cross and private companies like Home Depot and Duracell have already stepped in admirably to help those in need, and we can only hope FEMA has learned this time not to impede and frustrate private efforts as they have in the past.
Above all, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Sandy in this tremendously difficult time and hope they can get their lives put back together as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Romney lost today to a guy who is overseeing a horrible economy, prosecuting unpopular wars, and who can barely string 5 words together without a teleprompter. This was the best the Republican Party can do. Not only are the Republicans evil, they’re evil and contemptible losers, which is far worse.
The biggest losers tonight are of course people who value peace and freedom, but we would have also lost if Romney won. The GOP is right up there in the loser category, however. The GOP lost seats in the Senate, and did little to improve its position in the House. It has served up two ridiculously bad nominees in a row, claiming “electability” and then going down in flames.
Rand Paul certainly came out of this looking very bad as well. He fell in line behind the party masters, banking on some advantage to be gained through an endorsement of Romney. He ended up just looking politically un-savvy and unprincipled. There is little to be gained either, from playing ball with a Party that as inept as the GOP at this point.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the GOP may actually show sign of disintegration in the next several years. The GOP has ceased to present any sort of actual alternative, and worse yet, it can’t run a winning candidate. Once that happens, the coalition that makes up your political party will begin to fall apart.
The Ron Paul movement is a big winner here. The GOP told the libertarians in the party to get lost, and the GOP paid for it. Interestingly, both Iowa and Nevada, where Ron Paul supporters gained control of the state party, both went to Obama after the Romney campaign actively fought to disenfranchise Ron Paul supporters. I guess the GOP got what it wanted there.
There is exactly one movement that offers any real opposition to the status quo, and it ain’t the conservative movement, which is on life support and entering a permanent vegetative state. Ron Paul’s libertarian movement, brimming with well-educated young people is the only thing left standing. The GOP operatives who predicted a big victory tonight just look pathetic.
On foreign policy, if it proves to be true that Obama is truly reluctant to engage in the mass murder of Iranians, that may be a victory there all by itself. Time well tell on that one.
And finally, when the economy enters a deep recession in a couple of years (or sooner), it will be good that Obama will be in office. You all know how it would have gone otherwise: After a couple of years of Romney misrule, the media will decide that Romney was the candidate of “free markets.” Then, mired in a depression, our wise overlords will declare that “we tried that free market thing, and look what happened.”
Article written by Ryan W. McMaken
Lew Rockwell Blog
Nov 7, 2012
Until the late 1990s, individuals interested in Austrian economics, U.S. constitutional history, and libertarian philosophy had few sources of information. They had to spend hours scouring used book stores or the back pages of obscure libertarian periodicals to find the great works of Mises, Rothbard, Hayek, and other giants of liberty. Local library and university collections ignored libertarian politics and economics.
Today, however, the greatest classics of libertarian thought, libertarian philosophy, and libertarian economics are available instantly to anyone with internet access. Thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever before for liberty activists to spread news and other information regarding the evils of government power and the benefits of freedom. For the first time in human history, supporters of liberty around the world can share information across borders quickly and cheaply. Without the filter of government censors, this information emboldens millions to question governments and promote liberty.
This is why liberty-minded Americans must do everything possible to oppose– and stop– government attempts to censor or limit the free flow of information online.
One such attempt is known as “CISPA”, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. This bill will create a monstrous coalition of big business and big government to rob Americans of their protections under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.
CISPA permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight, provided they merely do so in the name of “cybersecurity.” But America is a constitutional republic, not a surveillance state– and the wildly overhyped need for security does not trump the Constitution.
“Cybersecurity” is the responsibility of companies that operate and make money in cyberspace, not taxpayers. Those companies should develop market-based private solutions to secure their networks, servers, cloud data centers, and user/customer information. The role of the US intelligence community is to protect the United States from military threats, not to provide corporate welfare to the private sector. Much like the TSA at the airport, CISPA would socialize security costs and remove market incentives for private firms to protect their own investments.
Imagine security-cleared agents embedded at private companies to serve as conduits for intelligence information about their customers back to the US intelligence community– while enjoying immunity from any existing civil or criminal laws. Imagine Google or Facebook reporting directly to the National Security Agency about the online activity of US citizens. Imagine US government resources being wasted on a grand scale to “assist” private companies in the global market. All of this would become reality under CISPA.
As of this writing, it appears that the House and Senate will not agree on a final version of CISPA this year. However, the Obama administration seems ready to impose provisions of this bill by executive order if Congress does not act soon.
The past five years have seen an explosion in the liberty movement, fueled in large part by the internet. Preserving that freedom is crucial if the liberty movement is to continue its progress. Therefore, all activists in the liberty movement have a stake in the battle for internet freedom. We must be ready to come together to fight any attempt to increase government’s power over the internet, regardless of the supposed justifications. We must resist voices from both the political right and left which alternatively seek to legislate morality or enforce political correctness with force. Copyright protection, pornography, cyberterrorism, gambling, and “hate speech” are merely excuses for doing what all governments have done throughout human history: increase their size, scope, and power.
Once we understand this, we understand the critical link between internet freedom and human freedom.
This article first appeared on Dr. Paul’s House page Paul.house.gov.
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Are we in recession? That may be a stupid question to ask now but yes we have been for more than 2 consecutive quarters.
What makes this recession difference from the one we experienced in 2000 is the fact that there were a lot of factors which were never there before. Eight years ago, this was attributed to the collapse of the dot-com bubble, the September 11 attacks and the accounting scandal.
With the US raising their debt ceiling, are we in a global bail-out bubble that will eventually burst? This video offers a fresh insight into the greatest economic crisis of our age: the one still awaiting us.
This time around, we can blame it on high oil prices, global inflation, a credit crisis which lead to the bankruptcy of some of the most established banks, increased unemployment, and the housing crisis.
So what do you we see? There are a lot of employees who are jobless, people are forced to sell or foreclose their homes, credit markets are frozen making it impossible for businesses and consumers to get a loan and government intervention is needed to try and prevent things from getting worse.
The president together with the help of congress and the senate signed into law a $700 billion bailout plan that will ensure tax breaks for businesses as well as those who invest in alternative energy, increase the limit of insured bank deposits and allow the government to take over huge amounts of devalued assets from beleaguered financial companies.
When this was first voted on by congress, this was shut down but when it was approved by the senate, congress changed its mind making it the largest government intervention in the financial market since the great Depression.
Do we see the fruits of the bailout? Because of everything that is happening in the US, it has affected countries in Asia and Europe as well. Just to give you an idea, stock markets in the world have gone down.
Because of the US market’s volatility, it has forced finance ministers from the group of 7 nations to find different ways to deal with the crisis and get money flowing again. In most cases, the central banks in these countries have decided to flood the market with liquidity. Though this may sound like a good idea, some experts say this will backfire because banks are hoarding the cash and the market will be driven by fear.
A recession no matter how you look at it is inevitable because it is part of the business cycle. In any country, there is a time that the economy expands, slows down, experiences a recession and then recovers.
It may take years for it to happen again and as history has shown, different factors caused the recession to occur. The challenge is how countries address the problem so we will never have to encounter another Great Depression.
Ron Paul (R-TX) says he is still not ready to endorse Republican nominee Mitt Romney because– in some ways– he and President Obama represent the same “one-party system.”
When asked by CNBC’s Jackie DeAngelis if he was “ready to endorse Mitt Romney,“ Dr. Paul offered a clear ”no” before launching into a description of how the nominees are similar, and represent a continuation of the status quo.
“I look at it that there are people who are very, very powerful that are able to make sure their interests are protected– whether it’s the people who run the Federal Reserve and bail out banks, and bail out European banks… Right now, they have their two guys there– believe me.
“Why does Obama not attack Romney for not being the Goldman Sachs candidate? It’s because they both are within the establishment where they need the Federal Reserve and the lender of last resort to make sure that you can take all the risk in the world, but don’t sweat it, because government will be there, and the Fed will be there, and they’re going to get bailed out. “
Paul continued: “I’ve been in this business a long time and believe me there is essentially no difference from one administration to another no matter what the platforms…The foreign policy stays the same, the monetary policy stays the same, there’s no proposal for any real cuts and both parties support it.”
After criticizing the economic policies of both candidates, Paul said Barack Obama and Mitt Romney “know how to play the game” but represent a false choice.
This marks a somewhat stronger condemnation than in the past, when Paul said he wouldn’t “fully” endorse Mitt Romney.
Dr. Paul concluded: “They represent a one-party system. Somebody said ‘why don’t we get a third party?’ and another one said, I think correctly so, ‘Why don’t we get a second party?’”
Last year the Chairman of the Federal Reserve told me that gold is not money, a position which central banks, governments, and mainstream economists have claimed is the consensus for decades. But lately there have been some high-profile defections from that consensus. As Forbes recently reported, the president of the Bundesbank (Germany’s central bank) and two highly-respected analysts at Deutsche Bank have praised gold as good money.
Why is gold good money? Because it possesses all the monetary properties that the market demands: it is divisible, portable, recognizable and, most importantly, scarce – making it a stable store of value. It is all things the market needs good money to be and has been recognized as such throughout history. Gold rose to nearly $1800 an ounce after the Fed’s most recent round of quantitative easing because the people know that gold is money when fiat money fails.
Central bankers recognize this too, even if they officially deny it. Some analysts have speculated that the International Monetary Fund’s real clout is due to its large holdings of gold. And central banks around the world have increased their gold holdings over the last year, especially in emerging market economies trying to protect themselves from the collapse of Western fiat currencies.
Fiat money is not good money because it can be issued without limit and therefore cannot act as a stable store of value. A fiat monetary system gives complete discretion to those who run the printing press, allowing governments to spend money without having to suffer the political consequences of raising taxes. Fiat money benefits those who create it and receive it first, enriching government and its cronies. And the negative effects of fiat money are disguised so that people do not realize that money the Fed creates today is the reason for the busts, rising prices and unemployment, and diminished standard of living tomorrow.
This is why it is so important to allow people the freedom to choose stable money. Earlier this Congress I introduced the Free Competition in Currency Act (H.R. 1098) to permit people to use gold as money again. By eliminating taxes on gold and other precious metals and repealing legal tender laws, people are given the option between using good money or fiat money. If the government persists in debasing the dollar – as money monopolists have always done – then the people would be able to protect themselves by using alternatives such as gold that are both sound and stable.
As the fiat money pyramid crumbles, gold retains its luster. Rather than being the barbarous relic Keynesians have tried to lead us to believe it is, gold is, as the Bundesbank president put it, “a timeless classic.” The defamation of gold wrought by central banks and governments is because gold exposes the devaluation of fiat currencies and the flawed policies of government. Governments hate gold because the people cannot be fooled by it.
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The taxes that a person is obliged to pay to the state are called state taxes. State taxes are based mainly on a taxpayer’s income at the state level. Each state has its own system of taxation which can vary from one place to another. To increase revenue, nearly all states collect income taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, license taxes, intangible taxes, property taxes, estate taxes and inheritance taxes The combined revenue from income and sales taxes is what makes up the bulk of state taxes.
The majority of states collect income taxes while some do not. Examples of these are the states of Alaska, South Dakota, Texas, Florida, Nevada, Washington and Wyoming. State income taxes are the leading source of educational funds in the majority of states. Local residents also enjoy police and fire protection services because of state income taxes. Be aware though that federal income taxes are completely different from state income taxes. Federal tax rates vary by taxable income while state tax rates vary by jurisdiction.
State sales taxes are taxes levied on the retail sale of a particular property or service. Generally, it is the purchaser who pays for the tax but it is the vendor who transfers it to the local tax authorities. Generally, all states collect sales taxes with a few exceptions: Alaska, New Hampshire, Delaware, Oregon and Montana.
Filing state taxes is very much similar to filing federal taxes. The local people has the alternative of filing their taxes using the old pen and paper method, or just file taxes electronically with the use of E-file supported by a tax software.
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The modern-day, limited-government movement has been co-opted. The conservatives have failed in their effort to shrink the size of government. There has not been, nor will there soon be, a conservative revolution in Washington. Political party control of the federal government has changed, but the inexorable growth in the size and scope of government has continued unabated. The liberal arguments for limited government in personal affairs and foreign military adventurism were never seriously considered as part of this revolution.
Since the change of the political party in charge has not made a difference, who's really in charge? If the particular party in power makes little difference, whose policy is it that permits expanded government programs, increased spending, huge deficits, nation building and the pervasive invasion of our privacy, with fewer Fourth Amendment protections than ever before?
Someone is responsible, and it's important that those of us who love liberty, and resent big-brother government, identify the philosophic supporters who have the most to say about the direction our country is going. If they're wrong – and I believe they are – we need to show it, alert the American people, and offer a more positive approach to government. However, this depends on whether the American people desire to live in a free society and reject the dangerous notion that we need a strong central government to take care of us from the cradle to the grave. Do the American people really believe it's the government's responsibility to make us morally better and economically equal? Do we have a responsibility to police the world, while imposing our vision of good government on everyone else in the world with some form of utopian nation building? If not, and the enemies of liberty are exposed and rejected, then it behooves us to present an alternative philosophy that is morally superior and economically sound and provides a guide to world affairs to enhance peace and commerce.
One thing is certain: conservatives who worked and voted for less government in the Reagan years and welcomed the takeover of the U.S. Congress and the presidency in the 1990s and early 2000s were deceived. Soon they will realize that the goal of limited government has been dashed and that their views no longer matter.
The so-called conservative revolution of the past two decades has given us massive growth in government size, spending and regulations. Deficits are exploding and the national debt is now rising at greater than a half-trillion dollars per year. Taxes do not go down – even if we vote to lower them. They can't, as long as spending is increased, since all spending must be paid for one way or another. Both Presidents Reagan and the elder George Bush raised taxes directly. With this administration, so far, direct taxes have been reduced – and they certainly should have been – but it means little if spending increases and deficits rise.
When taxes are not raised to accommodate higher spending, the bills must be paid by either borrowing or “printing” new money. This is one reason why we conveniently have a generous Federal Reserve chairman who is willing to accommodate the Congress. With borrowing and inflating, the “tax” is delayed and distributed in a way that makes it difficult for those paying the tax to identify it. For instance, future generations, or those on fixed incomes who suffer from rising prices, and those who lose jobs – they certainly feel the consequences of economic dislocations that this process causes. Government spending is always a “tax” burden on the American people and is never equally or fairly distributed. The poor and low-middle income workers always suffer the most from the deceitful tax of inflation and borrowing.
Many present-day conservatives, who generally argue for less government and supported the Reagan/Gingrich/Bush takeover of the federal government, are now justifiably disillusioned. Although not a monolithic group, they wanted to shrink the size of government.
Continue reading The Truth About Neoconservatism at LewRockwell.com