Liberty Forged

the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. ` Nock

Posts Tagged ‘debt’

Why were most people wrong about the economy?

Posted by Jesse on November 14, 2008

Posted in america, anarcho capitalism, antiwar, barack obama, business, campaignforliberty, capitalism, central banking, congress, Constitution, Current Events, democrat, economics, economy, Education, federal reserve, free market, Gold, government, history, iran, iraq, Libertarian, life, Politics, Rights, Ron Paul, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Fed is saving the Economy?

Posted by Jesse on March 19, 2008

The Fed’s New Tricks Are Creating Disaster

The Federal Reserve is trying a range of new tricks to push new forms of lending as a means of preventing what they fear may otherwise be a major collapse in financial markets. What all these strategies have in common is an unwillingness to come to terms with the reality that the crisis is based on real factors and can’t be merely papered over without grave consequence to economic health.
The Case Against the Feda-personal-view.png
[Mises and Austrian Economics: A Personal View.mp3]

Thus, last Tuesday (March 11), in response to the looming troubles with the Bear Stearns investment bank, the US central bank said that it would offer primary dealers up to $200 billion in Treasury securities for 28 days in exchange for triple A rated mortgage backed securities (MBS) as collateral. As the problems with Bear Stearns intensified and clients started to pull out cash the Fed announced that it was ready to do much more.

Last Sunday, March 16, the Fed announced it would provide direct loans to investment banks through the discount window for the first time since the Great Depression. The Fed has agreed to lend investment banks against a large variety of paper securities including a big chunk of difficult-to-trade securities.

This move by the Fed came in response to Bear Stearns’s cash holdings dropping from $17 billion on March 11 to $2 billion on March 14.

The fact that Bear Stearns was rapidly losing cash posed a serious threat to the repo market. In this market, banks and securities firms extend and receive short-term loans that are backed by securities. Fed officials feared that Bear Stearns’s dwindled cash situation posed a risk that it would not be able to honor its indebtedness. This in turn could undermine the confidence in the large $4.5 trillion repo market and further damage the credit market.

In the end, Fed officials orchestrated the selling of the Bear Stearns to JP Morgan Chase Co for $2 a share, or $236 million. Note that on December 20, 2007, Bear shares closed at $91.42. The main reason given for this deal was to prevent further uncertainty that was poised to destabilize financial markets.

Most commentators have endlessly praised the innovative methods that Bernanke and his colleagues are introducing to counter the financial crisis. Bernanke, who has written a lot about the causes of the Great Depression, is regarded as the ultimate expert on how to counter the current economic crisis. In short, most commentators are of the view that the man knows what he is doing and he will be able to fix the current financial problems.

Bernanke is of the view that by means of aggressive monetary policy the credit markets can be normalized. Once credit markets are brought back to normalcy, this will play an important role in preventing serious economic crisis. Remember Bernanke’s financial accelerator model: a minor shock in the financial sector could result in large damage to the real economy.

In short, Bernanke, by means of his so-called “innovative” policy of fixing the symptoms of the disease, believes he can cure the disease.

What is the source of the disease and why are investment banks so heavily infected by it? The root of the problem is the Fed’s very loose interest rate policy and strong monetary pumping from January 2001 to June 2004. The federal funds rate target was lowered from 6.5% to 1%. It is this that has given rise to various malinvestments, which we label here as bubble activities.

We define a bubble as the outcome of activities that have emerged on the back of loose monetary policy of the central bank. In the absence of monetary pumping, these activities would not have emerged. Since bubble activities are not self-funded, their emergence must come at the expense of various self-funded or productive activities. This means that less real saving is left for real wealth-generators, which in turn undermines real wealth formation. (Monetary pumping gives rise to misallocation of resources, which as a rule manifests itself through a relative increase in nonproductive activities against productive activities.)

When new money is created out of thin air, its effect is not felt instantaneously across all the market sectors. The effect moves from one individual to another individual and thus from one market to another market. Monetary pumping then generates bubble activities across all markets as time goes by.

As with any other business, participants in financial markets like investment banks are trying to “make money.” It is this that gives rise to the creation of various products like collateralized debt obligations (CDO) and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in order to secure as big a slice as possible of the pool of newly created money. (Financial entrepreneurs are basically trying to exploit opportunities created by the Fed’s loose monetary stance and get as much as possible out of the expanded pool of money.)

As long as the Fed kept pushing money into the system to support the low interest rate target, various activities that sprang up on the back of the loose stance appeared to be for real. When money is plentiful and interest rates are extremely low, investment in various relatively high-yielding assets like CDO’s and MBS’s that masquerade as top-notch grade investment becomes very attractive. The prompt payment of interest and a very low rate of defaults further reinforce the attractiveness of financially engineered investment products. However, once the central bank tightens its monetary stance — i.e., reduces monetary pumping — this undermines various bubble activities.

The damage from the loose monetary policies of the Fed from January 2001 to June 2004 cannot be undone by trying to fix symptoms. Various activities or financial bubbles that sprang up on the back of loose monetary policies have weakened the bottom line of the economy. This fact cannot be undone by another dosage of policies that attempt to suppress the symptoms. If anything, such policies are likely only to weaken the bottom line further.

Remember that nonproductive activities are not self funded. Their existence is made possible by the diversion of real funding from wealth-generating activities. The diversion of real funding in turn was made possible by loose monetary policy. Hence the tightening in monetary stance from June 2004 to September 2007 is what is currently undermining various false activities.

Monetary policy manifests itself through the prices of various goods and assets. A price of a good is the number of dollars per unit of a good. When the growth momentum of money supply strengthens, this lifts the number of dollars paid per unit of a good generated by a particular activity — i.e., prices go up. Conversely a tighter monetary stance that slows the flow of money puts downward pressure on the prices of assets, or the prices of the goods of various activities.

A tighter monetary stance generates two things. It weakens the supply of real savings to nonproductive activities and weakens the flow of money to these activities. (Remember that real savings are diverted to bubble activities from wealth-generating activities by means of loose monetary policy.)

A diminished flow of real savings starts to undermine the existence of false activities and their solvency becomes questionable. A fall in the flow of money in turn puts downward pressure on the prices of goods of these activities. In fact, prices of goods that emanate from false activities have a tendency to fall sharply during the economic bust. This in turn reduces the flow of investors’ money to these activities. As a result the prices of the stocks of bubble activities also tends to fall sharply, which puts more pressure on these activities. (With the value of their assets falling, misdirected investments can now only secure less funding from lenders.)

In contrast, wealth-generating activities that do not need an expansion of money for their existence actually start to gain strength. A fall in the prices of their goods is likely to be less severe than that seen in the prices of the goods of bubble activities. In fact their prices may not fall at all. Remember that wealth generators are engaged in the production of goods and services that are on the highest priority list of consumers. In contrast, bubble investments are engaged in the production of goods and services that are on the low priority list of consumers.

As consumers’ real incomes fall because of the damaging effect from loose monetary policy, goods and services produced by various bubble investments may not feature at all on consumers’ priority list.

We suspect that at the moment a tighter stance from June 2004 to September 2007 is dominating the current economic scene. So-called economic growth is always assessed in terms of GDP, which is the amount of money spent on final goods and services. The pace of monetary pumping sets the rate of growth of GDP. A stronger money rate of growth tends to be followed by a stronger GDP rate of growth, while a weakening in the money rate of growth is followed by a weakening in the growth momentum of GDP.

The engine of economic growth is not money, however, but real savings. If the pool of real saving is declining or stagnating, then the economy — also in terms of GDP — will follow suit, irrespective of what the Fed is doing.

How a particular sector responds to a tighter monetary stance depends on the extent to which that sector has been infected by bubble investments. The larger the percentage of bubble activities vis-à-vis all activities in a particular sector, the more severe the effect of a tighter stance.

If the pool of real savings is still expanding, then it means that bubble investments in general do not dominate the economic scene. (They can still be dominant in a particular sector or sectors.) This means that commercial bank expansion of credit is not going to collapse and the growth momentum of money is likely to hold its ground.

However, if the pool of real savings is falling or stagnating, this could mean that bubble activities are dominating the scene, which in turn raises the likelihood that the commercial banks’ expansion of credit will come to a halt. Obviously one can always argue that the Fed could open the money spigots in a big way and flood the economy with money. There is no doubt that the Fed could do it. This does not mean, however, that banks will embark on an expansion of credit if the pool of real savings is falling.

Obviously, then, if the pool of real saving is still healthy, Bernanke’s policies might “work.” In short, after a time lag, financial markets might start zooming ahead and the real economy will follow suit. We suggest that if this were to happen, the recovery shouldn’t be attributed to Bernanke’s policies but, rather, understood to have happened despite his policies.

In the alternative scenario, to which we assign a fairly high likelihood, the pool of real savings is actually falling or stagnating. In the framework of the alternative scenario, Bernanke’s policies will only do further damage to the stock of savings and sound capital investment, and plunge the economy into a severe and prolonged crisis.

Frank Shostak is an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute and a frequent contributor to Mises.org. He is chief economist of M.F. Global. Send him mail and see his outstanding Mises.org Daily Articles Archive. Comment on the blog.

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Why costs are being driven upward. What can be done.

Posted by Jesse on March 15, 2008

What the Price of Gold is Telling Us
The financial press, and even the network news shows, have begun reporting the price of gold regularly. For twenty years, between 1980 and 2000, the price of gold was rarely mentioned. There was little interest, and the price was either falling or remaining steady.
A Foreign Policy of FreedomA ManifestoThe Pillars of Prosperity
……….The rise in gold prices from $250 per ounce in 2001 to over $1000 today has drawn investors and speculators into the precious metals market. Though many already have made handsome profits, buying gold per se should not be touted as a good investment. After all, gold earns no interest and its quality never changes. It’s static, and does not grow as sound investments should.

……….Buying gold and holding it is somewhat analogous to converting one’s savings into one hundred dollar bills and hiding them under the mattress – yet not exactly the same. Both gold and dollars are considered money, and holding money does not qualify as an investment. There’s a big difference between the two however, since by holding paper money one loses purchasing power. The purchasing power of commodity money, i.e. gold, however, goes up if the government devalues the circulating fiat currency.

Holding gold is protection or insurance against government’s proclivity to debase its currency. The purchasing power of gold goes up not because it’s a so-called good investment; it goes up in value only because the paper currency goes down in value. In our current situation, that means the dollar.

………..One of the characteristics of commodity money – one that originated naturally in the marketplace – is that it must serve as a store of value. Gold and silver meet that test – paper does not. Because of this profound difference, the incentive and wisdom of holding emergency funds in the form of gold becomes attractive when the official currency is being devalued. It’s more attractive than trying to save wealth in the form of a fiat currency, even when earning some nominal interest. The lack of earned interest on gold is not a problem once people realize the purchasing power of their currency is declining faster than the interest rates they might earn. The purchasing power of gold can rise even faster than increases in the cost of living.

The point is that most who buy gold do so to protect against a depreciating currency rather than as an investment in the classical sense. Americans understand this less than citizens of other countries; some nations have suffered from severe monetary inflation that literally led to the destruction of their national currency. Though our inflation – i.e., the depreciation of the U.S. dollar – has been insidious, average Americans are unaware of how this occurs. For instance, few Americans know nor seem concerned that the 1913 pre-Federal Reserve dollar is now worth only four cents. Officially, our central bankers and our politicians express no fear that the course on which we are set is fraught with great danger to our economy and our political system. The belief that money created out of thin air can work economic miracles, if only properly “managed,” is pervasive in D.C.

In many ways we shouldn’t be surprised about this trust in such an unsound system. For at least four generations our government-run universities have systematically preached a monetary doctrine justifying the so-called wisdom of paper money over the “foolishness” of sound money. Not only that, paper money has worked surprisingly well in the past 35 years – the years the world has accepted pure paper money as currency. Alan Greenspan bragged that central bankers in these several decades have gained the knowledge necessary to make paper money respond as if it were gold. This removes the problem of obtaining gold to back currency, and hence frees politicians from the rigid discipline a gold standard imposes.

………..Today no one in Washington believes for a minute that runaway deficits are going to be curtailed. In March alone, the federal government created an historic $85 billion deficit. The current supplemental bill going through Congress has grown from $92 billion to over $106 billion, and everyone knows it will not draw President Bush’s first veto. Most knowledgeable people therefore assume that inflation of the money supply is not only going to continue, but accelerate. This anticipation, plus the fact that many new dollars have been created over the past 15 years that have not yet been fully discounted, guarantees the further depreciation of the dollar in terms of gold.

There’s no single measurement that reveals what the Fed has done in the recent past or tells us exactly what it’s about to do in the future. Forget about the lip service given to transparency by new Fed Chairman Bernanke. Not only is this administration one of the most secretive across the board in our history, the current Fed firmly supports denying the most important measurement of current monetary policy to Congress, the financial community, and the American public. Because of a lack of interest and poor understanding of monetary policy, Congress has expressed essentially no concern about the significant change in reporting statistics on the money supply.

Beginning in March, though planned before Bernanke arrived at the Fed, the central bank discontinued compiling and reporting the monetary aggregate known as M3. M3 is the best description of how quickly the Fed is creating new money and credit. Common sense tells us that a government central bank creating new money out of thin air depreciates the value of each dollar in circulation. Yet this report is no longer available to us and Congress makes no demands to receive it.

……….A soaring gold price is a vote of “no confidence” in the central bank and the dollar. This certainly was the case in 1979 and 1980. Today, gold prices reflect a growing restlessness with the increasing money supply, our budgetary and trade deficits, our unfunded liabilities, and the inability of Congress and the administration to rein in runaway spending.

Denying us statistical information, manipulating interest rates, and artificially trying to keep gold prices in check won’t help in the long run. If the markets are fooled short term, it only means the adjustments will be much more dramatic later on. And in the meantime, other market imbalances develop.

………..Though everyone decries inflation, trade imbalances, economic downturns, and federal deficits, few attempt a closer study of our monetary system and how these events are interrelated. Even if it were recognized that a gold standard without monetary inflation would be advantageous, few in Washington would accept the political disadvantages of living with the discipline of gold – since it serves as a check on government size and power. This is a sad commentary on the politics of today. The best analogy to our affinity for government spending, borrowing, and inflating is that of a drug addict who knows if he doesn’t quit he’ll die; yet he can’t quit because of the heavy price required to overcome the dependency. The right choice is very difficult, but remaining addicted to drugs guarantees the death of the patient, while our addiction to deficit spending, debt, and inflation guarantees the collapse of our economy.

………..Special interest groups, who vigorously compete for federal dollars, want to perpetuate the system rather than admit to a dangerous addiction. Those who champion welfare for the poor, entitlements for the middle class, or war contracts for the military industrial corporations, all agree on the so-called benefits bestowed by the Fed’s power to counterfeit fiat money. Bankers, who benefit from our fractional reserve system, likewise never criticize the Fed, especially since it’s the lender of last resort that bails out financial institutions when crises arise. And it’s true, special interests and bankers do benefit from the Fed, and may well get bailed out – just as we saw with the Long-Term Capital Management fund crisis a few years ago. In the past, companies like Lockheed and Chrysler benefited as well. But what the Fed cannot do is guarantee the market will maintain trust in the worthiness of the dollar. Current policy guarantees that the integrity of the dollar will be undermined. Exactly when this will occur, and the extent of the resulting damage to the financial system, cannot be known for sure – but it is coming. There are plenty of indications already on the horizon.

Foreign policy plays a significant role in the economy and the value of the dollar. A foreign policy of militarism and empire building cannot be supported through direct taxation. The American people would never tolerate the taxes required to pay immediately for overseas wars, under the discipline of a gold standard. Borrowing and creating new money is much more politically palatable. It hides and delays the real costs of war, and the people are lulled into complacency – especially since the wars we fight are couched in terms of patriotism, spreading the ideas of freedom, and stamping out terrorism. Unnecessary wars and fiat currencies go hand-in-hand, while a gold standard encourages a sensible foreign policy.

……….Foreign policy contributes to the crisis when the spending to maintain our worldwide military commitments becomes prohibitive, and inflationary pressures accelerate. But the real crisis hits when the world realizes the king has no clothes, in that the dollar has no backing, and we face a military setback even greater than we already are experiencing in Iraq. Our token friends may quickly transform into vocal enemies once the attack on the dollar begins.

False trust placed in the dollar once was helpful to us, but panic and rejection of the dollar will develop into a real financial crisis. Then we will have no other option but to tighten our belts, go back to work, stop borrowing, start saving, and rebuild our industrial base, while adjusting to a lower standard of living for most Americans.

Counterfeiting the nation’s money is a serious offense. The founders were especially adamant about avoiding the chaos, inflation, and destruction associated with the Continental dollar. That’s why the Constitution is clear that only gold and silver should be legal tender in the United States. In 1792 the Coinage Act authorized the death penalty for any private citizen who counterfeited the currency. Too bad they weren’t explicit that counterfeiting by government officials is just as detrimental to the economy and the value of the dollar.

In wartime, many nations actually operated counterfeiting programs to undermine our dollar, but never to a disastrous level. The enemy knew how harmful excessive creation of new money could be to the dollar and our economy. But it seems we never learned the dangers of creating new money out of thin air. We don’t need an Arab nation or the Chinese to undermine our system with a counterfeiting operation. We do it ourselves, with all the disadvantages that would occur if others did it to us. Today we hear threats from some Arab, Muslim, and far Eastern countries about undermining the dollar system- not by dishonest counterfeiting, but by initiating an alternative monetary system based on gold. Wouldn’t that be ironic? Such an event theoretically could do great harm to us. This day may well come, not so much as a direct political attack on the dollar system but out of necessity to restore confidence in money once again.

……….The economic harm done by a fiat monetary system is pervasive, dangerous, and unfair. Though runaway inflation is injurious to almost everyone, it is more insidious for certain groups. Once inflation is recognized as a tax, it becomes clear the tax is regressive: penalizing the poor and middle class more than the rich and politically privileged. Price inflation, a consequence of inflating the money supply by the central bank, hits poor and marginal workers first and foremost. It especially penalizes savers, retirees, those on fixed incomes, and anyone who trusts government promises. Small businesses and individual enterprises suffer more than the financial elite, who borrow large sums before the money loses value. Those who are on the receiving end of government contracts – especially in the military industrial complex during wartime – receive undeserved benefits.

It’s a mistake to blame high gasoline and oil prices on price gouging. If we impose new taxes or fix prices, while ignoring monetary inflation, corporate subsidies, and excessive regulations, shortages will result. The market is the only way to determine the best price for any commodity. The law of supply and demand cannot be repealed. The real problems arise when government planners give subsidies to energy companies and favor one form of energy over another.

Energy prices are rising for many reasons: Inflation; increased demand from China and India; decreased supply resulting from our invasion of Iraq; anticipated disruption of supply as we push regime change in Iran; regulatory restrictions on gasoline production; government interference in the free market development of alternative fuels; and subsidies to big oil such as free leases and grants for research and development.

Interestingly, the cost of oil and gas is actually much higher than we pay at the retail level. Much of the DOD budget is spent protecting “our” oil supplies, and if such spending is factored in, gasoline probably costs us more than $5 a gallon. The sad irony is that this military effort to secure cheap oil supplies inevitably backfires, and actually curtails supplies and boosts prices at the pump. The waste and fraud in issuing contracts to large corporations for work in Iraq only add to price increases.

………When the free market is allowed to work, it’s the consumer who ultimately determines price and quality, with labor and business accommodating consumer choices. Once this process is distorted by government, prices rise excessively, labor costs and profits are negatively affected, and problems emerge. Instead of fixing the problem, politicians and demagogues respond by demanding windfall profits taxes and price controls, while never questioning how previous government interference caused the whole mess in the first place. Never let it be said that higher oil prices and profits cause inflation; inflation of the money supply causes higher prices!

……….Since keeping interest rates below market levels is synonymous with new money creation by the Fed, the resulting business cycle, higher cost of living, and job losses all can be laid at the doorstep of the Fed. This burden hits the poor the most, making Fed taxation by inflation the worst of all regressive taxes. Statistics about revenues generated by the income tax are grossly misleading; in reality much harm is done by our welfare/warfare system supposedly designed to help the poor and tax the rich. Only sound money can rectify the blatant injustice of this destructive system.

The Founders understood this great danger, and voted overwhelmingly to reject “emitting bills of credit,” the term they used for paper or fiat money. It’s too bad the knowledge and advice of our founders, and their mandate in the Constitution, are ignored today at our great peril. The current surge in gold prices – which reflects our dollar’s devaluation – is warning us to pay closer attention to our fiscal, monetary, entitlement, and foreign policy.

Meaning of the Gold Price – Summation

A recent headline in the financial press announced that gold prices surged over concern that confrontation with Iran will further push oil prices higher. This may well reflect the current situation, but higher gold prices mainly reflect monetary expansion by the Federal Reserve. Dwelling on current events and their effect on gold prices reflects concern for symptoms rather than an understanding of the actual cause of these price increases. Without an enormous increase in the money supply over the past 35 years and a worldwide paper monetary system, this increase in the price of gold would not have occurred.

………...Since 2001 the dollar has been devalued by 60%.
In 1934 FDR devalued the dollar by 41%.
In 1971 Nixon devalued the dollar by 7.9%.
In 1973 Nixon devalued the dollar by 10%.

These were momentous monetary events, and every knowledgeable person worldwide paid close attention. Major changes were endured in 1979 and 1980 to save the dollar from disintegration. This involved a severe recession, interest rates over 21%, and general price inflation of 15%.

Today we face a 60% devaluation and counting, yet no one seems to care. It’s of greater significance than the three events mentioned above. And yet the one measurement that best reflects the degree of inflation, the Fed and our government deny us. Since March, M3 reporting has been discontinued. For starters, I’d like to see Congress demand that this report be resumed. I fully believe the American people and Congress are entitled to this information. Will we one day complain about false intelligence, as we have with the Iraq war? Will we complain about not having enough information to address monetary policy after it’s too late?

If ever there was a time to get a handle on what sound money is and what it means, that time is today.

Inflation, as exposed by high gold prices, transfers wealth from the middle class to the rich, as real wages decline while the salaries of CEOs, movie stars, and athletes skyrocket – along with the profits of the military industrial complex, the oil industry, and other special interests.

A sharply rising gold price is a vote of “no confidence” in Congress’ ability to control the budget, the Fed’s ability to control the money supply, and the administration’s ability to bring stability to the Middle East.

Ultimately, the gold price is a measurement of trust in the currency and the politicians who run the country. It’s been that way for a long time, and is not about to change.

If we care about the financial system, the tax system, and the monumental debt we’re accumulating, we must start talking about the benefits and discipline that come only with a commodity standard of money – money the government and central banks absolutely cannot create out of thin air.

Economic law dictates reform at some point. But should we wait until the dollar is 1/1,000 of an ounce of gold or 1/2,000 of an ounce of gold? The longer we wait, the more people suffer and the more difficult reforms become. Runaway inflation inevitably leads to political chaos, something numerous countries have suffered throughout the 20th century. The worst example of course was the German inflation of the 1920s that led to the rise of Hitler. Even the communist takeover of China was associated with runaway inflation brought on by Chinese Nationalists. The time for action is now, and it is up to the American people and the U.S. Congress to demand it.

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Downsize DC: The Easy Revolution (honest money)

Posted by Jesse on March 13, 2008

Quote of the Day:

“The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.”
— John Adams, February 13, 1818

Subject: The Easy Revolution

Last Saturday, in the middle of the night, we crossed the 1-million mark for messages to Congress.

This Wednesday, in a move reminiscent of the kind of self-generated activity sparked by the Ron Paul Revolution, DC Downsizer Tom Leser purchased the url HonestMoney.org, and pointed it at our “End the Inflation Tax” campaign in support of Ron Paul’s honest money bills. He plans to use the URL on signs and flyers. Wonderful! Thank you Tom.

Currently, in Congress, because of the intense pressure received from constituents, the Democrats are taking serious steps to make sure that no bill coming out of Congress grants immunity to the telecom companies that helped the government to illegally spy on the American people. This is very good news, and it happened because of people like you, who have given the Democrats reinforcement. We will have more to say about it in the days ahead.

Right now, so far in March, we are on track for another good month of recruitment, education, and pressure on Congress. As things stand now we have a decent chance of meeting or exceeding the record setting results we achieved in February.

We have a fascination with these kinds of incremental, but relentless, bits of progress. We report them to you on a regular basis because we believe measurement is important, and because we believe such a process of “relentless incrementalism” is the only way to change America.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. America wasn’t messed up overnight. Very few things in the world happen quickly. Get-rich-quick schemes rarely work, and neither will schemes to change-America-quick. But there is something even more important about our strategy of relentless incrementalism than these kinds of common-place observations . . .

It is very well understood how government grows, and why it is so difficult for taxpayers to protect themselves from the large-scale looting that goes on in Washington . . .
Government confers huge, concentrated benefits on select groups of people, while spreading the cost over all taxpayers
The groups that benefit from government favors have large incentives to fight for those benefits, while taxpayers have small incentives to fight any particular instance of looting
This essential insight tells us something very important about strategy . . .

NO strategy for curtailing government growth has ANY chance of success UNLESS that strategy makes it EASY for taxpayers to fight government growth, and, as a result, more DIFFICULT for politicians to make government grow. We have built our entire organization, and we are basing all of our future plans, on this crucial insight.

Our specific legislative proposals like the “Read the Bills Act,” the “One Subject at a Time Act,” the “Write the Laws Act,” and others we will propose in the future, show one of the ways we can make it HARDER, and MORE COSTLY, for the politicians to do the things they do. But . . .

To actually pass bills like these we must also make it very cheap — very EASY! — for taxpayers to apply the kind of relentless, overwhelming, resistance-numbing pressure that will be needed to make Congress submit.

Some of these EASY methods are obvious. We have empowered DC Downsizers to educate, recruit, and apply pressure on Congress in one EASY, seamless, low cost process. All it takes is a few mouse clicks and keyboard strokes. But . . .

More than this is needed.

We must also be able to change the environment. We must be able to counter the bad ideas and propaganda of the government schools, and the establishment news media. The requirement here is the same — we must make it EASY and CHEAP for taxpayers to fund the Downsizing counter-message. Toward this end . . .

We do the exact opposite of most organizations. Most groups focus on major donors first, and smaller donors second. We understand why they do this. A single $10,000 donation covers a lot of $25 donations. But finding and cultivating major donors is very time consuming and staff intensive. And we don’t want to have a large staff, or to spend a lot of our time on fundraising. In addition . . .

We think the best sales pitch we can make to a major donor is that we have lots of smaller donors, and that we have a small overhead and a big devotion of resources to our mission. This sales pitch becomes stronger every time we gain . . .

A new monthly, credit-card pledger at $5, $10, $25 or more.

On the one hand, all it requires is a few mouse clicks and keystrokes to educate, recruit, and apply pressure. On the other, all it would take is a few cents per day from a lot of people to begin to make the message heard by everyone, everywhere, every day.

We want to spend most of our money on advertising for things like the “Read the Bills Act” — to educate, recruit, apply pressure, and change the environment. But to reach that point we need to have secure funding for our very small basic operating expenses. We thought we would achieve that last year, but we didn’t, for reasons we all know and understand. But maybe 2008 can be the year.

We want to make everything we do EASY for the people who support us. If you like what we do, how we think, and where we’re going, please consider becoming a monthly pledger. Or . . .

If you have the capacity to make a larger investment, and would like to discuss it with me before making your decision, just reply to this email, and we’ll make a time to chat on the phone.

You can start your monthly pledge here.

Thank you for being a part of our Easy Revolution.

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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Obama, Generation x-er

Posted by Jesse on March 12, 2008

What do Iraq, bubbles, Bush, Bernanke, and Obama all have in common?
Posted by Michael S. Rozeff at March 12, 2008 03:50 PM

Over-confidence. Xenakis, who wrote Generational Dynamics, in 2004 wrote this: “Ten years ago, all the major senior business, government and education leaders were risk-averse people from the generation that grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. Today, all the major leaders are from the risk-seeking, arrogant, hubristic, narcissistic, self-assured ‘baby boomer generation.'”

His hypothesis applies to the Iraq War instigators. And they are so hubristic they’d start a war with Iran.

It applies to Bush II, born in 1946, who thinks he can remake the world.

It applies to the credit bubble, which is a manifestation in part of lowered risk aversion. Those contracting big debts, both in the business world and out, didn’t think about the risks or factor them in to pricing. It applied earlier to the internet bubble.

These are history. My main point is that Bernanke, born in 1953, is in this group. He thinks that he can stem another Great Depression, if not with helicopter money, then with some other gimmick. He thinks he can manipulate the stock market and stem its decline. He cannot do either of these things. He’s overconfident.

Obama, born in 1961, is a Generation X-er. He’s just as overconfident as the Baby Boomers and will be just as activist, as he is not separated that far in time from them. But his agenda is a different set of “problems”, namely, social problems.

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Ah…there it is. So people want to unite the country. But how can you do that when we are at war and the economy is going down the tubes?

Let’s see, redeploy troops…., spend…, spend…, spend…,

Think it will work?
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With regards to military reform, read this post by Lind.
[here’s an excerpt]
“Events on Wall Street suggest that the day when the money flow stops may be approaching. Despite President Hoover’s assurance that “Prosperity is just around the corner,” the American economy is in free-fall. After decades of frivolity, that economy now amounts to little more than a pyramid of financial pyramids, all requiring a constant inflow of borrowed money. The inflow is endangered by the developing Panic of ’08, where the junk mortgage crisis and the collapse of the housing market combine to dry up lending. What happens to pyramid schemes when money stops flowing in at the bottom? Maybe a recession; maybe a depression. That’s why pyramid schemes are illegal, unless the government runs them.

A tanking economy and world credit markets tighter than Scrooge’s sphincter will require large cuts in federal spending. That will include the Pentagon. If a new administration were to turn to the military reformers and ask us how to cut defense spending while still securing the country, what would we advise?”

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