Tag Archives: Warfare State

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Invasion, by Tom Luongo

Closed borders may be incompatible with conventional libertarianism, but so too are welfare states. Open borders and a welfare state that rewards immigrants is a recipe for disaster. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Immigration is a tricky subject for a lot of libertarians.  If there is one issue that has caused more fights in libertarian circles it is the question of restricting a person’s right to movement.

But in a world of private property where does that right end?  We know where it is in a world of public property.  It doesn’t.  I’m very Hoppean in my views on private property and the private production of defense.  So, I have zero problem going toe to toe with the left-libertarians who refuse to divorce themselves from their principled hobby horses and push for open borders uber alles.

It’s stupid, counter-productive and, frankly, one of the main reasons why libertarians are thoroughly corrupted as a political force in the U.S., having been neutered by the Koch brothers fighting about irrelevancies.

Immigration issues are on the ballot today.  The Soros-funded invasion caravan is a thinly-veiled political stunt which is being used to fuel the unquenchable greed of globalists using Marxist arguments of envy to sow sympathy for those marching to take back what was supposedly stolen by evil white American Imperialists.

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Running on Empty, by Robert Gore

They dote on their progeny, then bury them alive.

Across the land, public pension and medical funds teeter on the brink of insolvency. You can ignore pending problems until you can’t. For those who prize clarity and realistic thinking, these impossible to ignore crises should be welcomed. They focus attention on an inescapable fact: the world lacks the unencumbered assets and productive capacity to redeem the promises that have been made against them. Somebody’s going to get stiffed.

With war on everyone’s minds, public pension and medical funds delineate inevitable battles lines: governments versus taxpayers, the unproductive versus the productive, the aging versus the young. Those wars are liable to be far more consequential than the ones everyone worries about in places like the Middle East and North Korea.

Nothing calls attention to the absurdity riddling the public pension system quite like the $76,000 monthly pension drawn by Joseph Robertson, an eye surgeon who retired as president of the Oregon Health and Science University last fall.

In the good old days, government employment meant low pay, but job security and a decent pension. Now such sinecures means wages in excess of those paid in the private sector plus pensions that are far more munificent…and job security. For a lucky few like Doctor Robertson, their pensions are a triple 7 jackpot. Oregon calculates pensions based not just on recipients’ government salaries, but what they receive on any non-government gigs they had going on the side. Robertson’s pension is based on his remuneration as university president and what he made operating on eyeballs.

This is what happens when actuarial tables and actual rates of return are discarded in favor of the political power of public employees and their unions, promises that can’t be kept, and taxpayers picking up the tab who have no idea what the final bill will be. Public pension and medical crises bring into sharp relief the writing on the wall: Governments Can’t Deliver.

As Charles Hugh Smith recently noted, public retirement and medical liabilities are increasing so fast that no amount of tax increases can keep up. Long before a 100 percent tax rate turns taxpayers into slaves, raising tax rates becomes counterproductive, yielding less, not more, revenues. One of the nifty things about the public pension and medical crisis is that it’s local. As such, it’s offering real world demonstrations that when local jurisdictions raise rates to fund their pensions, productive people leave.

The poster child is Illinois. The state on down to its smallest political subdivisions—like the town of Harvey—are buried beneath underfunded pensions. Illinois’ courts have ruled pensions are inviolable, which leaves governments facing insolvency with only two options: raise taxes and cut spending.

Harvey was ordered by a court to fund its firefighters’ pension fund, which is only 22 percent funded. The town’s property tax rate is six times the average rate in nearby Indiana, and Harvey is still coming up short. The state is garnishing its tax revenues, and the town has announced 40 public safety employees will be laid off. Why would anyone paying taxes in Harvey stick around for a future of ever-increasing taxes and ever-diminishing public services?

Many don’t, and Harvey and other localities in Illinois, including Chicago, are losing people. Out-migration statistics in Illinois, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and other net-loser states don’t capture the full scope of the problem. If one productive person moves out while one unproductive person moves in and starts living off state largess, there’s been no net out-migration, but the state suffers a loss (obvious to everyone except those fools and charlatans who will plump for an open-arms and open-wallet approach right up until bankruptcy).

Out-migration will get worse for net-loser states as the federal tax limitations on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) kicks in. SALT has been capped at $10,000. After that, the wealthy have to pay the full measure of their high-tax states’ income, property, and sales taxes. The migration is gathering steam. It already costs twice as much to rent self-moving truck services from high-tax Los Angeles to low-tax Dallas as vice versa, and that spread will only widen.

State and local governments, their employees, and those on the dole can’t stop the productive from voting with their feet. The number who leave the US, however, is still a trickle. The federal government’s old age and medical funding problems, orders of magnitude greater than states’ and municipalities’, are no longer looming; they’ve arrived. The government could seal the borders to lock in the productive, but it wouldn’t prevent the slow-motion, but accelerating, catastrophe now underway.

The federal government’s ability to issue virtually unlimited debt and the Federal Reserve debt monetization machine mask the rot, but only create problems far larger than the ones they putatively solve. Low interest rates have destroyed state and local funds’ ability to achieve fairly safe returns, forcing them out on the risk curve to meet their rate of return targets, which are way too high. Underfunded as they are now, bear markets in stocks and bonds would obliterate them.

Encouraged by central bank debt promotion policies, individual, corporate, local, state, and federal debt has reached new records. While low interest rates have ameliorated the debt service burden, even they can’t stymie the toll debt is taking on the economy. Look no farther than real annual GDP growth, which hasn’t hit 3 percent since Bush Jr. was in office. Less growth means less tax revenues, which only exacerbates funding problems.

The older generation is pinning its retirement hopes on a younger generation confronted with huge debt, perpetually rising taxes, a shrinking economy, and dwindling opportunity. That’s not like hoping you can draw to an inside straight, it’s going all in, exchanging your hand for five new cards, and hoping you draw four aces. Good luck with that.

Oldsters like to complain that the youngsters are too preoccupied with gadgets and social media. They wish that were true. The youngsters are already questioning their impending debt servitude. The more perceptive are homing in on their parents’ generation’s self-granted benefits and unrivaled profligacy. You don’t have to search too far on the internet and social media to see the awakening.

Doting parents and grandparents who post their darlings’ every precocious moment and wouldn’t dream of letting them walk a block to school by themselves have no compunction about burying them alive under welfare and warfare state IOUs. In a world riven with conflict, the easiest war to predict is the intergenerational one.

It’s not strictly accurate to say that the state and local public pension and medical funds’ crisis is the canary in the coal mine. It is but one in an aviary of canaries. The fund canary is in extremis and may well be the first to expire; the others will certainly follow. Picture the horror as the adult canaries and their fledglings wage mortal combat for those last few molecules of oxygen.

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Fascism: A Bipartisan Affliction, by Ron Paul

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By most definitions of fascism, both neoconservatives and progressives are fascist. From Ron Paul on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

If neoconservatives and progressives truly understood fascism, they would stop using the word as a smear term. That is because both groups, along with most political figures and commentators, embrace fascist ideas and policies.
Fascism’s distinguishing characteristic is a “mixed economy.” Unlike socialists and communists who seek to abolish private business, fascists are content to let business remain in private hands. Instead, fascists use regulations, mandates, and taxes to control business and run (and ruin) the economy. A fascist system, then, is one where private businesses serve politicians and bureaucrats instead of consumers. Does the modern American economy not fit the definition of fascism?

Fascism benefits big businesses that can afford the cost of complying with government regulations, unlike their smaller competitors. Big businesses, which have more political influence then entrepreneurs or small businesses, also significantly benefit from government subsidies. In order to maintain their power, big businesses finance the “deep state” — the network of lobbyists, journalists, think tanks, bureaucrats, and congressional staffers who work behind the scenes to shape government policy.

Obamacare is an example of fascism that is often mislabeled as socialism. Obamacare did not create a government-run “single payer” system as would exist under socialism. Instead, Obamacare extended government control over health care via mandates, regulations, and subsidies. The most infamous part of Obamacare — the individual mandate — forces individuals to purchase a product from a private industry.

Modern America’s militaristic foreign policy aimed at policing and perfecting the world is another example of fascism that enjoys strong bipartisan support. Both right-wing neocons and left-wing humanitarian interventionists claim our supposedly noble goals justify any and all actions taken by the US government. Thus, these supposed human rights champions defend preemptive war, torture, and presidential kill lists.

Many politicians supporting a militaristic foreign policy are more concerned with spreading largesse to the military-industrial complex than with spreading democracy. This is why some supposed free-market conservatives sound like Paul Krugman on steroids when discussing the economic benefits of military spending. Similarly, some anti-war progressives will support large military budgets if some of the money is spent in their states or congressional districts.

Mass surveillance and limits on personal freedom are additional hallmarks of fascist regimes. While there is a movement to “reform” the police state, few want to abolish mass surveillance, civil asset forfeiture, police militarization, and other police-state policies adopted in the name of the wars on terror and drugs. The federal government has even used force to stop people from selling raw milk! Attempts by progressives to silence political opponents are more examples of how many supposedly anti-fascist Americans are embracing fascist policies.

The growth of the welfare-warfare state has been accompanied by an increase in presidential power. This centralization of power, and the support it receives from the political class, is one more indication of the fascistic nature of our current regime. Of course, many in Congress will fight to rein in the executive branch, as long as the occupant of the White House is of the opposing party. Even the fiercest opponents of excessive presidential power instantaneously become lap dogs when their party wins the White House.

For all their alleged anti-fascism, today’s neoconned conservatives and progressives both support the use of force to reshape society and the world. This is the defining characteristic not just of fascists, but also of authoritarians. The true anti-fascists are those who reject the initiation of force. The true path to real free markets, peace, and individual liberty starts with rejecting the bipartisan authoritarianism in favor of the non-aggression principle.

http://www.theburningplatform.com/2016/06/14/fascism-a-bipartisan-affliction/

Evil Begets Evil, by Robert Gore

Liberty is never an accident. It requires a philosophical acceptance of an individual’s right to his or her own life, and a full understanding of the logical implications and consequences of that right. That acceptance must prevail among intellectuals and through their explanation and leadership, embraced and promoted by a substantial portion of the population. A set of governing institutions has to be devised that are subordinated to the protection of individual rights but strong enough to protect those rights. The difficulties are borne out by history, where attempts to establish political orders based on liberty are few, and their successful and lasting establishment nonexistent.

The argument is made that humanity is unfit for liberty—individuals are incapable of living their own lives peaceably with other individuals. This is true for some individuals, but it has been pronounced as an indictment of the entire species. Because humanity is unfit for freedom, the argument invariably runs, coercion is justified. In other words, individuals—who cannot be trusted with the freedom to peaceably live their own lives—can be given the power to forcibly direct other people’s lives. Chaos, violence, and a world at the brink of epochal collapse are the direct consequences of that inane formulation, yet never has humanity seemed less likely to embrace liberty.

The period from 1865 to 1913 was one of the few in which substantial numbers of people lived in relative freedom, particularly in the US and parts of Europe. The Industrial Revolution, propelled by British and US advances in science, technology, and production, reached its apex during this time. Critics of the period focus on its poverty, degradation, and brutal social conditions and set an impossible benchmark—immediate elimination of those conditions—ignoring their centuries-long prevalence and the most rapid and widespread increases in real incomes and general living standards in history. Footprints are telling: immigrants chose, by the millions, to come to the US, supposedly the most “exploitative” country, and powered the astonishing ascent that took the US from Civil War ruins to the world’s preeminent economy and power in less than five decades.

In the US, liberty was dramatically curtailed in 1913 with the establishment of the Federal Reserve and the passage of the 16th, or income tax, Amendment. The US government would do what governments had always done: forcibly expropriate its people’s wealth and debase the medium of exchange for its own benefit. A year later the relative peace of the preceding period (critics again set an impossible benchmark—the complete absence of war—when judging it) gave way to World War I as governments resumed doing what they’d always done. The US joined two years later. War serves as an excuse for governments to restrict liberty and this one was no exception. The US government jacked up tax rates, instituted conscription, and threw critics of the war in jail.

The alternatives to liberty are coercion, repression, and violence, and the 20th century ranks as mankind’s most coercive, repressive, and violent yet. Totalitarian regimes came to power in Russia, China, Germany, Japan, and a host of smaller nations. For much of the century, they ruled over more than half the global population. Even in countries regarded as “freer,” diminution of individual liberty has been the persistent trend. The basis of the welfare state is theft. The basis of central banking is the production of scrip of no intrinsic value and its coerced acceptance as a medium of exchange. The power of governments and their central banks has continuously grown, always at the expense of individual liberty.

Governments that consistently abridge the rights of their own people will not respect the rights of people in other countries. The thrust of US military policy shifted from primarily defensive (with the exception of Latin America and territory occupied by Native Americans) during the Industrial Revolution to intervention in other nations’ wars in WWI and WWII to an offensive posture since the Vietnam War. Like income redistribution and economic regulation, war invariable increases a government’s power and its share of the nation’s resources. Concomitantly, it reduces individuals’ liberty and takes from them an increasing portion of their own production.

The US government now claims the right to invade any country without the permission of that country’s government. While it has not said so publicly and officially, the government also claims the right to replace governments in other countries that it regards as inimical to its interests. Even a partial list of where the government has exercised its supposed “rights” since the 1890s is long: most of the nations of Latin America, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, China, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Yemen, and Somalia. The US military maintains bases and special operations forces in over 150 countries, and the US spends more on armaments and military manpower than the next nine nations combined. In light of all this, the conclusion in inescapable that the US government is an imperial power and aspires to permanent hegemony

One group in American politics shuns or seeks to limit the government’s foreign intervention because the resources devoted to such intervention could be used for domestic programs and income redistribution. Another group opposes such programs and redistribution, but supports intervention. There is an overlapping group. The defining features of all three are intellectual incoherence and an inability or refusal to recognize consequences.

Forcibly taking legitimately produced or acquired wealth from one person for the benefit of the government and its chosen beneficiaries is theft, a fundamental abridgment of liberty—the freedom to productively support one’s self and those one chooses. Evil begets evil. The supposed “needs” justifying redistribution are limitless; production is not. Enslaving producers for the benefit of the government and its beneficiaries reduces and eventually destroys their willingness and ability to produce, and simply destroys the beneficiaries.

The gratitude that usually flows from recipients of private, voluntary charity to their benefactors gives way to an entitlement mentality and sloth, invariably encouraged by declarations from the government and its supporters about the rights of some to the fruits of others’ labor. For a right to be a right it must be universal, and we all cannot enjoy these so called “rights” to have someone else support us. The rampant social pathologies of the class dependent on direct monetary aid and myriad government programs are obvious—crime, illegitimacy, the drug and prostitution trades, decaying inner cities, and riots, et. al.—but will be ignored by proponents of redistribution until production grinds to a halt and funding fails.

That failure will inevitably lead to widespread violence and chaos among beneficiaries denied their benefits. Indeed, some of redistribution’s intellectual lights call for just such an outcome—the collapse of the present system, to be replaced by full-on socialism. The question of how a society that can no longer afford quasi-socialism will be able to afford the full-on version is left unanswered. Totalitarian slavery is the outcome, the answer that dares not speak its name.

The intellectual failure of those who identify the inherent flaws of redistribution and its negative consequences, but who nevertheless propose that the government forcibly intervene in countries that have neither attacked the US nor pose a danger to it, is greater than that of domestic redistribution’s proponents. If, in the immortal words of Ringo Starr, “Everything government touches turns to crap” at home, how can anyone who embraces Starr’s wisdom expect a different result when government goes abroad? Most Americans would not choose to live in inner city Detroit, Newark, Chicago, Washington, or any other of our urban hellholes, but would if the alternative was Baghdad, Kabul, Kunduz, Benghazi, Tripoli, Damascus, or Beirut.

Venality rather than obtuseness accounts for the plainly erroneous assessments of government’s efficacy in reordering other countries. Reality has obliterated whatever idealistic sentiments animated US forays into Vietnam and the Middle East and northern Africa; they made existing situations far worse. Redistribution—the forced transfer of wealth that many proponents of intervention criticize when practiced in the homeland—is the impetus for continuing intervention. Military adventurism and its associated surveillance state are multi-trillion-dollar endeavors that support a large percentage of the government’s payroll and legions of private contractors. Peace and a noninterventionist foreign policy are their worst nightmares. They recycle some of the largess received from the government back to officials to prevent them.

The spread of terrorism and violence far beyond the borders of Middle Eastern and Northern African nations are readily identifiable but generally unacknowledged blowback from foreign military intervention in those nations, as are the consequent refugee flows. The “surprise” expressed by the intervenors is disingenuous. Violence begets violence. For the interventionist nations, the dozens killed in Paris last week are a tragedy, the millions killed across the Middle East and Northern Africa the last few decades are a statistic, except for the interventionists’ “warriors.” The wonder is not the attack, but that the death toll in interventionist nations is so small relative to the death toll in the nations in which they have intervened.

To say that there is some sort of security apart from securing individual rights and liberty is fallacious; the supposed choice between liberty and security is a false choice. There can be no security for a collective when there is no security of rights and liberty for the individual members of that collective. To “safeguard” our security the government could lock each of us in our own steel and concrete cell. The security supposedly safeguarded would be meaningless compared to the complete loss of liberty, but the arrangement would have its advantages. It would demonstrate that security without liberty is not security at all; it’s restriction, confinement, and slavery. And it would demonstrate an important historical truth, the leitmotif of the twentieth century and on present course, the twenty-first: the most dangerous threat to both liberty and security is government.

Evil begets evil. The violence and abridgment of individual rights and liberties inherent in today’s welfare/warfare states lead to more violence, repression, and chaos. The term cycle of violence is both overused and wrong, because the word cycle implies a return to a starting point, when in fact violence and its attendant repression and chaos produce only a downward spiral.

Paris, the bombing of the Russian jet, and terrorist massacres in Beirut and Ankara, all within the last few weeks, make it appear that the descent is accelerating. It may well be, or it may be that the kind of carnage and death tolls that are the daily routine across the Middle East and Northern Africa have forced their way into consciousnesses blissfully ignorant of what their governments have wrought. Either way, the recent incidents will lead to more violence and repression as those governments respond to public cries to “do something,” ensuring a commensurate response from those they are directed against, and more displacement, despair, and death among the innocent.

Individual rights and liberty, and government subordinated to their protection, offer the only prospect of enduring security. The chance of their adoption by the present order is nil. Liberty is never an accident, but the memory of and the longing for it are never extinguished. Downward spirals are not perpetual motion, sooner or later their destructiveness must result in their own destruction. That time may be closer than anyone thinks. When it happens, those who would make liberty more than memory and a longing must stand ready to sacrifice, fight both physical and intellectual battles, and risk all, for that is what liberty has and will always require.

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Senator Jim Inhofe, Constant Gardener of the Warfare State, by Shane Smith

From Shane Smith, at antiwar.com:

The War Party is currently desperate for any evidence of Russian aggression in Ukraine. So much so that, as faithful apostle of the Warfare State Senator Jim Inhofe has shown recently, it is willing to embrace fabricated “evidence” to ensure the narrative remains intact. In his argument for arming the Ukrainian government, Inhofe provided pictures of alleged Russian tanks driving deep into Ukraine as proof of Moscow’s nefarious intent. These pictures were subsequently proven to have been taken in 2008, and in Georgia. Inhofe’s office quickly backtracked, stating that they had received the images from a delegation of Ukrainian commanders and officials. His office went on to state:

“We felt confident to release these photos because the images match the reporting of what is going on in the region. I was furious to learn one of the photos provided now appears to be falsified from an AP photo taken in 2008. This doesn’t change the fact that there is plenty of evidence Russia has made advances into the country with T-72 tanks and that pro-Russian separatists have been killing Ukrainians in cold blood.”

Reporting done by whom? If the images are false, might not the “reporting” being conducted in the warzone be similarly tainted? It doesn’t seem that Inhofe cares about such questions as much as remaining faithful to the Evil Russia narrative. The “it doesn’t change the fact” excuse displays a cavalier attitude toward the false photos, as if it’s not the relevant issue. To Inhofe, the only issue at stake is convincing as many as possible that Russia is the aggressor, by any means necessary. And, despite being handed fabricated evidence by the Ukrainian government, he still insists on arming their criminal regime.

This appears to be just one instance of a pattern emerging from Inhofe’s tenure as US Senator, stemming from his unyielding faith in US weapons distribution to various rebels worldwide. There doesn’t seem to be a great level of complexity to his inclination toward proxy warfare: if there are rebels fighting a US “enemy”, arm them! If there are “terrorists” afoot, bomb them! Unintended consequences be damned, apparently.

http://original.antiwar.com/shane_smith/2015/02/20/senator-jim-inhofe-constant-gardener-of-the-warfare-state/

To continue reading: Constant Gardener of the Warfare State