That’s the title of my new online Mises Academy course that begins on December 1 and runs for four weeks. The Austrian School has a long history of analysis and critique of the gimme-something-for-nothing welfare state. We will discuss these intellectual assaults on the welfare state (including the corporate welfare state) which may well be on the verge of an implosion in the U.S. and all around the world. What a wonderful Christmas present that would be!
For those who are weary of the steady diet of wimpy, wussified, politically-correct males who crawl onto television screens to beg for a few crumbs of respect, two notable examples of self-confident males can be found. One is found in the BBC program – shown on most PBS stations – “Doc Martin.” Martin is the doctor in a small English seacoast town. He is a very independent, competent, and conscientious physician; a misanthrope who has little use for the male and female boobs with whom he must deal. The other man is Mark Labbett, who is found on the Game Show Network’s new program “The Chase.” Labbett is a very self-confident individual who challenges his guests to trivia contests and wins. Known, on the show, as “The Beast,” he bests his opponents with little sympathy for their losses.
It used to bother me that the lead item in a Google search for Tom Woods was a maker of what I am sure are excellent custom drive shafts. Now The Man has the first two entries.
The difference is that Ford has smoked crack and gone about his business while US politicians act like they are on crack. Like when a conservative Republican says he opposes Obamacare because it will lead to socialized medicine but then says that he is a firm supporter of Medicare.
JP Morgan decided to host a monthly Q&A Tweet-up with its executives. Anyone can ask anything by tweeting it with the hashtag #AskJPM. Hilarity ensues and the event has been canceled as the tweet-up shows how little regard ordinary people have for these bailed-out plutocrats. A few of the better barbs:
2/3 of the 80,000 tweets were negative. Hey JPM, you getting the picture? #AskJPM
The pro-Israel lobby is widely thought to be powerful on Capitol Hill, and it has been. But by Humphrey Neill’s art of contrary thinking, we would do well to ponder the opposite possibility: that its influence bubble will deflate.
If the negotiations with the Iranians work out toward detente, the pro-Israel lobby will have met with a defeat. If Israel were unilaterally to aggress against Iran, the pro-Israel lobby will also not look good. The more that Americans see their own security and interests being subordinated to those of Israel, the worse the pro-Israel lobby looks. The more that members of Congress are pressured by the pro-Israel lobby, the more obvious its tactics become and the more resistance and resentment the lobby triggers. The more that “wolf” is cried, while Iran acts with restraint and decorum while absorbing various acts of sabotage, the more that the pro-Israel lobby looks out of touch. The very fact of negotiations going on now is a signal that the bubble is deflating. If the activities of the neocon faction and the pro-war faction should prove successful in jettisoning the talks and raising tensions again, there will be a backlash. In a war-weary America, any new war encouraged by the lobby or aggressive talk from it are likely to run into a negative assessment of the lobby’s rationality. As long as there is no direct threat against Jewish people in Israel, amounting to an extermination threat, there will be a tendency for the bubble to deflate.
There are other wild cards that may act to deflate the lobby’s influence, such as an increased understanding of the motives of all the pro-war parties involved, including those in Israel causing territorial enlargement, the neocons, the pro-war interests, and those with strange religious ideas.
It seems that no matter what happens, the high point of the pro-Israel lobby has been reached and passed.
According to a story in Stars and Stripes about a new Air Assault School being started at Fort Bragg, NC: “In the 1980s and ’90s, few soldiers wore coveted combat patches on the right shoulder of their uniforms. Soldiers would dream of earning the honor while they would ‘train, train, train,’” said Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia T. Vimoto. He said that after 9/11, soldiers had numerous opportunities to earn combat patches in Iraq and Afghanistan, but “those days are coming to a screeching halt.” Even so, “the air assault badge worn on the left side of the chest can become a source of pride for soldiers,” he said.
As one veteran put it to me: “This really means that soldiers dream of going into combat, killing people and destroying things, as well as putting their own lives at risk, just to have a neat patch to wear on their right shoulders, something to show off to their pals.” Thanks to TM.
I saw a car today with two stickers on its back window. The first said “Obama-Biden.” The second said “Constitution Voter.” How could anyone possibly make a connection between these two things? And I would say the same thing if the first sticker said “Bush-Cheney.”
As a consistent libertarian, I must oppose both U.S. aid and troops being sent to the Philippines just like I opposed the same being sent to Myanmar and Haiti. The American people are a generous people, and would do even more during disasters if the government didn’t “crowd out” aid.
John: Just how widespread is the understanding of the NSA’s intrusions into everything was brought home to me about 15 minutes ago. I stopped at a service station to refill my car’s gas tank. I was wearing a T-shirt that read: “NSA: The only part of government that actually listens.” The young clerk running the cash register saw it and said “I really like your shirt.” He then went on to tell me about the NSA’s gigantic facility in Utah; and how they can’t seem to keep enough electricity there to power it. He then added how “the government keeps taking more and more of our freedom.”
Privacy may not be a “right” in the libertarian sense, but it is as necessary as sunshine, friends, and music to being a happy, healthy human. Certainly the government has no a priori “right” to know everything about someone’s life, as Mike Rozeff and I have pointed out on multiple occasions. So as Drudge’s headline links to the latest revelation that the government spying and information sharing goes beyond the NSA, a few additional thoughts come to mind.
The constant surveillance creates a pall of neurosis over the entire country. This is perhaps the hardest to explain or quantify unless you’ve traveled to countries outside the US, UK, and Western Europe. The first thing you notice is that people seem happier and freer in their actions. Then you notice the lack of street cameras, shoplifting cameras, and lobby cameras everywhere. Coincidence? Maybe it’s my imagination, colored by some sort of confirmation bias. Then again, maybe not.
The corollary to this is that the government has and will use its surveillance selectively, against political opponents and critics. This is not conjecture, but proven with the IRS targeting of Tea-Party groups the latest in a long line of selective prosecution and profiling in the tradition of J. Edgar Hoover. As we learn the definition of a terrorist has been expanded to include anyone critical of the government, the NSA will continue to turn its eye of Sauron increasingly inward.
Then as Harry Silvergate’s Three Felonies a Day shows, given access to the browsing history, email, past purchases, financial transactions, phone records, and movements of its critics, the government will find some minor malum prohibitum crime and use it to harass, bankrupt, imprison and destroy its perceived enemies. As Beria said “show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime” . In the age of digital everything, the government can selectively release information to make anyone fit the profile of a terrorist, child-molester, tax-evader or all three. If a crime can’t easily be found, a few records might be inserted into the digital profile to create one. Naturally there are safeguards to prevent such digital tampering with the evidence – just like the ones in place to keep a mid-level admin like Edward Snowden from walking off with thousands of records and documents.
Delenda est NSA. Shutdown the NSA. Wipe the hard drives. Auction the data centers.
It’s strange how political hardliners get away with making their peoples more insecure while claiming that by taking a hard line they are increasing security.
Netanyahu in Israel is a prime example of a hardliner on Iran. But the harder his line gets and the greater the chance that it succeeds in causing a war of the U.S. against Iran, the less secure that his country becomes. I mean, how secure can Israelis be at the epicenter of a major war in which all hell breaks loose?
The U.S. Congress is another body taking a hard line on Iran. On July 31, 2013, the House passed a new Iran sanctions bill by a vote of 400 ayes to 20 nays. This was 6 weeks after Rouhani had been elected president. But does this bill make Americans more secure or less? Some will say it increases the chances that Iran will negotiate, but it has the opposite effect. It increases the pressures brought against Rouhani and negotiations by the hardliners in Iran. It rewards Iran’s seeking of an agreement with a slap in the face. More sanctions are a form of greater warfare against Iran by people who effectively want an unconditional surrender or for Iran to give up rights that every other nation has and claims. This increases the odds of outright warfare and decreases American security.
And the third group of obstructionists are hardliners in Iran. They too are placing obstacles in the path leading to an agreement that reduces the chances of an outright shooting war.
It is all around strange that hardliners can preach their basically evil nonsense, thinking or at least claiming that it somehow increases the security of their peoples when it does the opposite. And it is equally strange that they can find supporters in their respective countries. Do these groups actually fear peace and somehow believe that peace is going to make suckers out of them? Are they making the mistake of thinking that they will be appeasing the other side? Are they so imbued with chauvinistic hatreds and distrust of foreigners that they forget that everyone involved is a human being? Do they not appreciate or care that it’s the little people, the silent majorities, who are the ones most likely to suffer from a new and greater war? Are they so imbued with twisted and one-sided religious views that they cannot tolerate views other than their own? Do pride and arrogance blind them?
I have been amazed that with substantial progress having been made in talks with Iran that the negative forces would react with such evidently furious hatred and seek to scuttle the process. They come across as downright evil, extraordinarily inflexible and paranoid. They are surely working directly against the peace and security of their peoples.