Gasbag Greenberg

Paul Greenberg’s article The Next War, published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, put him squarely in the camp of both the cheap war propagandists and the dim-bulb intellectual gatekeepers of accepted thought. This may be old news for anyone that reads Mr. Greenberg regularly, but since I normally avoid it, this article took me by surprise.

The version in the print edition of the Democrat contained a part that was cut in the online version I was able to find on I guess he thought he could get away with the gratuitous, laughable attack on Ron Paul in a paper that has a geriatric audience who still get their news and opinions on paper. Either Mr. Greenberg or knew better than to publish such trash even on an establishment website. For those not fortunate enough to read the Democrat Gazette, I will reproduce the part here:

“We yearn for an America that never was, one uninvolved in the rest of the world. The dream never dies. It is reborn after every war. Now it’s Ron Paul’s turn to revive it. An older, plainer version of Charles A. Lindbergh, the Lone Eagle of 1920s fame who rallied America Firsters in the 30s, Ron Paul never misses an opportunity to sound retreat. A contemporary version of Robert A. Taft without the intellect or subtlety, he is this era’s incarnation of the old isolationist impulse.

Congressman Paul may be more caricature than continuation, but his ideas-more irritable mental gestures than ideas-fascinate the young. They haven’t seen this show before; it’s all new to them. And being young, they are in love with the new. This is where some of us came in, but they are unbruised by history.”

Whether Mr. Greenberg is a propagandistic lier or a puffed-up mental short-stack, I don’t know. But calling Dr. Paul a caricature of C. A. Linbdberg is so far out, I would assume he hopes his readers know nothing of Dr. Paul. That is if he hopes to maintain any credibility as a writer. The comparison to R. A. Taft deserves even less comment.

I am young. But unlike Mr. Greenberg, I am capable of seeing through the Grimm’s fairy tale-esque narrative of history that is proposed in his article. He writes:

“The end of the dream can come abruptly. As on December 7, 1941. Or on June 25, 1950, when the Korean War was suddenly upon us. Or in our time, September 11, 2001.”

Unlike Mr. Greenberg, millions of young people can see that cutting off Japanese oil before Pearl Harbor had the same (intended) effect as the current economic/trade sanctions are likely to have on Iran. Some folks have even learned that Roosevelt and Churchill ignored german resistance fighters requesting help stopping Hitler early on, resulting in their hanging. Thanks to Dr. Paul, millions of young (and not so young) people understand the concept of blowback, and understand what a cynical joke the idea is that the US military defends “the free world”. The US military seems to get the joke as well, as Dr. Paul’s presidential campaign receives more donations from active military personnel than all other candidates (including Obama) combined. Thanks to Dr. Paul, millions of people will laugh at the line: “American weakness invites the next war”.

In this article, we are also treated to an economics lesson. Thanks again to Dr. Paul, several million young people can see that Mr. Greenberg is no more than a sorry republican version of Paul Krugman. They can see that Mr. Greenberg whole heartedly believes the old, oft-refuted idea that broken windows make us all richer, and that the only difference between Paul K. and Paul G. is that one likes blue states, and one likes bombs. They can see that Paul G. can not tell the difference between “better-connected lobbies, industries, corporations, labor unions and Government Supported Enterprises” and the US war machine.

Dr. Paul’s “irritable mental gestures”, distilled from the thought of Mises, Hayek, Bastiat,  Rothbard, and many others, have ignited a fire in the minds of millions, young and old, who can now see through the desperate, shallow narrative sold by the apologists for endless war. The genie is out of the bottle.

I hope and pray that the US avoids war with Iran, but if it comes to that, establishment propagandists of Mr. Greenberg’s ilk will hold partial responsibility for all the young lives, “unbruised by history” that are destroyed.


The Aggregate Insanity of “Soak Me I’m Rich”

Yesterday I read this article by Mr. Hanauer published on Bloomberg. I think his main point hits a switch and gets derailed early by a basic mistake. Namely, the author’s flawed yet mainstream emphasis on “aggregate demand”. I don’t think there can be a very productive discussion of tax policy without first dealing with that fallacy. Mr. Hanauer’s contention that consumption is basic to economic growth is just flat wrong. Legitimate economic growth is not possible without prior saving. Most mainstream economists forget that wealth is composed of saved capital, not printed paper. Thus the politically popular but destructive practice of massive bailouts with endless new dollars. They keep believing that an increase of demand will magically “jump start” a recovery, and never admit that the dollars created do not actually represent wealth or saved capital.

Mr. Hanauer is rightly concerned about the widening gap between the super rich and everyone else, even though he misdiagnoses the cause.  No doubt there is a problem with wealth inequality, to the extent that the “one percent” get to play with free house money, privatizing the profits and socializing the losses. The amount of wealth stolen from the average person by those closest to the flow of new dollars is staggering, it would have to be measured in the tens of trillions. All fiscal shenanigans, be they QE, bailouts, “twists”, or “overnight window” transactions, rob dollar holders of purchasing power as surely as any private crook in a basement with a printing press. The politically connected recipients of the new money get to spend said money before it’s value is eroded, profiting from a fraud that is no different morally than that perpetrated by the private crook. It is a neat swindle. Most people will happily play the partisan political blame game, blindly believing against reason that their party will “fix” the system, and never recognize the true con.

Sustainable economic growth cannot occur without an honest system in which failure is allowed, and consumption is preceded by savings. Interest rates must be allowed to represent savings rates, (more saving increasing the supply and lowering the price for borrowed capital, less saving decreasing supply of available capital, raising the price of borrowing, or interest rate.) or mal-investment will continue. Producers of consumer goods will continue to produce houses, cars and boats that consumers cannot afford, as long as artificially low interest rates continue to represent future purchasing power or demand that does not exist.

Unfortunately, Marxist leaning pundits will continue advocating wealth redistribution schemes, in order to boost “aggregate demand” and politicians will continue throwing bad money after bad, in the vain hope of keeping the unsustainable party going. They are like a builder continuing work on a building, even after learning that there are not enough bricks to finish the job, in order to save the brick layers from unemployment. (thanks to Dr. Tom Woods for that metaphor, even though I butchered it)

In conclusion, I think the “I’m too rich” crowd are confused in their thinking, giving credence to destructive, yet politically correct class warfare.

A Question


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To those who object to a private law society on the grounds that humans by their fallen nature can not be trusted to order their actions toward the common good (that which is rooted in a dedication to the Supreme Good),  I would pose this question: can one fallen man do as much damage to the common good as those aggregates of fallen men who claim to enforce it have proven able?

State-Corporate Petting on the Prairie


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A. G. Sulzberger’s article Oil Rigs Bring Camps of Men to the Prairie beautifully illustrates in a nutshell the symbiosis between government and rent seeking anti-market corporations, and the statist mindset that enables it.

The article begins with a lyrical description of “the drilling rigs that tower over this once placid corner of the prairie”. Next, some background on the housing shortage for oilfield workers, and the temporary camps being built.  So far so good.

Predictably, now enters the state, itching to make an already hairy situation a whole lot worse:

But now, even as the housing shortage worsens, towns like this one are denying new applications for the camps. In many places they have come to embody the danger of growing too big too fast, cluttering formerly idyllic vistas, straining utilities, overburdening emergency services and aggravating relatively novel problems like traffic jams, long lines and higher crime.


“We need a little time to catch our breath to figure out what resources we need in place before we keep expanding,” said Ward Heidbreder, city coordinator in nearby Stanley, which has two camps.

This is a textbook example of the futility of  “city coordinators” coordinating anything, but adherents to the religion of state will blindly support what comes next, calls for more state money and power:

Leaders in these communities say they will use the reprieve to draft new fees for the camps to support fire and ambulance services; write tighter rules, like background checks, for residents in these facilities; and require performance bonds to ensure that the modular buildings aren’t simply abandoned whenever the boom turns bust.

No politician can resist the urge to get a finger in the pie, and most people swallow the line that a newer, bigger government is necessary to ensure law, order, and adequate services. Politicians also pander to natural resistance to change, posing as the One that will save us from the disorderly, sometimes chaotic, process of development through free human action. I don’t think the local dog warden or mayor ever consciously forms these ideas, but the following expresses the mindset to which they come naturally:

Law enforcement and building inspection officials say most camps have not been problematic, but there have been exceptions. One camp outside Williston was shut down for allowing sewage to flow freely over the property. Others have had fights. Unauthorized encampments are easy to spot along country roads.

Some companies have responded to the criticism. Capital Lodge, which is still under construction, has been drilling wells to provide its own water supply. Across the highway, Tioga Lodge has a waste treatment facility so the owner will not have to continue trucking sewage to surrounding communities. Both moves were warmly welcomed by local utilities.

The way this is written shows the mindset quite clearly. Anything a company does to provide water and sewage services to its employees is done in response to public pressure. It stops just short of implying that without government, the whole prairie would be awash in sewage.
Backing up a little, this story is not all that noteworthy given its common assumptions regarding the role of government. What made me laugh out loud, and prompted me to start writing was this:
Brian Lash, chief executive of Target Logistics, the largest operator of man camps, boasts that the company plans to house 1 percent of the state’s population within a year, and supports the moratoriums.

Target’s camps, which rent directly to the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and trucking companies that employ most workers, have strict prohibitions on alcohol, firearms and unauthorized women. Violators are evicted and, often as a consequence, fired by the companies. With the employers paying $100 and up per worker per night for housing, good behavior is ensured, Mr. Lash said.

Mr. Lash said that communities should require such strict rules for other operators, as well, to prevent future problems.

“There is a little bit of a backlash that has culminated in these moratoriums,” he said. “They’re trying to catch their breath and ask for a little more regulation, as they should.”

If this isn’t a prime example of business supporting regulation in order to limit competition, I don’t know what is. Again, this is anything but uncommon in the land of the free, but the way this was written with a straight face borders on the comic.
A couple of months ago, I read a story about the “man camps” and housing shortage. It looked like there was money in it, and I briefly thought about buying one or two surplus FEMA campers here in Arkansas, and hauling north. More pressing matters prevailed, but I thought the story worth watching. I knew I could not compete with the big camps in scale, but even without big money backing, I bet I could bite off a small chunk. But whatever plans and zoning schemes the small town hustlers and their new buddies at Target Logistics dream up, I’ll bet they don’t include me (or anyone else) buying a couple of acres out of town and a few campers to rent. I just might have to go find out.

Marginally Employed in a Pig Pen


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Since there seemed to be little demand for horseshoeing this morning, I got up late and read  David Greenwald’s fine Defense of the Market’s Worst Producers. Next up was shoveling out a modern day Augean stable, or my in-law’s pig pen after close to ten inches of rain in the last couple days. The situation has been made worse by  what I believe is a USDA regulation that does not allow local butchers to process wild game at the same time as domestic animals. This being central Arkansas in the fall, the demand for cutting up pigs is well beaten by the demand for deer processing. (I have helped kill, scrape and cut up hogs, experience that only enhances my appreciation of the division of labor.) Anyway, these particular pigs should have been bacon weeks ago, and are out-growing the pen.

Shoveling a heavy mix of pig s*%$, water, and straw is not fun work, but it allowed me several hours of contemplation fueled by Mr. Greenwald’s essay. More specifically my mind wandered through some of my encounters with what some would call unjust labor conditions. The following are a couple examples. They do not  exactly illustrate the market’s worst producers, but more the benefit to the marginally employable that so-called unscrupulous employers provide.

Several years ago in Texas, I was temporarily without means of support. After coming the closest to a fist fight I’ve ever been in my adult life, I parted ways with the blacksmith I was apprenticed to after shoeing school. That’s another story. I had a dwindling stash of Federal Reserve notes, and lived in a twelve foot bumper pull camper at an RV park, rented for one hundred and fifty dollars a week. One day while shooting eightball for ten bucks a rack at my second home, I met the foreman of a road crew that was contracted to improve Highway 82. I told him I was looking for work, and asked if he was hiring. He told me to apply with the company, but that even with his recommendation I would not be hired. When I asked the reason, he told me “they don’t hire white kids, all they do is lean on shovels and smoke dope.” I assured him that I worked hard and was honest, but to no avail. I should have gone ahead and applied anyway, but I was quite sure he was shooting me straight. (that story was not exactly relevant, but I told it anyway)

A couple weeks later, I met another guy, this one the foreman of the C shift (I’ll call him Joe) at a local plastic extrusion factory. I guess the management was harder up for labor, since this time I actually got hired. I started out as a coiler on the C shift, and quickly found out why the labor turn over was so high. The C shift worked twelve hour nights, and it was a rough twelve hours. You ate, smoked, and slept on your feet, and a lot of nights the only time you sat down was if you snuck a couple minutes in the mens room.

The best was when the incoming day shift was short (pretty often) and you got to stay another twelve hours for double-time pay. If you worked the next night too, it was a long thirty-six hours.

Joe was a good foreman, and most of us on his crew respected and liked him. The ones one didn’t mostly lasted a day or two. The C shift crew was proud to work for Joe, and we consistently had the best production numbers of all the shifts, by a mile. We had some good sized pools on how many hours or days new employees would last before sneaking out the back door, and I remember one old man that lost me a goodly sum when he showed up the second day. When he found out I had bet against him, he was kind of hurt and I felt bad. As soon as I explained that it was not personal, and that he truly beat the average, he seemed less dejected. We became pretty good friends while I was there.

I got to meet several interesting people. I became friends with some, and not others. I remember one guy about forty years old who had just stayed seven years in the pen, over drug usage that was not FDA approved. He lived with his mother, went to church, and worked hard. He had a lot of good stories, and we got along fine.

One guy was fresh from Mexico, did not speak much english, and was pretty sharp. His wife sent the best hot pork tacos in homemade flour tortillas I have ever eaten, and she sent plenty. I was sad when he found better work.

There was another crazy kid a year or two older than me that lived off of Rockstar energy drinks, cigarettes, and green smoke, had a lot of crazy tattoos. He had a gauged piercing in his lower lip, sometimes he would squirt apple flavored skoal spit through it. He was insanely smart, and I think he’d been put on Ritalin in first grade. He was fired after a random drug test, all the while claiming innocence. “I was just in the same room with some people that were smoking!” His infectious cheerfulness made every shift go by quicker, and I hated it when they fired him.

No one had any illusions of making a career out of that job. It was simply people who were young, in transit, fresh out of prison, of dubious immigration status, who were all glad to trade their labor for the going wage, until they found a better situation. Joe understood that, and we parted ways on very good terms. I will always be grateful to him for helping a kid with no references he met over a pool game. I did my best, and I think he knew it.

Several years later, while I was shoeing racehorses at a track in a mountainous state in the eastern part of the country, I met a guy who made his living by holding horses for the blacksmith. Mr. L was a little bit simple. He would talk to horses, and I think they almost understood him, which made him very good at his job. Holding racehorses for a blacksmith is one of the most boring jobs in the world, but it requires skill. Just imagine trying to make an immature three year old kid that weighs half a ton stand still for forty minutes. Some are better, some are worse, but that is the general idea.

Mr. L worked full time for another horseshoer that I knew, who paid him eight dollars a horse. He regularly held six to eight horses a day, and sometimes a couple for me. I had to pay my holders ten dollars a head, because I was newer and did not have as steady work. Mr. L was the best holder at the track (until I met my wife who held for me for a couple years around when we got married) and when I could get him to hold for me, he never wanted the extra two dollars.

Mr.L lived in a rented room in town, and he told me once that he mostly ate hot-dogs. He walked some horses in the paddock before races, and was always gambling. He told me his strategy for betting the dogs was always play the four dog. He said it worked for him, but I never tried it. He was a little more complicated on his horse bets, but if the horses or dogs were not running, he played slots. I loaned him twenty bucks a couple times, and he always looked for me to pay me back. No one had to chase Mr. L over money.

Several years before I met him, he had gotten spectacularly lucky on a straight twin-trifecta bet and won about two hundred sixty thousand dollars. He got in the race horse business in a big way, bought a truck and trailer, and started buying horses. I guess several scum of the earth types saw him coming, and sold him a bunch of crap. In just a few years, he was broke again and back to holding for a living. I don’t know which circle of hell Dante would reserve for the folks that took him for a ride, I hope I never see it. Mr. L never struck me as bitter, even when I asked him about his winning ticket. He said he’d gotten lucky, but was not too worried about losing it, and he seemed happy just holding horses and betting the four dog.

Just before I got to the track one morning, Mr. L  fell over and died of a heart attack. I am glad I knew him, and I’m sure wherever he is, the four dog always wins.

Thinking back on these people and many more that I knew, worked for, and employed in a small way, I can’t help but marvel at the result of human cooperation, no matter how the social do-gooders and statists try to interfere. Just as no law could have saved my friend Mr. L from financial ruin, and no law could make Joe in Texas hire me, no law can be written that will benefit marginally employable people more than free human action.

As Mr. Greenwald  highlighted the personal side of value theory, I hope these stories show how wage agreements outside of any regulation can benefit those “living on the margin”

Limbaugh’s head in the sand


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I must have missed it if Limbaugh mentioned Ron Paul’s name today. I did not hear the whole show, but a good part of what I did hear was spent on the debate. I learned that Romney was “the only presence on the stage”, but nothing about Paul. Limbaugh apparently hopes that if he ignores the the Congressman hard enough, he will just evaporate. Bad news for all the “ditto-heads”: Paul may not be elected in 2012, but his message of true liberty can’t and won’t be ignored any longer.

Update: I missed it, Limbaugh did mention Paul.

Debt Limits and Drones


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The US government is broke. Bankrupt. Done. No Mas. It has been broke for decades, but staggering along like a burnt out trust fund kid, buying one more eightball on daddy fed’s credit card.

When does the show stop? Who knows. Will it hurt when it ends? Most certainly. Will the end hurt more the longer it is delayed? For sure.

But there are better reasons to piss on the fire now. An all out armageddon shutdown of government could bring an end to criminally insane drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan and throughout the middle east.

It could save countless lives on the Mexican border, simply by no longer playing enforcer for the state sponsored drug cartel, also known as the pharmaceutical industry.

It could stop the sacrificial raping of children to the god of Homeland Security.

It could lead to the breakdown of government brain-washing, politely called education, that likely does more long term damage than the above mentioned physical rape.

I believe these off the cuff examples are reason enough to hope for an all out, side of the mountain crash of the US government. There would undoubtedly be a lot of pain and suffering in the short term, but humans are tough. With today’s high speed and low cost of information, and the unknowable potential of humans acting in peaceful commerce, I would not book a bet against renaissance.

Next time you see some smug, brown-nosed politician or pundit calling for “responsibility” and decrying “brinksmanship” regarding the debt limit, just remember what unspeakable evil he is trying to fund and promote in your name.

These are only a few possible benefits of a total government shutdown, but enough to get started.

How to buy silver

Buying silver is easy. Just go to your local coin dealer or pawn shop, coin and or gun show, find someone that has silver, and ask their price over spot on .999 fine silver.

Do your homework, search online, and familiarize yourself with different types of bullion.

Find the seller with the lowest price over spot, you will probably pay a little more buying a few ounces locally than you would from the big online dealers. If you don’t mind the cyber paper trail, and shipping hassle, and possible wait time filling your order, buying online may be right for you.

Avoid people selling coins with collector value, unless you are a coin collector. You want the lowest price over spot.

Make sure whatever you buy has .999 fine silver stamped on it somewhere, (I learned this the hard way) unless you are buying “junk silver”.

This is all pretty basic, but useful information if you are a new buyer.

“Everything I love”


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“everything I love is killing me, cigarettes, Jack Daniels and caffeine”

-Alan Jackson

Everything I love may not be killing me, but I’m not allowed to find out for myself. Pretty much everything good in this world is heavily regulated and or has large numbers of busybody puritans lobbying for prohibition. There is a federal agency named after these good things, called the BATF.

Imagine the creative explosion of new industry if all regulation on alcohol, tobacco, and firearms were suddenly reversed. The economic opportunity would be unfathomable.

I can already hear the pre-packaged howls from our all-benevolent, all-knowing, state parents, “what about the children”, “anarchy”, “safe streets and schools” and all the other BS talking points our wise leaders are so used to us swallowing hook line and sinker.

But I think change is in the air. People around the world are no longer swallowing. The recent “rediscovery” of state nullification gives me hope for expanding freedom in my lifetime.

What gives me more hope is the prospect of broke governments (state and federal) not having the resources to enforce their dumb laws at all, giving rise to more and more un-subsidized tobacco farms, unlicensed brewerys, and and shade-tree gunsmiths.