The Moral Authority of the Lockdown Fetishists Is Gone. Thank the Protestors and Rioters.

The Moral Authority of the Lockdown Fetishists Is Gone. Thank the Protestors and Rioters.

06/02/2020Ryan McMaken

Listen to the Audio Mises Wire version of this article.

Six weeks ago, when thousands around the nation took to state capitols to protest the human rights abuses inflicted by coerced "stay-at-home orders," lockdown supporters reacted with sanctimonious outrage.

Declaring the protestors to be "covidiots" who failed to appreciate the virtue and necessity of police-enforced lockdowns, news outlets and lockdown advocates on social media declared that the protests would cause outbreaks of disease, and nurses declared that the protests were "a slap in the face" to those trying to treat the disease. One political cartoon featured an image of an emergency room nurse saying "see you soon" to antilockdown protestors.

Now, with far larger numbers of protestors amassing in larger groups, we hear none of the lofty moralism coming from the media or lockdown enthusiasts on social media. Yes, there are still some token attempts to express worry over how the riots and protests of recent days might spread the disease. But the tone is quite different. Concerns over COVID-19 are now phrased along the blueprint of "if you protest—and we would never dream of telling you not to protest—please take these measures to minimize risk." It's all very polite and deferential to the protestors. Politicians like Kamala Harris have even joined the protestors in the streets, doing what she demanded others avoid just a few weeks earlier. Where are the nurses denouncing these protests as a "slap in the face"? Where are the social media COVID warriors telling us that standing next to a person without a mask is tantamount to homicide? They're very hard to find, nowadays.

Of course, those who support the current protests, but oppose last month's protests, claim that there is no equivalence. Many would likely say, "We're now protesting against people being killed in the streets!" followed by "Those other protestors just wanted haircut.

The reality, of course, was far different. Most of those who oppose the COVID lockdowns are well aware that the lockdowns kill. They lead to severe child abuse, to more suicide, and to more drug overdoses. They lead to denial of medical care, because lockdown edicts have ridiculously labeled many necessary medical procedures as "elective." Lockdowns have rendered tens of millions of Americans unemployed while robbing people of their social support from family and community groups. Lockdowns increased police abuse and harassment of innocent people who were guilty of no crime but leaving their homes or trying to earn a living.

Lockdown advocates, however, declared all of this to be "worth it" and demanded that their ideological opponents just shut up and "#stayhome."

Lockdowns for Thee, but Not for Me

But now the current spate of protests and riots have made it clear that lockdowns and social distancing are all very optional so long as the protestors are favored by a left-wing narrative.

While the prolockdown-antilockdown conflict can't be defined by any neat left-right divide, it is nonetheless largely true that the most enthusiastic advocates of COVID lockdowns are found on the left side of the spectrum.

And that's why things have now gotten so interesting. It was easy for the prolockdown left to oppose protests when those protests were seen as a right-wing phenomenon. But now that the protests are favored by the Left, then it's all perfectly fine beyond a handful of politely expressed "concerns" that protests might spread disease.

The Left's about-face on the sacredness of social distancing will have significant effects on the future enforcement of stay-at-home orders and social distancing laws.

After all, on what grounds will governors, mayors, and law enforcement officers justify continued attacks on religious groups who seek to assemble in the usual fashion? If one group of people is allowed to gather by the hundreds to express one set of beliefs, why are other groups not allowed the same basic human right?

Politicians will no doubt soon invent new rationales for this inconsistency. Indeed, we already have one case. New York mayor Bill DeBlasio has come right out and said that people who protest racism are allowed to assemble. DeBlasio likes them. But how about religious gatherings? DeBlasio doesn't like those, so they're still prohibited.

The Moral Authority of the Lockdown Advocates Is Gone

The current riots and protests have accelerated this sort of disregard for coerced social distancing, although things were already headed in this direction anyway.

The lockdowns initially were imposed with so little resistance, because the legacy media and government bureaucrats managed to convince a sizable portion of the public that virtually everyone was in grave danger of death or serious disability from COVID-19. Many people believe these experts.

[RELATED: "What the Failed 55-MPH Speed Limit Law Tells Us about COVID Lockdowns" by Ryan McMaken]

By May, however, it had become clear that the doomsday scenarios predicted by the official technocrats had greatly overstated the reality. Certainly there were many vulnerable groups, and many died of complications from disease, just as many died during the pandemics of 1958 and 1969. But there's a difference between a spike in total deaths and a civilization-stopping plague. The experts promised the latter. We got the former. And we would have gotten the former even without lockdowns. Those jurisdictions that imposed no general lockdowns—such as Sweden—never experienced the sort of apocalyptic death predicted by lockdown advocates. Yes, they had excess deaths, but Sweden's hospitals never even went into "emergency mode." In the US, those states that imposed limited lockdowns for only a short period never experienced overloaded hospitals and overflowing morgues as was claimed would happen.

Could this yet happen in the future from some other disease or from a different wave of this one? It's certainly possible, but there's no reason to assume the CDC and its defenders will have any idea what's going on ahead of time. The lockdown advocates have already been so wrong about masks, about fatality rates, about the models, and about so much more that we have no way of knowing if we should believe them the next time they show up and swear that "this time, the situation is truly dire!"

But we're not out of the lockdown woods yet. This fall, politicians and other lockdown advocates are likely to start up again with demands that new laws be passed requiring people to stay home, shut down their businesses, and otherwise put life on hold in the name of stopping COVID-19.

But it's unlikely that the public will fall for the same routine twice in a row. At least not to the same extent. The reaction of many will likely be "we've heard this song and dance before. Besides, social distancing didn't matter to these experts back during the riots. Why should we believe them now?"

It's a good question.

Image source:

Explaining 2020

11/27/2023Robert Aro

In the not-too-distant future, during the next economic bust, recession, or stock market crash, many people will naturally examine the most immediate events and wonder what led to the latest catastrophe. When this occurs, remind them it's an ongoing boom/bust cycle, where the boom leads to the bust, followed by another boom in a vicious circle caused by intervention in the free market.

The question then becomes: "What did the government do in 2020?" The complete answer would be loaded, to say the least. However, regarding the official economic response to the question, Governor Lisa D. Cook provided a succinct detail in a speech titled Global Linkages: Supply, Spillovers, and Common Challenges.

As explained:

Policymakers around the world faced the common challenge of supporting incomes and limiting the scarring from temporary shutdowns in activity. The response was similar across countries: fiscal support, particularly to help those most in need, although the magnitude differed, in part because of differences in fiscal space. Initially aimed at preventing sharp financial and economic deterioration, monetary policy easing was later extended to support the nascent economic recovery. Policy rates were cut to or held near zero in both advanced and emerging market economies. A wide range of central banks also bought assets to support market functioning and provide stimulus once overnight policy rates hit their effective lower bounds.

For those unfamiliar with the Austrian school, it might appear to offer a robust explanation of how politicians and central bankers stepped in to fix the economy in times of crisis. However, we know this is not the case, as policymakers cannot fix that which they are responsible for breaking.

The idea that policymakers around the world took on a very similar response speaks to the global-socialist world of the 21st century.

Beginning with fiscal support, the inherent problem lies in the fact that for the government to provide funds to certain members of society, it must either take or borrow money from other members. Determining who is most in need becomes an impossible task for politicians. It leads to a system where the government has the power to determine who is most worthy of a bailout, making it prone to abuse and corruption.

The reliance on monetary policy to support a "nascent economic recovery" underscores the ineffectiveness of fiscal policy in alleviating economic downturns. Like governments worldwide, central bankers similarly coordinated their intervention effort.

By cutting or maintaining rates around zero percent, along with buying assets like government debt, stocks, and bonds, central banks revealed themselves as more powerful than governments. Without the support of their central banks, governments would be much less powerful than they are today, if they could even exist at all.

That these interventionist activities could prevent a "sharp financial and economic deterioration" cannot be reasonably explained, as trillions of dollars were essentially counterfeited and circulated across the globe. This act of inflation (the boom) led to widespread currency debasement and set in motion the next worldwide economic downturn (the bust).

Coupled with forced economic shutdowns, these interventions resulted in numerous negative consequences still felt today. As for the Fed’s shrinking of the balance sheet between 2018 to 2019, it’s possible this wasn’t forgotten as much as it was never known by most people. And as far as the long-term effects of this entire economic experiment, we’ll find out… eventually.

Image source:
Pixabay

Of Turkeys and Turduckens

11/25/2023Robert Aro

As millions of Americans recover from their Thanksgiving indulgence, an intriguing question arises: How much did your Thanksgiving dinner cost?

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 38th annual survey:

…the average cost of this year’s classic holiday feast for 10 … is $61.17 or less than $6.20 per person.

They also mention that:

This is a 4.5% decrease from last year’s record-high average of $64.05, but a Thanksgiving meal is still 25% higher than it was in 2019, which highlights the impact high supply costs and inflation have had on food prices since before the pandemic.

Anyone who hosted dinner this week will immediately know their proximity from the $61.17 average.

According to the data, the average meal for 10 people looked like this (comparison to last year in brackets):

16-pound turkey: $27.35 or $1.71 per pound (down 5.6%)

14-ounces of cubed stuffing mix: $3.77 (down 2.8%)

2 frozen pie crusts: $3.50 (down 4.9%)

Half pint of whipping cream: $1.73 (down 22.8%)

1 pound of frozen peas: $1.88 (down 1.1%)

1 dozen dinner rolls: $3.84 (up 2.9%)

Misc. ingredients to prepare the meal: $3.95 (down 4.4%)

30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $4.44 (up 3.7%)

1 gallon of whole milk: $3.74 (down 2.6%)

3 pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.97 (up .3%)

1-pound veggie tray (carrots & celery): $.90 (up 2.3%)

12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.10 (down 18.3%)

While not everyone consumes alcohol, many average people do, so it's immediately noticeable that it's not included as part of the meal plan. And those in the South might feel a bit slighted as there is no mention of peach cobbler, collard greens, or sweet tea, but the list of omissions is long.

This is one of the challenges with averages. Similar to the concept of inclusiveness, which inherently involves exclusiveness, arriving at an average number certainly gives us a number, but its relevance becomes questionable. Who exactly is it relevant for, and how does this number help inform us of anything useful?

A closer look at t Wal-Mart’s website should raise more eyebrows:

The Turkey on the left from Shady Brook Farms approximates the average Turkey price we’ve been given, but the Perdue Farms (for two Turkeys) is considerably higher.

And these are just two brands in a country with many Turkeys. Of course, this leads to an additional problem: the existence of the Turducken:

Those fortunate enough to pay north of $100 to serve the famous Turkey/Duck/Chicken combination have been entirely excluded from the analysis. If the market price of Turduckens were $300, it would have no impact on the $61.17 average; we must wonder how this data could be considered representative.

There exists no magic or secretive technique behind this; the sample method is described as follows:

This year’s national average cost was calculated using 245 surveys completed with pricing data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers checked prices in person and online using grocery store apps and websites. They looked for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

Statistical sampling and averages may sound convincing to some, but this should be compared against one's own perception and anecdotal evidence. Not only are we informed that the average dinner costs only $61.17, but we're also being told that Thanksgiving dinner this year is less expensive than last year. While one may lack statistical survey data to support this, the idea of Thanksgiving deflation this year seems more like wishful thinking than anything else.

This is not to say the data was compiled maliciously in any way; however, when compiling data, a malicious person can compile it in any way.

Image source:
Pixabay

Napoleon's Silver Lining

11/24/2023Ryan McMaken

The great David M. Hart writes: 

 

I was thinking about the impact Napoleon had on Europe as reviews began to appear of the new film about Napoleon by Ridley Scott. As Smith noted in TMS [Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments] people admire and defer to people of higher rank and authority and Napoleon is a classic example. He was a monster in so many ways and was a powerful force in the destruction of the lives, liberty and property of millions of people. 

However, there is a silver lining to this very dark cloud. As the Austrian economists like to point out there are always “unintended consequences” (usually bad) of government policies. In the case of Napoleon, his actions led to the efflorescence of liberalism in France, with so many great classical liberals rising up to oppose him: JB Say, Destutt de Tracy, Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, Benjamin Constant, Madame de Stael - the list goes on.

As a scholar of these people I can only say “Thank you Boney”!

WTF1

11/23/2023Doug French

The Formula One Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix is on for next year and scheduled for November 21-23. This despite reporting from SFGate’s screaming headline, “Las Vegas’ biggest event in years was a disaster.” According to The Messenger's Arash Markazi, "Tickets for Thursday’s practice sessions were selling for around $100 on Wednesday night and tickets for Friday’s qualifying were going for around $250 on the secondary market. Both events were selling for around $1,000 originally," Markazi reported. "A ticket to Saturday’s race is still over $800 but they were over $1,600 just last month."

Markazi reports that his hotel room cost him $18

The race’s sore winner, Max Verstappen, viewed the event as a joke and couldn’t wait to get out of town. “For me, you can skip this,” he said. “It’s not about the singers. We are just standing up there, looking like a clown.” (whatever that means) However, the reigning F1 champ and race winner sang “Viva Las Vegas” over the radio as part of a new tradition he agreed to with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, reports the Athletic.

Driver Lewis Hamilton was more diplomatic, “For all those that were so negative about the weekend, saying it’s all about show, blah, blah, blah… I think Vegas proved them wrong.” 

Strip workers will be happy to see the lifesize erector set defacing the Strip being dismantled around the clock and the cocky drivers in onesies out of town.

For all the belly aching about the event, corporate Vegas looks to have made out fine. 

The local paper reports “Southern Nevada appears to have had the best week financially in its history, thanks to the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix.”

Caesars Entertainment’s regional boss Sean McBurney said their properties were completely full. He spent four days at the race and noted, ”I don’t know if I’ve been to an event where the feedback was so unanimously positive.” 

MGM’s VP of citywide events, Andrew Lanzino, said all properties, close to the track or not, “performed as if it was New Year’s Eve.”

MGM president and CEO Bill Hornbuckle told the LVRJ, “The average [room] rate at Bellagio was $2,200.

The gushing by casino execs is confirmed by Jacob Orth, who wrote on X,

After the race at Bellagio between 1am-2am:

  • About 70-80% of all tables had action
  • One guy won $40,000 on high limit Top Dollar
  • Of 10 craps tables on the main floor, 2 were $25 min, the rest were either $50 or $100 (all had action)
  • $300 min for 3:2 BJ on main floor (4 tables, 2 vacant)
  • $1,000 min 0 roulette in high limit
  • $1,000 or $5,000 min high limit BJ
  • One $5,000 BJ table had 3 people playing, another had a couple playing
  • Two $1,000 BJ tables had 2-3 people playing
  • The casino floor was busy, not necessarily crowded, but there was no shortage of people willing to gamble with the higher minimums.

The drain cover incident which postponed Thursday night practice until 2:30 am (Friday) will be long forgotten other than by those kicked out of viewing areas who have ramped up a class-action lawsuit.

@VitalVegas who posts on X (formerly Twitter) about all things Vegas is not an F1 fan “F1, LVCVA and Clark Co. Commissioners—with fingers in ears and heads lodged deeply up asses—announce another year of insanity before even assessing the failure or success of this year’s financial and P.R. disaster, so there’s that.” 

But, a guy who is by now an old Vegas wiseman, Donny Osmond, probably has it right about the Grand Prix, "The traffic has been horrendous...But the locals, eventually, are going to embrace this thing completely."

And most importantly, Joe Pompliano posted on X,

“Dealers at the Wynn in Las Vegas split $700,000 in tips on Saturday, per @LasVegasLocally. That means each dealer went home with ~$2,000 in tips — 5-6 times more than their $350-$400 average and the highest amount in Wynn's 18-year history. “I guess F1 wasn't so bad after all.”

F1 is likely something Las Vegas residents will love to hate, for many years.

 

Ready for Some Funflation!

11/22/2023Robert Aro

Just when you thought every inflation related economic term was used up, CNBC headlines:

‘Funflation’ drives sporting event ticket prices up a whopping 25%

One might assume terms such as transitory, creeping, galloping, and entrenched inflation, along with shrinkflation and foodflation, would suffice. Nonetheless, we can now include "funflation" to the array of consequences resulting from the expansion of the supply of money and credit, also called inflation.

Funflation is characterized as:

…a term used by economists to explain the increasing price tags of live events as consumers hanker for the experiences they lost during the pandemic.

The economists who coined this term remain unmentioned.

In the October Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) reading of 3.2%, sporting events experienced the most significant increase among the few hundred categories comprising the index. One economist from the College of the Holy Cross attempted to explain the reason:

People are getting back to things that they enjoy doing and are willing to pay a bunch.

Despite both fun and inflation coexisting for quite some time, we’ve never seen a mashup between the two until now, yet CNBC tries to explain:

Much of the upward pressure on admission costs has come this year, underscoring the role of funflation as consumers shift their attention from Taylor Swift and Beyoncé concerts to NFL and Major League Baseball games.

Funflation has even spread as far north as Canada, where the government owned news channel CBC offers four possible causes for this growing phenomenon:

1. It's a natural response to existential dread

2. Concerts provide a sacred experience that's priceless

3. The post-pandemic effect is greater than a potential recession

4. Concerts are a long-term investment in your soul 

It's important to scrutinize the sources of the information we are fed. In the case of the responses from a mainstream economist, a mainstream news source, and a government-owned news channel, it seems that the explanations provided are more about filling a knowledge gap, which they may not even be aware of. It becomes a matter of explaining for the sake of providing one, rather than genuinely delving into the underlying causes.

Even if we were to accept the data showing an increase in attendance in ticket sales this year compared to the previous, or a shift from Taylor Swift to the NFL, this merely indicates changes in behavior without explaining the underlying cause of the change.

No one can definitively attribute the change to lockdowns or clarify why more people are watching the NFL this year. However, what is barely, if ever, considered by a mainstream news source is a discussion of changes in the demand and supply factors of money itself: Specifically, the demand to hold onto the money you have vis-à-vis fluctuations in the supply of money largely due to the Federal Reserve’s inflationary monetary policies.

Given a society still grappling with the repercussions of a multi-trillion-dollar monetary binge from several years ago and the threat of a continuously depreciating dollar, it's plausible that people are allocating more funds towards leisure and enjoyment this year compared to the last. That said and oddly enough, the notion of the "natural response to existential dread" may not be too far off the mark after all!

Image source:
Pixabay

Short Memories in Crypto

11/22/2023Doug French

Nowhere are memories shorter than in finance and speculation. Yield farming is back in the crypto market, meaning the “ lending of cryptocurrency which gets you interest and sometimes fees, with the kicker being new cryptocurrency is paid on top of the interest. “The real payoff comes if that coin appreciates rapidly. It’s as if banks were luring new depositors with the gift of a tulip -- during the Dutch tulip craze,” wrote Olga Kharif for Bloomberg back in 2020. 

The Sam Bankman-Fried trial should have jogged everyone’s memory of the crypto crash and the dangers of leverage. Muyao Shen reminds us that just a year and a half ago Terra algorithmic stablecoin triggered an industry-wide meltdown. Upwards of 70% are being offered by “exchanges ranging from GMX to Binance are offering double-digit incentives as a way to jumpstart trading activity after months of stagnation.” 

binance
“It’s always gonna be this” way, said Zaheer Ebtikar, founder of crypto fund Split Capital. “People can’t help it. [Crypto] is literally the most FOMO [fear of missing out] industry ever.” Ever? Ebtikar wasn’t around for tulipmania. Shen writes, 

GMX, a DeFi derivatives exchange that allows users to trade Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with up to 50 times in leverage, started an incentives program on Wednesday with Arbitrum DAO. The decentralized autonomous organization is behind Arbitrum, a so-called layer 2 blockchain that seeks to ease congestion on Ethereum network. Through the program, users can earn annual yields of up to 70% for trading, providing liquidity and other activities on a version of GMX. About 12 million, or $12 million of ARB tokens, the governance token of Arbitrum, will be used to pay the extra returns.

Okay. The only thing I know about what is being described in that paragraph is that absolutely, positively nothing can go wrong at 50x leverage. 

“With animal spirits starting to pick back up, projects may feel that now is a good time to spend token emissions to gather some momentum,” Keone Hon co-founder and chief executive officer at Monad Labs told Bloomberg. 

John Law thought the same thing over 300 years ago. 

Remembering the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy 60 Years Ago

Sixty years ago today, I was in Mrs. Isles’ fifth-grade class on Friday afternoon at Boothwyn Elementary School in Pennsylvania when we got the news: President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. They sent us home immediately and the next several days were consumed with the killing and its aftermath.

First, there was the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, who was accused of shooting the president from a sniper’s perch on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, which was located by the presidential motorcade route. Two days later, Oswald himself was shot to death by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner who managed to slip into police headquarters with a gun when authorities were transferring him from the Dallas city jail to the county jail.

Finally, on Monday, there was the funeral, which I watched with one of my friends on his black and white TV at his house on Meetinghouse Road. I was only 10 years old but knew that something momentous had happened. I didn’t realize that it would be a watershed event.

Much has been written about the events of November 22, 1963, and six decades later, there is much disagreement with the government’s official story that Oswald was the lone shooter. Most people, to be honest, don’t buy the government’s account, which is summed up by the Warren Commission Report.

There is a veritable industry of writing and speculation about the assassination, and perhaps no one has been more dogged than Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation. With each major anniversary of the assassination, new information seems to come out about the case, and the FFF site has linked two accounts, one involving medical professionals who saw the president’s fatal wounds, and one from the Kennedy Beacon blog. They make for compelling reading.

According to Hornberger, the Kennedy assassination was an inside job with the CIA taking out the president because he wanted to end American involvement in Vietnam and pursue a more vigorous course of détente with the Soviet Union, as well as dismantling at least part of the developing national security state. Certainly, others who closely follow the various conspiracy theories associated with the assassination have different variations, but most agree that it is unlikely that the angry loner Oswald did all of the killing himself – or was even directly involved.

I see myself as unqualified to make a judgment on these theories, although there is nothing implausible with the account that Hornberger has created these past several years. Too many things happened after the shooting with too many witnesses to debunk them. If Hornberger’s viewpoints are correct – and I, for one, believe they are plausible – then America as we have known it died that day at Dealy Plaza.

The government’s actions after Kennedy’s assassination from the US escalation of the Vietnam War to the development of the vast national security state has eroded liberty and empowered the American state. Whatever hopes there were to preserve the constitutional republic known as the United States of America ended with the death of John F. Kennedy.

Did Milei Win Argentina's Presidency by Employing Honesty?

In Argentina, Javier Milei recently won the presidential election with 56 percent of the votes, a remarkably wide margin in any country holding reasonably free presidential elections. Milei, an economist, subscribes to the Austrian school of thought. He identifies as a libertarian and even an anarcho-capitalist. In some appearances, he is presenting himself as Captain ANCAP.

Unlike many libertarians seeking political office, Milei has not sanitized his language or tailored his message to sensitive ears. In interviews where journalists are shocked by his labeling of leftists as evil, he doesn't back down or smooth things over; instead, he further clarifies why he believes this description is accurate. In one instance, he demonstrates his intention to shut down unnecessary departments, such as those for transport and education, by ripping them one by one from a chart and shouting ¡AFUERA! (OUT!) each time. He concludes the segment by declaring an end to the era of politician thievery, and with a cheer for “damn liberty”.

Among some libertarians, Milei faces criticism for not being libertarian enough. He waves the Israeli flag, and he seems to believe that neither American nor Ukrainian politicians are culpable for Ukraine being at war. He has even visited the World Economic Forum, a place apparently off-limits for those wishing to spread knowledge of Austrian economics. Other libertarians argue for pragmatism, pointing to the now-open opportunity to disseminate libertarian ideas and economic knowledge.

Regardless of one's stance on this issue, we can acknowledge that the world has never before witnessed a libertarian winning a presidential election or even coming close. It’s also apparent that the path to the presidency for Milei did not involve methods tried by many other liberty advocates.

Broadly speaking, we see mainly two strategies for making society more libertarian:

  1. Cautiously hint that one or another prohibition might not be appropriate or effective, hoping that this way, an occasional parliamentary vote might swing "our" way. The reason for choosing words carefully is that people may not accept proposals that challenge the status quo too harshly.
  2. Outright state the fact that the state is evil, that taxation is theft, and that politics is the vilest game ever invented. The proposal is to shut down the state and not replace it with anything. The challenge lies in getting enough people to realize that it's worth a try.

Those of us who have adopted the more radical strategy have so far little to show that we can achieve results. At best, we count among our achievements those in our immediate circle who we believe we have influenced. Most of us understand that as long as people are reasonably well off, a significant portion of them won't spend much time pondering whether the state is morally defensible. A severe crisis, making it difficult for people to put food on the table, might be necessary. Capitalism works against our cause in this regard. At least for now. Politicians work for our cause. With fervor.

On the other hand, the more cautious strategy hasn't shown any real successes either. Politicians are incredibly skilled and effective at creating crises and using them to undermine and curtail our freedoms. We are rapidly heading towards increasingly total tyranny.

But something has just happened in Argentina that suggests a more radical approach might be more reasonable and effective in changing a society in a libertarian direction. Someone who openly and unambiguously explains the evil of the state has stepped up and grabbed the bully pulpit. Unfortunately, it probably required the Argentine society to suffer deep misery for a long time, but the fact remains that it is possible to reach people with a very radical message, without watering it down.

Did he succeed despite insisting on calling a spade a spade? No, his success is thanks to his clarity and forthrightness.

People are not mindless fools. It's likely the purity and unvarnished nature of the message that paves the way for it to reach its intended audience. If Milei had too often backed down and sent increasingly adapted messages, he would have been suspected, and rightly so, of being just another politician with his own interests at heart. (It may still turn out that this is precisely what he is, but so far, that’s an open question.)

Now then. If Milei has proven that the path lies in clarity and that it is reasonable to assume that people are thinking individuals who can understand even radically unfamiliar arguments. What does it mean for us, other than that we should continue on our chosen path, continue to drum out the songs of freedom and economic sense in our most heartfelt verse?

Perhaps it means that we don't need to wait for our society to be completely brought to its knees, making people receptive in that way. We have a golden opportunity to borrow Milei's megaphone, provided we find ways to amplify the signal.

Capitalism: True and False

Hanne Nabintu Herland’s The Billionaire World: How Marxism serves the Elite (2023) is a vital book that will help you understand what is going on in the world today. It will also help you to defend capitalism against objections that are all-too-common today.  Herland distinguishes two kinds of capitalism: real and fake.  The real kind is a voluntary society, in which people trade goods and services with each other, and everybody benefits. The fake kind is one in which a few greedy billionaires use the state to gain power and privileges for themselves. These billionaires are willing to enslave humanity to gain their nefarious ends.

Here is what Herland says about them:

“In the West, the ultra-rich own almost everything. Private investment corporations such as Blackrock, Vanguard, Capital World, Fidelity Management, Berkshire Hathaway and State Street represent capital owners who own media companies, Big Tech, Big Pharma, the military complex, and the food industry. They also fund politicians and exert strong influence over political decision makers as well as government funds and assets.

These investment companies have become so powerful that they control most of the world’s capital. Whichever industry you take a look at, you easily find many of the top shareholders, decision makers and names among the ten leading institutional investors. Most of the companies that we perceive as competing brands are actually owned by the same company; for example The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo.

These mastodonte companies completely dominate our way of life, what we eat, drink, watch on TV, what we wear, and who we vote for. They are the rulers of social media, the mainstream media, Hollywood, and most of the entertainment business.”

This domination leads to a totalitarian control over people:

“To an employee, this economic entanglement has vast implications. In order to keep their job and be able to put food on the table, journalists and editors alike have to exhibit their willingness to agree with the narrative being pushed. If they object to the politically correct groupthink, they’re out. The desired narrative is structured to produce the highest possible capital gain for the news business’ super-rich owners, with the blessing of media leaders, government officials, leading politicians, and the academic elite.”

People usually think of Marxism as the enemy of the super-rich, but in fact the billionaires and the Marxists are allied to overthrow Western civilization:

“This is a point the book ponders over. It would have been close to impossible for the billionaire class to succeed without the weakening of the Western social culture. The reference here is precisely to the remarkable socialist revolt against classical, Western values such as the demand for individual accountability, the right to own the fruit of one’s own labour, the establishment of decentralized government and independent institutions, private property rights, and equality, regardless of race, class, or gender; to precisely the Marxist aim of crushing social stability to impose a centralized government and the atheist world order, destroying the “bourgeois” family structure and the nation-state, and repressing free speech and critical thinking for those who oppose the left-wing narrative. . .Fear was key to create an obedient population under Joseph Stalin and fear is the key word today.”

After reading this, you may wonder, “Who is Hanne Herland? Why should we believe what she says? The distinguished and astute Paul Craig Roberts explains and summarizes her views:

“Hanna Herland is a leading intellect of the Western world.  She is a defender of civilization and Christian morality and a stalwart opponent of the Satanic forces that are attacking our civilization.  In her new book, The Billionaire World, she explains the variety of assaults on Western civilization that are undermining the belief systems and cohesiveness of Western countries.   Among them are the concentration of wealth in a few hands, the weaponization of scholarship by Cultural Marxists, the transformation of education into indoctrination, a declining sense of duty and responsibility on the part of governments, and the erosion of Christian morality.

Wealth concentration brings information control.  Herland explains that the voices of people have been silenced by the enormous control exercised by monopolies and interlocking directorships of a handful of immensely rich entities. A few private investment corporations–Black Rock, State Street, and Vanguard–own the stocks and sit on the boards of most of the large corporations.  This puts tremendous power and control in a few hands. Even competing companies, such as Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola, are owned by the same parent company.

Six mega-corporations control more than 90% of the US media.  The extraordinary control by a handful over Western civilization permits the imposition of self-serving narratives which if challenged results in being fired from livelihood and cancelled.  The former feminist icon Naomi Wolf speaks of it happening to her.

Read the full article at LewRockwell.com.

We Must Demand Justice for the January 6th Protestors!

11/21/2023Ron Paul

New US House Speaker Mike Johnson struck a blow for liberty and justice last week when he finally authorized the release of all the tapes from the January 6, 2021 “insurrection.” We were told by no less than President Biden himself that this was the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”

The FBI was unleashed by the Biden Administration to hunt down hundreds of participants in this “insurrection” and lock them up in the gulag where they awaited trial in torturous conditions – many in solitary confinement.

A Congressional Committee was set up under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “get to the bottom” of the “Trump-led insurrection.” It did not include a single Representative nominated by the opposition Republican Party, but rather two “Republicans” – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – who could be relied on by Pelosi and the Democrats to toe the line.

In short, the whole thing was an old-fashioned Soviet show trial, where the evidence was kept secret and the pre-determined verdict – guilty – was to be used to tighten the grip of the ruling regime and intimidate any further dissenters into silence. The message was clear: “speak out against the ‘perfection’ of the 2020 election and you may find yourself in the gulag along with the insurrectionists.”

It was terrifying and profoundly anti-American.

And, as we finally can see for ourselves thanks to Speaker Johnson, it was a huge lie. The new video shows demonstrators shaking hands with police officers once they entered the Capitol Building. They were welcomed into the building by officers who even held the doors for them to enter! They had no way of knowing that they would soon be rounded up and locked away.

Does that mean no crimes were committed on January 6th? Not at all. The tapes already released were carefully chosen to single out examples of violence and other possible criminality. But the full release of the tapes demonstrates beyond a doubt that the endless propaganda that this was a coordinated attempt to overthrow the government was false.

And as for that violence and mayhem on January 6th? How much of it was instigated by undercover FBI agents? New footage clearly shows officers outside the building firing on protestors with no warning. That must be why, in hearing after hearing, Biden Administration officials like Attorney General Merrick Garland have refused to tell Congress the number of federal agents present and their roles in instigating violence.

The release of this evidence should immediately result in the release of all non-violent protestors awaiting trial or serving their sentences. Those in power responsible for promoting this lie should take their places in the jail cells.

This delayed justice will not help protesters like Matthew Perna, however. Though the new video release clearly shows him calmly walking inside the Capitol in the presence of unconcerned police officers, when Merrick Garland’s Department of “Justice” announced they would seek terrorism charges against him, Perna, in despair, decided to hang himself in his garage.

Yes, there was an insurrection of sorts. Those in power hated Donald Trump so much that they were willing to torture and even murder their fellow Americans to keep him from the presidency. Unless these people are brought to justice, we will have no Republic left to defend.