Theresa May’s Final Act and What Comes Next for Brexit

Theresa May’s Final Act and What Comes Next for Brexit

[Editors note: After this article was written, Theresa May officially announced she is leaving the position of Prime Minister on June 7th.]

Brexit has been a long, drawn-out saga. But finally, Theresa May’s indecision appears to be coming to an end. She has finally been cornered in a tragic opera with more twists and turns than Wagner’s Ring Cycle. May’s Götterdämmerung is reaching its conclusion. Brünnhilde is riding Grane, her trusty steed, into immolation on the funeral pyre of her heavily-amended withdrawal agreement. 

Mrs May’s initial error was to seek consensus between Remainers and Brexiteers. In the words of one of her sacked advisers, Nick Timothy, she viewed Brexit as a damage-limitation exercise. Her mission statement evolved from her Lancaster House speech, when she declared she would deliver Brexit in terms which were clear, complying with the referendum and applauded by ardent Brexiteers. It became a fatally flawed compromise, which has failed to be ratified by MPs on three occasions so far, and a proposed fourth in the next week or so is likely to suffer the same fate. 

Her problems started in earnest when she over-ruled her first Brexit secretary, David Davis. Unknown to her Brexit ministers, with her own civil service advisors she began negotiating behind her Brexit secretary’s back. Davis was informed of May’s Chequers proposal only a few days before that fateful Checkers meeting, following which Davis and Boris Johnson (Foreign Secretary) resigned from the Cabinet, while five other ministers and Parliamentary Private Secretaries also resigned.

If ever there was evidence that in politics you should keep your enemies close and your friends closer still, this was it. It has allowed those that have resigned to expose May’s duplicity to their fellow MPs and to organise the opposition to May’s Chequers proposal and the subsequent Withdrawal Agreement she cooked up with the EU.

Mrs May was always a Remainer, and her presence as Prime Minister has encouraged leading Europhiles to overturn the Brexit referendum. That is why she sees it as a damage limitation exercise: produce something that can be said to be Brexit, but still leaves the UK tied to Brussels. It is Hotel California, with Britain only leaving if both sides agree to it, or alternatively, Northern Ireland remains in the EU’s customs union. That cannot happen, not least because the DUP would end its vital support for May’s minority government.

Putting the Northern Ireland issue to one side, in order to get the agreement of the other EU nations for a full and final exit, the UK relies on “The duty of good faith which prohibits the deliberate exploitation of the implementation period to damage British interests” (Barclay’s emphasis). This was written in a letter by Steve Barclay, the current Brexit Secretary, to John Redwood, a senior Conservative backbench MP, in response to his concerns over the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Good faith in politics? Barclay must be joking. Spain has a political interest in securing Gibraltar: won’t a future Spanish politician not be tempted to only agree to opening the door to Hotel California if Gibraltar is signed over? French fisherman enjoy free access to British fishing grounds. What French politician has the resolve to stand up to striking fisherman on a good-faith commitment? We haven’t seen one yet.

In short, May’s attempt to limit Brexit damage is a stitch-up, pleasing neither side of the House.

Labour’s Role in All This

In desperation, Mrs May has turned to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to gain sufficient support to push her Withdrawal Agreement through the House against the wishes of her own MPs. Corbyn is a Marxist, as is his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell. Both of them have promoted far-left activists, who now have a high degree of control over both party policy and the selection of Labour MPs, meaning that moderates are being side-lined and expunged. 

This creates Labour’s own crisis, with Marxist activists alienating moderate Labour voters in the constituencies. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Labour Party has its own split between Remainers and Brexiteers. The whole Brexit issue is a hot potato with which the Labour leadership would rather not be involved. It was with this in mind the Labour leadership held talks with Mrs May’s government, at her invitation, to try to find common ground.

Labours tactics were simple, only an increasingly desperate Prime Minister seemed unable to see them. Labour took and kept the moral high ground, appearing reasonable by accepting the invitation to talks. They ensured they would go nowhere (not difficult, given Mrs May’s stubbornness), then withdraw blaming her for the breakdown. Their hope is to force a general election following a No Confidence Motion only after Brexit has been resolved, capitalising on Mrs May’s disastrous handling of the Brexit issue. And if Mrs May brings her proposed withdrawal agreement to the House for a fourth time, they almost certainly won’t support it, again blaming Mrs May for her “failure to listen”.

The Labour leadership will be observing with interest the battle to succeed her, and it will be clear to them that either No Deal or a compromise in that direction will be the result. This is unlikely to worry them on two counts. Firstly, Labour will not want to alienate voters in their northern constituencies any further by compromising on Mrs May’s deal or anything close to it. And secondly, the leadership, being committed Marxists, will probably take the view that a “right-wing” Prime Minister will improve their own prospects in a general election.

It all points to a continuing strategy of not supporting Mrs May, avoiding any deal with the Conservatives, and hoping the Conservatives will elect a leader that will destroy the Conservatives’ electoral prospects.

Mrs May’s Likely Replacement

At the time of writing, it appears that Mrs May will fail disastrously if she puts her amended withdrawal agreement to a Commons vote for a fourth time. She has tried to appeal to the Remainers with a fourth vote by offering a possible second referendum if MPs back her bill. She has now broken every red line she previously set out. She may not even get the chance for it to be voted.

In the coming days, her position will surely become untenable, though we have all said that before. But this time, she will have exhausted every possibility and have nowhere else to go. And if the Conservative vote collapses in today’s European elections, the fence-sitters in Parliament will be galvanised into getting rid of her.

In the last few days, leadership contenders have been lining up their bids for the premiership. Those jostling for position are talking of everything but Brexit. The Remainers, such as Philip Hammond (the Chancellor) do not appear to be in the race and have become so unpopular outside Parliament that they wouldn’t get a mandate from the constituencies anyway. The next leader is very likely to be a staunch Brexiteer.

It would bore an international audience to list and analyse the runners, other than to concentrate on the clear favourite, Boris Johnson, who currently shows as 7/4-on. His nearest rival, Dominic Raab is 9/2-against. The news on Boris is for him both good and tricky. The good is that he is clearly the favourite with the constituency members, and if he can be one of the two names put forward, he should be home and dry. The tricky bit is Remainer MPs and fence-sitters in the parliamentary party, who claim to be one-nation Tories, would rather not support Boris.

He is regarded as right-wing, when in fact he favours freer markets, less regulation, and free trade. He is a classic Tory. It is the party’s middle ground that has become socialistic. In an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph he wrote the following:

“What we cannot now know – as the great French economist Bastiat observed in the 19th century – is the unseen opportunity cost of the way the UK economic structure has evolved to fit the EU over the last four and a half decades, and the productive ways in which it might now evolve.”

The reference to Frédéric Bastiat is important. He is referring to Bastiat’s parable of the broken window, which points out that the state’s intervention (the boy who broke the window) denies the more productive use of the baker’s money to his desired ends. The fact that Johnson knows the parable and understands the message is good evidence of his libertarian credentials.

That being the case, it is the socialistic element of the Conservative parliamentary party, masquerading as one-nation Tories, that he has to overcome. Reportedly, he has been having one-to-one meetings with his fellow MPs to do just that. Sometime ago, there was a well-founded belief that if Johnson became leader of the Conservative Party at least five MPs would resign the whip. Since then, Change UK, a dustbin of disillusioned Remainers has been formed with eleven MPs, three of which were Conservatives. It has been a complete failure and a sharp lesson to other would-be jumpers, so there are likely to be no more defections on a Johnson leadership. 

Johnson has also been taking the advice of Lynton Crosby, probably the most successful political strategist today. It was Crosby who advised Scott Morrison in last weekend’s Australian election, when the expected Labour opposition victory was successfully overturned. He also advised Johnson in his successful elections as Mayor of London in 2008 and 2012. 

This is interesting, because Johnson appears to be working to a carefully constructed plan. He avoids press comment over Brexit and writes about anything else in his Monday column at the Daily Telegraph. His contributions in Parliament have been brief, the few on Brexit generally confined to democracy rather than trade. He has positioned himself to rescue the party from electoral destruction if called upon, rather than appear to be an overtly ambitious politician, unlike all the other contenders. It is quite Churchillian, in the sense there is a parallel with Churchill’s election by his peers to lead the nation in its darkest hour. He even wrote about it in a recent bestseller, The Churchill Factor1,and understands intimately what it took for Churchill to gain the support of the House.

It is therefore hardly surprising Johnson is the favourite to succeed Mrs May. His appreciation of free markets means he is not frightened by trading with the EU on WTO terms. Furthermore, President Trump admires him, and would be likely to fast-track a US trade deal with the UK. However, Johnson is likely to pursue a deal on radically different terms on a take-it-or-leave-it basis with no further extensions to Exit Day.

As soon as the 31 October deadline has passed, Remainers will no longer have a cause. They have yet to appreciate the fact, and they may vote for him in the hope that after restoring the party’s fortunes, they can get rid of him and mend relations with the EU. But the Brexit debate would effectively end after Exit Day and its divisiveness with it. Farage’s Brexit party will wither on the vine, its purpose of restoring democratic accountability to Parliament and delivering Brexit being restored.

Johnson would then have the task of rebuilding the party for the next general election, set for 5 May 2022. 

In the coming days, having seen Mrs May’s last roll of the dice, all these factors will be uppermost in the minds of both backbenchers and of government ministers in their private capacity. If there is one thing that is certain, the Conservative Party is a survivor. If Boris Johnson is the best option, MPs will swallow their prejudices and elect him.

Excerpted from Brexit – Theresa May’s Final Act
  • 1.
    Published by Hodder, 2015.

Chinese Nationals Own a Mere 0.03% of American Agricultural Land

12/01/2023Ryan McMaken

American protectionists have yet again come up with some new reasons to push more government regulations and more government control of private property.  This time, the new regulations come in the form of restriction as to whom Americans can sell their own property. Specifically, a number of US states have passed—or are seriously considering passing—new laws prohibiting foreign nationals and foreign entities from owning land within the states in question. 

At least 16 states have done so this year: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Virginia. Not all of these new regulations are equally robust. Some restrict the sale only of farmland, some restrict sales on all real property. Some of these restrict sales to nationals of certain disfavored countries, while at least one state—i.e., Oklahoma—bans sales of all non-citizens except under certain circumstances. 

The rationale behind nearly all of this is a moral panic over Chinese ownership of land. The meme has gone about among many conservative nationalists that the Chinese regime is buying up American land and so both states and the federal government must create new regulations and prohibition to protect "freedom." An example of this can be found in a recent post on Twitter by South Dakota governor Kristi Noem which states that "China's holdings"—by which she presumably means holdings of Chinese nationals—increased 5,300%. That's a lot of growth, but one wonders why she didn't mention any actual numbers of acreage. (It is reminiscent of how the Soviets used to report crime statistics only as percentage changes. The USSR data workers kept "forgetting" to publish any totals of actual crime incidents.) 

noem

 So, just how much land do Chinese nationals (and other foreigners) own? It turns out the Federal government already keeps track of this thanks to the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (AFIDA). The act requires "foreign investors who acquire, transfer, or hold an interest in U.S. agricultural land to report such holdings and transactions to the Secretary of Agriculture on an AFIDA Report Form FSA-153." Prior to that, the Federal government did not systematically track foreign ownership of land. The act itself, of course, is not constitutional. One will look in vain for anything among the enumerated federal powers in the US constitution authorizing such activities. Nevertheless, since the report exists, we'll have a look. 

According to the most recent AFIDA report, China holds a little under 1 percent of all foreign-owned ag land. But that just foreign-owned ag land. If we look at all privately held ag land overall, China owns 0.03 percent. 

foreign

In contrast, the country with the most citizens who hold US ag land is Canada. Canadian investors hold 12.8 million acres, which is 31 percent of all foreign-held land. Canadian nationals hold 0.97 percent of ag land overall. 

It is Europeans, however, who dominate among foreign holders of US ag land. After Canada, the next-largest group of foreign nationals holding ag land is the Dutch, followed by Italians, and then the British. China isn't even in the top ten, however, and comes in behind Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, and others. 

foreign

All taken together, foreigners own approximately 40.8 million acres. 383,935 of that is held by Chinese nationals. 

Some advocates for more laws against foreign ownership contend that the AFIDA report is missing data, yet critics of the report only offer conjecture about what the "real" numbers are. If AFIDA is wrong, well, people like Kristi Noem don't actually have any better numbers.  In any case it's a safe bet that Chinese nationals don't control even 5 percent of ag land in America.  Moreover, it's rather odd that some Americans wring their hands over the role of Chinese nationals in land ownership when there is no demonstrated threat, whatsoever. 

Rather, if Americans are looking for a large, distant corporate entity that it immensely wealthy and unresponsive to the wishes and needs of Americans, we might be better off looking at the United States government and its immense land holdings. Compared to Chinese nationals' paltry 384,000 acres, the US government owns 640 million acres of non-seabed land—or 16 times more land than the land of all foreign nationals combined. For perspective, the total number of acres in all farmland in America totals 895 million acres. Federal lands comprise 28 percent of all land in America—agricultural or otherwise. 

fed

These federal lands are off-limits to any private ownership—essentially forever. Federal lands have been used for nuclear experiments that have poisoned nearby populations. Federal workers on federal lands have caused a variety of environmental disasters such as the Gold King Mine spill in 2015. The Feds are looking to lock down these lands even more from the general public with initiatives like "wilderness" areas and roadless areas. These lands are controlled primarily by interest groups with influential lobbies in Washington. Yet, it is Chinese ownership we are supposed to be deeply concerned about. 

To get perspective on how much of a threat is Beijing's power versus American federal power we might ask: how much do Americans pay to Beijing in taxes? How much does Beijing regulate American businesses or pollute American waterways and lands? How many Americans has Beijing imprisoned or fined for violating Beijing's rules?  The answers to these questions highlight how fears are generally misplaced about which government does the most damage on a daily basis to Americans private property, American freedom, and American well-being in general. 

Of course, many Americans—thanks to relentless propaganda and gaslighting from the media and public schools—will insist that the US government only has the peoples' best interests at heart. Many have convinced themselves that a few hundred millionaires in Congress somehow represent the interests of 330 million Americans. So, it's not the feds we must fear, with their IRS agents, ATF goons, and FBI secret police—all armed to the teeth. Rather, it's a distant foreign government with virtually no power over us that we should really be worrying about. So, that 640 million acres of federal land is all for the "public good," you see, while a few million acres of foreign-held land is a grave threat.

Image source:

Jesús Huerta de Soto on Milei

Professor Jesús Huerta de Soto responds to one of his students about Javier Milei. He talks about him as an economist, as an academic, as a person, as a politician and as a media effect as a propagandist of anarcho-capitalism. He also analyzes the first steps that he should take as president of Argentina.

 

Jesús Huerta de Soto responds in class about Javier Milei - translated to English

Henry Kissinger and the First Gulf War

Editors Note: Much of Murray Rothbard's historical work was grounded upon power elite analysis. Justin Raimondo noted the value of this work, "Theoreticians of the Left and Right are constantly referring to abstract "forces" when they examine and attempt to explain historical patterns. Applying the principle of methodological individualism — which attributes all human action to individual actors — and the economic principles of the Austrian School, Rothbard formulated a trenchant overview of the American elite and the history of the modern era. The following is an example of this work: a 1991 article originally published in the Rothbard Rockwell Report titled "Why the War? The Kuwait Connection", identifying the various factors leading into the first Gulf War, in particular Henry Kissinger's role in the matter.

For more on Rothbard's views on Henry Kissinger and another example of his power elite analysis, read Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy.

Why the War? The Kuwait Connection

Why, exactly, did we go to war in the Gulf? The answer remains murky, but perhaps we can find one explanation by examining the strong and ominous Kuwait Connection in our government. (I am indebted to an excellent article in an obscure New York tabloid, Downtown, by Bob Feldman, “The Kissinger Affair,” March 27.) The Sabahklatura that runs the Kuwait government is immensely wealthy, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, derived from tax/”royalty” loot extracted from oil producers simply because the Sabah tribe claims “sovereignty” over that valuable chunk of desert real estate. The Sabah tribe has no legitimate claim to the oil revenue; it did nothing to homestead or mix its labor or any other resource with the crude oil.

It is reasonable to assume that the Sabah family stands ready to use a modest portion of that ill-gotten wealth to purchase defenders and advocates in the powerful United States. We now focus our attention on the sinister but almost universally Beloved figure of Dr. Henry Kissinger, a lifelong spokesman, counselor, and servitor of the Rockefeller World Empire. Kissinger is so Beloved, in fact, that whenever he appears on Nightline or Crossfire he appears alone, since it seems to be lese majest (or even blasphemy) for anyone to contradict the Great One’s banal and ponderous Teutonic pronouncements. Only a handful of grumblers and malcontents on the extreme right and extreme left disturb this cozy consensus.

In 1954, the 31-year-old Kissinger, a Harvard political scientist and admirer of Metternich, was plucked out of his academic obscurity to become lifelong foreign policy advisor to New York Governor Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller. Doctor K continued in that august role until he assumed the mastery of foreign policy throughout the Nixon and Ford administrations. In that role, Kissinger played a major part in prolonging and extending the Vietnam War, and in the mass murder of civilians entailed by the terror bombings of Vietnam, the secret bombing of Cambodia, and the invasion of Laos.

Since leaving office in 1977, Dr. Kissinger has continued to play a highly influential role in U.S. politics, in the U.S. media, and in the Rockefeller world empire. It was Kissinger, along with David Rockefeller, who was decisive in the disastrous decision of President Carter to admit the recently toppled Shah of Iran, old friend and ally of the Rockefellers, into the United States, a decision that led directly to the Iranian hostage crisis and to Carter’s downfall. Today, Kissinger still continues to serve as a trustee of the powerful Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as a counselor to Rockefellers’ Chase Manhattan Bank, and as a member of Chase’s International Advisory Committee. Kissinger’s media influence is evident from his having served on the board of CBS, Inc., and having been a paid consultant to both NBC News and ABC News. That takes care of all three networks.

But Kissinger’s major, and most lucrative role, has come as head of Kissinger Associates in New York City, founded on a loan obtained in 1982 from the international banking firm of E.M. Warburg, Pincus and Company. Nominally, Kissinger Associates (KA) is an “international consulting firm” but “consultant” covers many sins, and in KA’s case, this means international political influence-peddling for its two dozen or so important corporate clients. In the fullest report on KA, Leslie Gelb in the New York Times Magazine for April 20, 1986, reveals that, in that year, 25 to 30 corporations paid KA between $150,000 and $420,000 each per annum for political influence and access. As Gelb blandly puts it: “The superstar international consultants [at KA] were certainly people who would get their telephone calls returned from high American government officials and who would also be able to get executives in to see foreign leaders.” I dare say a lot more than mere access could be gained thereby. KA’s offices in New York and Washington are small, but they pack a powerful punch. (Is it mere coincidence that KA’s Park Avenue headquarters is in the same building as the local office of Chase Manhattan Bank’s subsidiary, the Commercial Bank of Kuwait?)

Who were these “superstar international consultants?” One of them, who in 1986 was the vice chairman of KA, is none other than General Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor under President Ford, and, playing the exact same role under George Bush, serving as the chief architect of the Gulf War. One of the General’s top clients was Kuwait’s government-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, who paid Scowcroft for his services at least from 1984 through 1986. In addition, Scowcroft became a director of Santa Fe International (SFI) in the early 1980s, not long after SFI was purchased by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation in 1981. Joining Scowcroft on the SFI board was Scowcroft’s old boss, Gerald Ford. One of SFI’s activities is drilling oil wells in Kuwait, an operation which, of course, had to be suspended after the Iraq invasion.

Brent Scowcroft, it is clear, has enjoyed a long-standing and lucrative Kuwait connection. Is it a coincidence that it was Scowcroft’s National Security Council presentation on August 3, 1990, which according to the New York Times (February 21) “crystallized people’s thinking and galvanized support” for a “strong response” to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait?

Scowcroft, by the way, does not exhaust the Republican administrations’ revolving door among Kissinger Associates. Another top KA official, Lawrence Eagleburger, undersecretary of state under Reagan, has returned to high office after a stint at KA as deputy secretary of state under George Bush.

Also vitally important at KA are the members of its board of directors. One director is T. Jefferson Cunningham III, who is also a director of the Midland Bank of Britain, which has also been a KA client. The fascinating point here is that 10.5 percent of this $4 billion bank is owned by the Kuwait government. And Kissinger, as head of KA, is of course concerned to advance the interests of his clients – which include the Midland Bank and therefore the government of Kuwait. Does this connection have anything to do with Kissinger’s ultra-hawkish views on the Gulf War? In the meantime, Kissinger continues to serve on President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which gives Kissinger not only a channel for giving advice but also gives him access to national security information which could prove useful to KA’s corporate clients.

Another KA client is the Fluor Corporation, which has a special interest in Saudi Arabia. Shortly before the August 2 invasion, Saudi Arabia decided to launch a $30 to $40 billion project to expand oil production, and granted two huge oil contracts to the Parson and Fluor corporations. (New York Times, August 21)

One member of KA’s board of directors is ARCO Chairman Robert O. Anderson; ARCO, also one of KA’s clients, is engaged in joint oil-exploration and oil-drilling in offshore China with Santa Fe International, the subsidiary of the Kuwait government.

Other KA board members are William D. Rogers, undersecretary of state in the Eisenhower administration, and long-time leading Dewey-Rockefeller Republican in New York; former Citibank (Rockefeller) Chairman Edward Palmer; and Eric Lord Roll, economist and chairman of the board of the London international banking house of S.F. Warburg.

Perhaps the most interesting KA board member is one of the most Beloved figures in the conservative movement, William E. Simon, secretary of treasury in the Nixon and Ford administrations. When Simon left office in 1977, he became a consultant to the Bechtel Corporation, which has had the major massive construction contracts to build oil refineries and cities in Saudi Arabia. In addition, Simon became a consultant to Suliman Olayan, one of the wealthiest and most powerful businessmen in Saudi Arabia. Long a close associate of the oil-rich Saudi royal family, Olayan had served Bechtel well by getting it the multi-billion contract to build the oil city of Jubail. In 1980, furthermore, Olayan hired William Simon to be chairman of two investment firms owned jointly by himself and the influential Saudi Prince Khaled al Saud.

Bechtel, the Rockefellers, and the Saudi royal family have long had an intimate connection. After the Saudis granted the Rockefeller-dominated Aramco oil consortium the monopoly of oil in Saudi Arabia, the Rockefellers brought their pals at Bechtel in on the construction contracts. The Bechtel Corporation, of course, has also contributed George Shultz and Cap Weinberger to high office in Republican administrations. To complete the circle, KA director Simon’s former boss Suliman Olayan was, in 1988, the largest shareholder in the Chase Manhattan Bank after David Rockefeller himself.

The pattern is clear. An old New Left slogan held that “you don’t need a weatherman to tell you how the wind is blowing.” In the same way, you don’t need to be a “conspiracy theorist” to see what’s going on here. All you have to do is be willing to use your eyes.

Separate Tech and State

11/29/2023Ron Paul

Some libertarians dismiss concerns over social media companies’ suppression of news and opinions that contradict select agendas by pointing out that these platforms are private companies, not part of the government. There are two problems with this argument. First, there is nothing unlibertarian about criticizing private businesses or using peaceful and voluntary means, such as boycotts, to persuade businesses to change their practices.

The second and most significant reason the “they are private companies” argument does not hold water is the tech companies’ censorship has often been done at the “request” of government officials. The extent of government involvement with online censorship was revealed in emails between government and employees of various tech companies. In these emails the government officials addressed employees of these “private companies” as though these employees were the government officials’ subordinates.

Government officials using their authority to silence American citizens is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. Yet some conservative elected officials and writers think the solution to the problem of big tech censorship is giving government more power over technology companies. These pro-regulation conservatives ignore the fact that it would be just as unconstitutional if a conservative administration was telling tech companies who they must allow to access their platforms as it is when progressives order social media companies to deplatform certain individuals. Furthermore, since the average government official’s political views are closer to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than to Marjorie Taylor Greene, giving government more power over social media companies is likely to lead to more online censorship of conservatives.

Instead of giving government more power over social media, defenders of free speech should work to separate tech and state. An excellent place to start is pushing for passage of the Free Speech Protection Act. Unlike other legislation, such as the PATRIOT Act and the Affordable Care Act, this bill is accurately named. Introduced by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, this bill makes it a crime for any federal employee or employee of a federal contractor to use his position to communicate with a social media company to interfere with any American’s exercise of First Amendment protected rights. Violators of this law would face fines of at least 10,000 dollars as well as suspension, demotion, or even termination and a lifetime ban from working with the federal government.

In addition to working to pass the Free Speech Protection Act, those who object to the big technology companies’ “content moderation” policies should abandon big tech for more free speech friendly platforms. Many of the newer social media companies were started to meet the demand for a “content moderation”-free alternative to the dominant companies. Senator Paul himself stopped posting videos on YouTube because of its suppression of free speech. While my Liberty Report still airs on YouTube, its main platform is Rumble. It is wonderful to do a show on any topic I choose without worrying about being canceled.

Big tech censorship is a problem created by big government. The solution lies not with giving government more power but with separating tech and state. Passing the Free Speech Protection Act and making big tech pay a price for cooperating with big government by leaving to use sites like Rumble are two excellent places to start.

Originally published by the Ron Paul Institute. 

The Truth About JFK’s Assassination

November 22 was the sixtieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. It was obvious in 1963 that the “official” story that a ‘lone nut,“ Lee Harvey Oswald, had gunned down the president was a lie.

Here is what the great Murray Rothbard wrote about the assassination in 1992, in a review of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK:

“The most fascinating thing about JFK, as exciting and well-done as it is, is not the movie itself but the hysterical attempt to marginalize, if not to suppress it. How many movies can you remember where the entire Establishment, in serried ranks, from left (The Nation) through Center to Right, joined together as one in a frantic orgy of calumny and denunciation. Time and Newsweek actually doing so before the movie came out? Apparently, so fearful was the Establishment that the Oliver Stone movie might prove convincing that the public had to be thoroughly inoculated in advance. It was a remarkable performance by the media, and it demonstrates, as nothing else, the enormous and growing gap between Respectable Media opinion and what the public Knows in its Heart.

You would think from the shock of the Respectable Media, that Stone’s JFK was totally outlandish, off-the-wall, monstrous and fanciful in its accusations against the American power structure. And you would think that historical films never engaged in dramatic license, as if such solemnly hailed garbage as Wilson and Sunrise at Campobello had been models of scholarly precision. Hey, come off it guys! Despite the fuss and feathers, to veteran Kennedy Assassination buffs, there was nothing new in JFK. What Stone does is to summarize admirably the best of a veritable industry of assassination revisionism – of literally scores of books, articles, tapes, annual conventions, and archival research. Stone himself is quite knowledgeable in the area, as shown by his devastating answer in the Washington Post, to the smears of the last surviving Warren Commission member, Gerald Ford, and the old Commission hack, David W. Belin. Despite the smears in the press, there was nothing outlandish in the movie. Interestingly enough, JFK has been lambasted much more furiously than was the first revisionist movie, Don Freed’s Executive Action (1973), an exciting film with Robert Ryan and Will Geer, which actually did go way beyond the evidence, and beyond plausibility, by trying to make an H.L. Hunt figure the main conspirator.

The evidence is now overwhelming that the orthodox Warren legend, that Oswald did it and did it alone, is pure fabrication. It now seems clear that Kennedy died in a classic military triangulation hit, that, as Parkland Memorial autopsy pathologist Dr. Charles Crenshaw has very recently affirmed, the fatal shots were fired from in front, from the grassy knoll, and that the conspirators were, at the very least, the right-wing of the CIA, joined by its long-time associates and employees, the Mafia. It is less well established that President Johnson himself was in on the original hit, though he obviously conducted the coordinated cover-up, but certainly his involvement is highly plausible.

The last-ditch defenders of the Warren view cannot refute the details, so they always fall back on generalized vaporings, such as: “How could all the government be in on it?” But since Watergate, we have all become familiar with the basic fact: only a few key people need be in on the original crime, while lots of high and low government officials can be in on the subsequent cover-up, which can always be justified as “patriotic,” on “national security” grounds, or simply because the president ordered it. The fact that the highest levels of the U.S. government are all-too capable of lying to the public, should have been clear since Watergate and Iran-Contra. The final fallback argument, getting less plausible all the time is: if the Warren case isn’t true, why hasn’t the truth come out by this time? The fact is, however, that the truth has largely come out, in the assassination industry, from books – some of them best-sellers – by Mark Lane, David Lifton, Peter Dale ScottJim Marrs, and many others, but the Respectable Media pay no attention. With that sort of mindset, that stubborn refusal to face reality, no truth can ever come out. And yet, despite this blackout, because books, local TV and radio, magazine articles, supermarket tabloids, etc. can’t be suppressed – but only ignored – by the Respectable Media, we have the remarkable result that the great majority of the public, in all the polls, strongly disbelieve the Warren legend. Hence, the frantic attempts of the Establishment to suppress as gripping and convincing a film as Stone’s JFK.

Read the full article at LewRockwell.com.

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