If the US Dollar is So Great, Why Do They Have to Force Us to Use It?

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Monopolies are bad. Is a money monopoly good?

Most mainstream economists will tell you that a central bank that has control over the currency is necessary, good, and just. But an important question that seems to go unanswered is: why do we have to be forced to use it?

Most Americans probably don’t feel as though they are being coerced into using the dollar. They go into a store and it has prices in dollars and nothing else. They get paid in dollars, make all of their purchases in dollars, and have their savings denominated in dollars. But even so, the US government not only frowns upon, but also prosecutes, those who challenge its monopoly on money.

Monopolies are maintained by force (even money monopolies)

According to Simon Black, the Department of the Treasury recently shut down Liberty Reserve, a digital currency provider that allowed customers to trade virtual currency that could be tied to fiat currency or precious metals. They did this ostensibly in the name of “money laundering.” Since it allows anonymous banking, Liberty Reserve was accused of being primarily “designed to allow money laundering and illicit finance.”

Liberty Dollars

Does this look like something that someone would try to pass off as US Dollars?

This is reminiscent of the prosecution of Bernard von NotHaus, the creator of the Liberty Dollar. He provided customers with monetary notes that were fully backed by precious metals. His vaults were raided by the US government, who stole all of his customers’ gold, silver, and platinum that was stored there. The warrant accused him of mail fraud, wire fraud, counterfeiting, money laundering, and conspiracy. A North Carolina jury found him guilty of “making, possessing, and selling his own coins.” He faces up to 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and the forfeiture of $7 million worth of precious metal. His sentence is still being decided. (I actually wrote a letter to the judge presiding over his case. I’m not sure that it will do von NotHaus any good, but I felt compelled to to make any effort that might help alleviate such an injustice.)

Especially appalling was the gross hypocrisy and obvious falsities spoken by the Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Anne M. Tompkins, who said the Liberty Dollar was  “a unique form of domestic terrorism” trying “to undermine the legitimate currency of this country”. She also said, “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”

I did mention these statements in my letter to the judge, pointing out the fact that the US Constitution states that states may only consider gold and silver legal tender. Thus, von NotHaus’ currency is far more legitimate than Federal Reserve Notes! Not only that, but it is laughable to think that the Liberty Dollar undermines economic stability, especially in comparison to the problems caused by the creation of “legitimate currency” by the Fed.

I’m surprised and disappointed that a jury could be convinced that the Liberty Dollar was intended as counterfeit. Indeed, I’m not even sure that’s what they were convinced of. Maybe they heard the term “terrorism” and soiled their pants and decided to convict. Even a small child could easily tell that the Liberty Dollar is distinct from the USD.

What can we do?

In addition to the cases of Liberty Reserve and the Liberty Dollar, the government went after Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange site. It seems to be quite clear that the government is desperate to maintain its money monopoly. They will accuse those who don’t go along of being terrorists, money launderers, and counterfeiters…whatever is necessary.

But there are solutions, as long as people are willing to use them. Unlike the Liberty Reserve and Liberty Dollar, Bitcoin has no central vault or exchange, making it nearly impossible for the government to stop. As well, I find the solutions mentioned and used by GSF in this No Time 4 Bull article to be quite interesting. I highly recommend checking it out.

It appears that the Internet and encryption have given us new opportunities to undermine the money monopoly and create our own sound money since the government is unable or unwilling to do so itself.

This is part of the beauty of voluntary interaction.

 

They Fight for Our Freedoms?

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u.s. flag and ribbonI sincerely do not want to step on anyone’s toes with today’s post. It regards a question that is near and dear to my heart and is also one that deserves to be discussed.

I was born in the late 80′s. I’ve heard since I can remember that the U.S. military fights for/defends our freedoms. But as I think of the military conflicts that have happened during my lifetime, I’m wondering if any one of them was truly a threat to my own freedom. Take a look at Wikipedia’s page listing the Timeline of United States Military Operations. It’s astounding how many there have been.

What also is quite telling is how few of them had anything to do with protecting Americans on US soil (embassy subtleties aside). Indeed, I don’t think any Afghan, Iraqi, Somalian, Bosnian, Haitian, Filipino, Libyan, Pakistani, Ugandan, etc. has ever been a direct threat to my freedom. And yet trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives have been consumed because of conflicts involving these people.

So, it leads me to the question: does the U.S. military really fight for our freedoms?

Cotati PD Employees Enter Home without Warrant & Tase Homeowners

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Note: There are several versions of this video on the web; I selected this one because of the subtitles.

What I want to talk about in this blog post are some comments I saw regarding this footage, such as these (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg9yiBezl6E):

unfortunately, if they have reason to believe someone may be in danger, they can do this. a good majority of homicides are a result of domestics. :-\ in many cases, the female is scared the male will hurt her more so she complies with the abuser. on the other hand, we all fight and bicker and this is above and beyond what the cops did. had they opened the door, gotten the story, witnessed nithing had transpired- these people would have never been in this position.

And

It is sad and unacceptable that the cops resorted to this level of violence, but the part that stands out to me is that this entire situation could have been avoided with some simple cooperation. This is a domestic violence call. I’m not familiar with the procedures and protocol of the local law enforcement there, but being uncooperative with police who are most likely required to investigate this allegation is not really warranted either.

Addressing the first comment, as someone who has a degree in criminal justice (whatever that’s worth), I’d like to say that police must have more than “reason to believe someone may be in danger” to break into a house and tase people who show no signs of resistance. Breaking in itself would require probable cause, meaning that the officer could convince a neutral and detached magistrate that either the person involved has committed a crime or that evidence of a crime is in a particularly described place.

Apparently, what led officers to this residence was a noise complaint by neighbors. This is not sufficient to be probable cause. Indeed, the people involved were arrested for “obstruction,” a crime that cannot occur unless police officers are there to be obstructed. What exactly they were being obstructed from is still a mystery.

How about the idea that “this entire situation could have been avoided with some simple cooperation”? This entirely misses the point. A well-established precedent in Common Law is that a man’s (or woman’s) house is his castle.

“The poorest man may in his cottage,
bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown.
It may be frail, its roof may shake;
the wind may blow through it;
the storm may enter; the rain may enter;
but the King of England may not enter;
all his force dares not cross the threshold
of the ruined tenement.”

- William Pitt, (1708-1778) First Earl of Chatham, English statesman and orator, Speech in the House of Lords, in opposition to Excise Bill on perry and cider, 1763

Obviously, the main goal of the person holding the camera wasn’t to not get tased. Why didn’t he open the door? “Because we don’t live in a police state, sir.” I think it should be quite apparent that the goal of the officers was not to prevent violence or ensure safety; their taser use saw to that.

But, ultimately, if someone is beaten for refusing to hand over his wallet, does anyone say, “Well, that beating totally could have been avoided if you had only been more cooperative”? It seems that so many people have become so conditioned to police officers employing violence in any and all situations where people assert their rights that they have become desensitized to the gravity of what’s happening: if you resist unlawful orders, even in a non-violent manner,  police will employ violence.

 

 

What If the Right to Trial Didn’t Exist?

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Activists rally for U.S. President Barack Obama to close down Guantanamo Bay prison while in WashingtonTo find out, you need only look at the US government.

This is a pretty serious issue. We’re talking about innocent people who have suffered torture only to be found innocent but won’t be released. It’s hard to think of things to do to someone that are more unjust.

Despite the atrocities that have been committed and continued to be done by the US government, I would like to think that the reason that the American people aren’t in an uproar is because most don’t know about it. It is so frustrating to have such a feeling of helplessness to correct this situation.

As such, I’m doing what I can to help spread this story. If you think it is worth doing so, I kindly request that you would do the same.

Peter Van Buren: If the government does it, it’s ‘legal’

by TOMDISPATCH on MAY 9, 2013

Indefinite detention of the innocent and guilty alike, without any hope of charges, trial, or release: this is now the American way.  Most Americans, however, may not care to take that in, not even when the indefinitely detained go on a hunger strike.  That act has certainly gotten Washington’s and the media’s collective attention.  After all, could there be anything more extreme than striking against your own body to make a point?  Suicide by strike?  It’s the ultimate statement of protest and despair.  Certainly, the strikers have succeeded in pushing Guantanamo out of the netherworld of non-news and onto front pages, into presidential news conferences, and to the top of the TV newscasts.  That, in a word, is extraordinary.  But what exactly do those prisoners, many now being force-fed, want to highlight?  Here’s one thing: despite the promise he made on entering the Oval office, President Obama has obviously not made much of an effort to close the prison, which, as he said recently, “hurts us, in terms of our international standing… [and] is a recruitment tool for extremists.” Read the rest of this entry

How is Gun Control like Keynesianism?

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packin keynesBack when I was in a class about criminal justice statistics, the professor asked the class whether theories or facts were more important. Most of the class responded that facts are more important because theories can be wrong; facts are facts.

“No,” said the professor, “if all you have is a bunch of facts and no theory, then you can’t explain social phenomena.” In criminology, there are a lot of statistics, such as the fact that the US has the world’s largest incarceration rate of about 762 incarcerated per 100,000 population. If you have no theory of why this is the case, then you don’t have much basis for explaining why an alternative policy would reduce the incarceration rate (unless, of course, it’s simply to let everyone out, but I think you get my point). So, theories are supposed to explain causal factors that lead to the facts and statistics we have.

Another important quality for a theory to have is that it be possible to disprove it. I believe that Keynesianism, as presented by proponents like Paul Krugman, fails in this regard, particularly fiscal stimulus. Despite the fact that the Japanese and US governments have spent trillions in stimulus packages, they both have economies that haven’t fully recovered and still have high unemployment numbers. Yet Krugman always seems able to rebuke any doubts cast on his theory by saying, “The stimulus wasn’t big enough,” or “Without the stimulus, things would have been worse.” Essentially, it’s not possible to disprove these statements empirically: we don’t have a time machine to go back and try a stimulus that Krugman would declare big enough, or to go back and take the stimulus away and see what happens. Thus, Krugman and his theory always have an escape plan.

Similarly, it seems that the theory behind advocacy of gun control is also non-disprovable. Think about the shootings that gun control advocates use as reasons why there should be more gun control measures: the Aurora theater, Sandy Hook Elementary, Tuscon, Columbine, etc. Almost all of them (with the exception of the shooting in Arizona), occurred in an area where no guns at all are allowed or concealed carry is prohibited. Indeed, had anyone shot back at the shooter in the Aurora theater, he or she would have been guilty of a felony. And yet largely the policy response to these incidents is not “Gun control totally failed to prevent these situations,” but that there isn’t enough gun control.

So my question is this: what exactly would it take, or what would have to happen, for a gun control advocate to say, “Hmm…I guess gun control doesn’t decrease violence.” It is my suspicion that anything short of full civilian disarmament (or maybe they’ll let you have a muzzle-loader or two) would not be enough; any shooting incident still occurring would be evidence that further gun control is needed.

Senator Jim Risch is Begging Me for Money

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Jim Risch

For whatever reason, I somehow ended up on Jim Risch’s mailing list. Now, don’t get me wrong about the title of this post. Begging for money is far more honorable than stealing it through taxation. All the same, it’s a fat chance that I’ll hand Risch anything voluntarily.

As you may know, I’m no fan of Jim Risch. I’ve written in the past about his support of the drone assassination program. When I wrote to him saying that the president should be impeached (as killing Americans without trial, I would think, be an impeachable offense), he responded that

The Constitution describes the crimes for which a president may be impeached as “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  Mere political policy disagreements do not reach those standards.  At the current time, the president has not been accused of any such misdeeds or charged by the House of Representatives.

I guess thinking that murder is wrong is a “mere political policy disagreement.”
Read the rest of this entry

Mike Crapo Engages in Newspeak

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Mike Crapo, post-DUI arrest

Mike Crapo, post-DUI arrest

Mike Crapo is a Republican Senator from Idaho. I sent him an email telling him to not support the Orwellian-named “Marketplace Fairness Act.” Here is the form letter sent back, along with my commentary.

Dear Tate:
 
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Marketplace Fairness Act.  I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
The Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 743, was introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) on April 16, 2013.  In 2009, 18.6 percent of all retail and wholesale transactions were conducted over the Internet.  S. 743 would give individual states, rather than the federal government, the discretion to collect sales and use taxes on all purchases, regardless of whether they are made over the Internet or at a local retail store.  On April 22, 2013, the Senate voted 74-20 to proceed to debate and consideration of the bill.  As a strong proponent of states’ rights, I voted in favor of proceeding to consideration of S. 743.
Crapo doesn’t seem to understand the concept of states’ rights. “States’ rights” is used to denote states retaining powers not delegated to the federal government under the US Constitution, not the federal government making it so that state governments can further rob people. What he’s doing is using the popular buzzword (or phrase) of “states’ rights” to endorse something that is anti-freedom.

Read the rest of this entry

Another Dispatch from the War on Drugs

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From Tom Woods’ blog:

I mentioned this while hosting the Peter Schiff Show yesterday. John Horner, a 46-year-old fast food restaurant worker, lost an eye in an accident in 2000. He wound up not using all of his pain medication. Years later, he made friends with a man who appeared to be in pain himself. This man offered to buy Horner’s pills. The man was a police informant, of course.

The nonviolent Horner, whose several children must now be raised without a father, is now serving a 25-year prison sentence, thanks to Florida’s minimum-sentencing law.

There are a few things I want to say about this.

First is that I seem to come across terrible stories such as these way more often than anyone should (the ideal number of times would be zero). It seems that things such as this, which, unlike natural disasters or accidents, are 100% preventable. Yet I know not how many media outlets cover such events as these. Obviously, if people don’t know about it then they can’t really demand for it to stop.

Secondly, I would like to point out that real, tangible individuals are suffering from this. Real lives are being affected and their story deserves to be told. When the pain comes at the expense of people we don’t know and live far away, it’s easy to abstract away from the fact that this is happening to an actual person and his family. Remember that.

Third, if you support the drug war, seriously consider whether you have responsibility for this. You may say, “Well, I only want hard drugs to be illegal, not someone who simply sells unused pain meds. And I would never put anyone in jail for 25 years just for using drugs!”

What I want such a person to realize is that the State will gladly take whatever you give it and then some. Once you open the door for a faceless institution to be able to tell people what substances they can possess and put in their bodies under penalty of law, this is the outcome that will eventually come to pass. Once it’s realized that the current laws of the State will not keep people from possessing and using drugs, the proposed action is to double down: create stiffer penalties, have more surveillance, more searches and seizures, more drug dogs, more enforcement. Once it’s found that this won’t prevent the problem either, what’s next?

Roderick T. Long – Invisible Hands and Incantations: The Mystification of State Power

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Roderick T. Long

Roderick T. Long

In this essay, Rod Long covers several topics masterfully, including:

  • The spontaneous order mechanisms of the State
  • How, contrary to popular opinion, big corporations and big government largely reinforce and support one another
  • How the status quo in America doesn’t even closely resemble a free market
  • Uses the Star Wars prequels as an analogy for the relationship between corporations and government
  • Why the default is for government to grow
  • The incentives for the mainstream media to be biased (I find this especially interesting. MSM is unquestionably biased but why?)
  • How the blatant contradictions between political reality and people’s perceptions of it can exist
  • Strategies of Resistance

I certainly trust that you will find it as worth reading as I did. It is so insightful and honestly tries to uncover why things as they are instead of simply saying, “It’s just public school indoctrination,” or something like that.

Please read Invisible Hands and Incantations: The Mystification of State Power