Three Cheers for the British MEP!  

Posted by BEN

Great speech!

Tough Questions from Minnesota  

Posted by BEN

Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota drills Bernanke and Geithner on the constitutional source of the authority for the actions they have recently taken, as well as their avoidance of providing full information to the public and the Congress. Not surprisingly, they have trouble making a coherent answer and Barney Frank is noticeably irritated by the end. Finally, someone else is asking tough questions.

Notice how even Bernanke is calling it a bailout now. HAHA!

A New Record: Largest Bill Ever Printed  

Posted by BEN

I remember sitting in my economics class when the professor talked about inflation and showed examples of some of the largest denominated bills ever printed. Check these out:

In 1946 Hungary issued a 100 Million B-Pengo, which was the the largest circulated banknote at the time, unfortunately it was worth only about $0.20 USD in 1946.



Hungary also printed a 1 Milliard (Trillion) B-Pengo in 1946 but it was never released into circulation.



On December 23, 1993, the former Yugoslavia issued a new banknote to keep up with rampant inflation, the 500 billion dinar note, that's a 5 followed by 11 zeros, but shortly after cut off nine of the zeros. One of the 500 billion dinar notes could have bought you lunch if you were very frugal.




The 500 Billion note just blew my mind. That was, until I saw this, just released from Zimbabwe:



Look at all those zeros!

Apparently, I am a Terrorist, and You May Be Too....  

Posted by BEN

Maybe you've heard, or maybe not, but the Missouri State Police think I might be a security threat (maybe you are too).

Why? Because I support Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty. Also, because maybe I own guns, oppose abortion or support homeschool.

Even, and I'm serious, because I support the U.S. Constitution.

This is no joke. Read it for yourself here. On the top of page 7.



John Stossel: Bailouts and Bull  

Posted by BEN

When I was growing up, I used to watch Friday night TV on ABC. Afterwards, 20/20 came on and I often found it interesting, even when I was 10 or younger. My favorite part was always John Stossel's 'Give me a Break' bit. It made so much sense. This guy is actually still making sense. Good for him. Check out a special he did last night (Friday). He makes some excellent points.



Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Pro-State Cancer  

Posted by BEN

I saw a billboard the other day and it gave me an idea for a title of a book. However, since I am not interested in writing a book anytime soon, I thought I would just make it the title of a blog post. This was the best image I could find of what the billboard said:



Suffice it to say that we are suffering from what could be called pro-state cancer. It is the malignant idea that the state can somehow solve our problems. It also reminded me of a demotivational poster I saw on depair.com that was funny. It fits the current situation perfectly.

A Novel Idea  

Posted by BEN

The is funny, but it is absolutely true. And yet, at every turn, the government is trying to get people to ignore this, even setting the worst possible example by spending trillions of dollars it does not have. Savings is just as important to the economy as investment and consumption. The sooner we learn this, the sooner we can recover economically.


Politics vs. Statesmanship  

Posted by BEN

It is often lamented that politicians are fickle and unprincipled. They promise one thing in order to get elected and do another when in office to please special interests. They lie, cheat, deceive and elude questions with great skill at times. The word politician has a derogatory connotation--so much that it has become an insult in itself. In fact, this connotation has become a truism and I doubt the need to explain my meaning further.
And yet, there is an interesting phenomena that occurs particularly around the time of presidential elections. From among a broad range of candidates, people choose a favorite politician and find themselves defending that politician by all means. If their politician said this and the media thought it was wrong, they will say their politician meant that and the media is simply taking it out of context or misconstruing his words. This game is known as politics and we all got more than two earfuls of it during the presidential campaigns. We probably even participated in it to some extent, arguing over what he meant by this and what he didn't mean by that. At the same time, we were quick to point out the flaws in the words of politicians we didn't like as evidence that they were incompetent or dishonest.
First of all, I think it very sad that the media has embraced this practice and called it politics. They revel in this sort of bickering and he-said-she-said noise. I see the political pundits constantly searching for any snippet of a sound bite or excerpt that could be controversial in any way. The art of being elusive and avoiding this sort of criticism is known as political correctness. Politicians, under constant threat of being attacked personally because of the way they chose to phrase something, seek more refined, vague, and mostly cryptic ways of speaking their message. This translates into political positions that aren't really positions at all. They do not dare take a stance on important issues for fear of sounding politically incorrect or deemed radical and uncompromising. Their favorite phrases are some of the following: "I am committed to working with....to accomplish....for the good of our country" or "We need to come together on this to find a solution that works for the American people" or "This bill has strong bipartisan support" or "I have experience working with people on both sides of the isle". What do these statements really even mean?! They certainly don't articulate a true position on any certain issue.
This whole mess that the politicians and media have created does nothing more than muddy the waters. The bickering over the meaning and intent of words and phrases distracts from the truly important debates that need to happen in order for people to understand issues and decide what they believe about them. If the water were cleared, I think we would find that many who are continuously at each others' throats about what the other has said about X, are really not in any disagreement at all. Their argument is simply to distract from this fact and maintain the illusion that there are deep ideological differences among key political figures. Generally speaking, there are few, if any, ideological differences, and politics-as-usual masks this fact rather well to the untrained eye.
Gone, it seems, are the days of true statesmanship. The days when a man stood up for what he believed and didn't revel in the mud of personal attacks and semantics. Rather, there was honest and serious intellectual debate about issues that mattered.
For this reason, I breathed a sigh of relief that some of these statesmen may still exist when I saw Ron Paul take on a political pundit today, touching on this very issue. The reader may know of my affinity for Congressman Ron Paul, but let me say that there are certainly others out there like him. I just don't know where they are at the moment. We should seek these good, honest men, and uphold them in the principles that they espouse.
The video is well worth watching and shows perfectly what I mean.


The Word is Spreading  

Posted by BEN

Not all the articles I read in the mainstream are ridiculous. Every once in a while, I will run across an article that seems to at least get some things right and be fair about it in the process. I wanted to point out one article from Newsweek that at least puts a plug in for free-market Austrian Economics. The author gives a small explanation of the Austrian business cycle theory--which I hold to be fact, not theory per se and have tried at length to explain in some of my posts. I would highly recommend that those seeking to understand the economics of today study the Austrian Business Cycle Theory. There are some excellent books out on it but you can get free articles and audio books/lectures from www.mises.org

Here's the Newsweek article.


An Email to Mr. Schoen  

Posted by BEN

I read an Answer Desk article the other day on MSNBC.com that really got my blood moving. After I took a few breaths, I typed up a quick response to the author, Mr. Schoen, explaining some things that I think he missed in his article. As I think this article touches on a few important points about the issues at hand, including Obama's mortgage bailout plan, I decided to post my response. I recommend reading the article first to get the context. It can be found here.


Mr Schoen
Your recent article about the mortgage bailout and income taxes was quite disturbing, to say the least. Without going into too much detail (since I doubt you will read this anyway), I wanted to respond to your misguided attempt to cover for the failed policy of price-fixing.
You mention in your article, and I have heard many times throughout the past several months, that the government is justified in rescuing bad mortgages in order to keep the prices of houses from falling too low. You write that it is legitimate for the government to use our tax dollars to pay for the mortgages of others so that the value of our house will not fall. There are two important economic problems with this argument, besides the moral hazard it creates. The first problem is that not everyone owns a home. Not everyone is concerned with a mortgage and therefore with the falling value of houses. In fact, many people are looking forward to buying a house and have been saving their money, paying their taxes, and otherwise living frugally. And yet, our tax dollars are being used to keep housing prices high--exactly what we do not want if we are going to buy a house. This works directly against our interest.
The second problem with this plan is that it, quite simply, creates a price floor for homes, not allowing the market to fix the correct price. The simplest laws of economics teach us that price-fixing creates distortions in the efficient outcome of the market. In particular, price floors, such as would be created by keeping house prices higher than the market would set them at, create surpluses in housing and general waste. The prices of houses MUST go down in order for the surplus to be liquidated. The fact that you do not understand this should exclude you from writing about economics at all.
I also wanted to touch on another point you made in your article about the income tax. First of all, the dates you listed for the ratification by each state are heavily disputed and have not been clearly verified to have taken place in the correct manner. Second of all, there was mention in the title of your article about whether or not income taxes are legal. You actually never address this point. And NO, just because it was "ratified" does not make it legal. The Constitution clearly states that there shall be no direct tax on the people. You can dance around this all you want, but the fact is that the income tax is simply unconstitutional. This does not mean that I do not pay it. To do so would be unwise. But I have to object to your dismissal of the argument and your treatment of those who espouse it as juvenile and ignorant.