The Real War on the Middle Class

by Ron Paul – Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:Ron Paul

One of the great ironies of American politics is that most politicians who talk about helping the middle class support policies that, by expanding the welfare-warfare state, are harmful to middle-class Americans. Eliminating the welfare-warfare state would benefit middle-class Americans by freeing them from exorbitant federal taxes, including the Federal Reserve’s inflation tax.

Politicians serious about helping middle-class Americans should allow individuals to opt out of Social Security and Medicare by not having to pay payroll taxes if they agree to never accept federal retirement or health care benefits. Individuals are quite capable of meeting their own unique retirement and health care needs if the government stops forcing them into one-size-fits-all plans.

Middle-class families with college-age children would benefit if government got out of the student loan business. Government involvement in higher education is the main reason tuition is skyrocketing and so many Americans are graduating with huge student loan debts. College graduates entering the job market would certainly benefit if Congress stopped imposing destructive regulations and taxes on the economy.

Politicians who support an interventionist foreign policy are obviously not concerned with the harm inflicted on the middle-class populations of countries targeted for regime change. These politicians also disregard the harm US foreign policy inflicts on Americans. Middle- and working-class Americans, and their families, who join the military certainly suffer when they are maimed or killed fighting in unjust and unconstitutional wars. Our interventionist foreign policy also contributes to the high tax burden imposed on middle-class Americans.

Middle-class Americans also suffer from intrusions on their liberty and privacy, such as not being able to board an airplane unless they submit to invasive and humiliating searches. Even children and the physically disabled are not safe from the Transposition Security Administration. These assaults are justified by the threat of terrorism, a direct result of our interventionist foreign policy that fosters hatred and resentment of Americans.

Some “military Keynesians” claim that middle-class workers benefit from jobs in the military-industrial complex. Military Keynesians seem to think that the resources spent on militarism would disappear if the Pentagon’s budget were cut. The truth is, if we reduced spending on militarism, those currently employed by the military-industrial complex would be able to find new jobs producing goods desired by consumers. Even those currently employed as lobbyists for the military-industrial complex may be able to find useful work.

Few things would benefit the middle class more than ending the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies erode middle-class families’ standards of living while benefiting the financial and political elites. Middle-class Americans may gain some temporary benefits from Federal Reserve created booms, but they also suffer from the inevitable busts.

As I write this, the dollar still reigns as the world’s reserve currency. However, there are signs that other economies are moving away from using the dollar as the reserve currency, and this trend will accelerate as the Federal Reserve continues to pump more fiat currency into the economy and as resentment toward our foreign policy grows. Eventually, international investors will lose confidence in the US economy, the dollar will lose its reserve currency status, and the dollar bubble will burst.
These events will cause a major economic downturn that may even be worse than the Great Depression. The main victims of this crisis will be average Americans. The only way to avoid this calamity is for the American people to force Congress to free them from the burdens of the warfare state, the welfare state, taxation, and fiat currency.

Article originally posted at The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Fear is the Enemy of Mankind

submitted by jwithrow.fear

Napoleon Hill listed the effects of fear in his famed Think and Grow Rich. According to Hill, it:

– Paralyzes the faculty of reason
– Destroys the faculty of imagination
– Kills self-reliance
– Undermines enthusiasm
– Discourages initiative
– Leads to uncertainty of purpose
– Encourages procrastination
– Wipes out enthusiasm
– Renders self-control impossible
– Takes the charm from one’s personality
– Destroys accurate thinking
– Diverts concentration of effort
– Masters persistence
– Eradicates will-power
– Destroys ambition
– Beclouds the memory
– Invites failure in every conceivable form

Fear is even more dangerous than our dishonest money and the Federal Reserve System.

Politics, advertising, media, military/intel, and others all work to instill fear in us on a daily basis. It is important to discern whether or not our fear is justified and either dismiss it or act accordingly.

What Will Be Gold’s Next Catalyst?

by Justin Spittler – Hard Assets Alliance :gold

Investors are finally coming to their senses. With the return of volatility, the complacency of the financial markets towards to the problems facing the global economy is now fracturing. That’s music to the ears of precious metals investors. And it’s a big reason gold started 2015 so hot.

Turmoil in Europe, in particular, has become too much to ignore. However, following the announcement by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to sever the franc’s peg to the euro and the landmark decision by the ECB to finally import quantitative easing (QE), investors are wondering where gold’s next push will come from.

Catalysts Outnumber Threats

Volatility is back. That’s bad news for most asset classes, yet positive for precious metals. Gold, in particular, shines brightest when fear trumps greed, and right now there are numerous forces conspiring to drive gold higher.

For starters, Europe is still very much a basket case. Relations between Ukraine and Russia remain tense, and the prospect of a “Grexit” looms large. There’s also a good chance that Draghi ups the ante on QE. Few analysts think that the €1.1 trillion bond-buying program will be enough to rejuvenate the continent’s much maligned economy.

A challenged eurozone isn’t the only probable catalyst for gold. The unexpected drop in energy prices could be foreshadowing a global economic slowdown. It also threatens to derail a US recovery that has leaned heavily on a domestic energy revolution, especially if prices stay low for long. JPMorgan estimates that three years of oil at $65 per barrel would lead to a 25% to 40% default rate across the US energy junk bond market.

Time will also reveal how resilient the US stock market rally is now that the Fed has removed the punch bowl. Let’s also not forget about China’s cooling economy. Same goes for continued bullion hoarding by central banks, increasing calls for repatriation, or a potential collapse of the Russian debt market, and that’s just on the demand side.

After registering all-time highs in 2011, gold dropped below $1,200 per ounce, or below the industry all-in sustaining cost of production. While total mine output inched higher during this weak price environment, nonferrous exploration budgets declined 45% between 2012 and 2014, according to metals consultancy group SNL.

Depressed prices have been especially unforgiving to junior miners, who play a key role in the global supply chain by venturing into uncharted territories in search of the next big deposit.

Total exploration budgets for junior miners fell 29% in 2014 after sliding 39% year over year in 2013 due to skittish investor interest.

Not even a dramatic price rally can undo years of greatly reduced exploration activity. In other words, the seeds of a supply crunch have been sowed.

Long Term Case for Gold Strengthens

There’s no guarantee that gold will maintain its momentum over the rest of the year but the scales are certainly tipped in its favor. Even commonly cited headwinds support the argument for owning gold over the long haul.

Consider the prospect of rising interest rates in the United States. Higher rates effectively increase the cost of owning gold, which pays no yield. Point taken, but a modest rate increase for bonds paying next to nothing isn’t going to make owning gold that much more expensive.

Further, Yellen will likely be extra patient with regard to raising rates. The Fed hasn’t lifted rates in nine years and doing so now would likely send the precarious recovery into a tailspin.

Sleep Easier With Precious Metals

If the first few weeks of 2015 are any indication, this will be an eventful year.

Global uncertainty has many investors on edge, but one can sleep easier with an appropriate allocation to precious metals. Just remember that today’s bargain prices won’t last forever.

Article originally posted in the February issue of Smart Metals Investor at

Top Ten Political Lies

excerpt from The Left, the Right, and the State by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. :political lies

Here are the top ten political lies:

(10) My new program will generate jobs.
Truth: Only the market generates jobs on net.

(9) My education program will reform schools so that they leave no child behind.
Truth: The public schools do not work for the same reason no government program can work. They exist outside the market economy.

(8) My program will save industry X.
Truth: Industry must be part of the market or else it is not really industry at all.

(7) I won’t raise your taxes but I will pass lots of new programs.
Truth: All programs must be paid for.

(6) As president, I will pursue a humble foreign policy.
Truth: Nothing in the office of the president encourages humility.

(5) This war is humanitarian and winnable.
Truth: War is nothing but a government program on a massively destructive scale, and just as error-prone.

(4) My reform will bring market-based competition. (Note: Be on the lookout for this lie, which market partisans are likely to believe.)
Truth: There is only one kind of genuine market, and it is rooted in private property and nothing else.

(3) We will secure the nation.
Truth: Government cannot provide security better than markets, any more than it can provide food or houses better than the market.

(2) Government is compassionate.
Truth: Men who seek power over the lives of others are the coldest, cruelest humans of all.

(1)You can’t love your country and hate your government.
Truth: A person who loves his country loves liberty first.

The Benefits of Gratitude

by Ocean Robbins –

It’s true: Our world is pretty messed up. There’s certainly no shortage of justifications for disappointment and cynicism.

But what are you grateful for? It’s a question that could change your life. Recent studies have concluded that the expression of gratitude can have profound and positive effects on our health, our moods and even the survival of our marriages. As Blair and Rita Justice reported for the University of Texas Health Science Center, “A growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits.”

In one study, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., of the University of California at Davis, and Mike McCullough, of the University of Miami, randomly assigned participants one of three tasks. One group kept a journal in which they were told to briefly describe five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week; another five recorded daily hassles from the previous week that displeased them; and the neutral group was asked to list ¬five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told to focus on the positive or on the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group. They reported fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more.

In a later study by Emmons, people were asked to write every day about things for which they were grateful. Not surprisingly, this daily practice led to greater increases in gratitude than did the weekly journaling in the ¬first study. But the results showed another benefit: Participants in the gratitude group also reported offering others more emotional support or help with personal problems, indicating that the gratitude exercise increased their goodwill toward others, or more technically, their “pro-social” motivation.

Another study focused on adults with congenital and adult-onset neuromuscular disorders (NMDs), with the majority having post-polio syndrome (PPS). Compared to those who were not jotting down their blessings nightly, participants in the gratitude group reported more hours of sleep each night, and feeling more refreshed upon awakening. The gratitude group also reported more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, felt more optimism about the upcoming week, and felt considerably more connected with others than did participants in the control group.

Perhaps most tellingly, the positive changes were markedly noticeable to others. According to the researchers, “Spouses of the participants in the gratitude group reported that the participants appeared to have higher subjective well-being than did the spouses of the participants in the control group.”

There’s an old saying that if you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness. It turns out this isn’t just an old idea. Several studies have shown depression to be inversely correlated to gratitude. It seems that the more grateful a person is, the less depressed they are. Philip Watkins, a clinical psychologist at Eastern Washington University, found that clinically depressed individuals showed significantly lower gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than non-depressed controls.

Apparently, positive vibes aren’t just for hippies. If you want in on the fun, here are some simple things you can do to build positive momentum toward a more happy and fulfilling life:

• Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for. This works well first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed.

• Make it a practice to tell a spouse, partner or friend something you appreciate about them every day.

• Look in the mirror when you are brushing your teeth, and think about something you have done well recently or something you like about yourself.

Sure, this world gives us plenty of reasons to despair. But when we get o the fast track to morbidity, and cultivate instead an attitude of gratitude, things don’t just look better—they actually get better. Thankfulness feels good, it’s good for you, and it’s a blessing for the people around you, too. It’s such a win-win-win that I’d say we have cause for gratitude.

Article originally posted at

President Who?

excerpt from The Left, the Right, and the State by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.:president

In a truly free society, it wouldn’t matter who the president was. We wouldn’t have to vote or pay attention to debates. We could ignore campaign commercials. There would be no high stakes for ourselves, our families, or the country. Liberty and property would be so secure that we could curse him, love him, or forget about him.

This was the system the framers set up, or people believed they were getting, with the US Constitution. The president would never concern himself with the welfare of the American people. The federal government had no say over it. That was left to the people’s political communities of choice; here we were to govern ourselves and plan our own future.

The president was mostly a figurehead, a symbol. He had no public wealth at his disposal. He administered no regulatory departments. He could not tax us, send our children into wars, pass out welfare to the rich and poor, appoint judges to take away our rights, keep dossiers on the citizenry, control a central bank, or change the laws willy-nilly according to the wishes of special interests.

His job was to oversee a tiny government with virtually no powers (“few and defined,” Madison said) except to arbitrate disputes among the states, which were the primary governmental units. If the president transgressed his power, he would be impeached as a criminal. But impeachment would not be likely, because the threat was so ominous, it reminded him of his place.

He was also temperamentally unlikely to abuse his power because he was to be a man of outstanding character, well respected by the other leading men in society. He could be a wealthy heir, a successful businessmen, a highly educated intellectual, or a successful farmer. Regardless, his powers were to be minimal.

All this astonished Alexis de Tocqueville in 1830. “No citizen,” he wrote, “has cared to expose his honor and his life in order to become the President of the United States, because the power of that office is temporary, limited, and subordinate.” The president “has but little power, little wealth, and little glory to share among his friends; and his influence in the state is too small for the success or the ruin of a faction to depend upon his elevation to power.”

To make sure it stayed this way, the vice president was to be a political adversary. He was there to remind the president that he was eminently replaceable. In this way, the veep’s office was powerful, not over the people, but in keeping the central government in check.

The president was not elected by majority vote, but by electors chosen by the states. Most citizens could not vote. Those who could were deemed the most prudential and far-seeing of their fellows. They owned land, headed households, and were highly educated. And they were to think only of the security, stability, and liberty of the country, and the well-being of future generations.

For nonvoters, their liberty was to be secure no matter who won. They would have no access to special rights. Yet their rights to person, property, and self-government were never in doubt. For all practical purposes, they could forget about the president and, for that matter, the rest of the federal government. It might as well not exist.

People did not pay taxes to it. It did not tell people how to conduct their lives. It did not fight foreign wars, regulate their schools, surround their homes with police, bail out their business, provide for their retirement, much less employ them to spy on their neighbors.

Political controversies were centered at the level of the state and local governments. That included taxes, education, crime, welfare, and even immigration. The only exception was the general defense of the nation. The president was responsible for that. But with a small standing army, it was a minor position, absent a congressionally declared war.

There were two types of legislators in Washington: members of the House of Representatives, a huge body of statesmen that was to grow larger with the population, and members of the Senate, who were elected by powerful state legislatures. The Congress’s main power consisted of keeping the executive’s power in check.

Under the original design, the politics of this country was to be extremely decentralized, but the community to be united in another respect: by an economy that is perfectly free and a system of trade that allows people to voluntarily associate, innovate, save, and work based on mutual benefit. The economy was not to be controlled, hindered, or even influenced by any central commands.

People were allowed to keep what they earned. The money people used to trade with was solid, stable, and backed by specie. Capitalists could start and close businesses at will. Workers were free to take any job they wanted at any wage or any age. Business’s only mission was to serve the consumer and make a profit.

There were no labor controls, mandated benefits, payroll taxes, special benefits, or other regulations. For this reason, everyone was to specialize in what he did best, and the peaceful exchanges of voluntary enterprise caused ever-widening waves of prosperity throughout the country

What shape the economy took—whether agricultural, industrial, or high-tech—was to be of no concern to the federal government. Trade was allowed to take place naturally and freely, and everyone understood that it was better managed by property holders than by public office holders. The federal government couldn’t impose internal taxes if it wanted to, much less taxes on income, and trade with foreign nations was to be rivalrous and free. The only tariffs were to be revenue tariffs, and thus necessarily low to maximize trade and therefore revenue.

If by chance this system of liberty began to break down, the states had an option: to separate themselves from the federal government and form a new government. The law of the land was widely understood to make secession possible. In fact, it was part of the guarantee required to make the Constitution possible to begin with.

This system reinforced the fact that the president is not the president of the American people, much less their commander in chief, but merely the president of the United States. He served only with their permission and only as the largely symbolic head of this voluntary unity of prior political communities.

In this society without central management, a vast network of private associations served as the dominant social authority.

The churches, unrestricted by federal intrusion, wielded vast influence over public and private life, as did civic groups and community leaders of all sorts. They created a huge patchwork of associations and a true diversity in which every individual and group found a place.

This combination of political decentralization, economic liberty, free trade, and self-government created, day-by-day, the most prosperous, peaceful, and just society the world has ever known.

In such a system, there would be little at stake in the upcoming November election. No matter which way it went, we would retain our liberty and property, and our families would never be bothered by any central government.

Today, however, the Washington, DC area is the richest in the country because it’s host to the biggest government on the planet. It has more employees, resources, and powers at its disposal than any on the face of the earth. It regulates in finer detail than any other government. Its military empire is the largest and most far-flung in history. Just its tax-take dwarfs the total wealth of the old Soviet Union.

The only remedy is to restore the classical liberal society of the framers. We do not need, as the media claim, the “strong leadership” of a bully with a pulpit. The man for the job is someone who can disappear, and help make the rest of the federal government vanish with him.

Why Politics Fail

excerpt from The Left, the Right, and the State by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. :Illustration: Truth and Lie

The logic of the market is predicated on the pervasive and glorious inequality of man. No two people have the same scales of values, talents, or ambitions. It is this radical inequality, and the freedom to choose our own lot in life, that makes possible the division of labor and exchange. Through money and contracts, markets allow us to settle differences to our mutual advantage. The result—and here is why people call the market miraculous—is a vast, productive system of international cooperation that meets an incomprehensibly huge range of human needs, and finds a special role for everyone to participate in building prosperity.

Now, to politics. The system of voting is designed to replicate the market’s participatory features. In fact, it is a perverse distortion of the market system. In markets, you get the goods you pay for. If you don’t and there’s been a violation of contract, you have legal recourse. In voting, people are not actually purchasing anything but the politician’s word, which is not only legally worthless; he has every incentive to lie to produce the desired result.

Politics take no account of individuals. You and I are merely tiny specks on the vast blob called “the American people,” and what this blob “thinks” is only relevant insofar as it accords with a political agenda advantageous to the state and its friends.

You think you are voting for tax cuts. Instead you get secret tax increases and perpetual increases in spending. You think you are voting for smaller government. Instead you get ever more government intrusion. This is because it is not the voters who are managing the system. It is well-organized interest groups who feed at the trough managed and owned by the state. Thus there is a vast gulf that separates the average voter from the politician’s real day-to-day interests.

The spectacle of elections grows more absurd every year. We are asked to cast ballots for people we do not know because they make promises they are under no obligation to keep. What’s even worse, the voting gesture is pointless on the margin. The chances that any one vote (meaning your vote) will actually have an impact are so infinitesimally small as to be meaningless.

In markets, entrepreneurial talent means the ability to anticipate and serve the needs of the buying public. In politics, success means the ability to manipulate public opinion so that enough fools (so regarded by politicians) reaffirm the politician’s power and glory. It takes special talents to do this—talents not cultivated in good families.

If American politics were characterized solely by voting and the products of voting, the system would be loathsome enough. And yet the corruption runs deeper. The real power behind Leviathan is wielded by a vast, unelected army of bureaucrats who fancy themselves specialists in the pseudoscience of public policy. In their minds, the only role for the citizenry, treated as a homogenous blob, is to conform or suffer the consequences. Gone are the cooperation, peace, and genuine diversity of markets. Instead, we experience brute force.

Intellectuals specialize in dreaming up grandiose tasks for government that would be doomed to fail even if perfectly implemented. And yet the most obvious criticism of all government schemes is that they must all be mediated by this corrupt system called politics.

How different is this system from the one envisioned by people like Patrick Henry and George Mason? They hoped to erect a wall of separation between society and government to protect the people from being manipulated by cunning political forces. Indeed, the best of the American revolutionaries hoped for a society free of politics, a society free of any visible signs of government. Albert Jay Nock was right to characterize the state, democratic or not, as a parasite on society. Like a plague bacillus, its only successes are from its own point of view.

Personal Secession: Ideas for Opting Out

by Jeff Deist – Mises Daily:personal secession

So in closing, let me make a few humble suggestions for beginning a journey of personal secession. Not all of these may apply to your personal circumstances; no one but you can decide what’s best for you and your family. But all of us can play a role in a bottom-up revolution by doing everything in our power to withdraw our consent from the state:

• Secede from intellectual isolation. Talk to like-minded friends, family, and neighbors — whether physically or virtually — to spread liberty and cultivate relationships and alliances. The state prefers to have us atomized, without a strong family structure or social network;

• Secede from dependency. Become as self-sufficient as possible with regard to food, water, fuel, cash, firearms, and physical security at home. Resist being reliant on government in the event of a natural disaster, bank crisis, or the like;

• Secede from mainstream media, which promotes the state in a million different ways. Ditch cable, ditch CNN, ditch the major newspapers, and find your own sources of information in this internet age. Take advantage of a luxury previous generations did not enjoy;

• Secede from state control of your children by homeschooling or unschooling them;

• Secede from college by rejecting mainstream academia and its student loan trap. Educate yourself using online learning platforms, obtaining technical credentials, or simply by reading as much as you can;

• Secede from the US dollar by owning physical precious metals, by owning assets denominated in foreign currencies, and by owning assets abroad;

• Secede from the federal tax and regulatory regimes by organizing your business and personal affairs to be as tax efficient and unobtrusive as possible;

• Secede from the legal system, by legally protecting your assets from rapacious lawsuits and probate courts as much as possible;

• Secede from the state healthcare racket by taking control of your health, and questioning medical orthodoxy;

• Secede from your state by moving to another with a better tax and regulatory environment, better homeschooling laws, better gun laws, or just one with more liberty-minded people;

• Secede from political uncertainly in the US by obtaining a second passport;

• Secede from the US altogether by expatriating.

• Most of all, secede from the mindset that government is all-powerful or too formidable an opponent to be overcome. The state is nothing more than Bastiat’s great fiction, or Murray’s gang of thieves writ large. Let’s not give it the power to make us unhappy or pessimistic.

All of us, regardless of ideological bent and regardless of whether we know it or not, are married to a very violent, abusive spendthrift. It’s time, ladies and gentlemen, to get a divorce from DC.

Article originally posted at