Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Glorious Underground Economies and How Folks are Learning to Survive and Thrive While Pissing Off Statists, Socialists and Tax Collectors

Image credit on size of European shadow economy: http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2013/04-2/20130506_shadow1_0.jpg

Man has always survived through his labor - he simply must produces, trade and/or sell; it's how he feeds, houses and clothes himself and family or, put another way, it's absolute survival in the rawest sense.  It's been that way throughout history and that paradigm will never change.  But along comes government that literally extorts the product of his labor at the point of a gun, and the bigger the government theft machine the greater the efforts of man to skirt the robbery and extortion of taxation and government regulations. In the modern world, the activity of toiling to survive outside the expropriating system is called the underground economy or the shadow economy, and governments and bureaucratic goons are literally launching wars against folks for the crime of merely trying to survive because, well, human survival is verboten in the New World Order of corporatism, massive regulation, statism, socialism and command and control economies.

It's been estimated that the underground economy in Greece is 30-50% of GDP.  The Greeks have a long history of avoiding taxes, a practice that dates back to the days when Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire and subject to heavy taxation.  The Greeks understand that all government is corrupt and thieving, hence the high level of motivation to conduct commerce in a manner that lessens government expropriation.  Statists have been whining for years that the real problem with Greece is that the Greeks don't pay taxes.

However, Greece is far from the only European nation with a high level of underground economic activity.  Bulgaria and Romania (both joined the EU in 2007) hold the #1 and #2 spot for underground economic activity, leaving Greece 3rd.

A Bloomberg article, here, offers insights on how and why folks flee to underground economies.
After quitting his job as a driver to focus on peddling imported shampoo and coffee at a Bucharest market, Costin Dumbrava is on the lookout for Romanian anti-fraud agents intent on ruining his flourishing business.

The 45-year-old runs a stall selling goods shipped over from Hungary and Austria to throngs of customers lured by prices that undercut local supermarkets by a quarter. The secret of his success? He doesn’t pay income tax and he doesn’t charge his clients value-added sales tax. “I couldn’t afford to sell at these prices if I paid taxes,” said Dumbrava, whose wares included brands from Procter & Gamble Co and Unilever NV. “I saw the crackdown and the raids on television. If my turn comes, I’ll have to give up.”

As nations such as Greece struggle to clamp down on tax evasion, Romania is making inroads to curb its more than $40 billion shadow economy, the European Union’s second-largest. With as much as a third of gross domestic product still off the books a quarter-century after communism, the push is designed to swell coffers and help the government reverse painful austerity.

The highlighted sentence above borders on sheer lunacy but is typical of what one would expect from a statist loving Bloomberg article.  The fact that the article clearly states that the goal of cracking down on underground economic activity is to 'swell [public] coffers' is instructive on many levels. However, the assertion that giving governments more money reverses painful austerity is ludicrous to the point of being hilarious.  When folks keep the product of their labor, there is far less economic hardship and poverty.

Most taxes fund huge government bureaucracies or in the case of America, taxes and an $18 trillion mountain of federal debt funds wars, the empire, government bureaucracies and socialism.  Since joining the EU in 2007, Romanian debt has skyrocketed from 12.6% of GDP in 2008 to 39.6% in 2014, and undoubtedly that debt increase paid for the gargantuan government bureaucracy dictated by the EU bureaucrats and technocrats.

Source: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/romania/government-debt-to-gdp

Unlike clueless westerners of America and the original EU members of northern and southern Europe that religiously worship the state as their benevolent savior, the folks from the former Communist block nations of central Europe don't trust any government as far as they can throw it and they aren't about to pay the taxes to raise another oppressive government.  Indeed, those who survived the harsh days of communism owe their very survival to underground economies and these folks are well aware that communist bureaucrats were high paid and had the best food and housing while most of the people were condemned to misery, starvation and deprivation.

Although Romania has more than doubled its debt since joining the EU, the world's largest European underground economy of Bulgaria is safer because the Bulgarian government didn't pile on debt and it's debt to GDP ratio is a reasonably healthy 18.9 percent. Granted, Romanian debt is still way lower than Greek debt as a percentage of GDP but the pressure to grow government and taxation by declaring war on the underground economy is a recipe for disaster.

Western European nations are also discovering the benefits of the underground economy.  Nasty economies and public corruption have resulted in soaring unemployment, Fortune chirped in on the underground economies in Spain and Italy, here.
According to a recent report by Spain’s Ministry of Finance, at the end of 2012 the underground economy accounted for 24.6% of GDP, up from 17.8% at the time the crisis began in 2008....

Spain’s economic crisis, the government’s reaction to it, and pervasive political and business corruption have inspired a black market boom....

A recent European Commission report found that 95% of Spaniards thought corruption was widespread in their country, outdone only by Italy (97%) and Greece (99%).....
Arrogantly, the Spanish government's response is typical - instead of cracking down on corruption "the government raised taxes to the point that Spain — one of Europe’s poorer countries — now has among the highest personal income tax rates on the continent, providing more motivation to work off the books" according to Fortune.

Western governments and its bureaucratic goons are in an absolute panic.  Drowning under poverty inducing statist economies and mountains of debt that is becoming increasingly difficult to service, they are going full blown totalitarian Nazi by increasing public plunder.  Moreover, they have declared war on the underground economies and are attempting to OUTLAW cash.

Cash is the mothers milk of survival for folks struggling to survive.  If anything, the schemes of the central planners will only serve to grow the underground economies which are growing everywhere. Despite the best efforts of government goons to criminalize cash and productive work-commerce among consenting people (true free trade), the survival instincts of humans will always trump government and bureaucracy.

The failures of statism-socialism will propel folks to seek new paradigms of survival and folks will always revert back to the only proven system of survival - work-produce-trade-sell.  For a while, folks did in fact vote for big bad governments because they perceived a benefit from authorizing the government to rob somebody at the point of a gun to give them the freebies that they wanted or thought they deserved.  However, the glory days of entitlements are in steep decline.  There are no 'freebies' as manna from the heavens of central banks and bloated governments.  There is only the misery of significant declines in the standards of living in the West because, well, the cradle to the grave entitlement state was all a farce anyway.

What will happen next?  It will be the productive people working hard to survive vs. the strong arm of the militarized police state.

The murderous and ruthless communism of Stalin, Lenin and Mao that killed 100 million folks and mostly through starvation, did not have the luxury of a rich and productive economy to loot and plunder. But the West is already substantially plundered and mostly from unsustainable entitlement promises, statism on steroids and the policies of central banks and governments that force the poor and middle class to bailout bondholders and banksters.

Such a situation is destined to turn ugly and violent.  Those in power will not voluntarily relinquish their absolute power and would gladly immerse the planet under a nuclear mushroom cloud.

But there is one certainly - governments are going down, the fiat banking systems are destined to implode and mass civil unrest will terrorize and rattle humanity to its core. History keeps repeating itself over and over as this is nothing new.

Meanwhile the bureaucrats and central planners will continue crush any and all entrepreneurial spirit that exists among industrious folks.  In 2013, Zero Hedge estimated the total size of Europe's shadow economy at $3.55 trillion with an estimated tax loss of nearly 900 billion Euros.
On an unweighted average basis, European shadow economies are 22.1% of total economic activity or around $3.55 trillion (as large as Germany's whole economy). A report by Tax Research, suggests that Austria and Luxemburg have the smallest shadow economies in the euro area at 9.7% of GDP, while Bulgaria at 35.3% and Romania at 32.6% top the list. Of the major economies, Germany clocks in at 16%, France at 15%, Italy at 27% and Spain 22.5%. Stunningly, in terms of tax revenues lost, the shadow economy translates into an estimated €864bn or just over 7% of euro area GDP and, in context, accounts for 105.8% of the enture healthcare spending of the EU. It appears that more and more Europeans have no choice but to shift to a shadow economy (as taxes rise among other things), and this is the biggest threat to the entire economy. This is likely one reason the 'austerity' actions have not been successful since far less taxes are being paid via the conventional channels.

The average shadow economy is 22.1% of the nation's economy...Read the rest here.
It literally takes millions of working and producing folks to generate $3.55 trillion in underground GDP.  I'm sure that the underground stats have increased since 2013, although shadow economy stats are difficult to measure and are at best a guess.   Furthermore, nearly all underground economic activity is un-banked.  The last thing these folks will do is deposit their money in a thieving bank, Greece or Cyprus style.

Governments will argue that underground economic activity involves mostly drugs and all kinds of illegal activities but that's simply not true.  A consultant that advocated for the abolition of cash, here, clearly defined the shadow economy: "The shadow economy comprises legal business activities that are performed outside the reach of government authorities". 
Bingo, that's it - outside the reach of government authorities is the operative wording.  In New York City, a dude named Eric Garner was literally choked to death on a New York street by NYPD because he was selling 'loosie' cigarettes on a street corner. In severely Nazified and progressive places like NYC, underground economic activity carries the death penalty.

If anything, the shadow or underground economy represents true free market capitalism, and before corporatists, oligarchs, government goons, progressives, socialists, tax collectors etc. demand their pound of flesh for every morsel of economic activity.

Finally, I applaud the underground economy and the hardworking and brave folks who make it happen!  Some government officials have even acknowledged that clamping down on underground economies will result in more economic hardships so they begrudgingly look the other way or accept a bribe. Even statists are learning that the 'command' and 'control' aspects of the command and control economy are ultimately unenforceable.

In America, the underground economy has been estimated at $2 trillion and deprives the IRS of some $500 billion a year in tax revenues, here.

Yeah!  Go Baby!  Grow the underground economy and deprive the tyrannical and corrupt monster known as government of revenues.  That's precisely how you slay the statist monster.  Democracy won't vote it out of office, you can only starve the monster to death.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Greece vs. Grease - When you grease the wheels of statism, a nation flies off the slippery slope into the dark abyss

The situation in Greece is playing out like a classic Greek tragedy and it has elicited considerable commentary from the right and the left, and even a few reasonably sane observers.  The right wing position is:  the Greeks made their bed so they need to sleep in it, man up and pay their damn debts. The left wing position is: in the interest of socialist solidarity, the debt should be forgiven, written off and Greece should be supplied with fresh new debt money.  Well, Greece can't pay its debts, not now and not ever.  However, the Greeks do OWE somebody some $370 billion and Greece voluntarily signed on the dotted line for those nasty loans that constitute nothing more than more debt slavery.

If anybody really wants to understand Greece, you have to ask a Greek who intimately knows Greek history, culture and politics.  The problems in Greece just didn't pop up overnight, they've been brewing for decades. Socialism, oligarchy and corruption are the leading culprits for the horrors presently occurring in Greece. Taki Theodoracopulos explains in his essay titled Demagogue Days.

Last Sunday’s referendum was truly Greek, a tragicomedy of errors, a yes-or-no question drafted in cryptic, technocratic gobbledygook, worthy of the best Brussels newspeak. 
But let’s start at the beginning.

The Greek ship of state was cruising on choppy waters under a benign monarchy headed by the 23-year-old King Constantine back in 1967. Greeks are known for their hot tempers, and they were never hotter than during the spring of 1967. MPs regularly came to blows in Parliament as elections loomed. On April 21, 1967, a military coup took place, one that the king was forced to accept in order to avoid bloodshed. After six months the king attempted a countercoup to restore democracy, but he failed, choosing exile instead. The colonels collapsed in the summer of 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern part of Cyprus. Democracy was restored, and the king was rejected in a plebiscite reminiscent of the kind perfected by South American strongmen. Thus begins Greece’s latest democratic period.
Two men dominate the post-colonel period: Constantine Karamanlis and Andreas Papandreou. Both men started their own political parties, New Democracy for the former, PASOK for the latter. Karamanlis was center-right, Papandreou center-left. Both got very rich in office, and both corrupted the patronage system to the maximum. Then Karamanlis, a man I knew very well, and one who had benefited from my father’s largesse only to turn against him once he was no longer needed, had a brilliant idea. He proposed to the powers of the EEC, as it was then called, to allow Greece to join the then six nations, thus ensuring no ambitious colonel would try to grab power by force of arms. The EEC welcomed us with open arms. European money began to flow into a poor country whose main exports were olives and fruit and whose economy was based on tourism and shipping.

In 1981, the established EU Greek nation decided to swing left. Andreas Papandreou came into office and a real Greek upheaval took place. Papandreou established a core constituency of voters by enriching them for life. The trick was an easy one. Tony Blair tried it years later. Close to 25 percent of Greeks were employed by the state, with pensions worthy of far, far richer nations, and leaders of civil unions enjoying double or triple pensions for retiring at age 50. With 25 percent of the electorate in his pocket for life, Papandreou then proceeded to nationalize industries, milk the EU treasury, and flirt with Middle Eastern dictators. He personally became very rich, and even divorced his American wife for a very generously endowed airline hostess he met while flying to an EU meeting who went by the nickname Mimi Big Tits. He married Mimi, survived all sorts of riots against his corrupt policies, and finally expired, his face buried in Mimi’s bosom. After his demise she became a nonperson, as in Stalinist societies. Both Karamanlis and Papandreou were succeeded by their nephew and son, respectively, becoming prime ministers—which illustrates a certain lack of imagination on the part of a battered electorate. Then came the 2004 Athens Olympics and the crowning of Greece as a rich, modern European nation covered in glory. The Greek state spent like there was no tomorrow. And, as it turned out, there was not.

Throughout the early years of the new millennium, the Karamanlis-Papandreou cliques had a new party trick up their sleeves. They played musical chairs for the premiership and were advised on how to cook the books by Goldman Sachs at 300 million greenbacks a shot. It was worth it. EU funds kept pouring in, while Greeks enjoyed avoiding taxes and going to the beach. But a word about tax avoidance: The omnipotent state created by Karamanlis and Papandreou gave back very little to hardworking Greeks who did not rely on the state for their welfare. Hospitals are poorly run and dirty, city planning almost nonexistent, and garbage collection a hit-or-miss affair. In other words, there is very little in return for paying one’s taxes.

The party ended when the you-know-what hit the fan around 2010.  Soaring wages and gold-plated pensions had to end. Eternal austerity was the antidote. This was the EU at its best—worst, actually. It was like taking a middleweight boxer, putting him on a very strict diet, and expecting him to become a heavyweight contender. It was and remains an impossibility. Three successive Greek prime ministers played along with the EU charade of austerity, bankrupting the nation further, until the present bunch of ex–student activists and so-called academics with dubious degrees came along and gave the nation the coup de grace. Which brings me to the present. 
What the EU bureaucrats expect of Greece is a contradiction in terms. Austerity cannot grow an economy, even the unelected and unaccountable technocrats living in la-la land should know that. But the EU’s first and only commitment is to keep the union going, with face-saving devices invented as it staggers along.
Yes, Greece has huge problems but throwing more money at those problem will not make them go away and will only increase the suffering of the Greek people.  In fact, throwing more money at Greece is like throwing alcohol at an alcoholic while demanding that he not drink it. Bailout money engineered by the Troika (European Commission - EC, European Central Bank - ECB and International Monetary Fund - IMF) mostly went to bailing out banks, specifically French and German banks.

IMF Director Admits: Greek Bailout Was "To Save German & French Banks"
For the first time in public, though practically the entire world assumed it, an official from The IMF has admitted that the various Greek bailouts were not for The Greeks at all... "They gave money to save German and French banks, not Greece,” Paolo Batista, one of the Executive Directors of International Monetary Fund told Greek private Alpha TV on Tuesday.
According to Zero Hedge, of the whopping $230 billion in bailouts 1 and 2, only 11% of the bailout money actually went to the Greeks, here.  At this juncture, bailout money is either bailing out banks or servicing the debt, and it's been that way since the 1st Greek bailout in 2010.

So when the left starts screaming that the bailouts are not helping the Greek people or the Greek economy, it's not as though they aren't making a valid point.  Well, Europeans aren't exactly sympathetic toward the Greeks who have a long history of milking somebody - be it their creditors, bondholders, the EU, European taxpayers etc.

Politicians exist for 2 reason - to buy votes and plunder the people to pay for the thieving public sector and promised 'free' everything programs.  In Greece vote buying and growing the pampered public sector was elevated to such an art that even the obsessively liberal, statist and labor union loving New York Times chirped in to complain about the thieving Greek public sector. 

The Cost of Protecting Greece’s Public Sector
For generations, political power in Greece has been based in large part on providing public sector jobs in exchange for votes....

“Instead of shrinking the bloated government apparatus and making it more efficient, New Democracy and Pasok hardly even touched it,” Stefanos Manos, a former Greek finance minister, said in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine in June.

Wages in the public sector were on average almost one and half times higher than in the private sector.

In the past, a more productive and expanding private sector could have withstood — to a degree — the financial drain of a costly and profligate public sector. Today, shielding the public sector is no longer an option, especially when it comes at the expense of the rest of the population.
In his outstanding book, Boomerang, Michael Lewis was spot on in his analysis of Greece that also accurately portrays most problems in nations with powerful public sector unions. Lewis said "As it turns out, what the Greeks wanted to do, once the lights went out and they were alone in the dark with a pile of borrowed money, was turn their government into a piƱata stuffed with fantastic sums and give as many citizens as possible a whack at it. In just the past twelve years the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled, in real terms – and that number doesn’t take into account the bribes collected by public officials. The average government job pays almost three times the average private-sector job. The national railroad has annual revenues of 100 million euros against an annual wage bill of 400 million, plus 300 million euros in other expenses. The average state railroad employee earns 65,000 euros a years. Twenty years ago a successful businessman turned minister of finance….pointed out that it would be cheaper to put all Greece’s rail passengers into taxicabs: it’s still true. “We have a railroad company which is bankrupt beyond comprehension…..and there isn’t a single private company in Greece with that kind of average pay.”

Greece isn't even a nation that is economically productive and it only represents about 2% of EU GDP.  It's 2 main industries, tourism and shipping, are taking hits and tourism is about to suffer a major decline as folks cancel their Greek vacations because of financial instability.

Switzerland is one of the most prosperous nations on the planet.  It's 8 million people produce a whopping GDP of $685 billion.  In Greece, 11 million folks produce a pathetic GDP of $242 billion. I don't know what the Greeks do, I don't think anybody does.

Why is Greece such an economic laggard?  Well, the primary reason is that foreign capital does not flock to places where property rights are not secure and Greece is notorious for its lack of secure property rights.

What's Really Wrong With Greece? It Lacks Secure Property Rights, and US Property Rights Keep Declining

Who owns what in Greece is such a freaking nightmare that the New York Times did an awesome piece on the ridiculously archaic Greek property registration system.

Who Owns This Land? In Greece, Who Knows?
At one point, in the early 1990s, Greece took more than $100 million from the European Union to build a registry. But after seeing what was accomplished, the European Union demanded its money back.
Such is the sorry state of Greece.   Greece is always shaking down somebody for something. Decades of corruption, crooked politicians, bloated public sector unions, oligarchs and the absolute worst of the worst in all things have left Greece and its people a certifiable basket case.

So long as the wheels of statism continue to be greased with new money and new bailouts, Greece is destined to continue its accelerated descent into misery and poverty as debt slaves.  If the Greeks truly had anything resembling sanity left within their national moral compass besides the perpetual rattling of macho rage that blames everybody else for their nightmarish fate, perhaps they should ring up the Swiss with a blaring SOS that screams "HELP, we're drowning and we need help in learning how to become free, prosperous and sovereign".

As if the mess in Greece isn't already bad enough, $120 billion in Greek bank deposits are locked up in the Greek banking system that is CLOSED.  Greeks do not have access to what little money they do have - it's been locked away by the Troika that refuses to provide liquidity for Greek banks.  If a central bank has one defining function, it's to maintain liquidity so that ordinary folks can access their money.  However, the strong hammer of the Troika denied Greeks the right to their own money. Morever, it is clearly evident that the European Central Bank is a big fail.  If anything, the one issue that folks should be debating is the issue of fractional reserve banking and its glaring failures.

Greece: A Warning of the Totalitarian Power of Centralized Government and Banking, and FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING

Finally, it's being reported that the Greek Parliament blessed off on the Troika deal, the very same deal that Greek voters rejected in the July 5, 2015 referendum.

Greek debt crisis: MPs approve bailout plan but some Syriza MPs rebel 

By genuflecting before the Troika in an act reminiscent of a kneeling victim about to be beheaded by the swordsman, the socialist Greek government literally voted to condemn the Greek people to the status of debt slaves.  It's the equivalent of tossing the Greek people into a boiling cauldron of grease and deep frying them as munchies for the financial cannibals.

Socialists and statists are notorious for their love of the banksters, oligarchs and above all THEIR LOVE OF ABSOLUTE POWER.  It's no surprise that Syriza capitulated to the Troika.  Socialism and statism cannot survive without banksters and mountains of debt - it's the mothers milk of tyranny, cronyism and corruption. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Greece: A Warning of the Totalitarian Power of Centralized Government and Banking, and FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING

Greece is a bankrupt mess for a whole lot of reasons with the primary reason being that it's a debt ridden socialist nation that borrowed heavily to fund statist programs.  Of course, the debt mountain is now so big that paying it back is simply impossible.  Moreover, most of the new loan proceeds in recent years have gone to servicing the debt instead of to entitlement programs.  This is precisely how socialism and statism ends: eventually the debt is so big that it will eat up nearly all tax dollars. America and nearly all of Europe will face the exact same problems as Greece in the not too distant future.

The socialist Greek government wants more loan proceeds from the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund).  The Troika is demanding many thing including cuts in pensions and public spending.

The real issue here isn't Greek debt as everybody know that the Greeks can't possibly pay it, now or anytime in the future.  The real issue here is the ELA or Emergency Liquidity Assistance that the ECB uses to prop up its member banks.  Over the weekend, the Troika bared it's gargantuan razor sharp teeth by cutting off the ELA.  Greeks could not get their money out of the banks and Greece was forced to close its banks for 7 days.  They do this by declaring a bank holiday! It's also called capital controls.

The Troika is sick of negotiating with Greece and effectively nuked the nation by withdrawing ELA. Yeah, Greece is holding a referendum on whether or not to submit to the Troika but at this juncture does it really matter?

There is a big lesson to be learned here, namely that fractional reserve banking is fraught with horrific risk, especially for depositors.  Under fractional reserve banking, banks only keep a small percentage of its deposits as reserves and the rest is converted to loans (bank assets) that earn interest income for banks.  If too many people go to the bank to get their money, there isn't sufficient money to give the depositors back their money and a bank run occurs.  Central banks function as a backstop to bank runs by providing liquidity.  Yes, the 'liquidity' is fiat central bank money created out of thin air but so long as the public has confidence in the system, it works.

With the situation in Greece, the extreme volatility of many western banks and the economic fragility of European nations, confidence in central banking is waning, especially after the bail-in in Cyprus when depositor money was literally stolen to recapitalize bankrupt banks that wiped out all their capital by making bad loans.

If the world needs anything now, it needs to restrict fractional reserve banking and offer options in non-fractional reserve banking. It's the only way that deposits can be truly protected.  Before the arrival of fractional reserving banking and before Americans flocked to the banks with their money in exchange for a toaster, folks actually paid banks a small fee to house and protect their wealth, typically gold, silver or gold and silver certificates. The wealth of citizens is no longer protected (never really was) and central banks are such schizophrenic basket cases that they can no longer function as guarantors of deposits. That's already been proven in Cyprus and Greece.

At the end of the day, fractional reserve banking turns toasters (bank deposits) into burnt toast. The public absolutely needs safety and accessibility for their money.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Kenya, Gun Rights and the Murder of Kenyan Christians by Muslims

This week 147 Christian Kenyan students were massacred by Muslims with firearms. Back in 2013, at least 67 Kenyans were massacred by Muslims at a popular Kenyan Mall. During both attacks, the potential victims were questioned and Muslims and were released providing they could convince the murderers that they were in fact Muslims.

Kenya is a predominantly Christian nation (over 80%) and the Muslim minority is about 10-12%.

The NY Daily News reported that that the student massacre was carried out by 4 armed Muslims, here.
Four twisted Islamic extremists strapped explosives to their bodies and rushed into a crowded college dorm in Kenya Thursday, sparking a 13-hour siege that killed 147 innocent people and injured dozens, authorities said. Al Shabab terrorists stormed Garissa University College at 5:30 a.m., occupying a main dormitory and targeting Christian students, witnesses said. The men waved assault weapons and brandished grenades, yelling in Arabic and Swahili that the students were now hostages. For 13 agonizing hours, the gunmen traded fire with Kenyan police while petrified students pleaded for their lives.
The NYT reported that the Muslim murderers numbered between 4 and 10, here.
A small group of militants, most likely between four and 10, roved from dorm to dorm, separating Christian from Muslim students and killing the Christians, the authorities said. Students described being awakened before dawn by the sound of gunfire and fleeing for their lives as masked attackers closed in....

The Shabab has killed hundreds of Kenyans — on country buses, in churches, in remote coastal towns and inside one of Kenya’s fanciest malls during a devastating siege in 2013 that left 67 people dead and rattled Kenya’s prized image as a cornerstone of stability in this part of Africa. The Kenyan government is so desperate to stop the Shabab, one of the most violent franchises of Al Qaeda, that some officials have even proposed building a 424-mile wall across the entire Somali border.

Kenya’s tourist industry, one of the pillars of its economy, has been badly damaged by the terrorist attacks, and the bloodshed on Thursday is sure to make things worse. There are also fears that the Shabab’s relentless emphasis on singling out Christians could inflame religious strife in a country already wrestling with tensions between a Muslim minority, which has complained about government persecution, and a Christian majority that increasingly feels under attack.
Besides the obvious question of whether or not anybody can peacefully co-exist with Islam, the real issue that jumps out is the issue of gun rights.  The slaughtered Kenyans in both attacks were unarmed and defenseless, therefore the issue of gun rights in Kenya must be addressed because armed Kenyans could have massively reduced the carnage, saved lives and serves as a warning to Muslim murderers that they refuse to be easy and soft targets.

In Kenya, gun rights are weak, very weak.  Apparently you can't own a firearm in Kenya, a nation of over 44 million, without a government license and the government shut down the firearms licensing office in 2014.
Firearms licensing office shut down temporarily 
There are about 10 firearm dealers in the country who issue guns to those with permits to own them.

The moratorium was put in place after it emerged that there is no thorough vetting done before guns are issued to civilians.
Kenyan firearms laws are indeed responsible for the massacre of defenseless unarmed citizens and the only reason the death toll at the Kenyan Mall attack wasn't higher than 67 is that an armed British Marine rescued 100 potential victims, here.
The terror at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, where Islamic militants killed 67 defenseless people is over, Reuters reported early this afternoon. Emerging as a surprise hero is a former British Marine who, armed with a handgun, rescued 100 terrorized shoppers, returning dozens of times into the mall, according to Mail Online.

How he came to be armed is open for question, and his continued anonymity “for security reasons” leads to fair speculation that he is an operative for the British government working with the military and the Kenyans “in tracking UK citizens involved with hardline Islamists in Somalia and Yemen.”

In any case, the hapless victims had no similar response options, as Kenyan law effectively assured the “al Shabaab militants” a guaranteed unarmed victim pool. That's because Kenya provides a veritable wish list of what so-called “gun safety” groups, masking their ultimate goal of a total ban on private ownership of firearms, represent as “common sense gun laws.” A steely former British Marine armed only with a handgun repeatedly risked his life to save about 100 people from the Kenya mall massacre, running in and out at least a dozen times to shepherd frightened civilians to safety, British reports say.

There is something fundamentally evil and wrong when a legal system disarms citizens and guarantees a huge pool of unarmed victims.

Meanwhile, anti-gun groups in Kenya and elsewhere continue to demand that all citizens everywhere be disarmed.  This of course would not disarm those committed to murder and evil.  At the end of the day, the only sane defense against violence and murder is the armed citizen. Unarmed citizens are nothing more than sitting ducks and potential victims of all violence, including gun violence.

The anti-gun folks do indeed promote policies that enable criminals to commit horrific violence against innocent victims.  The anti-gun folks are the real criminals here and yes their hands are dripping with the blood of the innocent.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Will Audit the Fed Pass with the new GOP Controlled Congress?

The Republicans will have a Senate majority when the new congress is sworn in within a few days, while also enjoying  a very strong House majority.  Staffers for new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have indicated that McConnell will definitely seek a floor vote for Audit the Fed, here.

In September 2014, the House passed Audit the Fed with a whopping 333-92, here.  227 Republicans and 106 Democrats voted YES on Audit the Fed. The NO votes included 91 Dems and 1 Republican (John Campbell, CA).

Before the 11/14 elections, the Dems has 54 Senate seats, the Republicans 44 and there were 2 independents (who typically caucus with the Dems).  After the 2014 elections, the Republicans will have 54 Senate seats.

While the Republicans clearly have a Senate majority, Senate cloture rules require 60 votes to advance to a full Senate floor vote.  The Republicans are short 6 votes and that's assuming that all Republican senators will support Audit the Fed (not likely).  However, it's entirely possible that some Dems will join with the Republicans on Audit the Fed.

If Audit the Fed manages to pass the House and Senate, there is the issue of a guaranteed presidential veto.  I'd be shocked if Obama didn't veto Audit the Fed.  Republicans will not have enough Senate seats to override a presidential veto.  Overriding a presidential veto requires a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate.

While Audit the Fed is advancing and is closer than it's ever been, it's still got some huge obstacles.   However, Audit the Fed is extremely popular with voters and according to a Rasmussen poll, 74% want to Audit the Fed, here.

With Audit the Fed being so popular and considering the bruising that the Dems suffered in the 2014 elections, there is no guarantee that the Dems will continue to oppose Audit the Fed.

What is important at this juncture is that Audit the Fed gets introduced in the House and Senate early. I see no problem in the House and not because Republicans actually support Audit the Fed.  They don't but they would they look awfully foolish voting against a bill that they previously vote for. Voting YES on Audit the Fed was an easy vote to appease its base knowing full well that Audit the Fed stood no chance in the Senate.  But now things have change and anything passed in the House automatically bumps up to McConnell's Senate where he supposedly supports a Senate vote.  Federal Reserving loving Republicans can no longer hide behind Harry Reid's skirts.

Frankly, the Republicans would love nothing better than a presidential veto of Audit the Fed.  They'd love to scream " Don't blame me, Obama did it".

Finally, Audit the Fed is going to be very interesting in 2015 and the Federal Reserve is bracing for it by already lobbying to kill it.
Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen said earlier this month the Fed remains opposed to stricter oversight of its monetary policy decisions, and Reuters reported she and other Fed officials are lobbying Capitol Hill to drop the audit push, here
Well, Yellen is lying through her teeth because Audit the Fed is about DISCLOSURE and has nothing whatsoever to do with stricter oversight of the Fed and its monetary policy decisions.

As the Audit the Fed drama plays out, the American people will clearly know which of their Congress Critters can be easily bought with a few shekels of fiat money.

Meanwhile, I look forward to the House and Senate Audit the Fed bills being filed and following the co-sponsors.  I wonder how many Republicans will run from it?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dear Progressives....Why You Are Losing the People and What You Can Do About It

"[The task is to] covertly lower the standard of living, the whole social structure, of America so that we can be merged with all other nations." -- Rowan Gaither (1909-1961) Attorney, investment banker, President of the Ford Foundation (1953-1956).  The Ford Foundation is a rich and powerful progressive institution.

Headlines can be hilarious as was Alternet's It's a Rout: Democrats Lose Badly as GOP Extremists Consolidate Power In Congress and Across America.  The article then goes on to bitch and moan about America's discriminatory election.  Guess what?  Nobody stopped anybody from voting.  Even the suffering Democrat base couldn't even hold their noses and vote because they knew they had been screwed.  Life for them was no better under Obama and Gang than it was under Bush and Gang.

OKAY, progressives are in deep mourning over the 2014 elections.  I'm not gloating or rubbing it in because as a liberty activist who abhors the damn wars, the thieving banking system, corporate welfare, the militarized police state, the Patriot Act, the NSA and many other nasties that have rendered America nothing more than a totalitarian empire controlled by oligarchs, I do observe and understand the American people.

I have no skin in the game; I didn't vote this year although when I do vote I generally vote 3rd party and AGAINST the Republicans and Democrats.  The DNC and RNC machines are wholly owned subsidiaries of the banksters, defense contractors and corporate welfare queens.  Moreover, my contempt for the Republicans is just as great as my contempt for the Democrats.  In many ways, I despise the Republicans more, especially since the GOP was hijacked by neocons and theocons years ago.  While I was happy that a slew of Congress Critters were fired by the voters, I was anything but happy that they were replaced with Republicans.

Rest assured, the American people didn't actually vote for Republicans.  The people were just so pissed off that they wanted to fire somebody and this election cycle it was Dems who were most vulnerable.   Why are the American people so pissed off?  Why it's the economy of course.  If folks are lucky enough to have a decent paying job, taxes are eating them alive.  Those who don't have jobs are suffering and many who do have jobs have low wage jobs with no future.

America is a place where the middle class is vanishing and the poor are getting poorer.  The rich are definitely getting richer and at the expense of the poor and middle class.  The Dems love the poor which is why they function as plantation owners doling out subsistence level goodies to their devoted slaves.  Vote buying can only go so far until it bankrupts a nation under the weight of the entitlement state where everybody is entitled to substantial freebies as evidenced by the fact that over 92 million Americans don't even bother to work, here, and many live off the dole.

Yes, progressives, the Republicans and Democrats are all responsible for the demise of the American middle class and the future-less lives of the poor. How did it happen?  Well, it started back in 1913 when progressives passed the Federal Reserve Act that transferred all monetary power to Wall Street. That was the beginning of the death of the middle class because it resulted in a massive wealth transfer from the poor and middle class to the rich.  But not to worry says progressive, we will pass welfare bills that throw you the picked bones of the steaks we eat because you don't need to build wealth and financial security, you must be dependent on US because we OWN you.

Things got far uglier in 1971 when Nixon de-tethered the dollar from gold and made the dollar a 100% fiat currency that totally destroyed the purchasing power of the dollar.

Yet, progressives pay scant attention to monetary policy and all they ever care about is throwing a few moldy crumbs at the dutifully compliant sheeple people who are definitely growing restless.

Besides collaborating with Wall Street to pass the Federal Reserve Act to destroy the purchasing power of the dollar, progressives were also instrumental in passing some job killing legislation and bankster protection bills over the years.

Although inflation, taxation, lower wages and massive job losses have been bleeding the middle class dry, the history of the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs is quite interesting. Even more interesting, it was actually planned! And while there are other components to the systematic sell-off of America, like our criminal Congress Critters passing bills that tax domestic corporate earnings at much higher rates if they produced and earned on US soil versus earning their dough offshore, another major component of our national misery is NAFTA and other horrifying trade agreements supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. The expediting of the real bleed of American jobs is fully attributable to Bill Clinton who enthusiastically supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Despite numerous warnings that NAFTA would be catastrophic to the American middle class and domestic manufacturing, the political class was more interested in filing its campaign coffers with special interest dough by selling multi-national corporatists legal protectionism.

NAFTA was a piece of legislation that was unprecedented in its scope and economic consequences as it conferred dictatorial powers of implementation upon the executive branch of government without any congressional oversight whatsoever. Moreover, NAFTA established secret working groups that are publicly funded, totally unaccountable to anyone and they operate off the radar of congressional and public scrutiny.

NAFTA passed in both houses of a Democratic controlled Congress in 1993. In the Senate, it passed with 61 yeas and 38 nays. In the House, it was much closer at 234 yeas to 200 nays. The Republicans in the House really came through for Clinton by providing 132 Yeas to counter 156 Democratic nays. Still, 40% of the Democrats in the House voted for NAFTA.

The vote itself is more than a bit intriguing. Many of NAFTA’s congressional supporters ended up as presidential candidates or secured congressional leadership positions. On the Senate side, the big name Democrats who voted for NAFTA includes Bill Bradley, Tom Daschle, Christopher Dodd, Ted Kennedy (deceased), Joe Lieberman, John Kerry and Joe Biden, now Vice President. A lot of these Democrats had made various bids for the presidency or vice presidency of the United States. Interestingly, big name NAFTA supporting Republicans includes John McCain, Bob Dole (defeated by Clinton), Mitch McConnell (soon to be Senate Minority Leader post 2014 elections) and many others who were none too eager to assist Bill Clinton in the sellout of the American worker.

On the House side, NAFTA supporters included big name GOPers like Dennis Hastert, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, John Boehner and Ron Portman, all of whom rose to leadership positions in the House or the Bush Administration. Democrat Nancy Pelsoi, who voted yes on NAFTA, ended up Speaker of the House for her role in decimating U.S. manufacturing and jobs.

Clearly, these traitorous rogues were handsomely rewarded with greater political power for engineering the systematic dismantling of the world’s greatest manufacturing legend in all of human history.

Progressives handsomely rewarded Nancy Pelosi for her NAFTA vote by anointing her Speaker of the House.  Now that's truly ironic considering that progressives are chronically ranting about the injustice of rich Republicans, especially rich white Republicans, yet they rabidly endorse a rich white bitch and the 12th richest member of Congress, here.  LOL, Pelosi sold the poor and middle class down the river and was rewarded! For more information on NAFTA and its devastating economic consequences, see my blog post The Kleptocracy of Cannibal Crony Capitalism. Bill Clinton and his Republican NAFTA Baby Co-Conspirators.

As if playing a key role in the destruction of US manufacturing and middle class jobs with corporatist crony capitalist boondoggles like NAFTA isn't bad enough, progressive icon Bill Clinton paved the road in 1999 for Banksters Gone Wild that resulted in the 2008 financial crisis.

Photo Above: Bill Clinton signs into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, November 12, 1999

Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse? Global Research

This extraordinary Global Research article documents how the same folks that were behind the Financial Services Modernization Act ended up in top positions in the Obama Administration.

The simple truth is that Wall Street and its interests rule America and they also own both political parties.  It's even more interesting to note that liberal progressive icons were in fact part of the ruling elite cabal that's that been selling out the poor and middle class since 1913.

My issues with progressives are numerous and my most intense hatred of progressivism is their love of wars and interventions, although these days that mantle appears to have somewhat passed to the Republicans.  But let's look at the facts:  Who got us into WW I, WW II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Balkan Wars?  All liberal progressive Dems  - Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, LBJ and Clinton.  The body counts of those progressive wars exceed 100 million folks.  Yes, progressive hands are dripping in blood.

Where's the anti-war movement that was so awesome in the 1960's?  Well, it's somewhere between invisible and non-existent.

Where were progressives when Bush and the Republicans needed the Patriot Act passed?  They were voting with Bush and the Republicans and they continued with each successive Patriot Act renewal. Who in Congress is standing up to the NSA?  Not many, just a few Libertarian leaning Republicans like Rand Paul and Justin Amash, along with a few Dems.

Progressive don't stand for civil liberties and privacy.  In fact, they seem to be addicted to totalitarian government power.  Progressive policies are rooted in command and control economies where nobody is allowed to earn a living unless they grant permission and that permission comes with economy destroying bureaucratic dictates.

Although progressives have embraced marijuana legalization and decriminalization, they've botched it up in CO and WA with insane bureaucracies and taxes to the extent that underground marijuana markets continue to flourish because the taxed price is too damn high (vs. the free market price) and it's quite difficult to grow and sell pot if one seeks to be a an entrepreneur.  New York, the poster child for anti-business, anti-entrepreneurship progressive economic policies, may be the most absurd example of how progressives botch something as simple as growing and selling medical marijuana.

$20M to Start an MMJ Business in New York?

Medical marijuana in New York might prove to be a pretty wealthy club.
Startup costs to open a dispensary and grow could run over $20 million, according to a recent report by The New York Times. And it might take upwards of $1 million just to navigate through the application process, estimated one cannabis lobbyist quoted in The Times piece. These lofty costs would make it difficult for small businesses to get involved.
What the hell do progressives have against folks seeking to start small businesses?  Apparently, a lot!  Economically, progressives are like the mafia demanding tribute for the privilege of working and earning a living.  When it comes to folks who want to work and produce, progressives are like Shylock from the Merchant of Venice demanding a pound of flesh.

While the Nazified Police State is a draconian assault on natural rights and civil liberties that is at least tolerated if not encouraged by progressives, the Progressive Economic Police State against small businesses is just as destructive because it utterly denies folks the right to earn a living.

Perhaps it's long overdue for progressives to do some serious soul searching, starting with admitting their own roles in growing Police State USA, destroying small businesses by making it impossible for limited capital small business operators to even start a business.  And then there are the damn wars that never end.

America needs less laws, less regulation and more freedom.  On the criminal code, progressives should embrace the Libertarian approach:  No Victim, No Crime.  America has more folks in prison than any nation on the planet and many of these folks are imprisoned for victim-less crimes. Progressives should stop criminalizing every act that they personally disapprove of.

Progressives need a revolution within the Democrat party and they need to get rid of the old, fraudulent leadership that is owned by the same special interests that own the GOP.

Progressives need to fight to end the damn wars and yes they also need to give up their imperial aspirations of non-stop intervention that so devastated the world in WW I, WW II, Korean War, Vietnam and other murderous interventions.

Progressives need to support limited government,  business growth and lower taxes.  If anything, progressives are famous for being anti-business.   Progressives need to be more Libertarian and they must learn to stop controlling everything at the point of a gun.  Speaking of guns, progressives should absolutely support the 2nd amendment because the right to defend yourself from violence, sexual assault or death is an absolute natural right that no free citizen should ever be denied.

Libertarians and 'sane' progressives, well, at least the progressives that aren't Nazis, have a lot in common.

Ralph Nader gets it and his book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State lays out a solid argument on why liberals and Libertarians should unite to defeat the corporate state.  As a Libertarian, I find Nader to be honest and sane even if he is more statist than my Libertarian ideology but he's definitely on the right track.

Ralph Nader On Why Libertarians And Liberals Should Unite

Defeating the corporate state, the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex and the security industrial complex is a damn good place to start where we can demolish the absolute worst aspects of government power.

This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue; there is only one issue at stake here - namely the freedom and prosperity of the people.

Hello progressives?  Where art thou? Can you possibly resist the temptation to CONTROL every possible aspect of human existence and champion historical classical liberalism that embodied a high level of personal and economic freedom with minimal government interference?

The principles of voluntarism enshrine classical liberalism because it's based on the absence of state violence and coercion.  I never understood why progressives are so supportive of state violence and coercion and so oppose voluntary cooperation and transactions among people to deliver peace, harmony, goods, services and consent.

Finally, while progressives may toss a few crumbs at folks to achieve political power they utterly fail to understand that humans desperately seek personal sovereignty, independence and economic opportunity.  People don't want to be tethered to the impoverishment of the progressive plantation anymore than more than they would consent to be slaves.

If progressives truly advocated for progress rather than raw and absolute power, they could kick GOP ass.  However, progress will never come from state power.

Image: Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. "The composition is part of a pyramid whose base are the bodies that have fallen in the struggle against tyranny, corpses lit to emphasize its importance." http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_libertad_guiando_al_pueblo.png

Saturday, November 15, 2014

History Lesson - Why America Doesn't Need a Standing Army

During WW I, Japanese General Yamamoto supposedly said "“You cannot invade America. There is a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

Many Americans live in fear and dread of what would happen if America didn't have a military and standing army. However, most of America's founding fathers opposed a standing army because they understood that so long as one existed dangerous psychopaths would concoct reasons to use it for endless warmongering and war profiteering.

But Americans should also be thinking about the War of 1812.  The British invaded America and headed straight for DC but those in the capital, including the military, had all fled and never even offered an honorable defense.  So the Brits burned DC and headed to straight Baltimore where they planned a land and sea invasion believing that Baltimore would easily fall.  But the Brits encountered the armed citizens of Baltimore and butted heads with 1,0000 defenders of Ft. McHenry who valiantly fought the Brits from 6:00 a.m. on September 13, 1814 until 7:00 a.m. September 14th when the British shells fell silent and "our flag was still there".  Thus, the words to the Star Spangled Banner were born as a captured America lawyer, Francis Scott Key, watched as a prisoner of war on a British ship and wrote down those now memorialized words.

Folks near and around Baltimore also valiantly fought the British land invasion.  Defeated and demoralized the Brits immediately sailed to New Orleans where they anticipated that the undefended city would easily fall.

But the Brits were forced to butt heads with the legendary Andrew Jackson and his hastily raised rag tag army of yeomen farmers who despite being vastly out-gunned and outnumbered managed to deliver a devastating and humiliating defeat to the Brits and sent them packing.

The passion and tenacity to defend one's homeland against a foreign invader is just so much a part of the human condition that it cannot be ignored.  The ghosts of history firmly attest to the fact that our current crop of wars will never, ever be winnable.  No nation wants to be attacked, have its citizens murdered and suffer the humiliating occupation of an invading foreign military.

America's only invasion by a foreign military, the War of 1812, not only resulted in a defeat for the invader, an invader considered the most military powerful nation on earth at the time, but proved that armies do not defend nations.  It was the American people who successfully defended America and sent the British packing.

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