Saturday, February 28, 2009

Greg Anderson: The Face of a Hero

After apparently solving all other problems in America, the Feds continue to go after Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' former personal trainer and pharmaceutical entrepreneur. Anderson has been in and out of prison since 2006 for his refusal to capitulate to the Feds' strong arming and testify against Bonds for alleged perjury.

Even after twenty federal agents in January raided the home of his mother-in-law who has been targeted in a tax probe, Anderson has remained indignant and held his ground. This raid is an obvious retaliation against Anderson by the Feds who are trying to hit him in his most vulnerable targets. When the mob commits acts of jack-booted aggression against its enemies, this is known as a crime. This is standard operating procedure when done by the Feds.

Stay strong, Greg.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Inflation: The Hidden Tax

There are three ways that governments can raise revenue: taxation, borrowing, and inflation. Taxation is a fairly easily explained system of revenue production and is often the center of many debates between the left and the right. Borrowing, while responsible for financing a rapidly expanding portion of the federal budget, can be a confusing concept and will be addressed at a later date. Inflation is rarely discussed as a revenue provider and can also be difficult to understand but only because it has been improperly defined by high school civics textbooks and economists who have regurgitated this misinformation.

A simple Google search returned the following definition for inflation, which is consistent with what I was taught throughout high school and college:

"The overall general upward price movement of goods and services in an economy, usually as measured by the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index. Over time, as the cost of goods and services increase, the value of a dollar is going to fall because a person won't be able to purchase as much with that dollar as he/she previously could. [emphasis added] While the annual rate of inflation has fluctuated greatly over the last half century, ranging from nearly zero inflation to 23% inflation, the Fed actively tries to maintain a specific rate of inflation, which is usually 2-3% but can vary depending on circumstances."

This definition has about as much substance as a father's response to his child of "because I said so". The circular logic here is astounding and contains about the same level of intelligence as the students for whom it was intended. Inflation is treated as a natural and inexplicable economic phenomenon for which there is no cause or explanation.

There IS an explanation and it is just as mysterious as the inflation it pretends to fight: the Federal Reserve.

Inflation, properly defined, is the artificial increasing in the quantity of the money supply, whereas the increasing cost of goods and services is merely the consequence of inflation - not the cause. By definition and by virtue of the act of congress granting monopoly privileges, the Fed is the ONLY entity that can legally print new dollars. If you or I printed new dollars, we would go to jail; when done by the Fed, not only is it legal and accepted, its effect - inflation - is cloaked with a planned level of desired misdirection and obscurity.

Like a detective, one must adhere to the old adage and follow the money to find the beneficiary of any scheme in order to get to the truth. The case of inflation is no different, and a simplified scenario will illustrate this point:

Borrower borrows money from Lender at Time A and must repay the loan at Time B. In an inflationary environment, Borrower had the benefit of utilizing the dollar at Time A while it still possessed a relatively higher level of purchasing power than when paid back at Time B. Borrower is marginally better off because of the presence of inflation in the scenario.

So if one knows that borrowers are the chief beneficiaries in an economy ladened with inflation, then one must only ask who the largest borrower in the economy is. If you said the United States government, go to the head of the class.

Obama To Bring Home Troops From Iraq...To Afghanistan

"Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," Obama said in a speech at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Pardon me if I don't rush out to get my "mission accomplished" banner made. Prediction: this will turn into a classic example of how these skilled politicians turn a phrase to mean whatever they want it to mean. Sure, the "combat mission" may be officially terminated but in name only. Tell that to the family of the American soldier or Iraqi civilian who is killed AFTER this superficial deadline when a new moniker has been given to our continuing occupation.

Meanwhile, a "quiet" 17,000 MORE American troops have been deployed to Afghanistan and hardly a sound was made.

When "The Chosen One" commissioned these troops to Afghanistan, where were the protests? Where is the outrage? Where are the principled demonstrations against the war mongering administration?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Red Light Cameras - Revisited

A judge has upheld a red light camera ticket against a driver in California despite its direct confliction with state law.

"Appellate court in Los Angeles, California rules that red light cameras tickets can be issued by companies with illegal contract arrangements.

"The defendant in the case argued that this ticket was invalid because it had been issued by a private company and the city of Lancaster who were operating together under an arrangement specifically forbidden by the state's red light camera statute. The law requires that camera contractors be compensated on a flat-rate basis to remove the financial incentive for the company to issue more tickets. Lancaster is one of dozens of California cities ignoring this mandate by using a "cost neutral" formula that adjusts the rate paid based on whether the number of tickets issued falls within a certain range."

I wonder what would turn up if this judge's financial records were audited. Do you think a connection would be found with the private red light camera company?

And Dude, "Drug Traffickers" is not the preferred nomenclature

"Narcotraffickers", please.

In an obvious attempt to further demonize the unsanctioned pharmaceutical distribution trade, a new term has emerged. I wonder how many Monday morning staff meetings at the DEA it took before this gem was chosen. Propaganda has always played a major role in every war - the "drug war" is no exception.

Republicans vs Democrats

There is a very public battle occurring between the ideologues on the left and the right, and each camp has its set of designated talking heads whose sole purpose is to propel its own agenda. It seemingly need not matter that the size and scope of the federal government has been expanding exponentially regardless of who was at the helm. If you ask the Democrats, the latest economic crisis can be blamed solely on President Bush and his policies. That same question posed to the Republicans returns a predictable answer of the Democratically lead Congress.

It is a never-ending cycle that plays an essential role in the transfer of power from the people to the state. The state only increases in size - it never shrinks. It never cedes power once taken. It is a unilateral movement toward despotism that is only enabled by the people looking for more security. We have become a nation that turns to the government to solve our every problem and give us that feeling of sanctuary.

How many times in the past year have we heard the talking media heads use the phrase "consumer confidence" and then look to grade our leaders on their ability to convey and inspire this confidence? Why is it the government's responsibility to inspire consumer confidence? The best way to inspire confidence is to get the government out of the business of centrally planning the economy - the market is too vast and complex to be positively manipulated by any collection of arrogant politicians and bankers.

We must stop falling for the same tricks that have distracted us for so long. The war between Republicans and Democrats must be ended and the true enemy must be identified: the state.

Monopoly On The Use Of Force

There are many dangers with allowing the state a monopoly on the use of force (even at the local level). If a policeman unjustly harms a civilian or commits an unethical act, the likely scenario is that the story is buried by the department. If somehow it makes it to the light of day, that policeman is placed on “administrative leave” (while usually still drawing a paycheck) while the tax-sponsored police department conducts an investigation. The taxpayers pay for the investigation in addition to the attorney fees for the policeman that perpetrated the act (I hesitate to call it a crime because crimes are only committed by the private sector, no?) If somehow the criminal policeman is found culpable, the court will award damages to the victim, and guess who picks up that tab as well? The taxpayers, of course.

But if there were private companies competing for the "business" of the use of force, the situation plays out a lot different and allows for the "rascals to be thrown out" at their own expense. See: Blackwater.

Another real-life example of the competition for the right to use force:

Lesson Learned: Never Help Old Ladies Across The Street

I guess there is one silver lining with an overly oppressive arm of the state - it makes my job easier. This one writes itself.

UPDATE: the Colorado State Patrol has withdrawn the ticket undoubtedly because of the media hoopla surrounding the case, which once again proves that a healthy, independent, uncensored system of journalism is one of the best defenses against the overbearing arm of the state.

The Falling Prices Fallacy

Why is it that home prices must always increase and falling home prices are commonly considered a bad thing? Apply that same logic to gas prices. Gas prices are always looked at from the perspective of the buyer and thus falling gas prices are always preferable. What about those who have positioned themselves as sellers in the gas exchange who stand to benefit from increasing gas prices? Recognize this farce: how many people were taking the side of gas station owners or others on the supply side of the oil equation when consumers were “gouging” them with cheap gas prices?

Why are home prices rarely looked at from the buyer’s perspective and that falling prices make homes more affordable for those who are looking to purchase? This idea of ever-increasing home prices perpetuates this ill-conceived notion that homes provide an infallible savings program despite the economic climate. When will people recognize this simple equation: for every seller, there must be a buyer. For every swing in prices, there is a party who benefits and a party who suffers. One can’t always parlay their current house into a bigger house because it will always gain in value.

But we should know this by now. How long has the government (through the Federal Reserve) been artificially depressing interest rates and flooding the market with newly printed money in order to pander to their constituents and keep up this ruse that everyone must own a house? Rather than continuing to wreck this economy with their never ending bailouts, their “investment” of tax payers money into programs like Fannie and Freddie, and their ongoing war against falling housing prices – why don’t they let the market determine housing prices and interest rates? Well, then we wouldn't need our benevolent leaders and central planners, would we?

When money is so cheap, why NOT borrow and spend? What is the incentive to save? So you can make a measly 2% in a savings bond or a CD? That doesn’t even keep up with even the official CPI as tracked by the Labor Bureau (not to mention what CPI would be if they would actually compute it the way they used to or include such costs like energy and food).

As is always the case, there are ebbs and flows in the markets. The best thing that could happen right now is for home prices to fall and interest rates to rise. Higher interest rates will effectively create a stockpile of aggregate capital that can be used to finance our inevitable future spending binge once pressure is put on the Fed to drop rates again. But if you get rid of the Fed, and get government out of the business of money management and central planning, markets will correct – and home prices will become more desirable.

That is if one does the unthinkable and looked at the situation through the lens of the buyer.

Privacy Risk: Google Latitude

I’m sure that this will NEVER be used by the government to spy on the sheeple.

“To protect privacy, Google specifically requires people to sign up for the service.”

Right, the same way that the cell phone companies respected their customers' privacy when the Bush Administration "requested" information about US citizens and other "persons of interest" in the wake of 9/11 – WITHOUT a court order.

Have You Registered Your Bicycle?

"Brown was issued citations for failure to drive on the right half of the road, riding a bicycle without lights and riding an unlicensed bicycle, police said."

Noticeably absent from Brown’s list of citations: drunk biking. That will be next.

More Police Corruption

Headline: "Atlanta police look to restore trust after drug raid killing"

Three ex-police officers are going to jail after killing a 92-year old woman in her home and planting drugs. Here is a rare case where the prisons are being utilized for "real" criminals, not just users of pharmaceuticals (pharmaceuticals that haven't been blessed by the FDA).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Government Corruption

As someone who peruses a wide variety of news publications, I see a decent dose of sporadic cases of government corruption peppering the headlines. This morning was no different. In fact, the leading stories on both and the online St. Louis Post Dispatch detailed two cases of government corruption from two different branches of the government. These cases you’ll notice are becoming more frequent as the government machine continues to gain size and momentum.

Two Pennsylvania judges have pleaded guilty to fraud charges after receiving more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from youth detention centers.

Two St. Louis police officers have been arrested for obstruction of justice (among other charges and one of the officers has pleaded guilty) after stealing money from drug dealers; planting money, drugs, and a gun; and then covering it up.

If these offenses are so egregious as to require fellow members of this same body of racketeers (The State) to prosecute and to further bring into question the legitimacy of their operation, one must wonder how many of these cases get swept under the rug and never make it to the light of day. And one must further wonder how the mainstream media, the consummate whipping boy and compliant shill for The State, allowed this information to be published.

Red Light Cameras

According to the police chief of Hazelwood (suburb of St. Louis, MO), it is “none of our business” how much money he donated to a new “advocacy group” whose goal is to promote the use of red light cameras. Lest we forget, the police chief is merely (or used to be) a civil servant whose employer is the people, who have a right to know where their tax dollars are being spent and what kind of public/private relationships are being created. Naturally, we the people should not be concerned about the conflict of interest that arises from a police chief who personally finances a group whose purpose is to directly subsidize his precinct’s revenue. That’s none of our business.