Saturday, January 30, 2010

State of the Union

The new president bores me to tears, so I neither watched nor read his speech. I see little evidence that Obama understands the problem caused by our fiscal and monetary policies, and absolutely no evidence that he has the will to go about the crucial task of deleveraging our massive debt.

On the other hand, Ron Paul has some interesting things to say, as always, concerning where we are heading. A sample:

It is impossible to predict the time when confidence will be lost, but it can come quickly. Resorting to buying other paper currencies will not be of much help. When the dollar crashes, most likely the purchasing power of all currencies-since all countries hold dollars as a reserve-will go down as well.

This means that dollars and other currencies will go into buying consumer items, precious metals and other physical properties. Consumer prices will soar, as well as interest rates. The central bank will lose control; and the more they inflate, the worse the confidence becomes. The interest rates will respond to these efforts by rising sharply.

If the Fed tries to reverse the run on the dollar, interest rates will also soar, and the pain on the American citizens will be of such proportion that political chaos will result. Either scenario leads to political and social chaos-the third event, and the most dangerous.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Keep them stateside

Too many wars fail to pass muster as just and necessary ones. Yet these are the type our government has been fighting lately. Opponents of these wars may get discouraged; indeed, it is difficult to avoid doing so. Yet the opposition to our wars is strong, and it is growing.

Lamentably, this growing opposition has effected no change as yet. The current president has won his Nobel Peace Prize, but he has done so while continuing the war in Iraq and escalating the war in Afghanistan. The Democrats in Congress are more considered with passing a shoddily assembled health care bill than doing anything to change our foreign policy, and the voters seem willing to go along with the President--for the time being, anyway.

But there is some good news to report. Certain states, including the one in which I live, are in the process of passing bills which restrict the Federal Government's ability to deploy the National Guard overseas without permission from the states. We don't really know if these bills will pass, or, if passed, they will be held up by courts if challenged by the Federal Government. These bills are nonetheless a step in the right direction.

As Steve Burns puts it:

Just take a look at our current situation: The United States exists in a permanent state of war, can even be said to be addicted to war, and all decision-making about the question of war has now been placed in the hands of one man: the President. Whatever we think of the current occupant of that office, this is clearly a dangerous, unhealthy and undemocratic state of affairs...

Congress no longer even bothers to declare war, even though it is the only body given authority by the constitution to do that. Instead, it passes "Authorizations for Use of Military Force" which are either based on blatant falsehoods, like the Iraqi Authorization, or are an unconstitutional abdication of Congressional war-making powers to the President, as with the Afghanistan Authorization, which says, in effect, "You go wherever you think you need to go, and for as long as you need to, Mr. President, in pursuit of the people who did 9/11, and we'll just sit here and sign the checks."

Make no mistake about it: the American people will not continue to fight these wars forever. And I don't mean that we'll win these wars and then suddenly return to a humbler foreign policy. Too many people make too much money off of war for it to simply end. But for that same reason, the American people will eventually tire of sending their sons and daughters to die in defense of vague causes in wars that never really end. The attempts by the States to reign in the Federal Government are a good start, and merit our full support.

Monday, January 04, 2010

On square circles

A quick bit from Thomas Woods before I get back to my books:

The only answer that appears possible is this: the Church insists that thus-and-so must be done because justice demands it, even though it will make people, particularly those it was designed to help, materially worse off. However, no ecclesiastical document I have ever seen has taken this position. As I have said, these documents carry the assumption that their suggestions will accomplish their stated ends and increase the well-being of the least among us. That assumption, in turn, implies that the only thing standing between today and a more prosperous future is sufficient political will rather than constraints imposed by the very nature of things. That merely assumes the very thing that needs to be proven. And it begs the question yet again to declare that authority has spoken and the matter is closed – the very matter at issue is whether these subjects are of a qualitative nature to be susceptible of ecclesiastical resolution in the first place. If the law of returns, for instance, is an objective fact of nature (which it is), then the pope himself cannot declare it to be false, or expect success from policy prescriptions that ignore it, any more than he can fashion a square circle. It is no insult to papal authority to exclude the possibility of square circles.

As far as I can tell, Woods is the foremost Catholic champion of free market economics. I have no idea what kind of success he will have in causing members of the Church to rethink their policies, not because they are not well-intentioned, but because praxeological reasoning insists that their objectives are incompatible with their methods.

Anyone who is interested in the extent to which free market ideology is compatible with Church teaching would do well to read Woods's: The Church and the Market. I do not believe that his position is the only orthodox one--nor do I have any reason to think he believes as much--merely that it is firmly within the bounds of orthodoxy. And if it is true that the continuing economic debacle has shaken man's faith in markets, it is also true that the crisis compels men to ameliorate their ignorance about the economy. The works of Thomas Woods contribute positively toward that end.