It’s July 17th, which means that Ron Paul’s new book “Swords Into Plowshares” is finally available. And what a book it is. Only the hardest of hearts and most closed of minds could read Dr. Paul’s new book and fail to be convinced of the futility of war. But what interests us the most is Dr. Paul’s discussion of the connection between central banking and war. Almost since the first banks were developed, bankers have funded government wars in exchange for receiving privileges from government. The relationship continues today, but very few politicians ever touch on it. So what does Dr. Paul have to say about central banking and warmaking?
Dr. Paul’s book starts off with personal reminiscences of life during times of war. It includes his personal experiences during World War II, his awareness of the possibility of being drafted to fight in Korea, and his eventual drafting into the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Included among his personal recollections are his comments on rationing during World War II. As a child, that was just the system that was in place, but his future understanding of Austrian economics allowed him to look back on that period of time and realize how detrimental to an economy war could be. In particular, it allowed Dr. Paul to continuously fight against those economists who repeat the lie that government spending in World War II pulled the United States out of the Great Depression. Au contraire – the government war effort did nothing for the common man, as the rationing system merely extended the misery of the Depression.
Of real interest too is Dr. Paul’s discussion of how his views developed over time. While his personal experiences always led him to be uncomfortable with the idea of war, his nascent antiwar impulses took a long time to manifest themselves fully.
Throughout the first half of the book, Dr. Paul sprinkles in comments about the economic destructiveness of war, but in Chapter Nine he really gets to the heart of the matter. Economic factors always play a major role in war, often with one side seeking to gain an economic advantage over the other and using war to try to bring that about. Dr. Paul bemoans the wastefulness of military spending.
When we hear that the US just spent $X billion for drone missiles, we must immediately ask: “instead of what?” In other words, what else could have been achieved if that $X billion had been spent by the individuals who earned the money rather than by some nameless bureaucrat serving a powerful special interest? It should be obvious which scenario would most benefit the economy.
This hearkens back to the great French economist Frederic Bastiat’s lesson on what is seen and unseen. Too many people in the United States love to tout the “jobs” created by the military-industrial complex. But all that defense contractors produce is overpriced, under-performing military hardware whose ultimate final goal is either to be destroyed in combat or to be retired a few years down the road as obsolete. How much better would it be if, instead of producing things to be destroyed, all that money could be used to produce items of actual value to consumers, investing in capital equipment that will be cared for and repaired and that will produce things that consumers actually want.
There are occasional passages that seem pessimistic, although they perhaps are more an acknowledgement that there are so many people who have become dependent on government largesse for their livelihoods than they are pessimistic statements about the future.
Even with the great strides we’ve made in promoting free-market Austrian economics education, politics, for now, will prevent the implementation in a peaceful and deliberate fashion of the reforms required to solve our problems. The collapse of the system is probably required before the people give up their dependency on welfare solutions and government’s so-called responsibility to redistribute wealth. The longer today’s conditions last the more likely more major wars will break out as happened before with the Great Depression.
Because in the end, Dr. Paul always remains upbeat and positive about the possibilities for the future.
A grand opportunity presents itself for true free-market principles to prevail along with a transition away from the militarism of empire to a policy of peace, friendship, and trade with all willing nations.
In Chapter Ten, Dr. Paul gets into the heart of central banking and the important part central banks play in war. Governments can only borrow and tax so much before lenders cease to lend and taxpayers get fed up. So governments call on central banks to debase the currency, funding their wars silently and indirectly through inflation. This connection between central banking and warmaking is one that so many fail to see. Many antiwar activists fail to understand the role that central banks play in funding war. But there are also some people who oppose the Federal Reserve and central banking yet who remain bellicose in their foreign policy positions. Dr. Paul makes a great case for why central banking interventionism and foreign policy interventionism go hand in hand – you can’t have one without the other.
Dr. Paul goes on in the rest of the book to tackle head-on some of the popular misconceptions of and arguments against non-interventionism, including taking on the old epithet of “isolationism” that is often used by foreign policy hawks. He also argues against many of the popular misconceptions that cause people to blindly and unthinkingly support interventionist military adventures. Finally, he goes to great lengths to describe the many ways in which militarism and interventionism erode our freedoms, describes a number of things that need to occur in order to return to limited government, and provides sound advice for how to bring that about. There really is a revolution in thinking taking place in this country as people are becoming aware of how overbearing the government is, and Dr. Paul and his views are still at the forefront of that movement.
Even to those who are well-versed in Dr. Paul’s foreign policy positions, this book is a refreshing and invigorating read and is packed with all sorts of new and useful insights. And because Dr. Paul writes for the layman, this would be a wonderful book to recommend to friends or family members who may be beginning to open their eyes to what is going on in the world. How many times have you heard someone say, “Well, I’m not really sure I can support Ron Paul, I’m not sure his ideas would work,” or something along those lines? Nobody who takes the time to read this book with an open mind could fail to be convinced of the case for non-interventionism, limited government, and real freedom.
Barack Obama is the first American president to stand up to the Israel lobby since Dwight Eisenhower ordered Israel to withdraw from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 1956-57.
Freed of re-election concerns and the need for vast amounts of cash, President Obama finally made the decision to put America’s strategic interests ahead of those of Israel by making peace with Iran. This was a huge accomplishment: the United States has waged economic and political warfare against the Islamic Republic since its creation in 1979.
Iran now looks likely to join Cuba in getting paroled from prison. Both refused to bow to Washington and paid a very heavy price that left them semi-crippled economically and isolated.
Unless the Israel lobby and its yes-men in Congress manage to block the nuclear agreement between Iran and major world powers, Tehran will be re-integrated into the world economic system and reassert its regional power. Iran is the world’s fourth largest producer of oil and a principal supplier to China and Japan.
Iran’s gradual return to unrestrained oil exporting may well spook markets that are already facing a severe glut of inventory that has driven down energy prices everywhere. So much for fears of “peak oil.”
It’s now time to begin dispelling the miasma of lies about Iran promoted by neoconservatives and their house media.
First, Iran has never had nuclear weapons, though polls show many Americans believe they did. The same fib factory that spread lies about Iraq’s non-existent nuclear weapons has churned out a steady stream of disinformation about Iran that was as shameless as it was false. Back in 2007, combined US intelligence concluded that Iran was NOT working on a nuclear weapons program. Israel’s intelligence services came to the same conclusion.
But this did not stop Israel’s bombastic prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, from waging a hysterical, doomsday campaign claiming that Iran was determined to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons – Holocaust II. Americans, and particularly Jewish Americans, swallowed this nonsense promoted by Netanyahu and much of the US media – the same liars who marketed the US war against Iraq.
If Iran indeed had a few nuclear weapons and all-important delivery systems why would it attack Israel? Israel has an indestructible nuclear triad: missiles, aircraft, and most lately German-supplied submarines with nuclear-armed missiles on station in the Arabian and Red Seas. If Iran attacked Israel, its nuclear forces would wipe Iran’s 70 million people off the map.
The idea promoted by Israel that fanatical mullahs in Tehran would commit nuclear hara-kiri just to attack Israel is absurd. The real fanatics with nuclear weapons are more likely found on the outer fringes of Israel’s coalition government who believe God has given them Biblical Israel that they must expand.
As this writer has long said, the real conflict between Israel and Iran was not over nuclear weapons, which Iran does not have, but Palestine. Iran championed the Palestinian cause and demanded Israel quit the occupied West Bank and return the Golan Heights to Syria.
Israel’s foes, Syria and Iraq, had been crushed by American power, as Israel cheered from the sidelines. Egypt had long ago been bought and is now run by a brutal military dictator who is secretly allied to Israel. So too the Saudis, who are petrified their people might ask for the same semi-democratic government that Iran has. Iranians sneer at Saudis as “ignorant Bedouin.”
That leaves Iran as the last significant supporter of a Palestinian state. If Netanyahu could have convinced the US to attack and crush Iran, Israel’s last impediment to annexing the West Bank and Golan, and perhaps expanding into Syria, would have been removed.
We will now see gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson’s fully-owned Republican Party and its media allies, like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, mount a noisy campaign to block the Vienna deal with Iran. Americans will again be deluged with apocalyptic nonsense about secret Iranian nukes.
Remember George W. Bush’s ludicrous claims about the dangers of supposed Iraqi “drones of death?” Well, here we go again. The same fools who thundered about the dangers of an Iraqi nuclear attack on the US will be trotted out again. A new crop of rented know-nothing Congressmen will warn of the wicked Iranians. Sheldon Adelson’s billions will work wonders.
No one will stop to consider that the oft-cited but rarely read Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 that called for the rapid elimination of ALL nuclear weapons in exchange for allowing a few nations to retain nuclear arms for a short period.
Today, the US, Russia, France, Britain and China are all in violation of the NPT for failing to scrap their nuclear weapons. Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea rejected the NPT.
The Arab states and Iran have long been under NPT inspection. Israel, whose secret nuclear program was begun with help from France and aided by technology and uranium stolen from the United States, has the chutzpah to warn the world about Iran, which has so far only a civilian nuclear energy program. Israel is believed to have 80-100 nuclear warheads – why so many remains an interesting mystery.
US law calls for cutting off aid to any nations that develop nuclear weapons. Congress has, of course, ignored its own law.
When UN nuclear inspectors went into Iraq, over half were believed to be agents from the US and Israel. That’s a primary reason why Iran is resisting inspections of its military sites. Interestingly, Iran was believed to be the leading target of UN nuclear inspectors. In fact, Japan is of even higher interest than Iran. More on this in another column.
The Vienna deal may well reshuffle the Mideast deck. A return by Iran to economic life will aid and stabilize the region. As America found during the Nixon era, Iran is a natural US ally (or policeman). Washington needs Iran to help stop ISIS, which has the Saudis petrified. Syria is another natural ally for the US. Washington’s self-interest is to shore up the Damascus government rather than trying to destroy it.
Iran is not a supporter of “terrorism,” as Israel’s allies claim. It backs Lebanon’s resistance movement, Hezbollah, that was created, as I witnessed, by Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Hamas is no more a terrorist movement than was Israel’s self-defense forces in 1948. Iran’s current role in war-torn Yemen is minor.
Burying the hatchet with Iran is one of the Obama administration’s most sensible moves. The Mideast today is a horrifying mess. The Vienna agreement is hopefully a first step in correcting the monumental errors made by the Bush administration and restoring some sanity to the tortured Mideast.
It’s official—words no longer have meaning.
As a proud member of society’s educated, progressive elite, I’m thrilled. Since Bill Clinton famously disputed the definition of the singular third-person present form of the verb “to be,” many of us have looked forward to a time when all words would be rendered completely meaningless. Thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts and his recent King v. Burwell ruling, that dream has finally been realized.See, for too long we have allowed “words” and their “meanings” to obstruct us on our quest for social justice. The long, slow march to the Utopia of American Socialism will never end if we have to rely on “words.” There are simply too many of them and they all mean different things. That’s why this decision is so powerful—the “words” are still there, but they no longer “mean” anything beyond what we want them to mean.
It now no longer matters that the Affordable Care Act clearly stated that those redistributive insurance subsidies only apply to purchases made on state-run exchanges, a point readily acknowledged by SCOTUS care architect and social-justice Übermensch Jon Gruber. We couldn’t change the words that make up the text of the law. But we could change the meanings of those words, and thereby manipulate the meaning of the law for our own ends.
Incredibly, the Supreme Court of the United States totally agreed! By this ruling, “state” now means “state or federal government.” It might just as easily mean “tyrannical Oligarchy,” or “league of asexual little people.” In fact, “state” can mean whatever we need it to mean at any given time. The implementation of American law is now akin to a game of Constitutional Mad Libs.
Narcissism has always existed, but in the 21st century, the number of people with the trait have swollen immeasurably.
Thanks to camera phones, reality TV and social media, it has never been more acceptable to be a narcissist – someone who is overly self-involved, vain and selfish.
Kim Kardashian is so comfortable with the term that she has released a book composed solely of her own selfies and just this week it was revealed that young people are now drinking less alcohol so that they can look good in pictures on social media.
While narcissism can foster some good attributes, like strong self-esteem, emotional stability and the tendency to emerge as a leader, these are often outweighed by the pitfalls.
People with the trait tend to be manipulative, self-absorbed, aggressive and arrogant.
These behaviours can make it difficult for them to have long term relationships and meaningful friendships, it also can make it more likely for them to indulge in unethical practices.
But while many people could identify with some characteristics of a narcissist, like getting upset when criticised or the tendency to show off when in a crowd, are your tendencies bordering on the problematic?
A new book by Dr Craig Malkin – a Harvard-trained psychologist – has produced a test to determine the scale of your narcissism and whether it is something to be concerned about.
Read on to take the test and decide how much of a narcissist you are…
THE NARCISSISM TEST
On a scale of 1 to 5, indicate how much you agree or disagree with each item, using the guide below
1 – strongly disagree
2 – disagree
3 – neutral
4 – agree
5 – strongly agree
1. I know there’s something special about me
2. I’m great at a lot of things compared to most people
3. I secretly believe I’m better than most people
4. I press on even in challenging tasks
5. Obstacles rarely slow me down
6. I’m self-confident, but caring
7. I feel uneasy when I’m the focus of attention
8. I find it hard to enjoy compliments
9. I don’t like to talk about myself
News Corp Australia has obtained a previously unknown video allegedly taken minutes after Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed in Ukraine exactly one year ago. The voices cited by the transcript of the full footage claim a warplane shot down the Boeing.
The four-minute clip posted by News Corp Australia is an extract from what is claimed to be a longer 17-minute video, which allegedly depicts the immediate aftermath of the MH17 Boeing crash. The clip shows rebel fighters who arrived at the scene, first looking to get things under control. Their commander is heard ordering them to clear the area of civilians and onlookers and search for the black boxes.
In the clip a man’s voice is heard, which is thought to be that of a rebel commander, who receives a number of phone calls apparently from other rebel fighters at different sites where the debris fell. The man is heard saying “What? There’s another plane?” and orders the men to “establish a perimeter and keep civilians away”.
The four-minute clip posted by the News.com.au is followed by a transcript from a longer 17-minute video, which has not been released. News Corp Australia told RT that they “stand by the transcript, it was taken from the full video, which investigators now have.”
© News Corp. Australia, Free
The text cites a rebel commander as saying that “the Sukhoi [fighter jet] brought down the plane and we brought down the Sukhoi.”
Later on, the man is quoted as saying that “there’s two planes taken down,” while a voice in the background says, “the fighter jet brought down this one [MH17 Boeing], and our people brought down the fighter. They [the Ukrainians] decided to do it this way, to make it look like we have brought down the plane.”
According to the transcript, there were also between two and “five parachute jumpers” who landed at the nearby Grabove village. These included a pilot “roaming about Rassypnoe” [a nearby village] and a commander ordering his men go and get him immediately.
© Google Maps, Free
One of the rebels is also wondering who and why they [the Boeing] was given permission to fly over the warzone.
The four-minute clip shows rebels searching the debris for black boxes and finding one, as well as personal IDs of the passengers, which they then filmed on the camera.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop reacted upon the release of the video by saying that she could not verify its authenticity. “It is sickening to watch and, 12 months on from the downing of MH17, it is deeply concerning that this footage has emerged now,” she told the Nine Network.
Bishop also said “it is certainly consistent with all that we were told, the advice that we received two months ago, that flight MH17 had been shot down by a… missile,” she said.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was downed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people onboard.
Reprinted from Russia Today.
I have rarely found anything President Obama has done to be praiseworthy, and believe his domestic policies of Keynesian borrow and spend and incessant statist intervention in capitalist enterprise to be especially deplorable. But finally he has stood up to the War Party——and that could mark a decisive turning point in rolling back Washington’s destructive interventionism and imperial pretensions in the Middle East and, indeed, around the world.
The Iranian nuclear agreement is a decisive refutation of the War Party’s hoary claim that Iran is hell-bent upon obtaining nuclear weapons. This deafening but untruthful narrative was long ago debunked by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). These authoritative findings were issued by the nation’s 16 top intelligence agencies in November 2007, and they held that what had possibly been a small-scale Iranian weapons research effort was abandoned in 2003 and never restarted. That NIE verdict has been reiterated several times since then.
Not surprisingly, it was also these NIE findings that stopped cold in its tracks George Bush’s plan to bomb the alleged Iranian nuclear sites in late 2007. In his memoirs the Great Decider admitted that it would have been hard to explain to the American public why he was launching another war to eliminate an alleged Iranian WMD threat when his own intelligence agencies had just concluded it did not even exist!
Indeed, it was the same crowd of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Feith et.al. which had falsified the WMD claims against Saddam Hussein that had been beating the war drums so loudly about the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program.
And, as it has turned out, they had resorted to the same kind of falsified intelligence which the first time around had generated the infamous “curveball” pictures of biological weapons labs that were actually pasturized milk plants. This time it was a bunch of falsified drawings and plans mysteriously found on a laptop computer that had been turned over by a Iranian dissident group called the MEK, which, ironically, had long been allied with Saddam Hussein and had been on the State Department terrorist list from 1997 to 2012.
So it needs to be shouted from the rafters at the outset that all the arm-waving and screeching against this deal by the GOP war-mongers and the Israeli lobby is grounded in a Big Lie. The whole Iran-is-after-the-bomb narrative is just WMD 2.0.
Indeed, the War Party has been so shrill and unrelenting in promulgating this trumped-up story that the other side of the equation is hardly known to the American public. Namely, that the overwhelming weight of the evidence over more than three decades—–including information obtained by the IAEA during the course of extensive investigations—-is that Iran’s primary aim has been to obtain enrichment capacity for its civilian reactors.
In fact, when an incipient weapons research program was shutdown in 2003, the Ayatollah Khamenei took a decisive step to remove all doubt inside the Iranian government. He issued a fatwa (ban) against the possession of nuclear weapons by the Islamic Republic.
This anti-WMD edict was in keeping with a similar fatwa against biological and chemical weapons issued by his predecessor, the Ayatollah Khomeini, in the midst of Iran’s war with Iraq in the 1980s. At the time, Saddam was dropping these horrific weapons on Iranian battle forces—-some of them barely armed teenage boys—- with the spotting help of CIA tracking satellites and the concurrence of Washington.
Thus, the real history demonstrates an Iranian posture that is wholly contrary to the War Party’s endless blizzard of false charges about its quest for nukes. However benighted and medieval its religious views, the theocracy which rules Iran does not consist of demented war mongers. In the heat of battle they were willing to sacrifice their own forces rather than violate their religious scruples to counter Saddam’s WMDs.
At the end of the day, the War Party’s narrative is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
So in the context of all of that history we now have a solemn international agreement that’s designed to insure that the nuclear weapons program that the CIA has never found and that the Iranians say they never had and that their Supreme Leader has forbidden—does, in fact, never happen.
That’s not only a very good thing; it also an overwhelmingly sure thing by the light of any rational analysis.
After all, why would a nation purportedly motivated by a fiendish desire to get the bomb ever agree to a network of restrictions, controls, roadblocks and handcuffs from which not even Houdini could escape? All of this containment machinery would keep the Iranian regime many steps—nay, many miles— removed from anything even remotely resembling an A-bomb capability.
In fact, it’s actually designed to virtually suffocate even the civilian nuclear industry that Iran has proclaimed to be its purpose all along. And, needless to say, that is something which it is entitled to—including uranium enrichment capabilities— as one of the 193 signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The latter, of course, is most definitely a non-exclusive club—-since it includes every nation on the planet Earth except India, Pakistan, South Sudan and Israel.
Under any rational assessment of the agreement, therefore, suffocation of its incipient civilian nuclear power industry is exactly what Iran has embraced. It has done so in the name of ending the wholly unnecessary confrontation with the West over its mythical nuclear weapons program and to thereby gain relief from the sadistic regime of sanctions that have so drastically and unfairly punished its 77 million innocent citizens.
To wit, Iran will eliminate 98% of its existing stockpile of mostly low-enriched uranium and convert the limited number of centrifuges at its one truly hardened site (Fordow) to non-uranium research activities. Further, it will cut the number of centrifuges at its large Natanz facility from 20,000 to 5,060 units, and this absolutely minimal capacity will be restricted to three-decade old slow, inefficient first generation technology. Not even research on more advanced enrichment technologies may be undertaken for the next eight years.
Moreover, the centrifuges that it will be permitted to operate will be restricted to enriching uranium to only 3.67% purity, meaning that Iran will not be remotely capable of producing the 90% purity material needed for bomb making.
It will also dismantle the core of its heavy water reactor at Arak, which would produce plutonium as a by-product. Although such waste material cannot be used to make a bomb without a reprocessing plant which Iran does not have and could not likely get, Iran has agreed to replace the current core with an alternative non-weapons capable reactor technology.
Finally, wrapped around all of these limited capacities for civilian enrichment will be a cradle-to-grave inspection regime covering its entire nuclear fuel cycle. This will put inspectors on the ground and sophisticated monitoring equipment in place at its uranium mines, milling plants, storage and transportation facilities, processing plants, centrifuge operations, civilian reactors, waste handling and processing stations and all the supporting services and equipment supply and maintenance activities along the entire route.
In short, Iran has agreed to put what will be a tiny civilian nuclear power and uranium enrichment industry into a wholly transparent fishbowl. The inspection and monitoring system will be so exhaustive and intrusive that it will resemble the lockdown in a high security Federal prison; and, in fact, will make Iran’s entire sovereign territory subject to inspection demands “anytime and anywhere-“—-including its military facilities.
Yes, in the case of suspected sites not on the primary inspection system it will require a request by the international inspectors. And if the Iranian authorities say no, it will go to a resolution panel where the majority of the members will represent the US and the other western signatories to the agreement. But the key thing is all of this must happen within 24 days.
Can any one in their right mind really believe that Iran could build an illicit facility with tens of thousands of unauthorized centrifuges and all the rest of the bomb cycle equipment that would be required to stage a “break-out”, and that this could first escape US intelligence satellite discovery; and then, if found out, be dismantled and have every trace removed within 24 days?
Here’s the thing, folks. The fulminations of Senator Lindsay Graham and the rest of the GOP War Party, along with the hysterical bellowing of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his legions of lobbyists on the Potomac, have nothing to do with the actual nation of Iran and the actual leaders who signed the agreement. The War Party is attacking a giant fiction and tissue of lies of its own-making—-an untruthful narrative that is grounded in pure politics, not the security interests of the citizens of either America or Israel.
Indeed, the three decade long demonization of Iran has served one over-arching purpose. Namely, it enabled both branches of the War Party to conjure up a fearsome enemy, thereby justifying aggressive policies that call for a constant state of war and military mobilization.
When the cold-war officially ended in 1991, the Cheney crowd in the George H.W. Bush White House feared the kind of drastic demobilization of the US military-industrial complex that was warranted by the suddenly more pacific strategic environment. In response, they developed an anti-Iranian doctrine that was explicitly described as a way of keeping defense spending at high cold war levels.
And the narrative they developed to this end is one of the more egregious Big Lies ever to come out of the Beltway. It puts you in mind of the young boy who killed his parents, and then threw himself on the mercy of the courts on the grounds that he was an orphan!
To wit, during the 1980s the neocons in the Reagan Administration issued their own fatwa again the Islamic Republic based on its open hostility to America—-an enmity grounded in Washington’s 25-year support for the tyrannical and illegitimate regime of the Shah.
That they had a case is beyond doubt. The open US archives now prove that the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953 and put the utterly unsuited and megalomaniacal Mohammad Reza Shah on the peacock throne to rule as a puppet in behalf of US security and oil interests.
During the subsequent decades the Shah not only massively and baldly plundered the wealth of the Persian nation; with the help of the CIA and US military, he also created a brutal secret police force known as the Savak. The latter made the East German Stasi look civilized by comparison.
All elements of Iranian society including universities, labor unions, businesses, civic organizations, peasant farmers and many more were subjected to intense surveillance by the Savak agents and paid informants. As one critic described it:
Over the years, Savak became a law unto itself, having legal authority to arrest, detain, brutally interrogate and torture suspected people indefinitely. Savak operated its own prisons in Tehran, such as Qezel-Qalaeh and Evin facilities and many suspected places throughout the country as well. Many of those activities were carried out without any institutional checks.
Ironically, among his many grandiose follies, the Shah embarked on a massive civilian nuclear power campaign in the 1970s, which envisioned literally paving the Iranian landscape with dozens of nuclear power plants. He would use Iran’s surging oil revenues after 1973 to buy all the equipment required from Western companies—– and also fuel cycle support services such as uranium enrichment——in order to provide his kingdom with cheap power for centuries.
At the time of the Revolution, the first of these plants at Bushehr was nearly complete, but the whole grandiose project was put on hold amidst the turmoil of the new regime and the onset of Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran in September 1980. As a consequence, a $2 billion deposit languished at the French nuclear agency that had originally obtained it from the Shah to fund a ramp-up of its enrichment capacity to supply his planned battery of reactors.
In 1983 the new Iranian regime decided to complete the Bushehr power plant and some additional elements of the Shah’s grand plan. But when they attempted to reactivate the French enrichment services contract and buy necessary power plant equipment from the original German suppliers they were stopped cold by Washington. And when the tried to get their $2 billion deposit back, they were curtly denied that, too.
To make a long story short, the entire subsequent history of off again/on again efforts by the Iranians to purchase dual use equipment and components on the international market, often from black market sources like Pakistan, was in response to Washington’s relentless efforts to block its legitimate rights as a signatory to the NPT to complete some parts of the Shah’s civilian nuclear project.
Needless to say, it did not take much effort by the neocon “regime change” fanatics which inhabited the national security machinery after the 2000 election to spin every attempt by Iran to purchase even a lowly pump or pipe fitting as evidence of a secret campaign to get the bomb. The exaggerations, lies, distortions and fear-mongering which came out of this neocon campaign are truly disgusting.
In that context, it only required one more giant lie to complete the demonization of the Iranian government. That is the utterly false claim that Iran is an aggressive would be hegemon that is a fount of terrorism and is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, among other treacherous purposes.
That giant lie was almost single-handedly fashioned by Bibi Netanyahu and his coterie of power-hungry henchman after the mid-1990s. Indeed, the false claim that Iran posses an “existential threat” to Israel is a product of the pure red meat domestic Israeli politics that have kept Bibi in power for much of the last two decades.
But the truth is Iran is no better or worse than any of the other major powers in the Middle East. In many ways it is far less of a threat to regional peace and stability than the military butchers who now run Egypt on $1.5 billion per year of US aid. And it is surely no worse than the corpulent tyrants who squander the massive oil resources of Saudi Arabia in pursuit of unspeakable opulence and decadence to the detriment of the 27 million citizens which are not part of the regime, and who one day may well reach the point of revolt. And when it comes to the support of terrorism, the Saudis have funded more jihadists and terrorists throughout the region than Iran ever even imagined.
In this context, the War Party’s bloviation about Iran’s leadership of the so-called Shiite Crescent is especially obnoxious. Yes, the Iranians support the Assad government in Syria, but that’s a long-standing alliance that goes back to his father’s era and is rooted in the historic confessional politics of the Islamic world.
The Assad regime is Alawite, a branch of the Shiite, and despite the regime’s brutality, it has been a bulwark of protection for all of Syria’s minority sects, including Christians, against a majority-Sunni ethnic cleansing. The latter would surely occur if the Saudi supported rebels, led by ISIS, were ever to take power.
Likewise, the fact that the government of the broken state of Iraq——an artificial, non-sustainable 1916 concoction of two stripped pants European diplomats (Messrs. Sykes and Picot of the British and French foreign offices, respectively)——–is now aligned with Iran is also a result of confessional politics and geo-economic propinquity.
For all practical purposes, the Kurds of the northeast have declared their independence and the western Sunni lands of the upper Euphrates have been conquered by ISIS with American weapons dropped in place by the hapless $25 billion Iraqi army minted by Washington’s departing proconsuls. Accordingly, what is left of Iraq is a population that is overwhelmingly Shiite, and which nurses bitter resentments from decades of Sunni repression under Saddam. Why in the world, therefore, wouldn’t they ally with their Shiite neighbor?
Likewise, the claim that Iran is now trying to annex Yemen is pure claptrap. The ancient territory of Yemen has been racked by civil war off and on since the early 1970s. And a major driving force of that conflict has been confessional differences between the Sunni south and the Shiite north.
In more recent times, Washington’s blatant drone war inside Yemen against alleged terrorists and its domination and financing of Yemen’s governments eventually produced the same old outcome. That is, another failed state and an illegitimate government which fled at the 11th hour, leaving another vast cache of American arms and equipment behind.
Accordingly, the Houthis forces now in control of substantial parts of the country are not some kind of advanced guard sent in by Tehran. They are indigenous partisans who share a confessional tie with Iran, but which have actually been armed by the US. And the real invaders in this destructive civil war are the Saudis, whose vicious bombing campaign against civilian populations controlled by the Houthis are outright war crimes if the word has any meaning at all.
Finally, there is the fourth element of the purported Iranian axis—–the Hezbollah controlled Shiite communities of southern Lebanon and the Beka Valley. Like everything else in the Middle East, Hezbollah is a product of historical European imperialism, Islamic confessional politics and the frequently misguided and counter-productive security policies of Israel.
In the first place, Lebanon was not any more a real country than Iraq was when Sykes and Picot laid their straight-edged rulers on a map. The result was a stew of religious and ethnic divisions—-Maronite Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Copts, Druse, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Kurds, Armenians, Jews and countless more—– that made the fashioning of a viable state virtually impossible.
At length, an alliance of Christians and Sunnis gained control of the country, leaving the 40% Shiite population disenfranchised and economically disadvantaged, as well. But it was the inflow of Palestinian refugees in the 1960s and 1970s that eventually upset the balance of sectarian forces and triggered a civil war that essentially lasted from 1975 until the turn of the century.
It also triggered a catastrophically wrong-headed Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, and a subsequent repressive occupation of mostly Shiite territories for the next eighteen years. The alleged purpose of this invasion was to chase the PLO and Yassir Arafat out of the enclave in southern Lebanon that they had established after being driven out of Jordan in 1970.
Eventually Israel succeeded in sending Arafat packing to north Africa, but in the process created a militant, Shiite-based resistance movement that did not even exist in 1982, and which in due course became the strongest single force in Lebanon’s fractured domestic political arrangements. After Israel withdrew in 2000, the then Christian President of the county made abundantly clear that Hezbollah had become a legitimate and respected force within the Lebanese polity, not merely some subversive agent of Tehran:
“For us Lebanese, and I can tell you the majority of Lebanese, Hezbollah is a national resistance movement. If it wasn’t for them, we couldn’t have liberated our land. And because of that, we have big esteem for the Hezbollah movement.”[
So, yes, Hezbollah is an integral component of the Shiite Crescent and its confessional and political alignment with Tehran is entirely plausible. But that arrangement—-however uncomfortable for Israel—–does not represent Iranian aggression on Israel’s northern border. Instead, it’s actually the blowback from the stubborn refusal of Israeli governments—–especially the rightwing Likud governments of modern times—–to deal constructively with the Palestinian question.
In lieu of a two-state solution in the territory of Palestine, therefore, Israeli policy has produced a chronic state of war with nearly half the Lebanese population represented by Hezbollah. The latter is surely no agency of peaceful governance and has committed its share of atrocities. But the point at hand is that given the last 35 years of history and Israeli policy, Hezbollah would exist as a menacing force on its northern border even if the Shah or his heir was still on the Peacock Throne.
And that goes to the heart of Netanyahu’s Big Lie. His relentless claim that Iran is out to annihilate Israel and by implication liquidate its Jewish population is a preposterous distortion and exaggeration of Iran’s policy, as articulated by its Supreme Leader himself.
The real issue is the Palestinian question and the gross injustices that the Palestinian diaspora outside of Israel’s current borders, and the occupied populations inside the massive settler communities of the West Bank, have suffered for decades. But Iran does not propose to seek redress for the Palestinians by dropping nuclear bombs on Israel or sending in its own feeble military or even hordes of hired terrorists.
No, the Ayatollah Khamenei has proposed to vote the present sectarian state of Israel out of existence by referendum, not A-bombs!
In one of his most recent pronouncements on the topic in March 2012, in fact, he said the following during a Friday prayer sermon calling for a multi-religious secular state in Palestine:
Holding a referendum in Palestine among the Palestinians, and all those that became refugees—if, of course, they want to return to Palestine—is a rational solution [to the problem]. Those [Palestinians], who live in Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, and elsewhere, can return home. I am not advocating forcible return of anybody. Then, [Palestinians should] hold a referendum among these who were living there before 1948, when the illegitimate state of Israel was formed, whether Muslim, or Jew or Christian, which will then decide the type of government that must be formed there. This is democracy. Why is democracy good for others, but not for the Palestinians? Why it is that all the people of the world can decide their own fate, but not the Palestinians? There is no doubt that the present regime [Israel] took over through deception, trickery, and force. Thus, the people there have an imposed regime. Fine! Let the people of Palestine hold a referendum to choose the type of the government that they want for themselves. That regime and that government should form and then decide what to do with the people who moved there after 1948. Whatever decision it made, that would also be the fruit of people’s vote, as well as democracy, respect for human rights, and in line with the world’s present rationale. This is a good solution that must be implemented.
Needless to say, the wizened old man who rules Iran for the time being has no right or authority to call for a referendum among peoples outside his own borders. But that he preaches the doctrine of a secular state solution that was accepted by most of the civilized world as a plausible answer to the Palestinian question only 40 years ago is surely not evidence that Iran is led by fiendish men who plan another holocaust.
So what is at stake here is of truly epochal importance. The Iranians have signed the agreement in good faith and have locked-up any potential for development of a nuclear weapon that they do not want, and have thrown away the key.
Look at the jubilation on the streets of Iran today owing to the prospect that the West’s brutal sanctions will be lifted, and that their country now has a pathway back into the community of nations. Once prosperity and self-respect return to the ancient land of Persia—–not this Ayatollah nor any other will ever be in a position to do anything more harmful to Israel than what is embodied in the quoted paragraph above. That is, preach vainly about a history that might have been.
In the interim, Israel ought to thank its lucky stars that two flawed but inspired politicians—Barack Obama of the US and Hassan Rouhani of Iran—–found it possible to transcend 30 years of lies and enmities on both sides in order to give peace a chance.
More importantly, as Iran comes back into the community of nations and re- enters global commerce it will give the citizens of Israel an opportunity to see that they have been betrayed and jeopardized by the terrible lies, bullying, megalomania and insuperable will to power of Bibi Netanyahu.
Their path to a better, safer future does not lie in the defeat of this agreement on the floor of the US Congress; it lies in a resounding defeat of Netanyahu government the very next time they have the chance to go to the polls.
Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.
Hi! I’m Sheila.
For the last several years, our family, my husband Dan, our son Jesse and I, have been living what some may call the “survivalist” lifestyle. Actually, we live the off-grid (so far off the grid that there is no land line and no cell phone service available), self-sufficient life. We’re not here to get away from the world for a few days while chaos happens and calms down. We don’t think that’s what will happen, anyway. We’re here because we have chosen to separate ourselves from the rat race, the system, and not be swept away in the tide of what we see as society running amok. This is not a temporary lifestyle to us. It’s a wonderfully peaceful, sometimes difficult and always rewarding life. Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen, “out there”, this is how we choose to live.
We were basically city folk all our lives, but over the past 20-plus years, we formulated, clarified and then realized our vision to make the transformation to our current lifestyle. We understand the fear and panic many are now feeling in contemplating making a lifestyle change within a short time because they are observing events around them that require such a drastic move.
Once we moved to our current location in New Mexico, we chose to lease parts of our land to form a small community of like-minded, people (I would rather call it, “like-spirited”) to help each other make it through what we believe is coming down the pike soon. In that search for the right people (who we eventually did find) we met many types of self-proclaimed, “survivalists,” most of whom were in reality, “survival tourists.” Our son coined this phrase to describe those who only wanted to investigate survivalism just deeply enough to find reasons they couldn’t/shouldn’t do it. (“Phew, I almost had to wash my dishes by hand!”).
We met people who spent lots of money on land, a shelter and storage foods, only to forget to prepare the most important thing, their minds! It’s going to take so much more than a gross of toilet paper to save your rear. You’re going to have to put on your, “big girl pants,” and deal with things like going out in the cold to get firewood, learning to make pancakes using only flour you’ve ground, an egg and water, and wearing the same clothes for years without falling apart, neither the clothes nor you!
The things you might think are important now will seem silly once you’re more concerned with chores that simply keep you alive through a cold winter. We met people who didn’t think they could live without their 62” plasma screen TV. We’ve been watching the same 1200 piece library of DVDs on our laptop for our evening’s entertainment for several years. We know the scripts backwards and forwards, but it takes our minds off the day’s work when we need it.
Before we were able to have our well drilled, we were depending on a local water delivery service, 2500 gallons at a time, not a 5 gallon visit from the “Culligan Man”, who one day decided that he didn’t want to make the rough trip to our ranch any longer. We had to make our last 500 gallons last throughout a brutally cold winter, washing dishes with 2 gallons a day, washing our hair about once very 2 weeks. But you discover that you make it through.
Myths about survivalism
If you’re considering living the survivalist lifestyle, you should know the truth about these myths?
1. It’s just like camping.
It’s nothing like camping. When you go camping, if you can’t take a shower for a couple of days. No problem, you’ll take one when you get home. This will be your home, and you’ll have to figure out how to keep your body (and clothing) clean all year long, in the cold, snow or wind.
On a camping trip, you can live without anything for a couple of days, even weeks, and you can always jump back in the car and go to the nearest grocery store to pick up what you need. What if there were no grocery store available? How will you feel when your daily habits are interrupted, not just for a few days trip, but for the foreseeable future?
2. You can buy enough food and supplies for forever.
No, someday what you have will run out. You’ll have to learn to grow and/or gather new food supplies and to learn to use what you have, even if that means pancakes without baking powder. Someday you will have to wipe your butt with a washable rag instead of disposable toilet paper. Someday there could be no gas to get to the store and the store won’t have anything on the shelves anyway.
3. Your neighbors will gather around and help each other.
Think about your neighbors who haven’t got a clue, or can’t bear the thought, of their comfy suburban lives changing when the reality of where society is going hits them, “upside the head”. What if your neighbors can’t get their daily supply of cigarettes, beer, Prozac, soda pop, etc., etc., etc.? Are they going to be the kind of people you can depend on? For how long?
4. If I buy enough gadgets (mini washing machine, generator, solar tracker) I’ll be OK.
If you truly believe that society is in for a big shake up, you’ll realize that this is not a time to spend money unnecessarily, but to put every penny you can into what is practical. Gadgets are going to break down and then you will have to learn to live without them anyway. Why not learn now?
I think I need not provide a link or other evidence for the current Pope’s socialist (if not Marxist) leanings and his corresponding wishes for salvation of the poor by the state. Yet, for ye of little faith in this mosquito, I offer a couple of snippets:
I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply the appearances – of the evils in our world!
It must be reiterated that “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others”.
We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market.
Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.
With that out of the way…I have searched for sources in the Bible that might support these views. I found passages that were close, but not quite right. But then I stumbled across a translation I had never seen before. You have heard of the New International Version (NIV)? Well, I found the New Comintern-ational Version (NCV).
Following are a few selected comparative verses, with the slightly different translation noted in italics in the NCV.
NIV: Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
NCV: Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, ask your politicians to take your neighbor’s possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
NIV: “But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”
NCV: “But now as for what is inside you—ask the Roman guard to force your neighbor to be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”
NIV: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
NCV: “Take your neighbor’s possessions by popular vote and give to the poor.”
(Please note: the change in the following passage is very subtle – I almost missed it myself. It should also be noted that Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector.)
NIV: But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
NCV: But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of his possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, he will pay back four times the amount.”
NIV: For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.
NCV: For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to tax the wealthy for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.
NIV: As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
NCV: As it is written: “You must forcefully scattered their wealth to the poor; your righteousness endures forever.”
It is recently reported that the Pope is open to discussing critiques of his criticisms of capitalism. Given that he has a sound biblical basis for his views from the New Comintern-ational Version of the bible, I suspect these will be very short conversations.
I think Gary North studied the wrong Bible.
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.
Many people instantly reach out to allopathic medicines (aspirin, paracetamol, etc.) as soon as they get a headache. It is not that they are unaware of the side-effects; they are, but situations such as an important meeting ahead, a toddler nagging them, etc., increase the urgency to be rid of the headache! Understandable! Nobody likes headaches. But, next time, please try one of these proven folk remedies before you pop a pill.
1. Boil water. Add a spoonful of coriander seeds. Let it boil for a while till you are able to smell the coriander strongly. Switch off the stove and add half a spoon of tea leaves to the concoction. Close the vessel, and let it stand for a few minutes. Filter and drink it as it is without adding any sweeteners. Sleep or sit down and relax for just ten minutes. If you are lucky, your headache will be gone by this time.
2. Lemon. What can’t it do?Lemon is very effective and powerful ingredient to treat headache pain. When you drink warm water mixed with some lemon juice, it reduces the intensity of a headache. This particular home remedy is beneficial when headache is caused due to gas in the stomach. Another option is apply lemon crust paste on the forehead to get immediate relief from the pain. At the same time you may also drink a steaming cup of lemon tea three to four times a day when suffering from headache.
3. Ginger is also a wonderful medicine for headache. If you don’t mind munching on a piece of peeled ginger as it is, perhaps with a dollop of honey, nothing like it. Else, add a spoonful of chopped ginger to 1-1/2 cups of hot water, and let it boil for a few minutes. Then, filter, add some honey and drink it. What a tasty way to banish your headache!
4. Betel Leaves work wondersBetel leaves are known for their analgesic as well as cooling properties which can hugely help to get rid of a headache effectively within a few minutes. For this remedy, you need to take two to three fresh betel leaves and with the help of a grinder make a fine paste out of it. Now apply this paste on the forehead and both sides of the head for half an hour. Soon you will get relief from the intense pain. At the same time you can also chew one or two betel leaves to treat headache.
5. If your headache is due to tension, then chamomile tea works wonders for it! Nowadays, dried chamomile flower is available in most organic shops. You just need to add a spoonful of the flowers to a glass of freshly boiled water, allow it to infuse for a few minutes, filter and enjoy with a dash of honey. Else, you can buy pure chamomile tea bags (Korakundah is a good brand). This will come in handy when your head aches during office hours!
Reprinted with permission from PreventDisease.com.
From first reactions, it appears that Hill Republicans will be near unanimous in voting a resolution of rejection of the Iran nuclear deal.
They will then vote to override President Obama’s veto of their resolution. And if the GOP fails there, Gov. Scott Walker says his first act as president would be to kill the deal.
But before the party commits to abrogating the Iran deal in 2017, the GOP should consider whether it would be committing suicide in 2016.
For even if Congress votes to deny Obama authority to lift U.S. sanctions on Iran, the U.S. will vote to lift sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. And Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, all parties to the deal, will also lift sanctions.
A Congressional vote to kill the Iran deal would thus leave the U.S. isolated, its government humiliated, unable to comply with the pledges its own secretary of state negotiated. Would Americans cheer the GOP for leaving the United States with egg all over its face?
And if Congress refuses to honor the agreement, but Iran complies with all its terms, who among our friends and allies would stand with an obdurate America then?
Israel would applaud, the Saudis perhaps, but who else?
And as foreign companies raced to Iran, and U.S. companies were told to stay out, what would GOP presidential candidates tell the business community?
Would the party campaign in 2016 on a pledge to get tough and impose new sanctions? “Coercive diplomacy,” The Wall Street Journal calls it.
If so, what more would they demand that Iran do? And what would they threaten Iran with, if she replied: We signed a deal. We will honor it. But we will make no new concessions under U.S. threat.
Would we bomb Iran? Would we go to war? Not only would Americans divide on any such action, the world would unite — against us.
And would a Republican president really bomb an Iran that was scrupulously honoring the terms of the John Kerry deal? What would we bomb? All the known Iran nuclear facilities will be crawling with U.N. inspectors.
“Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapons is resolved diplomatically through negotiation or it’s resolved through force,” said the president, “Those are the options.”
Is that not pretty much where we are at, even if the GOP does not like it?
Republicans seem to be unable to grasp the changes that have taken place in this century.
With the Arab Spring, the fall of half a dozen regimes, the rise of al-Qaida and ISIS, civil wars in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, we have a new Middle East.
Our principal enemies are now al-Qaida and ISIS. And while both have been aided by our old allies, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, both are being resisted by Iran.
But, we are reminded, Iran’s regime is founded upon ideological hatred of America. But, so, too, were Mao’s China and Stalin’s USSR. Yet Nixon forged a detente with Mao and FDR partnered with Stalin. And Ronald Reagan negotiated a strategic arms deal with the “evil empire” of his time.
Bibi Netanyahu and AIPAC, the Saudis and Gulf Arabs, will demand that Congress kill the Iran deal that Lindsey Graham says is a “death sentence for the State of Israel.” But one trusts that, this time, the GOP will add a dose of salt to what the hysterics are bellowing.
After all, it was Bibi’s rants — Iran is hellbent on getting a bomb, is only months away, and military action is needed now to smash the whirling centrifuges — that teed up the talks for Tehran.
All Iran had to do was prove it had no bomb program, which was not difficult, as U.S. intelligence had repeatedly said Iran had no bomb program.
Then the Iranians proved it. They agreed to cut their centrifuges by two-thirds, to eliminate 98 percent of their uranium, to halt production of 20 percent uranium at Fordow, to convert the heavy-water reactor at Arak that produces plutonium to a light water reactor that produces one kilogram a year, and to let cameras in and give U.N. inspectors the run of their nuclear facilities.
And how is Israel, with hundreds of atom bombs, mortally imperiled by a deal that leaves Iran with not a single ounce of bomb-grade uranium?
What does Iran get? What Iran always wanted. Not a bomb which would make Iran a pariah like North Korea and could bring down upon her the same firestorm America delivered to Iraq, but a path to become again the hegemon of the Persian Gulf.
Remarkable. Iran agrees not to build a bomb it had already decided not to build, and we agree to lift all sanctions. And they pulled it off.
What is one or two atom bombs you can’t use, without committing national suicide, compared to $100 billion in freed assets and a welcome mat back to the community of nations.
Fa male vedere intere famiglie che decidono di lasciare le proprie abitazioni e di accamparsi nel prato di fronte a casa per protestare contro l'arrivo di un centinaio di migranti nel loro condominio, come è successo ieri in Veneto.
Fa male vedere cittadini esasperati perché al mattino non riescono nemmeno ad aprire i propri negozi a causa degli immigrati che dormono accatastati sul marciapiede, come sta succedendo in questi giorni a Milano.
Ma fa ancora più male constatare la completa assenza delle istituzioni, che paiono chiaramente incapaci di gestire una situazione che presto o tardi - e sicuramente più presto che tardi - rischia di sfuggire di mano.
Ed è qui che sta il cuore del problema. Siamo semplicemente di fronte ad una incapacità conclamata, oppure c'è dietro qualcosa di più, che non riusciamo a vedere? [...]
Ricordo a tutti i lettori che è in vendita il mio libro "L'Economia E' un Gioco da Ragazzi". Manoscritto incentrato sulla diffusione delle idee della Scuola Austriaca attraverso spiegazioni e analisi semplificate e dirette. Una presentazione adatta ad un vasto pubblico, a dimostrazione che per capire l'economia non è necessario un gergo tecnico ma solo logica e buon senso. Il libro è disponibile sia su Lulu.com sia su Scribd.
di David Stockman
L'assurdo show che è andato in onda a Bruxelles durante il fine settimana, è stato il momento finanziario "clou" per l'euro e la BCE. Cioè, è stato il momento in cui i tedeschi — imitando le forze armate americane in quella terribile mattina del febbraio 1968 — hanno dato fuoco alla zona Euro per salvarla.
Un giorno la storia giudicherà........
Secondo il ricordo di un soldato americano sugli eventi del Vietnam, fu il maggiore Booris che disse al giornalista Peter Arnett: "Era necessario distruggere la città per salvarla".
Dopo il massacro della democrazia greca nel prime ore di lunedì mattina, Angela Merkel ha detto la stessa cosa, anche se il suo linguaggio è stato un po' meno esplicito:
Riflette i principi fondamentali che abbiamo seguito per salvare l'euro. Ora bisogna implementare, passo dopo passo, quello che abbiamo concordato questa sera.
Nessuno sano di mente potrebbe pensare che il prestito di altri $96 miliardi ad un paese del tutto fallito, possa avere un qualche senso. Dopo tutto, l'economia greca si è ridotta del 30% sin dal 2008 e sta soffocando sotto un debito pubblico da $400 miliardi.
Tale cifra scaturisce dal fatto che in cima ai $360 miliardi di debito delle amministrazioni pubbliche greche, ci sono almeno altri $25 miliardi incorporati nei prestiti ELA al sistema bancario greco. Quest'ultimo è profondamente insolvente, il che significa che una parte considerevole dei $100 miliardi dei prestiti ELA attualmente in circolazione non è coperta da buone garanzie, ma si tratta semplicemente di un trasferimento fiscale sottobanco da parte della BCE per impedire il naufragio finanziaria della Grecia.
Allo stesso modo, dato il buco ancora più profondo in cui è caduta l'economia greca nel corso degli ultimi sei mesi, gli obiettivi di bilancio estorti alla Grecia con gli accordi di questo fine settimana sono assolutamente ridicoli. Infatti, anche se gli avanzi primari mirati di 1,2,3 e 3.5% del PIL verranno miracolosamente raggiunti nel 2018, ci sarebbero ancora $15 miliardi di deficit di bilancio al netto degli interessi, e molti di più se ci saranno carenze materiali di budget (praticamente una certezza).
Quindi, prima che l'ultima dose di punizione economica della Troika debilitasse ulteriormente la sua economia, la Grecia si ritrova un debito pubblico da $400 miliardi rispetto a $200 miliardi di PIL.
Ecco il punto. La Merkel non ha una risposta migliore se non quella di sganciare altri $96 miliardi in un paese con un rapporto debito/PIL al 200%. E questo dovrebbe salvare l'euro? Sembra di rivedere il maggiore Booris quando sganciò circa 10,000 litri di napalm su Ben Tre per "salvare" la città. In entrambi i casi, è stata messa in moto una macchina mortale, e i funzionari statali stanno implementando meccanicamente e ciecamente una serie di passaggi altamente distruttivi.
Nel caso di specie, la macchina mortale è l'euro e, più precisamente, la banca centrale canaglia a Francoforte. In realtà, il vero male non è una valuta comune di per sé — qualcosa che in realtà l'Europa già aveva prima del 1914, con i tassi di cambio fissi del gold standard. Quest'ultimo, infatti, rappresentava una moneta comune perché i franchi francesi, la sterlina britannica, i fiorini olandesi e il resto delle valute, erano intercambiabili ad un tasso costante — un accordo che ha contribuito a produrre prosperità pluriennale che il vecchio continente non aveva mai visto prima (o dopo).
No, il problema è la stampa di denaro furiosa della BCE. Quest'ultima ha radicalmente falsificato il prezzo del debito, e quindi ha scatenato in tutta Europa un infuso micidiale di falsa crescita economica e poi dissolutezza fiscale quando la bolla è scoppiata dopo la crisi del 2008.
Durante i suoi primi otto anni di vita, la BCE ha ampliato la propria situazione patrimoniale ad un tasso annuo del 14%. Ed è ironico, perché il mandato originale della BCE presupponeva il classico punto friedmaniano della "stabilità dei prezzi".
Ciò non è accaduto, naturalmente, in quanto il livello dei prezzi europei al consumo è aumentato del 21% negli stessi otto anni (2.4% all'anno). Lo zio Milton si sta rigirando nella tomba e infatti aveva preannunciato che l'euro sarebbe stato un disastro.
Quindi piuttosto che fornire la stabilità dei prezzi al consumo, la BCE ha creato una gigantesca offerta artificiale per il debito europeo, così da spingerne i rendimenti ben al di sotto del loro livello economico reale. Cioè, la BCE ha sovvenzionato le emissioni obbligazionarie sovrane dell'Eurozona.
Non a caso, Grecia, Portogallo, Spagna, Italia e anche la Francia hanno banchettato di cuore. Ma poi la crescita alimentata dal credito falso si è fermata, facendo decelerare bruscamente il tasso di crescita del PIL nominale.
Sin dalla vigilia della crisi finanziaria, il PIL nominale nella zona Euro ha strisciato in avanti ad un tasso annuo dello 0.9%. Ciò rappresenta una riduzione del 75% rispetto al tasso pre-2008 ed è un riflesso del peso schiacciante del debito, delle tasse e del dirigismo del superstato di Bruxelles e delle politiche nazionali dei singoli paesi.
Di conseguenza è diventato evidente che l'Europa stava ignorando la questione fiscale, e che il denaro fiat a buon mercato della BCE aveva praticamente annullato l'obiettivo di un rapporto debito/PIL al 60%. Anche considerando la rettitudine fiscale della Germania e di altri paesi del nord Europa, dopo la crisi finanziaria il rapporto debito/PIL dell'UE-19 è salito costantemente verso il 100%.
C'era semplicemente bisogno di un mercato obbligazionario onesto, uno in cui il prezzo del debito di ciascuna delle 19 giurisdizioni fiscali della zona Euro si basasse sui propri dati di bilancio, sulle proprie tendenze economiche, sulla propria governance fiscale e sui propri rischi. Tali requisiti si sono quasi materializzati quando è scoppiata la crisi del debito greco nel 2009-2010 e sono saliti i rendimenti del debito dei PIIGS.
Ma ciò non è stato altro che l'ultimo sussulto di un mercato obbligazionario reale, perché in breve tempo Bruxelles e Francoforte l'hanno spento in nome della difesa dell'euro. Questo sforzo distruttivo ha preso la forma di una doppia falsificazione.
In primo luogo, Bruxelles e il Fondo Monetario Internazionale hanno inaugurato una falsa camera del debito (ossia, i vari fondi di salvataggio) e al suo interno sono state ammassate centinaia di miliardi di debito sovrano di Grecia, Irlanda, Spagna e Portogallo. Ciò è accaduto durante il 2010-2012, quando il debito dei PIIGS è stato oggetto di un furioso e giusto dumping da parte delle banche europee, dei fondi obbligazionari e degli speculatori finanziari, poiché era diventata nettamente evidente la portata della catastrofe economica annidata nei bilanci dei PIIGS.
Col senno di poi, questo crash obbligazionario era un dono degli dei economici. Questo perché di fronte ad una chiusura dei mercati del debito pubblico, ognuno dei PIIGS avrebbe dovuto stilare il proprio piano di solvibilità fiscale senza editti, mandati, ispettori e interventi impiccioni dei burocrati della Troika, e senza i "prestiti ponte" incrementanti i debiti che hanno comportato questi salvataggi.
Detto in altro modo, la disciplina del mercato obbligazionario è pienamente compatibile con la sovranità nazionale e una governance di bilancio democratica. Infatti è un requisito del contesto europeo.
Invece la Merkel è stata ingannata ed è stata indotta a credere che la vendita di obbligazioni era opera degli stessi "speculatori" anglosassoni malevoli che avevano causato la grande crisi finanziaria del 2008. Quindi il superstato dell'UE, le è stato detto, doveva assumersi l'incarico di fare da "banchiere" ai membri fiscalmente più deboli dell'unione monetaria al fine di guadagnare tempo, sconfiggere gli speculatori e preservare la stabilità finanziaria della zona Euro.
Purtroppo la Merkel e la sua cricca sono ignoranti monetari, e quindi si sono bevuti questa favoletta. Così facendo, sono rimasti completamente ciechi davanti ad una realtà fondamentale. Vale a dire, lo scoppio delle varie bolle creditizie nel 2008 e il crash delle obbligazioni europee nel 2010, avevano la stessa causa.
In entrambi i casi la repressione finanziaria della banca centrale aveva causato una sottovalutazione artificiale dei titoli di stato e una corsa disperata alla ricerca di rendimenti decenti (compresi i prodotti ipotecari cartolarizzati e le obbligazioni dei PIIGS). Inoltre ha permesso a Wall Street e agli speculatori di Londra di cavalcare queste bolle finanziarie grazie ad un tasso del mercato monetario soppresso artificialmente. Così facendo, gli speculatori hanno potuto acquistare quei titoli che erano finiti sotto pressione, per poi rivenderli quando le varie bolle sarebbero scoppiate.
In breve, allora c'era bisogno di fermare la mano pesante keynesiana della banca centrale nei mercati del debito e in quelli monetari; permettere ai governi di andare in default; lasciare che i banchieri imprudenti sopportassero le loro perdite; e rimettere i bond vigilantes a capo della disciplina fiscale — uno stato alla volta.
Inutile dire che i salvataggi della Troika hanno avuto l'effetto opposto. Comprimendo gli spread obbligazionari verso un denominatore comune tedesco, hanno distrutto il price discovery e la sovranità fiscale nazionale. I banchieri della Troika, di conseguenza, sono diventati agenti della governance di bilancio, intromettendosi nei minimi dettagli delle contabilità di bilancio nazionali; e sono anche diventati sedicenti riformatori economici, intromettendosi nella trama del commercio nazionale, nei mercati del lavoro e dei prodotti, e nelle pratiche dei debitori.
Questa massiccia intrusione era necessaria per coprire una bugia della Troika: il debito della Grecia e degli altri PIIGS non veniva mutualizzato, e i prestiti e le garanzie rilasciate dai fondi di salvataggio erano i primi cugini dei prestiti ponte che il mutuatario avrebbe dovuto rimborsare.
C'era l'illusione che i mercati orientati dalle "riforme" della Troika, avrebbero scatenato tassi di crescita del PIL più elevati tra i mutuatari, permettendo loro di crescere e poi ripagare i prestiti ponte dopo un periodo di restrizioni di bilancio imposte dall'esterno.
Ciò significa che le misure della Troika non si basavano sul presupposto che "l'austerità" fosse di per sé un tonico politico. Questa è solo una fandonia keynesiana che ha ottenuto risonanza infinita sulla stampa finanziaria — come nel titolo di un articolo di MarketWatch di questa mattina, “Greece offers evidence that austerity doesn’t work”.
A dire il vero, non prova nulla del genere. Dimostra solamente che i burocrati del superstato europeo non possono riprogettare le economie nazionali in misura sufficiente da elevarne i tassi di crescita economica; e consentire, in tal modo, ai mutuatari (stati europei) fiscalmente insolventi di poter ripagare i loro debiti insostenibili. In realtà, questa è solo una variante del delirio degli oratori supply side negli Stati Uniti.
In una certa misura questa forma europeizzata della curva di Laffer, è stata il sottotesto degli accordi dello scorso fine settimana costituito da bulli politici, ignoranti economici e burocrati del superstato di Bruxelles. Ecco come hanno istruito gli sfortunati greci per gestire il loro debito schiacciante da $400 miliardi. Perché, tra le altre cose, la loro missiva finale richiede:
.......adottare riforme del mercato più ambiziose, con un calendario preciso per l'attuazione di tutte le raccomandazioni dell'OCSE, tra cui il commercio domenicale, i periodi di saldi, le proprietà delle farmacie, delle latterie, delle panetterie, nonché l'apertura di professioni macro-critiche (es. traghetti).......
Se non eravate a conoscenza dell'illusione della Troika, avreste potuto pensare che tutta questa cosa fosse una specie di gigantesca farsa. Dopo tutto, i 327 milioni di cittadini della zona Euro-18 stanno davvero dicendo agli 11 milioni di abitanti della Grecia di dover liberalizzare le professioni d'ingegneri, notai, attuari e ufficiali giudiziari, e liberalizzare il mercato degli affitti turistici e dei traghetti? Oppure è solo l'ennesimo tentativo di micro-gestire l'economia di un paese attraverso cavilli burocratici ed editti assurdi?
La ragione per tutta questa ingerenza da capogiro nel commercio locale e nella vita economica, è la curva di Laffer. I greci dovranno ingoiare più abitudini economiche orientate al mercato, affinché la Grecia possa ripagare il suo debito e, quindi, diventare un mulo più robusto mentre si trova sotto le cure della Troika.
Questo è del tutto assurdo. Ma è quello che succede quando un superstato diventa un banchiere fiscale e mente ai suoi elettori sui costi finanziari e sui rischi di quelli che erano a tutti gli effetti dei crediti inesigibili. Infatti, quando si distrugge l'onestà nei mercati obbligazionari, si finisce con una governance stalinista in nome del libero mercato!
Le implicazioni di questa verità sono doppiamente ironiche. In primo luogo, la vera politica della Troika non era "pro-austerità" come ha blaterato continuamente il professor Krugman; in realtà era una versione europea della curva di Laffer — cioè, redenzione fiscale tramite la magia supply side e un denominatore maggiore del PIL per generare un gettito fiscale incrementale e quindi ridurre il rapporto tra debito e reddito nazionale.
La seconda ironia è che quasi tutte le riforme economiche avanzate dalla Troika, sono concetti di libero mercato che possono consentire una maggiore efficienza e produttività nel corso del tempo, e quindi stimolare una torta più grande di reddito nazionale. Il problema è che le leggi cripto-comuniste sul lavoro dell'Italia e della Spagna, i cartelli dei capitalisti clientelari e le restrizioni che ostacolano l'efficienza in Grecia e in gran parte dell'Europa, sono (bene o male) un prodotto del processo democratico.
Come solevano dire i free trader sulle quote protezionistiche e le tariffe, se alcuni parlamenti esteri decidono di riempire i loro porti con pietre per tenere fuori le merci estere più economiche, è un loro diritto essere stupidi; non serve chiudere i porti americani in risposta e punire così consumatori e i mercati nazionali.
Eppure quella stupidità che fa sì che il parlamento greco si aggrappi a restrizioni commerciali alla vendita al dettaglio (vietando sconti e concorrenza, tranne durante i "periodi di saldi" invernali ed estivi appositamente designati), non giustifica la prelazione della sovranità nazionale. Se i greci vogliono legiferare a favore di un basso tenore di vita in cambio di una presunta stabilità sociale — questa è una loro prerogativa democratica.
Detto in altro modo, la zona Euro è un'unione monetaria fallace; non è uno stato sovrano con poteri federali plenari. Pertanto la presunzione di Bruxelles è fondamentalmente sbagliata. Se uno stato sovrano dell'UE non può ripagare i suoi debiti, questi ultimi devono essere ammortizzati o ristrutturati. Con il passare del tempo e il trauma di perdite nei mercati dei titoli di stato, ci sarebbe meno debito emesso e più rettitudine fiscale anche tra le democrazie sociali del vecchio mondo.
L'alleanza franco-tedesca, che ha spalleggiato il sistema dei salvataggi, si è ormai scavata una fossa piena di menzogne e illusioni. Ciò che fa la Grecia — e anche la Spagna, il Portogallo, l'Italia, l'Irlanda e la Francia — dimostra che le nazioni europee quasi-socialiste e dipendenti dal welfare state non riusciranno mai a sbarazzarsi del loro debito eccessivo. Le riforme supply side sono una trappola in termini di capacità di carico del debito, e rappresentano dinamite politica se imposte coercitivamente dall'alto.
Tutto questo è sicuramente più evidente ora, dopo una mezza decade di bullismo della Troika. Ma i banchieri della Troika sono ora intrappolati, perché hanno continuamente mentito ai rispettivi parlamenti sul rischio dei prestiti ponte ai PIIGS e sui salvataggi degli investitori privati che possedevano i loro debiti.
Se la Francia volesse riavere i €72 miliardi che ha prestato alla Grecia (compresa la sua quota di anticipi della BCE), o la Germania i suoi €95 miliardi, o l'Italia i suoi €63 miliardi, o la Spagna i suoi €44 miliardi — i rispettivi governi cadrebbero in men che non si dica. La rivolta nazional-populista incipiente, che sta già ribollendo, sfocerebbe in una cascata precipitosa di sconvolgimenti sociali.
Ed è qui che entra in scena la seconda falsificazione — l'ukase di Mario Draghi. L'Eurozona sarebbe finita a pezzi durante la crisi del 2010-2012, se la BCE non si fosse impegnata in una massiccia monetizzazione dei debiti dei PIIGS — debiti che gli investitori reali non avrebbero voluto neanche a tassi elevati. L'impennata dei tassi rappresentava davvero la rampa per il fallimento, perché questi stati erano semplicemente falliti.
Sì, ci sono voluti quasi due anni affinché la BCE immettesse $70 miliardi mensili nel mercato. Ma questo era irrilevante. I giocatori d'azzardo hanno scommesso che la BCE avrebbe infine iniziato una massiccia campagna d'acquisto di bond e sono stati più che felici di fare front-running alla conseguente bolla obbligazionaria.
Che gli speculatori abbiano cavalcato la bolla di Draghi e incassato centinaia di miliardi di profitti comprando il debito dei PIIGS, per poi rivenderlo di nuovo alla BCE al primo segno di un'incrinatura di tale mercato, è una conseguenza deplorevole della follia monetaria della BCE. Ma il vero male è che i politici ipocriti e spesso corrotti dei paesi periferici, sono stati in grado di dichiarare vittoria senza rettificare in modo significativo la propria insolvenza fiscale.
La Spagna ne è l'esempio lampante. Dopo l'ukase di Draghi, non ha contratto in modo significativo il suo bilancio né implementato una riforma fiscale. Alla fine del primo trimestre del 2015, il PIL reale era ancora il 6% inferiore rispetto al 2008. Di conseguenza il suo rapporto debito/PIL è aumentato notevolmente e ora sta sforando il 100% del PIL.
Inutile dire che tale deterioramento di bilancio — in base al quale il debito pubblico spagnolo è aumentato di $650 miliardi nel corso degli ultimi tre anni e mezzo di "austerità" gestiti da un governo sfacciatamente corrotto e completamente disonesto — non ha avuto alcun impatto sui prezzi dei decennali spagnoli dopo l'ukase Draghi. A marzo di quest'anno il debito dello stato spagnolo quasi-fallito è stato scambiato all'1.0%, a riflesso di una fuga palesemente artificiale del debito pubblico della Spagna dapprima nei parcheggi degli hedge fund, e, infine, nei caveau della BCE.
Non vi è alcuna possibilità di un'onesta governance di bilancio in una democrazia sociale, come quella in Spagna, quando il prezzo del suo debito è palesemente falsificato. Infatti, il governo spagnolo è di nuovo sul mercato con una massiccia emissione da $15 miliardi.
A dire il vero, i commentatori keynesiani e apologeti della BCE stanno ora proclamando che in Spagna va tutto bene — forse come in Grecia lo scorso agosto, quando il suo governo ha emesso debito a 10 anni al di sotto del 5%. Il punto è che il modesto rimbalzo nelle partite correnti della Spagna, nelle cifre relative all'occupazione e al PIL, non rappresenta altro che un errore d'arrotondamento. In Europa arriverà di certo un'altra recessione, e forse più prima che poi. Dal momento che nel 2014 il deficit di bilancio della Spagna era ancora al 5.8% del PIL, com'è possibile che i suoi conti fiscali sopravviveranno ad un'altra recessione?
Infatti non sopravviveranno. I banchieri della Troika invaderanno tutta la Spagna, spegnendo un'altra democrazia europea e alimentando i movimenti popolari radicali come Podemos — proprio come ha già fatto in Grecia.
E non è troppo lontano dalla realtà immaginare una cascata di partiti fortemente statalisti come il suddetto. Tra pochi giorni sarà palesemente evidente che i tedeschi hanno occupato la Grecia, salvo il bivacco effettivo delle truppe in uniforme.
Gli agenti tedeschi/Troika rivendicheranno un vincolo di custodia per ogni aeroporto, stazione ferroviaria, porto, centrale elettrica, rete di distribuzione elettrica, traghetto, bus di linea, attrazione turistica, parco pubblico, foresta e isola ancora sotto il possesso dello stato greco. Anche così, non arriveremo a $50 miliardi in garanzie.
In pochi giorni l'intero sistema bancario della Grecia sarà preso in custodia dalla BCE, il che significa che i suoi depositanti — soprattutto quelli al di sopra del limite di garanzia, €100,000 — si vedranno protagonisti di un bel haircut.
In breve, la Grecia diventerà una colonia di debitori e il suo governo funzionerà come paggio per gli occupanti della Troika. Inutile dire che scoppierà uno sconvolgimento politico e sociale quando diventerà evidente la portata della resa di Tsipras, e il conseguente contagio politico si diffonderà in tutta l'Europa.
A tempo debito, l'euro crollerà e il regime degli stampatori monetari keynesiani di Francoforte sarà ripudiato e smantellato. Ma non prima che la democrazia europea balli con la morte, e la prosperità dell'Europa si estingua per una generazione.
[*] traduzione di Francesco Simoncelli: http://francescosimoncelli.blogspot.it/
Film completo - versione originale.
Adesso sull’etichetta della bottiglia c’è scritto “libertarismo”. Il contenuto, però, è qualcosa che conosciamo molto bene: risponde a ciò che nel XIX secolo, e fino all’epoca di Franklin Roosevelt, era chiamato liberalismo — la difesa di limiti rigorosi al governo e della libera economia. (Se ci pensate, noterete ridondanza in questa formula, in quanto un governo con poteri limitati avrebbe poche possibilità d’interferire nell’economia.) I liberali furono derubati del loro nome tradizionale da socialisti e quasi socialisti, la cui avidità per i termini prestigiosi non conosce limiti. Quindi, forzati a cercare una diversa etichetta distintiva per la loro filosofia, adottarono il termine libertarismo — non male, sebbene in qualche modo ostico alla lingua.
Avrebbero forse potuto far meglio adottando il più antico ed eloquente nome d’individualismo, ma lo scartarono perché anch’esso era stato più che infangato dagli oppositori…
Il getto di fango era cominciato molto tempo fa, ma l’orgia più recente e conosciuta avvenne nella prima parte del secolo, quando i fanatici dello stato messianico affibbiarono all’individualismo un aggettivo impregnato di giudizio — estremo. Il termine in sé non ha contenuto morale; riferito ad una montagna è puramente descrittivo, riferito ad un atleta ha una connotazione positiva. Nello stile letterario di quei fanatici, però, denotava quello che in linguaggio comune rappresenterebbe un comportamento losco. Questa connotazione non ha nulla a che fare con la filosofia più di quanto abbia ogni forma di comportamento indecente. Quindi, “l’individualista estremo” era il tipo che minacciava il pignoramento della vecchia proprietà di famiglia se la fanciulla graziosa rifiutava la sua mano; oppure era lo speculatore che usava il mercato borsistico per derubare “vedove e orfani”; o, ancora, era il pirata grasso e florido che copriva di diamanti la sua amante. Era, in breve, un tipo la cui coscienza non metteva ostacoli alla sua inclinazione ad afferrare ogni dollaro, che non riconosceva alcun codice etico che potesse tenere a freno i suoi appetiti. Se c’è qualche differenza tra un ladro ordinario e un “individualista estremo”, è il fatto che il secondo quasi sempre si mantiene entro i limiti della legge, anche se deve riscrivere la legge per farlo…
“L’individualismo estremo” fu una mera espressione propagandistica: utilissima nel portare il fervore legato al motto “spenniamo i ricchi” al punto di ebollizione.
L’espressione si diffuse in un’epoca in cui la mania di livellamento stava costruendo la sua strada nella tradizione americana, prima che il governo, usando appieno il nuovo potere acquisito con la legge della imposta sul reddito, afferrasse l’individuo per la gola e ne facesse un uomo di massa. È un fatto bizzarro che i socialisti siano ben in accordo con gli “individualisti estremi” nel promuovere l’uso della forza politica per ottenere il proprio “bene”; la differenza tra loro sta solo nel determinare le occorrenze, o gli assegnatari, del “bene” fornito dallo stato. È dubbio che i “baroni” (un sinonimo di indivualista estremo) abbiano mai usato lo stato, prima della imposta sul reddito, con qualcosa che si avvicinasse al successo dei socialisti. Comunque sia, lo stigma “dell’estremismo” attecchì, cosicché gli “intellettuali” collettivisti, che non dovrebbero essere così ingenui, ignorano la differenza tra furto e individualismo.
Le Parole Diffamatorie Originali
La denigrazione dell’individualismo, inoltre, aveva avuto una buona partenza prima dell’era moderna. I diffamatori originali non erano socialisti ma solidi difensori dello status quo, i paladini dei privilegi speciali, i mercantilisti del XIX secolo. La loro contrarietà scaturiva in parte dal fatto che l’individualismo pendeva pesantemente verso la fiorente dottrina del libero mercato, dell’economia del laissez-faire, e per questo poneva una minaccia alla loro posizione prediletta. Allora cercarono nell’antico sacco della semantica al fine di ricavarne due aggettivi infanganti: egoista e materialista; proprio come i socialisti più tardi, non avevano rimorsi nel distorcere la verità per adattarla alle loro tesi.
La teoria del laissez-faire – in breve, un’economia libera dagli interventi e dalle sovvenzioni politiche — sostiene che l’istinto dell’interesse personale è il fattore motivante dello sforzo produttivo. Niente è prodotto se non dal lavoro umano, e il lavoro stesso rappresenta qualcosa a cui l’essere umano concede molta parsimonia: se potesse soddisfare i suoi desideri senza sforzo, eviterebbe quest’ultimo molto volentieri. Questo è il motivo per cui inventa dispositivi che fanno risparmiare lavoro. Tuttavia, egli è „congegnato“ in maniera tale per cui ogni gratificazione dà origine a nuovi desideri, ch’egli procede a soddisfare investendo il lavoro risparmiato. È insaziabile. La capanna fatta di tronchi, abitazione sufficiente nella terra selvaggia, sembra decisamente inadeguata non appena il pioniere accumula un’eccedenza di beni di prima necessità; allora comincia a sognare di tende e quadri, acqua corrente, una scuola o una chiesa, per non dire del baseball o di Beethoven. L’interesse personale prevale sull’avversione al lavoro: il costante impulso a migliorare le proprie circostanze e allargare i propri orizzonti…
È nel libero mercato che l’interesse personale trova la sua migliore espressione; questo è un punto cardine dell’individualismo. Se il mercato viene regolarmente saccheggiato, da ladri o dal governo, e la sicurezza della proprietà viene compromessa, l’individuo perde interesse nella produzione, per cui si riduce l’abbondanza delle cose create. Ne consegue che per il bene della società, l’interesse personale nella sfera economica deve procedere libero e senza impedimenti.
Invero, l’interesse personale non coincide con l‘egoismo. L’interesse personale stimolerà il produttore a migliorare i suoi prodotti in modo da favorire il commercio, mentre l’egoismo lo indurrà a cercare i privilegi speciali e il favore dello stato, finendo per distruggere proprio il sistema di libertà economica dal quale egli dipende. Il lavoratore che cerca di migliorare il suo destino attraverso un perfezionamento delle sue capacità, difficilmente può essere chiamato egoista; questo termine si addice piuttosto al lavoratore che pretende di essere pagato per non lavorare. Il cercatore di sussidi è egoista, così come lo è qualsiasi cittadino che usa la legge per arricchirsi a spese degli altri cittadini.
Il libero mercato
Vi è poi l’accusa di “materialismo”. Il laissez-faire, naturalmente, ha dalla sua l’argomento dell’abbondanza; se la gente vuole molte cose, il modo di ottenerle passa attraverso la libertà di produzione e di scambio; da questo punto di vista, potrebbe essere definito “materialistico”. Però l’economista a favore del laissez-faire, in quanto economista, non discute né giudica i desideri degli uomini; non ha alcuna opinione su quali dovrebbero essere le loro aspirazioni. Che preferiscano la cultura ai gadget, o che attribuiscano maggior valore all’ostentazione rispetto alle cose spirituali, non è oggetto del loro studio; il libero mercato è meccanicistico e amorale. Se la preferenza di qualcuno è per il tempo libero, per esempio, è attraverso l’abbondanza che il suo desiderio può essere soddisfatto al meglio; infatti l’abbondanza delle cose le rende più economiche, più facili da ottenere, quindi diventa possibile concedersi d’indulgere in vacanze. Un concerto è probabilmente meglio apprezzato da un esteta ben nutrito che da uno affamato. Comunque sia, l’economista rifiuta di giudicare le predilezioni degli uomini; qualsiasi cosa vogliano, ne otterranno di più da un libero mercato che da un mercato che funziona sotto il comando di poliziotti.
Tuttavia, i critici del XIX secolo ignoravano allegramente questo punto; persino i socialisti moderni lo ignorano, insistendo nel collegare contenuto morale alla libera economia…
In realtà — mentre il libero mercato in se stesso è un meccanismo neutro rispetto ai valori espressi dai desideri degli uomini — la teoria del libero mercato si basa sulla tacita accettazione di un concetto puramente spirituale, e cioè: l’uomo è dotato della capacità di fare scelte, per libera volontà. Se non fosse per questo tratto puramente umano, non ci sarebbero mercati, la vita umana sarebbe analoga a quella degli uccelli e delle bestie. L’economista promuovente il laissez-faire cerca di soprassedere questo punto filosofico e teologico; nondimeno, se pressato a sufficienza, deve ammettere che la sua tesi è basata sull’assioma della libera volontà, nonostante egli possa chiamarlo in un altro modo. Tale assioma non è materialistico; ogni discussione al riguardo conduce ineluttabilmente a dover considerare l’anima.
Per contrasto, sono i socialisti (di qualsiasi sottospecie) che devono iniziare la loro tesi con il rifiuto dell’idea di libera volontà. La loro teoria richiede di descrivere l’individuo come puramente materialistico. Ciò che viene chiamata libera volontà, secondo loro, è un gruppo di riflessi derivanti dal condizionamento ambientale…
Tornando alla diffamazione dell’individualismo, un’altra parola carica di giudizio morale scagliata contro di esso, in passato e ancora adesso, è edonismo. Questa etichetta deriva dal fatto che un certo numero di individualisti auto-definitesi tali, discepoli di Adam Smith, si associarono ad un credo etico noto come utilitarismo: i più famosi furono Jeremy Bentham, James Mill e John Stuart Mill. Il principio base di questo credo postula che per costituzione l’uomo sia spinto ad evitare il dolore e ricercare il piacere. Quindi, nella natura delle cose, l’unica condotta moralmente buona è quella che favorisce questa ricerca. Sorge però un problema di definizione, dal momento che quel che può essere piacere per un filosofo può essere dolore per l’imbecille. Bentham, fondatore della scuola, interessato più alla legislazione che alla filosofia, risolvette il problema redigendo un calcolo grossolano del piacere; poi enunciò un principio legislativo basato su di esso: è moralmente buono ciò che produce il maggiore bene per il maggior numero di persone.
Provenendo da un oppositore dichiarato dei privilegi e da un sostenitore dei limiti al potere del governo, questa dottrina di “fare del bene” è una strana anomalia. Se la misura morale della legislazione è il maggior bene per il maggior numero, ne consegue che il bene della minoranza, ancor più una minoranza di una sola persona, è immorale. Questo proprio non si accorda con il principio di base dell’individualismo per il quale l’uomo è dotato di diritti con i quali la maggioranza non può interferire…
I Punti Cardine dell’Individualismo
Metafisicamente, l’individualismo sostiene che la persona è unica, non è un campione della massa, dovendo la sua peculiare composizione e la sua lealtà al Creatore, non al suo ambiente. A ragione dell’origine della sua esistenza, egli è dotato di diritti inalienabili, che è dovere di tutti gli altri rispettare, come è suo dovere rispettare i loro; questi diritti sono la vita, la libertà e la proprietà. In accordo a tale premessa, la società non ha alcun permesso di invadere questi diritti, nemmeno sotto il pretesto di migliorare le sue circostanze di vita; il governo non può fornirgli altro servizio se non quello di proteggerlo dagli altri nell’esercizio di questi diritti. Nel campo dell’economia (del quale i libertari si preoccupano giustamente perché è qui che lo stato comincia le sue infrazioni), il governo non ha competenza; il meglio che può fare è mantenere una condizione di ordine, in modo che l’individuo possa portare avanti le sue attività con la sicurezza che potrà tenere ciò che produce. Questo è tutto.
Traduzione di Francesco Simoncelli
I’ve personally been affected by the vitriolic and absurd comments of paid shills on the Internet, as have many individuals trying to report ‘truth’ as they see it. I’ve always suspected there were people being paid by mega-companies like Monsanto to try to defame my words. Now I have proof.
In documents released by Edward Snowden and Glen Greenwald, there is now proof that Western governments have been trying to wreak havoc on the lives of people who dare to expose corporate crimes and government infiltration by Big Biotech, Big Banks, Big Pharma, and the ‘unseen hand’ that is ruining the world.
Not only do they dare to try to limit free speech, but in an attempt to control money and power (and thus people), they also try to defame and discredit anyone who blows the whistle on their insalubrious and greed-driven misdeeds.
Utilizing a UK intelligence outfit known as the Government Communications Headquarters, through a secret unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, paid trolls and shills systematically try to “to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse.”
That means some individuals get a pay check to talk about how great glyphosate and Bt toxins are, and individuals on other sites I’ve personally been to try to discredit me by calling me an ‘idiot yoga teacher.’ Funny how a little digging would evidence that not only am I college educated, but I’ve also taught yoga for over fifteen years, and that this practice deeply informs my knowledge, and interest in natural health.
I used to even argue with these trolls online until I wised up and realized not to engage with them whatsoever. It isn’t just my or any other person’s integrity at stake, though. As Greenwald recently posted, the entire Internet’s authenticity is at stake – much like the MSM:
“By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.”
Luckily, I haven’t been wooed into a honey trap or defamed publicly. So far, I’ve only had to learn to ignore venomous rants below my articles that are obviously meant to obfuscate the sentient points I make. You can’t conceal truth for long though. Many people had a hunch that these trolls were trying to mind-boggle the masses. You’ll find such arguments right here on Natural Society.
The State of Texas is setting up a gold-backed bank that will allow depositors to bypass the controversial Federal Reserve System and its fiat currency in banking and commerce, according to the state representative who authored the recently enacted law. Under the measure, passed overwhelmingly by lawmakers and signed in mid-June by Republican Governor Greg Abbott, Lone Star State officials will establish and operate the Texas Bullion Depository for anyone who would like to deposit and trade in precious metals. The implications are as big as Texas.
While some analysts have said the move may be another sign heralding Texas’ eventual secession from the union, or preparation for financial Armageddon, its advocates say the depository simply makes financial sense. Among other benefits, the institution will provide more options to consumers weary of the increasingly troubled traditional banking and monetary system, which is viewed by the public with growing suspicion. And experts say the effect of making it easier to use sound money in commerce could be far-reaching.
Among other immediate effects, the law creating the first state-level gold-backed bank in the nation, House Bill 483, will involve repatriating about $1 billion of Texas gold from New York. Conflicting news reports and official statements say the state’s precious metals stockpile is being held either by HSBC in New York, or by the powerful New York Federal Reserve Bank, a privately owned outfit cloaked in secrecy with immense power over the U.S. economy. First, though, officials will need to select a home for the Texas depository.
“Today I signed HB 483 to provide a secure facility for the State of Texas, state agencies and Texas citizens to store gold bullion and other precious metals,” said a statement issued by Governor Abbott, a popular conservative governor, after the ceremonial signing. “With the passage of this bill, the Texas Bullion Depository will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.” The law protects the assets from seizure by the feds or other forces, too.
There will be many other benefits as well, according to supporters. While other states have in recent years passed legislation declaring gold and silver to be legal tender, analysts say Texas’ new depository could help supercharge the growing movement for an honest and sensible monetary system founded on real money rather than debt-based paper notes conjured into existence by a private banking cartel. Indeed, one of the chief aims of gold-and-silver-as-currency proponents is to restore sound money — and the Texas law could help pave the way.
Tenth Amendment Center chief Michael Boldin, whose organization promotes states’ rights to rein in the feds under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, called the law “an important first step towards gold and silver as commonly-used legal tender in the state.” He said the move has the potential to open the market to sound money, even in day-to-day transactions. “By making gold and silver available for regular, daily transactions by the general public, the new law has the potential for wide-reaching effect,” Boldin added.
The Tenth Amendment Center also highlighted the constitutional implications. Noting that Article I, Section 10, of the U.S. Constitution prohibits state governments from making anything other than gold and silver a tender in payment of debts, Boldin said the bill takes Texas a step toward fulfilling that long-ignored constitutional obligation. “Such a tactic would undermine the monopoly the Federal Reserve system by introducing competition into the monetary system,” he said.
Other experts also highlighted those effects. “Over time, as residents of the state use both Federal Reserve notes and silver and gold coins, the fact that the coins hold their value more than Federal Reserve notes do will lead to a ‘reverse Gresham’s Law’ effect, where good money (gold and silver coins) will drive out bad money (Federal Reserve notes),” explained constitutional-tender expert William Greene in a paper for the market-oriented Ludwig von Mises Institute.
“As this happens, a cascade of events can begin to occur, including the flow of real wealth toward the state’s treasury, an influx of banking business from outside of the state — as people in other states carry out their desire to bank with sound money — and an eventual outcry against the use of Federal Reserve notes for any transactions,” added Greene, who also testified in favor of the law in his capacity as a private citizen.
Pasta, dried or fresh, is the often the hero of Italian meals, the ideal vehicle for pesto, creamy sauces, and tomato ragù.
Each shape, whether ridged, rolled or twisted, has its perfect sauce match (fettuccini soaking up creamy concoctions; ribbons of pappardelle catching chunky tomato pieces their folds), but how well can you identify each one?
Take our quiz to find out. Good luck and buon appetito!
We’re with the Iranians because we are both fighting ISIS but we’re against the Iranians because they are on the side of Assad. That is why RPI Chairman Ron Paul described our foreign policy as “schizophrenic” in a Newsmax debate on the Iran deal.
On the Iran talks, Dr. Paul reminded the viewers that Reagan believed it was important to talk to the Soviets, a regime that had killed far more people than has the Iranians, and to look for ways to reduce weapons proliferation. So why not talk to Iran?
Former CIA operative Fred Fleitz, now head of policy at the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, unsurprisingly disagreed, stating that he has no idea what Ron Paul is talking about. The Iran deal is a “catastrophe” that “could lead to a huge regional war in the Middle East.” He’s all for talking to Iran, he claimed, but only to get a good deal.
When Dr. Paul pointed out that Iran has never been found in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Fleitz (mistakenly) blurted out “that’s not true!”
Good fireworks and a great lesson from Dr. Paul on how the military-industrial complex gins up global conflict because it’s good for business. He might have added that the military-industrial complex is also very generous with “analysts” like Fred Fleitz who are paid well to spread lies and foment conflict while posing as experts.
Watch as a few sparks fly in this very interesting interview available here.
Editor’s Note: We refer to traffic ticket quotas as “the worst kept secret in law enforcement.” And with good reason. In the last six months alone, we’ve seen a dozen or so news stories referencing quotas or describing the fallout when ticket quotas are exposed. Here’s a particularly notable story from New York City in which it is alleged that police and prosecutors conspired to hide evidence of bogus ticket writing to meet quotas. We’re not surprised. Ticket quotas have been standard operating procedure in police departments around the country for a long time, as we describe in this blog post from 2007.
If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now
A ticket quota is a policy that encourages or requires officers to give out a certain number of traffic tickets regardless of how many people are actually violating the law.
Here’s a quick roundup of stories from this year where ticket quotas were discovered around the country.
Washington State Police Use Ticket Quotas Officials with the Washington State Patrol set numeric goals that encourage state police officers to issue as many traffic citations as possible. The effect has been a significant increase in the number of tickets written — 50,000 additional tickets were issued between 2005 and 2006. A Bellvue state patrol sergeant issued a memo ordering troopers to meet the accountability goals, writing: “No matter how many cars you stop, the goal… is 80 percent enforcement (tickets).” Those failing to meet the goal may lose vacation time or receive other sanctions.
Georgia: Speed Trap Caught Using Ticket Quotas WGCL-TV reports that DeKalb County Police officers are told during roll call that they must issue 65 citations a month and make 25 arrests. Those on traffic duty must issue a minimum of 150 citations a month and make 11 arrests. Unlike in many states, ticket quotas are not illegal in Georgia.
Texas: Ticket Quota Memo Uncovered Police officers in Midlothian, Texas received a written memo ordering them to issue twenty traffic citations each month. With more revenue, police officials believed they would be able to expand the small department. WFAA-TV in Dallas confirmed the quota’s existence through unnamed department sources, marking the second time this year a numeric traffic ticket quota has been uncovered in Ellis County.
Michigan: Community Protest Torpedoes Ticket Quota A planned protest at the Redford Township, Michigan police station helped kill a ticket quota that officials had adopted last month. Since mid-July, township police had been handed one hour’s worth of overtime pay for every two traffic citations issued. This meant that a typical officer could pocket up to $21 in cash for each individual ticket issued. The Mary Church Terrell Council for Community Empowerment now plans to go after the ticket quota in Dearborn Heights. The Detroit suburbs of Livonia, Oak Park, Rochester and Trenton also depend on numeric ticket quotas for police.
Iowa: Police Chief Suspended Over Ticket Quota The Pleasant Hill, Iowa city manager suspended the city’s police chief on April 26 after evidence surfaced that he had instituted an illegal traffic ticket quota. According to local police union leader Ron Zimmerman, 33, officers were being told to issue between five and ten tickets each month. A sergeant chided Officer Zimmerman on “the low number of tickets” that he issued. Although Chief William Hansen, 58, denies the existence of a quota, a Des Moines Register review of court documents shows the amount of ticket revenue has more than doubled under Hansen’s watch.
Denver, Colorado Ticket Quota Uncovered Police officials in Denver, Colorado confirmed that they have placed pressure on rank-and-file officers to issue a minimum number of traffic citations. Since September, those that have failed to produce have faced disciplinary action. “We’re always looking at performance,” Denver Police Captain Eric Rubin told KCNC-TV. “If an officer is under the average set we might discuss it with the officer.” Rubin insisted that these requirements are not a quota. Instead, they are a “measure of performance.”
Texas: Police Chief Faces Ticket Quota Charges The police chief in Red Oak, Texas faces charges that he imposed an illegal traffic ticket quota. The city council last week suspended Police Chief Donald “Red” Fullerton and Deputy Chief Stephen Anderson pending the conclusion of an outside investigation by a retired Fort Worth policeman. Evidence shows that the city’s police force began issuing a traffic ticket every twenty minutes during a severe budget shortfall. The police chief budgeted $3.4 million in citation revenue, which required each officer to issue 320 tickets a month. A bulletin board in the police station displayed how each officer measured up.
Utah: Police Chief Blocks Ticket Quota Ban It isn’t often that a police chief can block the action of an entire state legislature. However, Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner stopped a ticket quota bill aimed directly at him from being considered by the state Senate. Greiner, a newly elected state Senator representing the Ogden area, cast the deciding vote on the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee where the measure failed 2-2. Representative Neil Hansen (D-Ogden) had introduced a bill that had passed the House to prohibit municipalities, counties, sheriffs and police chiefs from requiring officers to issue a certain number of tickets in a given amount of time.
All articles referenced were compiled from the archives of www.thenewspaper.com. Click on the titles of each section to read the full story behind each of these situations.
Reprinted from National Motorists Association.