By Ron Paul
During the 2008 economic crisis, Iceland’s government froze offshore accounts held by foreign investors in that country’s currency, the krona. Recently, the government of Iceland announced it would unfreeze the accounts if the account holders paid a voluntary “departure tax,” which could be as high as 58 percent. Investors who choose not to pay the departure tax would have their investment “segregated” into special funds that only invest in CDs issued by Iceland’s central bank. These CDs are expected to only provide a rate of return of at most 0.5 percent a year. So investors in offshore accounts can thus choose between having their money directly seized via the departure tax or indirectly seized via the inflation tax.
Iceland’s freezing of offshore krona accounts was part of a “stabilization and recovery” program implemented under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which also provided Iceland with a $1 billion loan. So US taxpayers not only helped the IMF bail out Iceland’s government, they may have helped the IMF advise Iceland on how best to steal property from American investors!
The IMF’s role in Iceland’s seizure of the property of foreign investors shows the hypocrisy of IMF officials, who recently expressed concerns about the increasing support for protectionism supposedly exemplified by the Brexit vote. However, freezing of assets held by foreign investors is a particularly harmful form of protectionism, while Brexit was more about rejecting the European Union’s bureaucracy than rejecting free trade. Perhaps what the IMF and its supporters are really worried about is losing their power to use taxpayers’ money to force other countries to adopt IMF bureaucrats’ favored economic policies.
Iceland is not the only government to turn to a departure tax to raise revenue. Just last year, in order to raise revenue for federal transportation programs, Congress gave the IRS the power to revoke the passport of any American accused of owing more than $50,000 in back taxes.
As an increasingly desperate Congress looks for new ways to squeeze money out of the American people to fund the welfare-warfare state, it is likely that more Americans will have their liberties limited because the IRS accuses them of not paying their fair share of taxes. It also is likely that the Federal Reserve will follow the example of its counterpart in Iceland and devalue the holdings of anyone who dares to resist the IRS’s demands.
Those hoping that the presidential election will result in real changes are bound to be disappointed. While Donald Trump seems to appreciate how current Fed policies help the incumbent administration while harming the people, he does not appear to understand that the problem is not with certain Fed policies, but with the Fed’s very existence. While Mr. Trump does support tax cuts, he also supports increasing government spending on infrastructure at home, militarism abroad, protectionism, and an economic cold war with China.
Hillary Clinton has actually said it is inappropriate for candidates to criticize the Fed. Sectary Clinton has also called for massive increases in government spending and taxes. Hillary Clinton may be more hawkish than Donald Trump, since Mr. Trump has rejected Secretary Clinton’s calls for a new cold war with Russia.
Instead of looking to politicians to save us, those of us who understand the dangers of our current course must continue to spread the ideas of liberty among our fellow citizens. Politicians will only change course when a critical mass of people stops falling for the war party’s propaganda, stops demanding entitlements, and starts demanding liberty.
By Ron Paul
Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan, the longest war in US history. There weren’t any victory parades or photo-ops with Afghanistan’s post-liberation leaders. That is because the war is ongoing. In fact, 15 years after launching a war against Afghanistan’s Taliban government in retaliation for an attack by Saudi-backed al-Qaeda, the US-backed forces are steadily losing territory back to the Taliban.
What President Obama called “the good war” before took office in 2008, has become the “forgotten war” some eight years later. How many Americans know that we still have nearly 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan? Do any Americans know that the Taliban was never defeated, but now holds more ground in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001? Do they know the Taliban overran the provincial capital of Kunduz last week for a second time in a year and they threaten several other provincial capitals?
Do Americans know that we are still wasting billions on “reconstruction” and other projects in Afghanistan that are, at best, boondoggles? According to a recent audit by the independent US government body overseeing Afghan reconstruction, half a billion dollars was wasted on a contract for a US company to maintain Afghan military vehicles. The contractor “fail[ed] to meet program objectives,” the audit found. Of course they still got paid, like thousands of others getting rich off of this failed war.
Do Americans know that their government has spent at least $60 billion to train and equip Afghan security forces, yet these forces are still not capable of fighting on their own against the Taliban? We recently learned that an unknown but not insignificant number of those troops brought to the US for training have deserted and are living illegally somewhere in the US. In the recent Taliban attack on Kunduz, it was reported that thousands of Afghan security personnel fled without firing a shot.
According to a recent study by Brown University, the direct costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars thus far are nearly five trillion dollars. The indirect costs are virtually incalculable.
Perhaps Afghanistan is the “forgotten war” because to mention it would reveal how schizophrenic is US foreign policy. After all, we have been fighting for 15 years in Afghanistan in the name of defeating al-Qaeda, while we are directly and indirectly assisting a franchise of al-Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government. How many Americans would applaud such a foreign policy? If they only knew, but thanks to a media only interested in promoting Washington’s propaganda, far too many Americans don’t know.
I have written several of these columns on the various anniversaries of the Afghan (and Iraq) wars, pointing out that the wars are ongoing and that the result of the wars has been less stable countries, a less stable region, a devastated local population, and an increasing probability of more blowback. I would be very happy to never have to write one of these again. We should just march home.
by Ron Paul
Three recent stories regarding three government agencies — the IRS, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — show why we should oppose big government for practical, as well as philosophical, reasons.
In recent months, many Americans have missed their flights because of longer-than-usual TSA security lines. In typical DC fashion, the TSA claims the delays are because of budget cuts, even though Congress regularly increases the TSA’s funding!
The TSA is also blaming the delays on the fact that few Americans have signed up for its “PreCheck” program. Under PreCheck, the TSA considers excusing some Americans from some of the screening process. Those who wish to be considered must first submit personal information to the TSA and pay a fee. Only a bureaucrat would think Americans would be eager to give the TSA more information and money on the chance that they may be approved for PreCheck.
The TSA is much better at harassing airline passengers than at providing security. TSA agents regularly fail to catch weapons hidden by federal agents testing the screening process. Sadly, Congress will likely reward the TSA’s failures with continued funding increases. Rewarding the TSA’s incompetence shouldn’t surprise us since the TSA owes its existence to the failure of government to protect airline passengers on 9/11.
If Congress truly wanted to protect airline passengers, it would shut down the TSA and let airlines determine how best to protect their passengers. Private businesses have a greater incentive than government bureaucrats to protect their customers and their property without stripping their customers of their dignity.
The head of the VA also made headlines last week when he said it is unfair to judge the VA by how long veterans have to wait for medical care, since no one judges Disney World by how long people have to wait in line. Perhaps he is unaware that no one has ever died because he waited too long to go on an amusement park ride.
For years socialized medicine supporters pointed to the VA as proof that a government bureaucracy could deliver quality health care. The stories of veterans being denied care or receiving substandard care demolish those claims.
If Congress truly wanted to ensure that veterans receive quality health care, it would stop forcing veterans to seek health care from a federal bureaucracy. Instead, government would give veterans health-care vouchers or health savings accounts and allow them to manage their own health care. Congress should also dramatically reduce the costs of providing veterans care by ending our militaristic foreign policy.
Another story last week highlights the one thing government does do well: violate our rights. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his role in the IRS’s persecution of conservative organizations.
Those who value liberty and constitutional government should support impeaching Koskinen. However, truly protecting Americans from IRS tyranny requires eliminating the income tax. Despite the claims of some, a flat tax system would still require a federal bureaucracy to ensure Americans are accurately reporting their income. Since the income tax is one of the foundations of the welfare-warfare state, it is folly to think we can eliminate the income tax without first dramatically reducing the size and scope of government.
The TSA, VA, and IRS are just three examples of how government cannot effectively provide any good or service except authoritarianism. Individuals acting in the free market are more than capable of providing for their own needs, including the need to protect themselves, their families, and their property, if the government gets out of the way.
By Ron Paul
For many of us concerned with liberty, the letters “NDAA” have come to symbolize Washington’s ongoing effort to undermine the US Constitution in the pursuit of constant war overseas. It was the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012 that introduced into law the idea that American citizens could be indefinitely detained without warrant or charge if a government bureaucrat decides they had assisted al-Qaeda or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.” No charges, no trial, just disappeared Americans.
The National Defense Authorization bill should be a Congressional mechanism to bind the president to spend national defense money in the way Congress wishes. It is the nuts and bolts of the defense budget and as such is an important oversight tool preventing the imperial executive from treating the military as his own private army. Unfortunately that is no longer the case these days.
Why am I revisiting the NDAA today? Unfortunately since 2012 these bills have passed the House with less and less scrutiny, and this week the House is going to vote on final passage of yet another Defense Authorization, this time for fiscal year 2017. Once again it is a terrible piece of legislation that does great harm to the United States under the guise of protecting the United States.
Unless some last minute changes take place, this latest NDAA will force young women for the first time to register to be drafted into the US military. For the past 36 years, young men have been forced to register with Selective Service when they turn 18 or face felony charges and years in prison. Under a perverted notion of “equality” some people are cheering the idea that this represents an achievement for women. Why cheer when slavery is extended to all? We should be fighting for an end to forced servitude for young men and to prevent it being extended to women.
The argument against a draft should appeal to all: you own your own body. No state has the right to force you to kill or be killed against your will. No state has a claim on your life. We are born with freedoms not granted by the state, but by our creator. Only authoritarians seek to take that away from us.
Along with extending draft registration to women, the latest NDAA expands the neocons’ new “Cold War” with Russia, adding $3.4 billion to put US troops and heavy weapons on Russia’s border because as the bill claims, “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.” This NDAA also includes the military slush fund of nearly $60 billion for the president to spend on wars of his choosing without the need to get Congress involved. Despite all the cries that we need to “rebuild the military,” this year’s Defense Authorization bill has a higher base expenditure than last year. There have been no cuts in the military. On the contrary: the budget keeps growing.
The Defense Authorization bill should remain notorious. It represents most of what is wrong with Washington. It is welfare for the well-connected defense contractors and warfare on our economy and on the rest of the world. This reckless spending does nothing to defend the United States. It is hastening our total economic collapse.
What Did Fed Chairman Yellen Tell Obama?
by Ron Paul
This week, President Obama and Vice President Biden held a hastily arranged secret meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. According to the one paragraph statement released by the White House following the meeting, Yellen, Obama, and Biden simply “exchanged notes” about the economy and the progress of financial reform. Because the meeting was held behind closed doors, the American people have no way of knowing what else the three might have discussed.
Yellen’s secret meeting at the White House followed an emergency secret Federal Reserve Board meeting. The Fed then held another secret meeting to discuss bank reform. These secret meetings come on the heels of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s estimate that first quarter GDP growth was .01 percent, dangerously close to the official definition of recession.
Thus the real reason for all these secret meetings could be a panic that the Fed’s eight year explosion of money creation has not just failed to revive the economy, but is about to cause another major market meltdown.
Establishment politicians and economists find the Fed’s failures puzzling. According to the Keynesian paradigm that still dominates the thinking of most policymakers, the Fed’s money creation should have produced such robust growth that today the Fed would be raising interest rates to prevent the economy from “overheating.”
The Fed’s response to its failures is to find new ways to pump money into the economy. Hence the Fed is actually considering implementing “negative interest rates.” Negative interest rates are a hidden tax on savings. Negative interest rates may create the short-term illusion of growth, but, by discouraging savings, they will cause tremendous long-term economic damage.
Even as Yellen admits that the Fed “has not taken negative interest rates off the table,” she and other Fed officials are still promising to raise rates this year. The Federal Reserve needs to promise future rate increases in order to stop nervous investors from fleeing US markets and challenging the dollar’s reserve currency status.
The Fed can only keep the wolves at bay with promises of future rate increases for so long before its polices cause a major dollar crisis. However, raising rates could also cause major economic problems. Higher interest rates will hurt the millions of Americans struggling with student loan, credit card, and other forms of debt. Already over 40 percent of Americans who owe student loan debt are defaulting on their payments. If Federal Reserve policies increase the burden of student loan debt, the number of defaults will dramatically increase leading to a bursting of the student loan bubble.
By increasing the federal government’s cost of borrowing, an interest rate increase will also make it harder for the federal government to manage its debt. Increased costs of debt financing will place increased burden on the American people and could be the last straw that finally pushes the federal government into a Greek-style financial crisis.
The no-win situation the Fed finds itself in is a sign that we are reaching the inevitable collapse of the fiat currency system. Unless immediate steps are taken to manage the transition, this collapse could usher in an economic catastrophe dwarfing the Great Depression. Therefore, those of us who know the truth must redouble our efforts to spread the ideas of liberty.
If we are successful we may be able to force Congress to properly manage the transition by cutting spending in all areas and auditing, then ending, the Federal Reserve. We may also be able to ensure the current crisis ends not just the Fed but the entire welfare-warfare state.
Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
by Ron Paul
On Sunday Ukrainian prime minister Yatsenyuk resigned, just four days after the Dutch voted against Ukraine joining the European Union. Taken together, these two events are clear signals that the US-backed coup in Ukraine has not given that country freedom and democracy. They also suggest a deeper dissatisfaction among Europeans over Washington’s addiction to interventionism.
According to US and EU governments – and repeated without question by the mainstream media – the Ukrainian people stood up on their own in 2014 to throw off the chains of a corrupt government in the back pocket of Moscow and finally plant themselves in the pro-west camp. According to these people, US government personnel who handed out cookies and even took the stage in Kiev to urge the people to overthrow their government had nothing at all to do with the coup.
When Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was videotaped bragging about how the US government spent $5 billion to “promote democracy” in Ukraine, it had nothing to do with the overthrow of the Yanukovich government. When Nuland was recorded telling the US Ambassador in Kiev that Yatsenyuk is the US choice for prime minister, it was not US interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. In fact, the neocons still consider it a “conspiracy theory” to suggest the US had anything to do with the overthrow.
I have no doubt that the previous government was corrupt. Corruption is the stock-in-trade of governments. But according to Transparency International, corruption in the Ukrainian government is about the same after the US-backed coup as it was before. So the intervention failed to improve anything, and now the US-installed government is falling apart. Is a Ukraine in chaos to be considered a Washington success story?
This brings us back to the Dutch vote. The overwhelming rejection of the EU plan for Ukrainian membership demonstrates the deep level of frustration and anger in Europe over EU leadership following Washington’s interventionist foreign policy at the expense of European security and prosperity. The other EU member countries did not even dare hold popular referenda on the matter – their parliaments rubber-stamped the agreement.
Brussels backs US bombing in the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of refugees produced by the bombing overwhelm Europe. The people are told they must be taxed even more to pay for the victims of Washington’s foreign policy.
Brussels backs US regime change plans for Ukraine and EU citizens are told they must bear the burden of bringing an economic basket case up to European standards. How much would it cost EU citizens to bring in Ukraine as a member? No one dares mention it. But Europeans are rightly angry with their leaders blindly following Washington and then leaving them holding the bag.
The anger is rising and there is no telling where it will end. In June, the United Kingdom will vote on whether to exit the European Union. The campaign for an exit is broad-based, bringing in conservatives, populists, and progressives. Regardless of the outcome, the vote should be considered very important. Europeans are tired of their unelected leaders in Brussels pushing them around and destroying their financial and personal security by following Washington’s foolish interventionism. No one can call any of these recent interventions a success and the Europeans know it.
One way or the other, the US empire is coming to an end. Either the money will go or the allies will go, but it cannot be sustained. The sooner the American people demand an end to these foolish policies the better.
Copyright © 2016 by Ron Paul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
by Ron Paul
According to a recent poll, 73 percent of all Americans oppose increases in federal spending. Since this anti-government spending sentiment is a major reason Republicans control the House and Senate, one would expect the Republican Congress to hold the line on, or even cut, government spending. Yet, despite the Republican leadership’s rhetoric about “fiscal responsibility,” this year’s House Republican budget spends $104 billion more than the GOP’s 2013 budget.
Some conservatives, most notably the Heritage Foundation, have criticized the GOP budget. Heritage and the conservative House Republican Study Committee (RSC) have both prepared conservative alternatives to the official Republican budgets. Unfortunately, neither Heritage nor the RSC budgets meaningfully reduce federal spending.
Conservative efforts to reduce the size of government are handicapped by their love affair with the military-industrial complex. Since the Pentagon’s budget makes up the largest category of “discretionary” spending, it seems logical that a serious balanced budget plan would reduce spending on militarism.
Yet many of the same conservatives who (rightly) criticize the Republicans for refusing to cut spending not only oppose cuts to the Pentagon budget, they actually call for increases in military spending! These conservatives refuse to admit that the trillions spent on “regime change” overseas have not only failed to turn the targeted counties into Jeffersonian republics but have actually empowered groups like ISIS.
Conservative support for ever-increasing spending on militarism undercuts their efforts to end corporate welfare. Much of the so-called defense budget is wasted on boondoggles like the F-35 fighter that only defend the lifestyles of defense contractors and their lobbyists.
Despite insisting on increased military spending, the Heritage and RSC budgets both, at least on paper, eliminate the deficit in less than ten years. These budgets contain some other positive elements. For example, the RSC budget calls for an audit of the Federal Reserve. Both budgets repeal Obamacare and provide the American people with much needed tax relief.
The good features of the conservative budgets do not cancel out their flaws. For one thing, neither of the conservative budgets actually cuts spending. Instead, they both use the old DC trick of cutting projected increases in spending. Only in DC could budgets that increase domestic spending be considered a “radical attack on the welfare state.”
The fundamental flaw in the conservative budgets is philosophical: like much of modern American conservatism, the budget accepts the notion that that the American government is both constitutionally authorized to, and capable of, running the economy, running our lives, and running the world. Hence the “conservative” budgets do little or nothing to scale back the federal role in education, housing, welfare, or commerce.
Conservative budgets reform welfare programs by giving the states more authority and flexibility in administering the programs. This may make marginal improvements in the programs, but it does not make the welfare state moral or constitutional. It also does not make government welfare more efficient or compassionate than private charity.
Similarly, while conservatives promise entitlement reforms that give individuals greater control, they refuse to grant young people the option to care for themselves by opting-out of the government entitlement system.
If America is going to avoid a major economic crisis, government spending and debt must be reduced. However, budgets that merely tinker around the edges of the welfare-warfare state, or only reduce the rate of spending increases, merely postpone the day of reckoning. Only a budget that brings the troops home, shuts down unconstitutional agencies, ends all corporate welfare, and begins unwinding our welfare and entitlement programs will ensure future generations enjoy liberty, peace, and prosperity.
Copyright © 2016 by Ron Paul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given. Read online
The politicians have made their first legal appointment after a campaign based on misleading people who haven’t read the state constitution into amending it to legalize appointing positions that were already unlawfully being appointed. Amendment 2 would have never passed if people had understood what they were voting on. Several people I spoke with, who voted for Amendment 2, regretted their votes. They all said that they didn’t know what the state constitution actually said about election judges until after they had voted.
Thank you Brian Kelsey and many in the Tennessee General Assembly for pushing Soviet style elections on us. I so look forward to voting for or against the R (Red ?) party appointments.
30-0 and 97-0. How many will line up to vote yes on the judges in the next retention “election?”
Suggested Reading: http://www.dartblog.com/data/2013/02/010669.php
by Horatio Bunce
Can you see the game by the conservative “news” yet? Can you see the promotion of Single Digit Jeb and the intentional crash of Trump?
Since the next primary is in the South, the American Military and your sense of patriotism are being used to sway the primary away from Trump to George W. Bush…..uh I mean Single Digit Jeb. The latest issue now being used is whether or not George W. Bush “kept us safe” in the only attack on our mainland in our lifetimes, whether Bush and CFR Cheney lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify an unprovoked invasion there (they did by the way) and whether Donald Trump “insulted a war hero” John McCain. The “news” trots out injured servicemen from our many undeclared “wars” to appeal to your sympathy in hopes you will abandon Trump and vote for Single Digit Jeb because…..uh…we support the troops…or something. It will work. Look for Single Digit Jeb to advance because “it’s patriotic”.
Using McCain “the war hero” storyline yet again is not only sickening but an insult to your intelligence. He and the GOP use that vietnam prisoner of war bit every time he needs some leverage, but he is a traitor to those men who were captured there and remain. Do you remember the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs in 1991? John McCain declined the vice-chair position to investigate the status of the POWs and the information the US government is still today hiding regarding them. Allegedly, he only wanted to be chair to control the hearings, but did end up participating. If you were a loyal Rush Limbaugh listener back then you would mostly remember him making fun of Vietnam veteran Al Gore declining to sit on this committee and making light of Al’s role as a reporter.
It was John McCain who lobbied against making it a crime by anyone to withhold information on the Vietnam POWs that were abandoned there by the US government. It was McCain who blocked releasing classified information in possession of our government on these abandoned men and holding the bureaucrats accountable for not helping them. He has something to hide about Vietnam. I don’t know what it is, but it is more important to him than finding the abandoned men left behind in Vietnam. You should watch the documentary by Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain. There are some excerpts from this documentary on their youtube channel. McCain does not care a whit for these men and every time this “i was a war hero” angle is used on you by Single Digit Jeb’s campaign or the “news”, you should remember McCain still fights to hide what really happened. Go back and look at the link to the Committee report linked above. Just read the top of the first page, the Dedication to POWs. Note the date, January 1993. Do you remember Admiral James Stockdale? Ross Perot? The last time ever there was a true independent candidate on the teevee in 1992? See the appeal to the “outsiders” and the disaffected public when there is zero substance to come behind it?
What’s the difference between Hillary Clinton and neocons like Marco Rubio?