Greek farmers armed with shepherd’s crooks and stones fought riot police in a violent protest against tax hikes outside the Ministry of Agriculture in Athens.
Greek farmers armed with shepherd’s crooks and stones fought riot police in a violent protest against tax hikes outside the Ministry of Agriculture in Athens.
By: Jp Cortez
The Dunning-Kruger effect is the idea that low-ability people tend to suffer from illusory superiority. The phenomenon, first studied by David Dunning and Justin Kruger, says that people who know the least tend to overvalue their own competence, and tend to believe that they are experiencing some sort of upper-echelon level of thinking.
While the original study was conducted in 1999, we witnessed what appeared to be the Dunning-Kruger effect in action this past Tuesday on the floor of the Idaho House of Representatives.
And while it’s only March, but we also have identified the front-runner for our “Aurophobe of the Year” award. (Aurophobia is the irrational fear of gold.)
During the March 14th floor debate on Idaho’s House Bill 206, a measure that promotes sound money by removing Idaho income taxation from precious metals, Democrat Representative Mat Erpelding — the House Minority Leader — couldn’t help himself and had to share his two cents, even after asserting that he had no opinion on the bill (but then voted against it).
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don’t have an opinion on this bill. However, I do have an opinion on facts. Facts are somewhat important,” Representative Erpelding said with an air of superiority. “If we say that gold is going to protect us from inflation, I want to point out that in 1868, gold was $27 an ounce, and today gold is $1,218 an ounce. So, we can’t say that gold is going to protect us from inflation when you have that type of a price range over the last hundred years. So, I just want to point out that facts are important.”
Huh? The purchasing power of the dollar versus gold has fallen nearly 98% and gold therefore offers no protection against inflation?
Despite Minority Leader Erpelding’s objection, House Bill 206 overwhelmingly passed in the House 56-13. Next, sound money supporters hope to receive a hearing and a vote in the Idaho Senate.
Watch the video here.
Listen to the Podcast Audio: Click Here
Precious metals markets can certainly be volatile from week to week, but over time they are a more reliable store of value than Federal Reserve Notes. Gold and silver remain the world’s most enduring and most widely recognized form of money. And, as spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, gold and silver coins are legal tender. Individual states thus can formally recognize gold and silver coins as legal tender alternatives to Federal Reserve Note dollars.
Both Utah and Oklahoma have passed legal tender laws in recent years recognizing gold and silver as money. The metals can be used freely as a means of payment and are free from all state taxes. More than 20 states have already removed sales taxes from precious metals transactions, with Alabama, Tennessee, and Maine now considering their own proposals to do so as well.
Other states, including Arizona and Idaho, are moving forward on legislation to exempt gold and silver bullion from capital gains taxes. Since Money Metals Exchange is located in Idaho, we would be particularly excited to see it become a haven for sound money.
Last Thursday a bill to eliminate capital gains taxes on precious metals passed the Idaho House Committee on Revenue and Taxation. Money Metals President Stefan Gleason testified before the Committee. Here is some of what he had to say:
By Clint Siegner, Money Metals Exchange
Inflation is the most pernicious of taxes levied by our government. Officials systematically devalue the Federal Reserve Note “dollar,” then levy capital gains taxes on assets when their dollar price rises.
The “gains” are largely illusory. Rising asset prices over time reflect the fact that the dollar buys less of everything. But the tax obligations triggered by this inflation are very real.
Bills calling for the elimination of capital gains taxes on money, i.e. precious metals, have recently been introduced in both Idaho and Arizona.
Money Metals Exchange president Stefan Gleason testified at the hearing and pointed out that “by taxing so-called gains on exchanging precious metals for devalued Federal Reserve Notes, we’re adding another tax on top of the inflation tax.”
Idaho State Representative Ron Nate adroitly observed, “Citizens aren’t allowed to declare capital losses when the dollars they hold lose value. So, it isn’t fair to tax capital gains when the gold and silver they own rises in value.”
The Idaho bill – HB206 – passed the House Committee on Revenue and Taxation last Thursday and is expected to come up for a vote on the house floor in the coming days.
The Arizona House of Representatives passed its own version of the Idaho bill, HB2014, in mid-February, sending it on to the state Senate which is holding a hearing this Wednesday. Former Congressman Ron Paul is scheduled to testify.
Meanwhile, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maine are working to eliminate sales taxes on gold and silver bullion.
Supporters of sound money are working hard to reestablish gold and silver as money according to state law and to make sure it is treated as such in the tax code. Trading one form of money for another should not trigger any tax. There is no sales tax when customers swap their precious metals for dollars, so switching dollars to bullion should also be tax exempt.
Oklahoma, Utah, Texas, Idaho, and nearly 20 other states already exempt precious metals from sales tax. Utah and Oklahoma have gone one step further, reaffirming the U.S. Constitution’s designation of gold and silver as legal tender. As such the metals are free from all state taxes – including capital gains.
Texas and Tennessee have both approved measures to establish precious metals depositories in their states. Utah legislators are now considering a bill to authorize the same. The idea is to facilitate ownership of gold and silver bullion in state-run investment funds including pensions.
By Jp Cortez
The Framers of our nation established that gold and silver are money, but federal taxing authorities in recent decades have required taxpayers to pay taxes on this form of money when its exchange for Federal Reserve Notes results in nominal capital “gains.”
But that problem may soon be mitigated, at least in Idaho.
A prominent Gem State state representative has advanced legislation to remove state income taxes when Idaho taxpayers sell their precious metals.
House Majority Leader Mike Moyle introduced House Bill 206 on February 23rd to amend Idaho revenue statutes, providing “that capital gains and losses on precious metals bullion and monetized bullion sales be added to or subtracted from Idaho taxable income.”
Evolution of Consent
This was composed for a speech given to the East Texas Freethinkers
on February 18th, 2017 in Tyler, Texas.
Mutualism is an anarchist social philosophy first established in print by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. While often considered to be the father of mutualism (something I have repeated and am apt to do again), Proudhon was actually more of its first philosopher, because mutualism already existed to some degree, long before Proudhon would write about it in his works. Proudhon had spent time among the workman’s associations in Lyon, France, where he witnessed fraternal organizations and guilds functioning in mutualistic manners, involving member control from voluntary participants. When he wrote in favor of mutualism, he probably had these cooperative associations in mind. Nonetheless, Proudhon can be considered to be the first philosophical exponent of mutualism as a school of thought.
Along with being the first philosophical proponent of mutualism, Proudhon is the first to call himself an anarchist. Yet, again, the sentiment against government and the state long preceded Proudhon. Some have traced it back to Ancient Greek or Chinese thinkers, such as Zeno or Lao Tzu. Others suggest that others much closer to Proudhon’s time were the first, such as William Godwin or Josiah Warren. Proudhon maintains the title of the first anarchist simply for being the first to call himself such on record.
To understand the world of politics and change it for the better, it’s paramount that people begin to study political theory and the ways in which it has manifest throughout history up into the present day. By bringing light to the origins of political and philosophical thought, the present day becomes all the more explainable because one is now able to see the logical progression of such manifestations.
With this urge to better understand the root of many of the common political ideologies present in the world, The Last American Vagabond has decided to team up with Keith Preston in a new podcast series in which the who, what, where, when and how of different political theories will be explored.
By J P Cortez
In 1850, French economist Frédéric Bastiat published an essay that is misunderstood, or more often, unread, titled, “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.” Bastiat brilliantly introduced the idea of opportunity cost and, through the parable of the broken window, illustrated the destructive effects of unintended consequences.
Unfortunately, because of misplaced belief in government benevolence, even the most powerful and successful members of the American citizenry often miss the point.
According to Reuters, Ramin Arani, a co-portfolio manager of the $25 billion Fidelity Puritan fund, said while discussing his current bullish stance of gold, “In terms of unpredictability, there is a tail risk with this administration that did not exist with the prior…There is a small but present possibility that government action is going to lead to unintended consequences.”
Arani’s overall bullish stance on gold is sound. Given the political climate, gold is an attractive “insurance” for equity exposure. The problem doesn’t lie in his financial analysis, but rather in the seemingly innocuous comment that followed.
“There is a small but present possibility that government action is going to lead to unintended consequences.”
To suggest the chances of unintended consequences are merely “small” is extremely naïve.
Notwithstanding myriad examples of government action leading to unintended consequences, including, but certainly not limited to, minimum wage laws, rent control, social security, and the disastrous war on drugs, there are countless examples of unintended consequences brought on by government action that should resonate with a multi-billion-dollar portfolio manager. Yet they seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
By Stefan Gleason
Sound money principles can serve to help grow the economy and restrain government. The political class, however, doesn’t particularly want to restrain itself. Washington, D.C. is addicted to the easy money policies that have enabled $20 trillion in national debt accumulation and tens of trillions more in unfunded liabilities.
Even with a new and unconventional GOP president who vows to take on waste and overregulation, the built-in momentum of “mandatory” spending means the Trump budgets won’t be balanced. The debt will keep growing – and likely at a faster pace than the economy. Thus, political demand for the Federal Reserve’s artificially low interest rates and Treasury bond purchases will continue to be strong.
Short of a currency crisis that forces a monetary revolution, sound money reform efforts will have to proceed in baby steps. Any fundamental proposed changes – such as tying the currency supply to gold and silver reserves – will encounter enormous resistance from Congress, the Federal Reserve, and its member banks. A metallic standard would also be roundly opposed by Wall Street, which benefits from the Fed’s artificial inflation of the financial sector.
You Don’t Have to Wait for the Politicians…
An interesting interview with leftist anti-fascist Matthew Lyons who argues that Trump may represent a ruling class faction that seeks a new direction beyond neoliberalism. Listen here.
With #DisruptJ20 actions taking place in only a few days, many are wondering both what far-Right forces will do in response to massive protests that are planned in Washington DC and across the country, and how will the insurgent far-Right continue to maneuver now that Trump is in office. Wanting to think critically about these questions as well as how to place Trump politically, we caught up with long time anti-fascist author, Matthew Lyons who writes for Three Way Fight, which offers analysis on a wide variety of far-Right forces and anti-fascist struggle.
We discuss several topics, including why fighting the far-Right is important, why the Alt-Right has gotten so much media attention the last year, looking critically at the far-Right concept of ‘globalism,’ and also a discussion on Trump and fascism which revolves around this essay from CrimethInc. Lyons does a good job of addressing that within the ruling class there is not always unity and that often there are competing ideas of how to organize capitalism and govern the State. What remains to be seen with Trump is if he only represents only a slightly different face to neoliberalism or if he will try and create something much different along Nationalist and military lines, which Lyons argues is possible.
Todd Lewis vs. Brent Lengel.
One of the best debates I have ever heard between a left-anarchists and a non-anarchist.
PressTV. Listen here.
Incoming US President Donald Trump will only use his opposition to the “one China” policy as a bargaining chip in trade talks with China and to the extent that would not disrupt relations with Beijing, says a political commentator.
Trump, who will officially take the oath of office on Friday, said he was not committed to a longstanding agreement with China known as the “one China” policy. Under the agreement adopted by the US in 1979, Washington has been recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and maintaining only unofficial ties with Taiwan.
In an interview with Press TV, Keith Preston, the chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com said Trump would be using the issue “as leverage” in trade negotiations with China.
“He is looking for things he could potentially use against the Chinese as a means of encouraging a settlement in terms of the currency issue and trade issues that Trump is concerned about,” the analyst said.
Trump started questioning China’s claim over Taiwan just after his election in November, when he took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen in a major break from US diplomatic protocol in 37 years.
Beijing warned Trump on Monday against using the “one China policy” as a bargaining chip in trade talks.
Preston, however, said the incoming president would not go “so far to really disrupt the relations between the United States and China,” because according to him there is a very “important trade relationship” between the two countries.
He explained that the US foreign policy has always been “oriented to a peaceful co-existence with China for obvious strategic and geo-political reasons.”
“Even during the Cold War, the United State was very dependent on China as a source of manufacturing and labor and America imported a great deal of the consumer goods from China,” he added.
During his presidential campaign, Trump consistently complained about “unfair competition” with the Chinese, Preston said, adding that new president wants to “negotiate trade agreements that are more favorable to American business interests.”
By Colette Gaiter
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won the white vote across all demographics except for college-educated white women. He did especially well among working class white voters: 67 percent of whites without a college degree voted for him.
Some post-election analysis marveled at how the white working class could vote against its own interests by supporting a billionaire businessman who is likely to support policies that cut taxes for the rich and weaken the country’s social safety net. Since the New Deal, the Democratic Party has been seen as the party of working people, while Republicans were considered the party of the elites. Donald Trump was able to flip this narrative to his advantage. Election 2016 balkanized issues and made it seem impossible to work on racism, sexism, poverty and economic issues all at once. A core question moving forward for social justice advocates and the Democratic Party is how they can move beyond identity politics and attract working-class voters of all races, building stronger coalitions among disparate groups.
One place to look for inspiration and instruction might be 1960s social movements that understood the power of alliances across identities and issues. During this period, a radical coalition formed that might seem impossible today: A group of migrant southerners and working-class white activists called the Young Patriots joined forces with the Black Panthers in Chicago to fight systemic class oppression.
So how did this alliance form? And how can its lessons be applied to today’s political moment?
An interesting discussion of this question between Matt Zwolinski (pro) and Tom Woods (con). Listen here.
Some voices in the libertarian world have argued that a basic income guarantee for everyone would be better than the current welfare state from a pragmatic point of view. Matt Zwolinski adds that it is morally required, given the dubious origins of so many existing property titles. Result: an engaging exchange of ideas I know you’ll enjoy. But be sure to listen all the way to the end, since that’s where the best parts can be found.
Matt Zwolinski is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego and a co-director of the University’s Institute for Law and Philosophy.
Don’t be taken in by gold scams — and there are lots of them. Arm yourself with this free report from Schiff Gold.
An interesting discussion of modern economic history that socialists and libertarians alike should be able to appreciate.
Philosophers for Change
Write about my vision of a “post-capitalist world,” I was requested. But I find this difficult. Difficult because I believe we are already in, or nearing, a post-capitalist world if by capitalism is meant the system described by Marx and his followers about 150 years ago. In this essay I raise the possibility for future discussion and action that there is an ongoing attempt to create a system for the maintenance of privilege and the production of poverty which is so different from the past that a new name should be found for it. Because a key component of it is the corporation it may be that corporatism is a suitable name.
Introduction: History as a succession of different ways to empower the rich
The French historian and progressive philosopher Fernand Braudel observed that throughout history there seemed to be a minority of people who held power and wealth, ruled society and exploited the population to sustain their power and privilege. If this were the case then the human history question of primordial importance is – “how does this minority do it?”
I’d say this article is hysterical leftist paranoia. Neoliberalism and cultural leftism are friends, not enemies. The inequality of wealth that we see rising is similar to what happened during the industrial revolution when the rise of the liberal bourgeoisie paralleled the growth the proletarian class. It’s amazing how many of today’s leftists miss elementary observations that are compatible with basic Marxist theory.
It’s the supposed illiberal forces that are actually the ones that are taking some kind of stand, however modest, against neoliberalism. The National Front, for example, is the most leftwing party in France in terms of defending secular republicanism against reactionary Islam, the social safety net against global capitalism, and national self-determination against EU and US imperialism. The “right wing reactionary” parties of Europe are not trying to restore the ancient regime or the classical bourgeoisie, much less historic fascism. They’re trying to restore the middle class of the pre-neoliberal era.
Here’s a good way to look at it. The former middle class people in the West who have sunk into a reproletarianized labor force in the era of globalization are like the once largely independent peasants that began to make up the ranks of the urban industrial proletariat following being run of their land by enclosure and forced to move to the cities to find work in the factories.
Similarly, the once somewhat prosperous modern Western middle classes are now being reproletarianized thanks to globalization, and are no longer working in high wage manufacturing jobs with job security but are instead being forced into working in superstores, fast food joints, and call centers.
Prince of Queens’ discovery of the Alt-left
The “Milo of the Alt Left?”
Prince of Queens’ vote for Jill Stein, and why he viewed Clinton as much worse than Trump
Rabbit appears 6 minutes in
Is the Alt-left, “the left-wing faction of the Alt-Right?”
How the Alt-Left includes both left leaning nationalist and race realist, as well as anti-racist and moderate feminist opposed to extreme political correctness, and whether those two factions can be coexist
A foundation for the Alt-left
Rationalism and the skeptic community
Bay Area Guy’s point that the Alt-Right has neglected economic issues, which are crucial to millenials
Books on economics including Michael Hudson’s Killing the Host, Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, Dean Baker’s Rigged, and Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus
Why corporations must have incentives to invest in their communities
Prices for housing and causes of the housing crisis
Prince of Queen’s personal story about renting in the Bay Area
The FIRE Economy, and the importance of distinguishing between productive earned income and parasitic unearned income
Corporate control and private-sector oppression
Mundane working, productivity, and income
The Basic Income
Student loan debt
The need for debt forgiveness
Slavery to work, Job distribution, and Ponzi schemes
A must watch for anyone that wants to understand the state of contemporary Western politics and economics.
Mark Blyth, who accurately predicted Brexit and Trump explains in clear language how globalization and capitalism are failing people throughout the world and why that means more Brexits and Trumps are on the way.
By Chris Shaw
Gramsci rightly identifies that in the modern political environment, simply recognising actors as either public or private, in the realm of states or markets respectively, is problematic. Unfortunately the crux of international political economy has accepted this modernist doctrine, tacitly deifying the rationalist discourses of action and modernity which underlie such conceptions. For a large bulk of IPE, as well as other social sciences such as economics and political science, this is the held belief. Rationalism guides human action, which inevitably means a continuous desire for capital accumulation, the expansion of capitalist cultural doctrines, and the belief that the individual is entirely the scope of investigation.
But of course this public/private discourse is far too simplistic to truly understand the extent of social relations and arrangements which provide governance and institutionalisation. Gramsci noted that in the public sphere, there exists a dialectic of civil society (the collection of organic institutions that range from the mannerisms of society to the voluntary governance arrangements such as townhalls and churches) and the state (which is perceived as the mechanism of implementation, mainly reliant on coercion and top-down infrastructure). The way a functioning public government works is by reconciling these two (seemingly non-reconcilable) sides. Thus most modern states, particularly those in the Global North, rely on the combination of a coercive state framework and a civil society infrastructure which legitimises the coercive practices and top-down authority. Thus states, to a large degree, rely on not just pure monopolised violence, but also on legitimising ideologies which allow it to create discourses and frameworks that may well have been rejected by civil society in its capacity to be a separate sphere of public government.
Equally, the private side of this dialectical equation is in many ways constructed by these statist and domineering discourses. The development of a capitalist mechanism of accumulation, grounded in private property and the control of the means of production, came almost entirely from the state’s mandate of it. Large scale ownership of production outlets and the relations of wage labour, where artificial economic classes were created, are entirely developments of the state in its accumulation of land during the enclosures, its encouragement of state credit through the development of central banking, and its destruction of the organic feudal relations which preceded this capitalist construction. This is not to say that private property relations cannot exist without the state. A multitude of tribal forms of property as well as elements in the feudal system proves this to be false. However, the extent to which private property relations inform modern society, and the importance this is given, is a creation of statist dynamics, which is justified both through coercion (as seen in the enclosures) and the development of a justificatory doctrine (modernist concepts of rational human action and the deification of a business class) which brings civil society onside.
President-elect Donald Trump will soon have the opportunity to put his stamp on the Federal Reserve. And that is making the elite body of central bankers nervous.
On the campaign trail, Trump harangued Fed chair Janet Yellen for pumping up financial markets with cheap money – accusing the Obama appointee of being politically motivated.
Trump also called for the Federal Reserve to be audited.
The Fed operates in secret, creates inflation, and bails out Wall Street.
Fed officials worry the Trump presidency represents a unique threat to the Fed’s closely guarded “independence.” Sound money proponents, meanwhile, are hopeful that some long overdue reforms of the monetary system could begin to take shape.
The first item on the new president’s Fed agenda will be to appoint two members to the Board of Governors. The seven-seat Board currently has two vacancies that can be filled immediately.
The Board of Governors exerts direct influence over monetary policy and can push the Fed chair toward adopting a consensus opinion.
Trump Can Appoint Two New Fed Members Now and Replace Yellen Soon
Janet Yellen is likely to stay on as the public head of the Fed at least until her term expires in February 2018. (Trump could potentially ask her to step down, but he cannot unilaterally fire her.) The president-elect has previously indicated he intends to replace Yellen with a Republican. However, Trump’s appointments for Treasury and Commerce Secretary, Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross, muddied the waters by recently praising Yellen’s job performance.
Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs alumnus, and Ross, a billionaire investor, have benefited from the easy money policies of Yellen and her predecessors. The values of financial assets get artificially propped up by the Fed’s injections of stimulus into the financial system.
Wall Street isn’t interested in overturning the current monetary order. It is interested in making sure its interests continue to be served by it.
I grew up a block away from the 7-train, where I’d take a short ride from the 90th Street station to the Willets Point—Shea Stadium station to watch my favorite team, the New York Mets.
Sitting in the stands as a young child, I learned quickly that there were a number of ways to obtain and interpret information. I could watch the umpire and immediately have known whether Al Leiter threw a strike or a ball. Another option was to watch the scoreboard and, with some delay, have known whether Derek Bell safely stole second base. I could listen to the cheers (or jeers) of the rowdy, biased people around me and know whether or not Mike Piazza had just hit another home run.
In baseball, there are efficient and inefficient ways to obtain information. There are also false signals. The same is true in financial markets and presidential elections.