How Would a Billion Immigrants Change the American Polity? 3

This article by Nathan Smith is the best analysis of the immigration issue that I have seen to date in terms of nuance, honesty, and depth. He argues that there would be both tremendous benefits and tremendous costs if the borders of the United States were to be opened completely (where moving to the USA from another country would be no different than moving from California to Texas or from Virginia to Maryland). Smith summarizes his analysis as follows:

In short, I think the most wild-eyed predictions of the open borders optimists will come true, and to spare, but I think a lot of the forebodings of the grimmest open border pessimists will also prove more than justified.

He ultimately comes down on the side of open borders, primarily on the grounds that the Global South would be the net winners on the economic level. See a critique of Smith’s position by Robert Montenegro here.

By Nathan Smith

OpenBorders.Info

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called “The American Polity Can Endure and Flourish Under Open Borders.” I would not write that post today. The American polity might endure and flourish under open borders, but I wouldn’t claim that confidently. What changed my mind? A greater familiarity with the theoretical models that are the basis for “double world GDP” as a claim about the global economic impact of open borders, especially my own. It turns out that these estimates depend on billions of people migrating internationally under open borders. Previously, my vague and tentative expectations about how much migration would occur under open borders were akin to Gallup poll estimates suggesting that 150 million or so would like to migrate to the USA. Others may disagree, but I was fairly confident at the time that the US polity was robust enough to absorb 150-200 million immigrants (over, say, a couple of decades) and retain its basic political character and structure. I do not think the US polity is robust enough to absorb 1 billion immigrants (even, say, over the course of fifty years) and retain its basic political character and structure.

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A Marxist View of the Capitalist Co-option of the Populist Left 3

A writer named Don Hamerquist, who appears to be a Marxist-Leninist with left-communist or autonomous Marxist leanings, has a new three part essay on the “antifascist” blog Three Way Fight that is considerably more insightful that what I usually find coming from that milieu. The essay is available here, here, and here.

The essay makes the following arguments.

1) The difficulties that global capitalism has experienced over the past decade have generated a backlash against neoliberalism in the forms of populist movements from both the left and right.

2) The “capitalist class” in the Western nations has attempted to co-opt left-wing populism by pitting it against right-wing populism in a supposed battle for “democracy” and “liberalism” against “authoritarianism” or “fascism.” Hamerquist also recognizes that Russia is a player within the framework of global capitalism, not a genuine opposition nation, but one that is being used as a scapegoat or whipping boy by Western liberals.

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New York City Raids Condo Building in Crackdown on Airbnb Rentals 2

I invite any system-lovers who may be reading to explain exactly how it is that we don’t live in a police state.

By Josh Barnabel

Wall Street

A team of New York City law-enforcement officers swarmed a Manhattan condominium last month, issuing 27 notices of violations for illegal hotel use in one of the largest crackdowns on short-term rentals such as those listed on Airbnb.

The raid at the Atelier, a 46-story Midtown luxury tower, may be a sign of what’s to come. New York and other cities are seeking to limit short-term rentals that can run afoul of local laws designed to limit hotel-style stays in residential buildings.

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Sadly, Sound Money ISN’T on the Ballot Reply

By Clint Siegner, Money Metals Exchange

Americans will be headed to the polls to cast ballots in the midterm elections. Polling suggests that Democrats will return to power in the House of Representatives. Republicans are favored to hold on to the Senate.

However, political polls have proven less than reliable. There are plenty of people expecting a surprise once the votes are counted.

But there are many policies that won’t change regardless of who holds Congressional power come Wednesday.

For starters, we can count on the continuation of huge deficits. The Treasury Department’s most recent estimate is that government borrowing will double in 2018 versus last year. The bureaucracy is going to blow through $1.34 trillion more than this year’s record tax revenue.

That deficit will be the highest since 2010, back when the U.S. economy was mired in deep recession. Today, the IRS stands in high cotton. Imagine what deficit would look like if tax receipts were at recessionary levels and/or Congress was launching a major stimulus program.

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Here’s who owns a record $21.21 trillion of U.S. debt 2

 

 

Far too many people on the center left and center right have bought into the idea that nations such as Russia or China are genuine enemies of the global system, and far too many people on the far left and far right have bought into the idea that these nations represent credible alternatives to the global system. While it is certainly true that the Washington-London-Brussels-Berlin-Tel Aviv-Riyadh axis is the real international ruling class, the Asian powers are merely backwater provinces in the global system that are occasionally unruly.

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Slavoj Žižek: Trump’s rise is a symptom of a dark and subtle force Reply

A leading Marxist philosopher says what I have been saying for (at least) 20 years. Interesting.

By Stephen Johnson

Big Think

  • Slavoj Žižek and British political writer Owen Jones recently spoke about American politics, the left and global capitalism.
  • Žižek sees the success of President Donald Trump as proof that the left needs a major overhaul.
  • Žižek said one positive aspect of Trump’s presidency could be the rise of a new movement on the left.

The crucial battle in American politics today is what’s happening within the Democratic Party, not what’s happening against President Donald Trump, according to the philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek.

Žižek recently sat down with political commentator Owen Jones for an interview that covered the changing nature of global capitalism, the successes and failures of modern leftist movements, and the best ways to change existing political structures.

Žižek, a frequent critic of both capitalism and the shortcomings of the modern left, said liberals focus too much on social issues, such as LGBT rights and racism, and on new right-leaning factions. The cost? The majority of working-class voters may not hear what’s in it for them.

“The crucial event today is not the rise of the New Right,” he said. “The crucial thing is the disintegration of the central-left welfare consensus. This is why the crucial battle in the U.S. today, it’s not against Trump, it’s what happens within the Democratic Party.”

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Unraveling Political Theory – Money Reply

Tim Bryant and I discuss economics.

In episode 11 of Unraveling Political Theory, Tim and Keith will be discussing money. Coming to terms with different political movements and what they represent is at the core of what this podcast is all about. 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.

On anarchist economies Reply

By Iain McKay

Freedom News

Anarchism is generally not associated with economics — and Iain McKay argues that perhaps it’s time the field got more attention.

There is no “anarchist” school of economics as there are “Marxist,” “Keynesian” and so on. This does not mean there are no anarchist texts on economics. Proudhon springs to mind here, with his numerous works on the subject — the three Memoirs on property (most famous being the first, What is Property?) and the two volumes of System of Economic Contradictions (of which, only the first has been translated) — as does Kropotkin, with his Fields, Factories and Workshops. However, in spite of various (important) works there is no well-established body of work.

There are various reasons for this. Partly, it is due to the typical isolation of the English-speaking movement: many works which could be used to create an anarchist economics have never been translated into English. Partly, it is due to an undeserved sense of inferiority: too many anarchists have followed Marxists by taking Marx’s The Poverty of Philosophy as an accurate account and honest critique of Proudhon’s ideas (it is neither, as I show in “The Poverty of (Marx’s) Philosophy,” Anarcho-Syndicalist Review 70).

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What’s Going On With Venezuela? 4

A reader writes:

“I have a news item that might interest you. It is a 47 page report (with references) from the Human Rights Commission by one of their independent experts sent to investigate Venezuela. In the report he names the US, Canada, EU and Columbia and specifically Barack Obama and Donald Trump as needing to be charged with crimes against humanity. He documents how the media, IMF, World Bank, Standard&Poors, Moody and Fitch, as well as internal named opposition, NGO’s, international monetary exchange criminals colluded. He references work by Abby Martin and the Real News in some of his sources. Here is one of his recommendations:
The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.”
https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/G1823931.pdf

Elections, Power, and the DSA: The Failure of the Left in Power 1

A left-anarchist discusses the limitations of social democracy. Listen here.
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Illustration of Ocasio-Cortez flanked by DSA fist and image of crowd of workers with firsts united into one large first.

The discussion itself was very good, although I found the intro monologue to be something of a turn off in the sense that it sounded like a barrage of buzzwords and catchphrases (kind of like reciting the Apostles’ Creed in church). The point the guy being interviewed seemed to be making was “We should use grassroots direct action rather than electoral politics to A) get more free ice cream days and B ) oppose things leftists don’t like.” For instance, at one point he actually praises Nixon for creating the EPA and OSHA (“More centralized state bureaucracies! Yay! Vivia de Anarchia!”). He seems to be mostly regurgitating what David Graeber called “small ‘a’ anarchism” or “social movement anarchism.” In fact, he sounds a lot like what my anarchist friends and I would have been talking about 25-30 years ago.

I don’t think his point of view is “wrong” in the same sense that I don’t necessarily think Alexander Reid Ross’ “anarcho-MSNBC” perspective is “wrong” in the sense that it’s fine to have an anarchist tendency that’s merely about opposing Trump, the “far right” or official enemies of the US like Russia or Syria like Reid-Ross’ crowd, and it’s not “wrong” to have anarchist tendencies that are just about “social movement left-activism” like these “DSA anarchists” or whatever they are. But I view anarchist philosophy and politics as much bigger than all that.

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Trump’s Backdoor Power Play to Rein In the Fed 1

By Stefan Gleason, Money Metals Exchange

“Just run the presses – print money.”

That’s what President Donald Trump supposedly instructed his former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to do in response to the budget deficit. The quote appears in Bob Woodward’s controversial book Fear: Trump in the White House.

Trump disputes many of the anecdotes Woodward assembled. But regardless of whether the President used those exact words, they do reflect an “easy money” philosophy that he has expressed many times before.

Trump Likes Low Rates, Loose Money

President Trump has described himself as a “low interest rate person.”

This past summer, Trump launched a very public attack on the Federal Reserve’s rate hiking campaign. He wants it to stop because it’s making the dollar “too strong” and threatening to undercut his tax cut fiscal stimulus.

There’s only so much dollar strength the U.S. economy and U.S. debt and equity markets can take. President Trump is keenly aware of the risks.

A Fed rate hike next week is a given at this point.

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Congressmen Introduce Bill to End Taxation of Gold and Silver Reply

By J P Cortez

Washington, DC (September 7, 2018) – The battle to end taxation of constitutional money has reached the federal level as U.S. Representative Alex Mooney (R-WV) today introduced sound money legislation to remove all federal income taxation from gold and silver coins and bullion.

The Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act – backed by the Sound Money Defense League, Money Metals Exchange, and free-market activists – would clarify that the sale or exchange of precious metals bullion and coins are not to be included in capital gains, losses, or any other type of federal income calculation.My view, which is backed up by language in the U.S. Constitution, is that gold and silver coins are money and…are legal tender,” Mooney said in a House Financial Services Committee hearing this week. “If they’re indeed U.S. money, it seems there should be no taxes on them at all. So, why are we taxing these coins as collectables?”

Acting unilaterally, the Internal Revenue Service has placed gold and silver in the same “collectibles” category as artwork, Beanie Babies, and baseball cards, a classification that subjects the monetary metals to a discriminatorily high long-term capital gains tax rate of 28%.

Sound money activists have long pointed out it is inappropriate to apply any federal income tax, regardless of the rate, against the only kind of money named in the U.S. Constitution.  And the IRS has never defended how its position squares up with current law.

Furthermore, the U.S. Mint continuously mints coins of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium and gives each of these coins a legal tender value denominated in U.S. dollars.  This formal status as U.S. money further underscores the inappropriate nature of IRS income tax treatment.

A tax neutral measure, the Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act states that “no gain or loss shall be recognized on the sale or exchange of (1) gold, silver, platinum, or palladium coins minted and issued by the Secretary at any time or (2), refined gold or silver bullion, coins, bars, rounds, or ingots which are valued primarily based on their metal content and not their form.”

Under current IRS policy, a taxpayer who sells his precious metals may end up with a capital “gain” in terms of Federal Reserve Notes and must pay federal income taxes on this “gain.”

But the capital “gain” is not necessarily a real gain. It is often a nominal gain that simply results from the inflation created by the Federal Reserve and the attendant decline in the Federal Reserve Note dollar’s purchasing power.

Under Rep. Mooney’s bill (which has already been cosponsored by two others), precious metals gains and losses would not be included in any calculations of a taxpayer’s federal taxable income.

“Inflation is a regressive tax that especially harms wage earners, savers, and retirees on a fixed income,” said Jp Cortez, policy director at the Sound Money Defense League. “We are encouraged that an increasing number of citizens, state legislators, and members of congress are taking action to address the evils of the Federal Reserve System.”

“The IRS does not let taxpayers deduct the staggering capital losses they suffer when holding Federal Reserve Notes over time,” said Stefan Gleason, president of a Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named “Best in the USA” by a global industry ratings group.

“So it’s grossly unfair for the IRS to assess a capital gains tax when citizens hold gold and silver to protect them from the Fed’s policy of currency devaluation.”

Rep. French Hill (R-AR) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) joined today as original cosponsors.  The text of the bill can be found here.

The Sound Money Defense League is a public policy group working nationally to bring back gold and silver as America’s constitutional money.