Friday, March 20, 2009

CBO projects deficit at $1.8 trillion

Since taking office in January, the Obama administration has been shoveling billions of dollars out the door in a bid to reverse a steep downward spiral in the U.S. economy and prop up the struggling financial system.

The massive deficit forecasts come after Obama submitted in February his $3.55 trillion budget plan for fiscal 2010, which includes huge new programs to address healthcare and curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Will this crush what's left of the American economy? Probably not, but it will seriously harm the economy we've known, which was already suffering from massive government burdens. When governments can no longer hide behind their flags, people take their lives underground. It's called survival.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jack Hunter on Governor Sanford

Writing on March 11 in the Charleston City Paper, conservative columnist Jack Hunter quotes South Carolina governor Mark Sanford during the latter's visit to Washington last November to encourage opposition to the stimulus bill:
"The president's stimulus represents the largest and most invasive economic action in our government's history.

For a relatively small number of short-term jobs, this administration and this Congress are poised to mortgage the economic future of my four boys and the millions of young Americans just like them. To me, that's simply not a morally acceptable outcome."
Hunter observes:
Is Sanford driven by his free-market ideology? Of course he is. Genuine conservatives have long argued that the same penny-pinching practiced by families and businesses that strive to live within budgets should also apply to government.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Freddie Mac needs more -- lots more

While the media probes taxpayer resentment over $165m AIG "retention" bonuses, the government reports that one of its pet agencies, Freddie Mac, will need billions more to keep making risky loans.
AIG is to date the most expensive corporate bailout in American history, requiring $180 billion in government funds. But it may soon have competition. Last week mortgage giant Freddie Mac said it had lost $50 billion in 2008 alone. A look at the company's books suggests the government will have to spend at least triple that much to save the financial firm from collapse. If the housing market worsens, the tab could be even larger. . .

Citigroup and other banks have also lost money and will need more capital to survive. But in those cases it's not clear who will take the hit — shareholders, bondholders or the government. In the cases of AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, however, there is no question where the money will come from. Freddie and Fannie were taken over by the government and put into conservatorship last fall. AIG is currently 80% owned by the government. The losses at those companies are now taxpayer losses.

Illinois: 50 percent income tax hike

Unlike private sector firms that are cutting costs to keep prices steady on their goods and services, the governor of Illinois wants state taxpayers to pay even more for government operations.
Gov. Pat Quinn's budget plan for next year calls for deep sacrifice for Illinoisans, with the governor seeking to increase the state income tax rate on individuals by 50 percent and ask many state employees to take unpaid time off next year to fill an $11.6 billion budget hole.

Quinn is also asking lawmakers to make state employees and retirees pay more for health insurance, increase business taxes and make major changes to the state's pension systems for new employees.

Indigent homeowner strategy

An article issued by Reuters called "Owners skulking away from 'underwater' U.S. homes" includes the following bit of advice:
Market experts say that, while lenders have the right to sue [borrowers who can't make mortgage payments] for breach of contract, most will not pursue charges against "indigent" individuals unless they abandon mortgage payments for business interests.

Barnard [a debtor who wants to abandon his home] and some financial planners say that, in certain cases, giving up is the only option.

It can take a year or longer for a bank to seize a home once the owner ceases payments. While a foreclosure hurts credit, owners do not have to make mortgage payments as the process unfolds and can use that saved money to start over.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ayn Rand's money speech from Atlas Shrugged - an excerpt

"Money is the barometer of a society's virtue.  When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed.  Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality.  It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot."
-- p. 413, Atlas Shrugged, 35th anniversary edition, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1992.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flawed views of the state

The people cheering on Washington in its efforts to revive the economy ought to consider the nature of the beast that's purporting to save us. I recommend reading Nock's "The Criminality of the State" and Rothbard's "The Anatomy of the State," for starters.

Nock:
. . . our people might get into their heads some glimmering of the fact that the State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscation – that is to say, in crime.
Rothbard:
The State, in the words of Oppenheimer, is the "organization of the political means"; it is the systematization of the predatory process over a given territory. For crime, at best, is sporadic and uncertain; the parasitism is ephemeral, and the coercive, parasitic lifeline may be cut off at any time by the resistance of the victims. The State provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively "peaceful" the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society. Since production must always precede predation, the free market is anterior to the State. The State has never been created by a "social contract"; it has always been born in conquest and exploitation. The classic paradigm was a conquering tribe pausing in its time-honored method of looting and murdering a conquered tribe, to realize that the time-span of plunder would be longer and more secure, and the situation more pleasant, if the conquered tribe were allowed to live and produce, with the conquerors settling among them as rulers exacting a steady annual tribute.

Cheers for Mark Sanford

From a Guardian article:
South Carolina governor Mark Sanford is expected today to become the first governor to formally reject some of the federal stimulus money earmarked by Congress for his state.

The move will cement Sanford's growing reputation as a political powerhouse among Republican party stalwarts nationwide - though how much of the estimated $8bn in stimulus funds destined for South Carolina will be affected is unclear. The law allows state legislative leaders to accept funds the governor rejects.
Whether he means it or not, at least he rejected the funds for the right reasons:
"Our objections to the so-called stimulus bill have been well-chronicled for the way it spends money that we don't have and for the way this printing of money could ultimately devalue the American dollar," Sanford said on Tuesday, even as he acknowledged that he'll accept some.
True, Sanford is not defending the free market or attacking the state at its roots. But it's a glimpse of the sun on an otherwise dark day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Preston

My grandson turns four today, officially at 6:59 p.m. His dad hosted a party for him on Saturday.



Happy birthday, Preston. You bring joy to everyone who knows you. You share your birthday with Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912), originator of the theory of Market Anarchism. May you see the end of state rule in your lifetime.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ideological battle - or politics as usual?

House minority whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) told "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos that he strongly disagrees with Rush Limbaugh's statement that it's okay to want Obama's plan to fail if it calls for the elimination of capitalism and individual liberty. "I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now," Cantor said. "We have such challenges. What we need to do is we need to put forth solutions to the problems that real families are facing today."

It apparently doesn't matter to Cantor that solutions are not merely being put forth, they're being imposed at gunpoint through the coercive arm of the state. They will provide at best only temporary aid and will in the not-so-long run make life hell on earth for those he claims to be helping.

There is such a thing as economic law, and the third-best thing government could be do right now is close shop and go home. If they slashed spending, killed the Fed, killed the income tax, and eliminated regulations first, that would be even better, but still not the best thing it could do to help people.

It's interesting, too, that when a Republican is in the White House, "conservatives" like Limbaugh don't give a damn about capitalism and individual liberty. Anything the Republican Decider proclaims is perfectly okay.

AlphaZero for President

From KurzweilAI : Demis Hassabis, the founder and CEO of DeepMind, announced at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference (NIP...