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Showing posts from June, 2013

The Exit on the Road to Serfdom

One of my favorite quotes from the quotable Thomas Paine is a mere footnote in his treatise, Rights of Man, Part Second, in which he wrote:
It is scarcely possible to touch on any subject, that will not suggest an allusion to some corruption in governments. Paine was referring to “the splendor of the throne,” which he said “is no other than the corruption of the state.  It is made up of a band of parasites, living in luxurious indolence, out of the public taxes.”  He thought the U.S. federal government, newly created by the Constitution, provided hope against political corruption because of the limitations it imposed on the government.  Paine was in England at the time and had no idea that the new government, whose intellectual leader was Alexander Hamilton, was busy interpreting those limitations out of existence.

Paine also didn’t know the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was in fact a coup d'état.  The participants had been authorized only to amend the Articles of Confederat…

Snowden vs. Bernanke

From the regime’s viewpoint only, who is the greatest threat, Edward Snowden or Ben Bernanke?

The government’s defenders would likely turn their backs on the question, but they ought to look closely at it.  Here’s their take: Snowden has broken the law and exposed sensitive government snooping operations.  At the very least he should be in prison.  Bernanke is keeping the economy’s engine running with prodigious amounts of digital money, all of it backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, and by most indicators he’s doing a stellar job.  Bernanke is a hero, Snowden is a traitor.  It’s not even an open-and-shut case because it doesn’t deserve to be opened.

But if they did open it, what might they find?  Snowden made headlines with his Glenn Greenwald interview but he’s revealed nothing new.  James Bamford started writing about the NSA’s warrantless eavesdropping back in 1982.  At worst, Snowden is reminding the public of something they should already know.  But that’s …

The “Case” Against Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine died on the overcast morning of June 8, 1809, in New York City.  Libertarians have long savored his unabashed attacks on government and the many evils of paper money, and the fact that he not only ignited the drive for American independence but kept it alive during its darkest moments.  He played an important role in history, both here and abroad, yet is not given the respect he deserves.

If you extend the list of “Founding Fathers of the United States” far enough you find “Thomas Paine” included on it.  Historians for the most part consider a Founder as one who signed the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution; Paine signed neither, nor was he invited to sign them.  Joseph Lewis published a reasoned and well-documented case that Paine might have authored the first draft of the Declaration. 

If a Founder can be considered someone who helped change the united colonies to the United States, then Paine should be at the top of the list.  It could even be argued that P…