Sunday, February 22, 2009

President Obama's Report Card

Dear Reader,

Although we don't ordinarily concern ourselves with statist politics here, it is useful, now and again, to examine the record of revered political executives, if only to remind ourselves of the utter folly of thinking one man can run something as complex as a nation, state, county, city, or even a small town. The reason anarchy works, and government doesn't, is that it allows people to cooperate peacefully and to each other's mutual benefit, with no violation of rights.

Barrack Obama is a phenomenon. Already he has achieved cult status among his followers, many of whom quite literally think he has supernatural powers. This being so, let us examine his record, brief though it is, and separate fantasy from fact.

Is it too soon to grade our new President? After all, he's only been in office one month - shouldn't we give him more time to show us what he's made of? Doesn't he deserve a little time to learn on the job?


In four short weeks, he has not only showed us everything we need to know, he and his Democrat comrades have taken actions that will have profound and lasting effects - almost all bad. And he has already reneged on a number of campaign promises. Perhaps the most telling of his broken promises is the one about transparency. Here's how DownsizeDC puts it:

* President Obama promised the most open, transparent administration in history. He pledged to not sign bills that hadn't been posted online for the public to read for at least five days BEFORE the final vote was cast.

* Speaker Nancy Pelosi, just a week ago, promised that the final version of the scam (stimulus) bill would be posted online for at least 48 hours before the vote. Here's what they did instead . . .

* The 1,073 page scam bill, with an extra 421 page Explanatory Statement, was delivered, still unfinished, at midnight Thursday.

* The House passed the bill 14 hours and 24 minutes later. * The Senate did likewise 3 hours and 5 minutes after the House.

So, for the promise of transparency, the Administration and the Democrats get the grade of F.

Okay, so what about his other promises? Does anyone remember them now, in the preoccupation with the economic calamity facing the entire world?

Fortunately, the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times has created a useful Obameter we can refer to. They identified more than 500 promises the Prez made on the campaign trail, and are keeping track of the ones kept, broken, compromised, and not acted upon. The vast majority are still in the last category (and ideally many will stay that way). Just reading through the list is as tedious as watching his last press conference was. His campaign was masterful at the usual political con of promising something for everyone. It's the stuff he eventually delivers on that should concern us.

He gets a grade of C, or maybe "incomplete", for the delayed release of prisoners from Gitmo. He gets a grade of F, so far, for not rescinding George W. Bush's executive orders that effectively killed Posse Comitatus and habeus corpus, allowed domestic spying on American citizens, and absolved corporations who were complicit in the spying. He also gets an F for not rescinding CIA policy that allows it to kidnap and ship suspected terrorists to foreign prisons were they will certainly be tortured.

He did meet with the military brass on day one of his administration, as promised, and "asked them" to come up with a plan for orderly withdrawal from Iraq. One thumb up for that, but this is in contrast to Ron Paul's plan, which was, quoting him approximately, "we marched right in there, and we can march right out". In the meantime, he fulfilled another promise to send two more brigades to Afghanistan, and his commanders there have continued using Predator drones to kill people inside of Pakistan. Two thumbs down. Weighted grade: D.

Otherwise, militarily speaking, he said he would rely more on intelligence, special forces, and light infantry, and less on heavy bombers, tanks, and all the other hugely expensive war machines the Pentagon loves so much. This is actually a good strategy going forward, a move in the right direction if the US is ever going to start cutting back its war budget. Ironically, however, weapons of war and their delivery systems constitute a very large part of what's left of America's manufacturing base; decimating this industry at this time will undoubtedly exacerbate the economic downturn. Let's give him an E for Effort.

But that would be far from the worst action he's taking that will deepen the depression. This is inevitable, considering that his economic advisors are all Keynesian (Larry Summers, Paul Krugman et al) and Chicago-school (Bernanke et al) retreads that believe deficit spending fuels a healthy economy, and massive deficit spending is necessary to cure a sick economy. In spite of their belief that economies run according to mathematical models, none of them can put two and two together when it comes to understanding the monetary cause of inflationary effect. Obama's reliance on many of the same ignorami of the Clinton, Bush, and even Reagan years who got us into this is nothing more than a blunt admission of economic ignorance, as well as admission that he hasn't a clue what to do about it.

So he reads the history books written by the court historians of the nation's demigods, Lincoln and Wilson and FDR, seeking wisdom from the dead white guys who were in reality our worst failed leaders. One can imagine him sitting in on one of Hillary's seances, hoping to channel Franklin as well as Eleanor. If only he could; maybe FDR would finally fess up to how little he understood about economics, how the New Deal was a hodgepodge of programs inspired by European fascists, and how utterly it failed to end the first Great Depression.

Alas, it cannot be. Obama will try everything in the FDR playbook, including infrastructure boondoggles, make-work schemes for "green" technology, carbon taxes, soak the rich taxes, price and wage controls, and all the rest, in addition to the untold trillions poured into the "rescue" of failed banks, auto companies, brokerage firms, and millions of homeowners who should never have bought a house in the first place. And when the number of dollars printed, borrowed, or stolen reaches a critical mass, they will fall headlong into worthlessness, and the empire of the USA will no longer exist.

Poor Barrack. And poor black people who look at him with the adoration they once reserved for Father Abraham. I really do feel sorry for them. It's a cruel twist of fate that he will likely preside over America's descent into Third World status, and very little of it is really his fault. But maybe not.... maybe he'll be persuaded to reverse course before it's too late. If so, maybe I will believe in miracles.

So, for the most important grade of all: F on the economy.

He needs remedial education, and he needs it fast. I therefore am offering him free lessons here at the Anarchy School, and advise him to avail himself of all the free resources at for an emergency schooling in Austrian economics. At the conclusion of his schooling I fully expect him to abdicate the throne and let Americans be free. He is, after all, an extremely bright man.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is panarchy compatible with anarchy?

Dear Reader,

One of my favorite libertarian intellectuals is the retired professor of finance Michael Rozeff, who is a fellow devotee of Austrian economics and a prolific writer featured many times on the Lew Rockwell website and blog. Recently he published a couple of articles on the concept of panarchy, which I would briefly describe as a political philosophy that advocates complete freedom to choose one's form of government. As I understand it, this is not meant to be antagonistic to anarchy, or any form of government, but I have doubts. I invite you to read his thought-provoking article and then my response, below.

Prof. Rozeff,

As an anarchist (aka voluntarist, aka anarcho-capitalist, aka free market anarchist) I'm having some trouble understanding how panarchism could be compatible with my choice of self-governance.

I submit that we already live in an essentially panarchist world, with real choices (in the past or present but nonetheless in the realm of reality) to live in states that are or were minarchist, monarchist, republican, democratic, socialist, fascist, communist, and all shades in between. Although it's not always possible for people to freely choose which type of government they prefer and then actually move to a locale where such a government rules, it could and did happen even in such times as the Cold War.

The one option that has always been unavailable to every citizen, at least since the rise of the modern state, is any form of anarchism in any living situation not involving a cave. The reason is obvious to me: all forms of statism are based on a lesser or greater degree of coercion, which is not only antithetical to anarchism but incapable of competing with it in a free market of political ideas. Anarchism and statism are diametrically opposed; they simply can't coexist.

Therefore, when an anarchist advocates the end of the state, he/she is merely doing so in the interest of survival. It doesn't mean that the anarchist will try to forcibly overthrow the state; if he/she is a libertarian, that option is absolutely proscribed by the libertarian credo. But the state will always deny and destroy any organized attempt to form an anarchic society - I know of no exceptions to this rule.

The future may yet present us with the possibility of building a stateless society out of reach of the vast statist majority, of course, but until then, please tell me how you think anarchism can coexist with statism in our world.

Thank you for your time and courtesy,
Glen Litsinger

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A reluctant Valentine to Ron Paul and supporters

Dear Reader,

Today I received an email from an old friend who stuck by me when I announced my support for Ron Paul in last year's presidential race, when a lot of our mutual friends derided Paul supporters as whackos, racists, or pinko pacifists, depending on which partisan school of corruption they were educated in. He included a post he had put up on a Ron Pual site about his analysis of Republican chances going forward, whether or not Dr. Paul runs again for President. My friend doesn't know that I've given up on the concept of minimal states kept small by constitutions, let alone political parties and representative government. This is a problem anarchists run into all the time; we don't wish to offend those who are fighting the good fight for minarchism, we just don't believe that it can work.

Here's my reply:

Not sure how to answer this. I love Ron Paul and would be proud to have him, or anyone like him, as President. But the truth is I gave up on democracy and the American electoral process several years ago. I supported Dr. Paul and donated lots of money to him last year, but it was all in the hope of educating the masses.

I do like [Bobby] Jindal and [Sarah] Palin and the governor of SC (or is it NC?), they're definitely better than most. But that ain't saying much. Baltimore's own H.L. Mencken said it best - "an election is like an advanced auction on stolen goods", where the bidders are the special interests that control both major parties. I had high hopes when the GOP finally wrested control from the Democrats in 2000-2004, but they turned out to be big government crooks every bit as reprehensible as the Democrats, not the limited government heroes they pretended to be. When the final history is written, they will share the burden of guilt as the destroyers of America. Ron Paul was the shining exception.

In my view, the ultimate solution, if you believe in freedom and justice, is to have no government at all, except for the government that should be universal: self-government. Everyone free, so long as they don't impinge on the freedoms of anyone else, and as long as they take responsibility for their own actions. This is the definition of civilization; government is what you get when civilization fails.

That's a simple explanation of my political philosophy, anyway.

Personally, I hope that Ron, or perhaps his son, Rand, or some other honest man or woman continues to carry the banner of Constitutionally-limited government. I would love to see a return to the breathtaking freedom that the early Americans enjoyed - minus the slavery and second-class citizenship for women, Indians, and other groups, of course. If nothing else, it gives my heart joy to see Dr. Paul speaking truth to power when he confronts the Treasury secretary or the Federal Reserve chairman about economic policy. In his speeches and letters he gives every lover of liberty the intellectual ammunition to fight the steady encroachment on our freedoms. That's far more than any other contemporary politician gives us.

Thank you, Dr. Paul, and all the best to Carol and your extended family. And thank you, too, to all the people who rallied to the cause in this last election. You are the heroes of the 2nd American Revolution, the one that will eventually lead to the dismantling of the statist tyranny.