Category: campaignforliberty.org

When is government-run healthcare not goverment-run health care?

When it’s supported by Republicans of course. . .

One of the main features of the “compromise” reached between conservative and moderate House Republicans on legislation “repealing-and-replacing” ObamaCare is to provide $15 billion of new funding for high-risk pools. These are special programs run by states that provide insurance for those who, because of pre-existing conditions or some other health problem, are unable to obtain healthcare from private markets.

High-risk pools are the Republican alternative to ObamaCare’s “guaranteed issue and community ratings” mandate. This mandate is intended to ensure every American has access to “quality” care. Of course, these mandates have caused many Americans to lose access to quality care. Therefore, these mandates need to be repealed and replaced, but that does not mean high-risk pools are the answer.

Supporters of high-risk pools argue by removing those with expensive medical conditions from the market — instead of requiring private insurance companies to cover their conditions — distortions caused by ObamaCare’s mandates are fixed. But the act of removing individuals from a market and placing them into a government program itself distorts the market. Not only do high-risk pools distort the marketplace, they do so at the expense of the very people who stand to benefit the most from a free-market health care system!

Supporters of high-risk pools also ignore that government spending also distorts the marketplace.

Increased government spending requires taking resources out of the private sector, either directly via income or other taxes, or indirectly via the “inflation tax” imposed by the Federal Reserve in order to help the government monetize its debt.

The spending on high-risk pools is likely to be “offset” with spending cuts in other areas. However, there is no guarantee that a future Congress will be so fiscally “responsible.” In fact, history suggests that federal spending on high-risk pools will exceed Congress’ projections. Consider that when Medicare passed, Congress projected its cost would be $9 billion in 1990, but it was actually $67 billion. And Medicaid was projected to cost $12 billion in 1990, but in fact it cost $98 billion!

Medicaid is also notorious for providing sub-standard care, despite costing billions — the opposite of what occurs in the marketplace. Medicare also provides sub standard care to many “beneficiaries.” Low reimbursement, as well as rules and regulations these programs impose on physicians, are causing many health care providers to withdraw from both programs. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that the states’ experience with high-risk pools in the years before ObamaCare was not positive. Premiums for those in the pools rose to as much as three times those in private plans, while access to care was limited by regulations. Of course, under a free-market, those with pre-existing conditions would pay more for insurance, but in a truly competitive market, they would find care that meets their needs at an affordable price. In fact, as John C. Goodman points out here, in a free-market, health care providers would compete for the business of those with serious health problems.

And that gets to the real problem with high-risk pools … they cut off private innovation that would find solutions to meeting the needs of those with pre-existing conditions and make it possible for them to obtain heath insurance at the same (or similar) rates as others.

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul has advocated for “long-term” contracts as a solution. As Dr. Paul described it in a 2013 column:

Long-term group insurance contracts could ensure that those with pre-existing conditions could obtain coverage. Under such a contract, individuals could pool resources to purchase a group policy that would cover any and all problems any member might develop over time. Businesses, churches, community organizations, and even fraternities and sororities could offer these types of contracts.

Senator Rand Paul’s health care plan has a version of long-term insurance. Senator Paul would allow high-risk individual to join together in an association. Senator Paul has also been one of the few willing to criticize the Constructive Republican Alternative Proposal of high-risk pools.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2pzLp3q

This week in Congress: Will the Government Shut Down?

Not likely, but we can always hope. . .

The House comes back from its two-week “spring break.”  The big item on the agenda is the Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government. Some Democrats have threatened to block passage of the CR if it contains funding for President Trump’s proposed “border wall.”

Another potential fight is if the CR defunds ObamaCare’s subsidies for insurance companies. Congress has blocked these subsidies for the past several years, but the Obama administration illegally funneled money to the insurance companies anyway — shocking, I know. President Trump has indicated he may work with Congress to block these funds, in order to force the insurance companies and ObamaCare supporters to “negotiate” on a repeal and replace plan.

Another controversy is over attempts by the cotton lobby to add language to the CR restoring the eligibility of cotton producers to receive funding under the “Title One” program, which provides funding for most commodities. Cotton was removed from Title One when the U.S. lost a World Trade Organization (WTO) case brought by Brazil determining that the subsides violated international trade rules. Despite getting another subsidy program that has costs the taxpayers several billion dollars (in addition to the money the U.S. Government has paid Brazil), cotton producers claim they need more of your money.

If they producers are included in Title One, they would not only be able to receive higher payments this year, but would be in position to receive even greater payments when Congress reauthorizes the farm bill later this year.

Campaign for Liberty has joined a coalition letter opposing giving cotton new subsides in the CR:

Dear Representative/Senator,

On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the undersigned organizations, we urge you to oppose efforts add language to the FY 2017 spending bill you will soon consider preempt the 2018 farm bill process to secure billions of additional federal tax dollars for cotton producers by making them cotton producers eligible for Title 1 farm bill income subsidy programs.

Agricultural businesses producing cotton already benefit from an overly generous taxpayer-backed financial safety net. According to USDA, 96 percent of cotton acreage is covered by federally subsidized crop insurance. The 2014 farm bill created the Stacked Income Protection program (STAX), exclusive to cotton producers, in which taxpayers cover 80 percent of the cost for policies protecting against so-called “shallow losses” that are too small to trigger crop insurance payouts. Federally subsidized marketing loans, trade promotion programs, economic assistance to mills, and $328 million in un-budgeted ginning cost share subsidies just last year, are amongst the many ways taxpayers are forced to subsidize the cotton sector.

Finally, using the 2017 appropriations process to further bailout the cotton sector may re-open costly trade disputes. The 2014 farm bill removed cotton as an eligible commodity for Title 1 farm bill income subsidy programs in order to resolve a long-standing World Trade Organization dispute with Brazil that has already cost taxpayers more than $800 million. Reneging on our agreement with Brazil by making cotton an eligible commodity under the Title 1 Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs could subject United States consumers and manufacturers to billions of dollars in retaliatory trade measures to industries other than agriculture.

We believe that it is long overdue to place faith in American farmers and treat them with the respect they deserve as sophisticated and innovative business leaders. Congress must not use the fiscal year 2017 appropriations process to surreptitiously direct billions of additional dollars to select special interests. Rather we should use the 2018 farm bill process, already well-underway, to ensure America’s agricultural businesses have the opportunity to adjust to economic realities by eliminating unnecessary and complicated federal policies that manipulate market decisions in this critical and vibrant component of our economy.

Sincerely,

 American Commitment

Americans for Prosperity

Campaign for Liberty

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Heritage Action for America

National Taxpayers Union

R Street Institute

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Campaign for Liberty members should call their representative and senators and tell them to oppose any CR that raises spending or bails out the insurance companies.

The House will also consider H.R. 1694, which subjects Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Campaign for Liberty members should call their representatives and urge them to vote for H.R. 1694.

H.R. 1694 was one of the bills discussed at the Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing where I testified on behalf of Audit the Fed, Hopefully, the House will follow up their action on H.R. 1694 with a vote on Audit the Fed.

The House will also consider H.R. 1695, which gives some additional responsibilities to the register of copyrights.

The House will also consider legislation under suspension of the rules, including:

1. S. 496 — Overturns Department of Transportation’s “Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform.” This rule consulted planning authorities, which seems good, but it does reduce the influence of local officials, who know the needs of their constituents better than D.C.-based bureaucrats.

2. H.R. 876 — Requires a new study on security of “employee” only areas of airports, including employee education about security procedures. Also gives the Department of Transportation the lead role in “insider threat” coordination efforts.

3. H.R. 1372 — the Homeland Security for the Children Act (yes it is called that). As the title suggest this bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to:

“(I) identify and integrate the needs of children into activities to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against the risk of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other manmade disasters, including catastrophic incidents, including by appointing a technical expert, who may consult with relevant outside organizations and experts, as necessary, to coordinate such integration, as necessary.”.

The bill also requires the Department to prepare a yearly report to Congress  “. . . describing the efforts the Department has undertaken to identify and integrate the needs of children into the Department’s policies, programs, and activities. . .”

4. H.R. 534 — Expresses the “sense of Congress” that the US should rejoin the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) to promote public diplomacy, global branding, and tourism to the United States. The point of this is so the US can host a “World Expo.” There is nothing in the text of the bill expressing the sense of Congress as to how to pay the costs of rejoining this BIE.

The bill does say that rejoining the BIE will promote “economic growth.” This is the latest example of the “that which is not seen fallacy.” Everyone sees the jobs and business created by the BIE, but no one sees the jobs and business that would have been created had the resources spent by the BIE been left in the private sector.

5. H.Res 187 — Expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. Government should spending “emergency funding” on relief efforts in South Sudan and calls for a cease fire in Sudan’s civil war in order to ensure aid workers can delver relief.

This is all well-meaning but the United States Government does not have the legitimate authority to spend taxpayer money to provide humanitarian relief. Instead, those efforts should be provided by private citizens. And U.S. interference in civil conflicts always makers things worse, both for the “beneficiaries” of our intervention and the American people.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2osHKo3

“I love Wikileaks”

“I love Wikileaks,” candidate Donald Trump said on October 10th on the campaign trail. He praised the organization for reporting on the darker side of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was information likely leaked by a whistleblower from within the Clinton campaign to Wikileaks.

Back then he praised Wikileaks for promoting transparency, but candidate Trump looks less like President Trump every day. The candidate praised whistleblowers and Wikileaks often on the campaign trail. In fact, candidate Trump loved Wikileaks so much he mentioned the organization more than 140 times in the final month of the campaign alone! Now, as President, it seems Trump wants Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sent to prison.

Last week CNN reported, citing anonymous “intelligence community” sources, that the Trump Administration’s Justice Department was seeking the arrest of Assange and had found a way to charge the Wikileaks founder for publishing classified information without charging other media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post for publishing the same information.

It might have been tempting to write off the CNN report as “fake news,” as is much of their reporting, but for the fact President Trump said in an interview on Friday that issuing an arrest warrant for Julian Assange would be, “OK with me.”

Trump’s condemnation of Wikileaks came just a day after his CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, attacked Wikileaks as a “hostile intelligence service.” Pompeo accused Assange of being “a fraud — a coward hiding behind a screen.”

Pompeo’s word choice was no accident. By accusing Wikileaks of being a “hostile intelligence service” rather than a publisher of information on illegal and abusive government practices leaked by whistleblowers, he signaled that the organization has no First Amendment rights. Like many in Washington, he does not understand that the First Amendment is a limitation on government rather than a granting of rights to citizens. Pompeo was declaring war on Wikileaks.

But not that long ago Pompeo also cited Wikileaks as an important source of information. In July he drew attention to the Wikileaks release of information damaging to the Clinton campaign, writing, “Need further proof that the fix was in from President Obama on down?”

There is a word for this sudden about-face on Wikileaks and the transparency it provides us into the operations of the prominent and powerful: hypocrisy.

The Trump Administration’s declaration of war on whistleblowers and Wikileaks is one of the greatest disappointments in these first 100 days. Donald Trump rode into the White House with promises that he would “drain the swamp,” meaning that he would overturn the apple carts of Washington’s vested interests. By unleashing those same vested interests on those who hold them in check – the whistleblowers and those who publish their revelations – he has turned his back on those who elected him.

Julian Assange, along with the whistleblowers who reveal to us the evil that is being done in our name, are heroes. They deserve our respect and admiration, not a prison cell. If we allow this president to declare war on those who tell the truth, we have only ourselves to blame.

————

Ron Paul’s weekly column can be found at The Ron Paul Institute

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2q7I2wR

Liberty at the movies: Do Not Resist

Anyone who doubts that America is well on its way to becoming a police state should watch Do Not Resist, a new documentary available for free download at Amazon.com. Do Not Resist examines the militarization of police. Like the best documentaries, Do Not Resist makes its points by showing, not telling. There is no narrator telling you how what you witnessed makes the case for policy change. The only time the filmmakers intrude is a few factual statements imposed on the screen.

The move examines various aspects of police militarization. One of the things I found startling was the clips of a speech at a police conference where the speaker justified police militarization by claiming that police were on the front lines of the war on terror. This scene was preceded by footage from the Ferguson, Missouri riots that resembled confrontation between U.S. military and civilian populations in Iraq rather than domestic law enforcement.

The speech is followed by clips of a New Hampshire town hall meeting where citizens in a town that has had two murders since 2004 debate accepting a $250,00 grant from Homeland Security to buy military equipment. The opponents of the grant argue getting police equipment built for military operations threaten liberty, not just by increasing the potential for police abuses, but by increasing federal spending on the military-industrial complex.

The way police militarization provides a new “market” for the military-industrial complex is not developed in the movie, but it does spend a fair amount of time on the ridiculousness of small towns arming themselves with military equipment.

The film also provides a look into how militarization affects the mindset of law enforcement. For instance, one police officer discusses how the military equipment is needed to control “unruly” crowds — note he does not say violent, just unruly. Another LAPD officer says one of the benefits of the thousands of cameras enable them to know when a protest is occurring. Another police office says citizens sacrifice their right to privacy when they go out in public. Citizens just need to hope that the person looking up their information is doing so for the right reasons.

The movie shows an individual whose house was destroyed because the police mistakenly believed a drug dealer was living there. The man is told that he will not receive any compensation from the government for their mistakes. Adding insult to injury, the police confiscated cash the suspected dealer was planning to use to buy a lawnmower.

The film ends with a focus on what is to come. The filmmakers interview the founder and CEO of a company developing surveillance technology that can allow police to identify and track anyone within a certain radius of a crime scene. The CEO states use of his technology cannot just help solve major crimes, but can prevent lower-level crimes — he never addresses the cost to liberty, or the potential for abuse of his product. He goes on to say he only wants to watch the parts of the world where crimes occur. But couldn’t that be anywhere, so doesn’t he need to watch everywhere?

The filmmakers also interview a professor who is developing a system to identify people likely to commit crimes. The professor claims his system can even tell if an unborn child is likely to commit a crime by looking at the parents’ backgrounds! The professor expresses no concern for the civil liberties implications of his system.

Do Not Resist shows why ending police militarization, and the laws that justify it, should be a focus of the liberty movement. This is why Campaign for Liberty is working to repeal federal laws that support police militarization, as well as working to end civil asset theft.

The film also shows how laws criminalizing peaceful behaviors lead to authoritarianism. This is why Campaign for Liberty supports ending all unconstitutional laws that criminalizing peaceful behavior. We are also working to stop expanding the federal police state by criminalizing online gambling.

It is particularity important we keep reminding our representatives, such as House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, that supporting federal laws criminalizing online gaming, drinking raw milk, or other peaceful activities are inconsistent with their pledge to support limited federal government and federalism.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2oZcwBV

The state of the liberty movement in the Trump era

My friend Jack Hunter, Editor of RARE Liberty, recently wrote a piece asking (and answering) an important question:  Who are We? The Liberty Movement in the Trump Era.

In the article, Jack recounts the history of the modern libertarian — or “liberty”movement (starting with Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign) — looks at the current situation, examines the various factions within the movement (right-libertarians, left-liberation, those who work in politics, and those who work with ideas in think tanks, the academy, or in journalism). The piece is quite long, but IMNSHO, worth the read.

Jack suggests there are core beliefs that everyone who calls themselves “libertarian” share and that should form the basis for unity among the various factions:

  1. A sincere dedication to smaller, constitutional government that both parties ignore (big government also being anti-free market).
  2. The promotion of a restrained, prudent, and non-interventionist foreign policy.
  3. Standing up for civil liberties that both parties abuse.
  4. Putting principles before parties — or shattering what some have called the “false left-right paradigm.”
  5. Championing individualism over the collectivist ideologies that plague the left and right.

I agree with Jack’s four core principles. Those who try to claim there is one — and only one — set of cultural or social values compatible with libertarianism — and therefore anyone not sharing those values is not a true libertarian — are making both a philosophical and political mistake.

Libertarianism is not a philosophy that provides a guide to living the “good life.” It is simply a political and economic philosophy regarding the proper role of government. Central to the idea of libertarians is the idea that people have the right to choose their own cultural and social values as long as those values do not involve the use of force or fraud against others. Thus, libertarianism is compatible with a wide variety of lifestyle choices.

This openness to various cultural and social values is one of the movement’s strengths. The liberty movement is one of — if not the only — a few movements that can bring together evangelical Christians with secular humanists, as long as both agree to never use force to impose their values on others. As Ron Paul says, “Liberty brings people together.”

Insisting that people pass a litmus test unrelated to the core ideas of liberty is not just philosophically unsound, it is a political mistake as it drives people away from libertarianism. There is also a danger that drafting a cultural or social agenda unrelated to liberty will cause some who call themselves libertarian to support the use of state power to make people “worthy” of liberty.

This happened in 19th Century Europe, where some liberals supported infringements on religious liberty in order to promote “true” liberty. It also happened in early 20th Century America when some liberals decided simple liberation from state oppression was not enough. In order to make freedom meaningful, the state needed to actively promote and protect the interests of the “common man,” even if it meant violating the rights of others and treating the so-called “beneficiaries” like children. The result was the morphing of American liberalism from a philosophy that supported limited government and free-markets to one that supported a welfare and regulatory state.

While I agree with much of what Jack writes here, I have a different perspective on some of the ideas expressed in this paragraph:

Some libertarians have wondered over the years why I talk about Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie so much, harping on figures instead of just libertarian ideas. Because I believe that it is human nature that people will flock to personalities they feel embody their beliefs, as opposed to the ideas themselves without any context. If you were ever a liberty event organizer over the last decade, tell me—could you draw a bigger crowd when Ron Paul was running for president or during non-election years? Might Judge Andrew Napolitano talking about civil liberties draw a larger audience than just a general discussion on the issue? People want champions. Celebrities often inspire people, even in politics. For good or ill, wanting to cheer people who reflect our identities is in our DNA. It took a person, Ron Paul, to take libertarianism to new heights in our politics and culture. Ron Paul was and is a symbol. Paul, Amash and Massie are ideological symbols, particularly in our movement. Conservatism needed a Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan to become more than what it had been before them. Progressives needed a Bernie Sanders in this election, and socialism got a respectable public hearing and renewed interest in 2016 due almost entirely to him. Historically, you will be hard-pressed to find political movements that did not center on personalities.

It is true charismatic figures can play a vital role in helping ideological movements bring their ideas into the mainstream. Murray Rothbard also agreed with this. For an example, see his article “Assassination-Left and Right”  in the Mises Institute’s collection  Never a Dull Moment: A Libertarian Looks at the Sixties.

Ron Paul’s success in spreading libertarian ideas is a great example of how a political figure can popularize ideas that were once considered “fringe,” and Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, Justin Amash, and other pro-liberty elected officials are doing great jobs of advancing liberty.

However, there is a danger in over-emphasizing the importance of charismatic leaders — especially charismatic political figures. An ideological movement that gets too fixated on political leaders may forget politicians are supposed to serve the ideas and goals of the movement, not the other way around. Anyone who doubts this should look at the behavior of most conservatives and progressives during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barrack Obama.

A focus on electing and protecting “our guys” will lead activists to “trim their sails” by modifying their agenda and refraining from discussing certain “radical” ideas.

There is also the risk that what began as a movement about ideas will degenerate into a  personality cult. These type of movements may be successful in winning elections and gaining access to power but are spectacular failures when it comes to enacting their agenda into law.

It has become common for so-called “realist” libertarians to scorn those who advocate for “extreme” positions (like ending the Federal Reserve) as unrealistic purists. But the truth is, it is the so-called realists who are being unrealistic. By tailoring their message to make it acceptable to the political elites, these so-called “pragmatists” are guaranteeing that political  “center of gravity” will never move toward liberty. Instead, the “realists” will be pulled more and more toward statism.

Candidates who market themselves as libertarian but who water down — or worse yet, sell out the message — set our movement back. This is because of what Murray Rothbard called the “even X” phenomenon. Statists love it when a libertarian advocates increasing government power, because they then have an example to point to claiming “responsible” libertarians support state action in this area. This makes it more difficult for those arguing against this policy.

Instead of worrying about how to make our message  “acceptable” to the political elite, the liberty movement should focus on mobilizing pro-liberty Americans to force politicians to vote for liberty and make today’s “fringe” libertarian idea tomorrow’s “mainstream” position.

Those who doubt that refusal to compromise one’s long-term goals for short-term gain is an effective strategy should consider that just 15 years ago, you would have been dismissed as a kook had you suggested a majority of states would be Right to Work and have some form of legalized marijuana. And just a decade ago, no one thought Audit the Fed would pass the House twice, come within six votes of breaking a Senate filibuster, be included in the Republican Party Platform, and have the endorsement of the President. These victories are all due to years of hard work by dedicated individuals who would not listen to those who were willing to put aside their long-term goals to focus on a “realistic” agenda.

One split in the movement Jack touches on is the divide between the “educators” and the “activists” or political types. I always thought this was a ridiculous conflict, as an effective movement needs both.

And while it may seem self-serving, I think Campaign for Liberty’s efforts to mobilize Americans to put enough pressure on legislators that even the bad guys are pressured to vote for liberty is a more effective way to advance liberty than trying to elect a majority of “good people.”

Some “political” libertarians view studying libertarian philosophy, economics, and history as a waste of time. But the truth is, it is vital that those working to advance liberty — whether they are running for elected office, grassroots activists, or journalists — master our philosophy. This is because (to paraphrase Jerome Tuccille of It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand) they will be required to defend positions that have been under attack for centuries. If they are unable to defend these positions, they will fail to advance liberty.

One comment Jack makes that is sure to raise eyebrows in certain circles is his mention that his favorite thing about Murray Rothbard was that he encouraged libertarians to get involved in practical politics. Jack combines this praise with criticism of Rothbard for aligning himself with “extreme” movements.

I think Jack is a little unfair to Rothbard. Rothbard did not form alliances with “extreme” movements for the sake of extremism. In fact, his goal was to move radical libertarians from the “fringe” to the mainstream. Throughout the majority of his life as the leading libertarian theorist and promoter, most “mainstream” movements were hopelessly devoted to the welfare-warfare state, and Rothbard refused to make alliances with those who supported the warfare state — he saw war as the most destructive government program and the quickest way the people lost their liberties. During the Cold War, adhering to a strict non-interventionist position meant one would have to find allies among those labeled — both fairly and unfairly — as radical extremists.

Rothbard’s strategic vision also rested on the insight that the state and the elites who benefit from the state are unlikely to voluntarily relinquish power. Therefore, in addition to working with organizations like the Mises Institute to develop libertarian ideas and build up a libertarian “cadre,” libertarians must pursue a strategy to educate the masses on how big government harms them and mobilize as many as possible to roll back the state.  Rothbard’s interest in a populist strategy also led him to embrace those labeled as extremists.

Read Rothbard on strategy here and here.

While I disagree with Jack that Rothbard’s involvement in practical politics is his most admirable quality, I do think one of Rothbard’s many admirable qualities was his interest in — and work toward — building a real-world libertarian movement. I also admire him for not just considering questions of strategy but also integrating strategy into his scholarship, as shown by his “libertarian manifesto,” For a New Liberty and his major work on the philosophical bias of libertarianism, The Ethics of Liberty.  

Whatever disagreements I have with Jack Hunter, I appreciate his willingness to look honestly at the state of the liberty movement and think seriously about strategy. I also thank Jack for inspiring me to think about strategic questions.

Campaign for Liberty continues to pursue the mobilization of pro-liberty Americans to push politicians to support pro-liberty positions.  Please support our efforts.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2oURiVW

Ron Paul on War and Peace in the Age of Trump

Our friends at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity recently hosted a one-day special conference with Ron Paul on “War and Peace in the Age of Trump.”

The conference took place in Dr. Paul’s hometown of Lake Jackson, Texas and featured an all-star line-up including Congressman Thomas Massie, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan – David Stockman, Mises Institute founder and Chairman Lew Rockwell, and, of course, Dr. Paul.

Dr. Paul’s speech is one of the best I have ever heard him give in my over twenty years of working with him.

Here and below is Dr. Paul’s thoughts on the conference, as well as links to his speech and the entire conference:

I’m very pleased to report that the cause of liberty and peace are alive and well beneath the headlines. Over the weekend, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and The Mises Institute held a joint conference in my hometown of Lake Jackson, TX. It was a packed house! Peace is popular amongst the people, despite our war hungry federal government. At first, the conference was set up to discuss the slight possibility that (just maybe) President Trump would pursue a more peaceful foreign policy than his recent predecessors. Little did we know that President Trump would squash that idea just 2 days before the conference began.The president’s rash and reckless decision to bomb Syria gave all of the scheduled speakers an extra jolt to provide passionate defenses for the ideas of peace and non-interventionism.You can watch my speech below, as well as the entire conference that was recorded for everyone who’s fed up with more of the same from the Empire:

Ron Paul’s Speech For Peace

The Full Ron Paul Institute / Mises Institute Conference

 

 

 

 

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2oP9QH2

Tribute to Will Grigg

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul issued the following statement regarding the passing of Will Grigg:

Last week, the Liberty movement lost one of its most eloquent and courageous voices when William Grigg passed away at the far too young age of 54. William worked as a writer for The New American from 1993-2005, and was a contributor to LewRockwell.com and Antiwar.com. He also published many important articles at his Pro Liberate blog. In October 2016, William helped found The Libertarian Institute, and served as the Institute’s managing editor from its founding until his passing.

While he wrote on a variety of topics, William is best known for his writings on police brutality and police militization. Years before modern police practices became a focus of national debate,  Will was exposing how the rights—including the right to life—of innocent Americas are too often collateral damage in the war on drugs and terrorism.  The liberty moment’s focus on this issue owes much to the work of Will Grigg.

What made Will so effective was he took the time to gather the facts behind each case he wrote about, oftentimes traveling at his own expense to interview his subjects. He then combined this mastery of detail with a powerful critique of the policies used to justify the transformation of America from a Republic to a Welfare-Warfare-Police State. Unlike many who write on these issues, including some libertarians, Will never avoided discussing how racial minorities bear the brunt of modern police state policies. However, again unlike many others who write on these subjects, he never pretended that political brutally was solely a “minority” issue or ignore certain incidents because the victim’s race did not fit the preferred narrative.

My wife, Carol, myself, and all of us at Campaign for Liberty, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, and the Ron Paul Liberty Report join Will’s many friends in sending our best wishes and prayers to his wife, Korrin, and his six children. I also join libertarians across the country in express gratitude for the example Will set in how one can combine old-fashioned investigative reporting, an understanding of the polices that justify assaults on our liberty,  and a passionate commit to freedom to make a real difference in the movement to reclaim our liberties.

 

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2pvLeFS

The Federal Reserve Is, and Always Has Been, Politicized

From Ron Paul’s Weekly Column:

Audit the Fed recently took a step closer to becoming law, when it was favorably reported by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This means the House could vote on the bill at any time. The bill passed by voice vote without any objections, although Fed defenders did launch hysterical attacks on the bill during the debate as well as at a hearing on the bill the previous week.

One representative claimed that auditing the Fed would result in rising interest rates, a stock market crash, a decline in the dollar’s value, and a complete loss of confidence in the US economy. Those who understand economics know that all of this is actually what awaits America unless we change our monetary policy. Passing the audit bill is the vital first step in that process, since an audit can provide Congress a road map to changing the fiat currency system.

Another charge leveled by the Fed’s defenders is that subjecting the Fed to an audit would make the Fed subject to political pressure. There are two problems with this argument. First, nothing in the audit bill gives Congress or the president any new authority to interfere in the Federal Reserve’s operations. Second, and most importantly, the Federal Reserve has a long history of giving in to presidential pressure for an “accommodative” monetary policy.

The most notorious example of Fed chairmen tailoring monetary policy to fit the demands of a president is Nixon-era Federal Reserve Chair Arthur Burns. Burns and Nixon may be an extreme example — after all no other president was caught on tape joking with the Fed chair about Fed independence, but every president has tried to influence the Fed with varying degrees of success. For instance, Lyndon Johnson summoned the Fed chair to the White House to berate him for not tailoring monetary policy to support Johnson’s guns and butter policies.

Federal Reserve chairmen have also used their power to shape presidential economic policy. According to Maestro, Bob Woodward’s biography of Alan Greenspan, Bill Clinton once told Al Gore that Greenspan was a “man we can deal with,” while Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen claimed the Clinton administration and Greenspan’s Fed had a “gentleman’s agreement” regarding the Fed’s support for the administration’s economic policies.

The Federal Reserve has also worked to influence the legislative branch. In the 1970s, the Fed organized a campaign by major banks and financial institutions to defeat a prior audit bill. The banks and other institutions who worked to keep the Fed’s operations a secret are not only under the Fed’s regulatory jurisdiction, but are some of the major beneficiaries of the current monetary system.

There can be no doubt that, as the audit bill advances through the legislative process, the Fed and its allies will ramp up both public and behind-the-scenes efforts to kill the bill. Can anyone dismiss the possibility that Janet Yellen will attempt to “persuade” Donald Trump to drop his support for Audit the Fed in exchange for an “accommodative” monetary policy that supports the administration’s proposed spending on overseas militarism and domestic infrastructure?

While auditing the Fed is supported by the vast majority of Americans, it is opposed by powerful members of the financial elite and the deep state. Therefore, those of us seeking to change our national monetary policy must redouble our efforts to force Congress to put America on a path to liberty, peace, and prosperity by auditing, then ending, the Fed.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2pJ8DAk

Liberty at the movies: Risen

Looking for a good Easter movie with a libertarian theme? Try Risen, a 2016 release that details the resurrection story from the point of view of the Roman tribune assigned to investigate rumors of the resurrection of Jesus Christ following His crucifixion.

While the movie’s primary audience is Christians, non-Christian libertarians should not dismiss it. All libertarians, regardless of their faith or lack thereof, will enjoy the movie’s portrayal of the politics of the Roman Empire.

Clavius, the film’s lead character, is assigned to disprove the rumors of resurrection by Pontius Pilot. Pilot is fearful that if enough people believe in the resurrection, they will join in a rebellion against Roman rule. Pilot is particularly concerned about any acts of mass disobedience or violent insurrection during the upcoming visit from the emperor.

The film portrays Pilot as a conniving bureaucrat who publicly proclaims loyalty to the ideals of the Roman Empire, but it is clear that he is mainly concerned about his position and power.

The movie also shows how Christianity (and other faiths) threaten an authoritarian or totalitarian government by providing an alternative source of morals and laws that stand above, and in judgment of, the state. (Note–this is not to suggest that one needs religious faith to hold the state and its functionaries to a higher/natural law. After all, some of the liberty movement’s most important philosophers, most notably Ayn Rand, have been outspoken atheists, while some of history’s great tyrants have been believers.)

Statists have two reactions to the challenges to their authority from religion: one is to stamp it out, the other is co-opt the Church into serving as an adjutant of the state. Many statists mix the two approaches. For example, communist dictatorships usually have an established Church that operates under state control while persecuting those who dare practice their faith independent of the state.

The combination of government and religion is often facilitated by those who believe they have a right, or even a duty, to use government force to impose their morality on the rest of the people. This type of theocracy leads to what the great Christian writer C.S. Lewis calls “the worst form of tyranny” because it never sleeps.

A recent threat to religious liberty is the “faith-based” initiatives that turn Churches into adjuncts of the welfare state. For more on that see here.

As I hope you see, Risen can inspire interesting thoughts and conversations on the relationship between religion and politics. Christian Libertarians may want to use this movie as the base for a discussion with their non-libertarian Christians about the incompatibility of authoritarian government with religious faith. While intended for Christians, non-Christian libertarians will enjoy Risen‘s portrayal of the bureaucrats of the Roman Empire and its look at how fragile empires are to dissenting ideas.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2pAB7Mo

Ron Paul on Taxes

Since millions of Americas are right now wrestling with their 1040 forms, this seems like a good time to revisit some of Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul’s writing on taxes. 1. Cut, Don’t Reform Taxes:

Many Americans who have wrestled with a 1040 form, or who have paid someone to prepare their taxes, no doubt cheered the news that Congress will soon resume working on tax reform. However taxpayers should temper their enthusiasm because, even in the unlikely event tax collection is simplified, tax reform will not reduce the American people’s tax burden. Congressional leadership’s one nonnegotiable requirement of any tax reform is “revenue neutrality.” So any tax reform plan that has any chance of even being considered, much less passed, by Congress must ensure that the federal government does not lose a nickel in tax revenue. Congress’s obsession with protecting the government’s coffers causes reformers to mix tax cuts with tax increases. Congress’s insistence on “offsetting” tax cuts with tax increases creates a political food fight where politicians face off over who should have their taxes raised, who should have their taxes cut, and who should have their taxes stay the same. One offset currently being discussed is an increased tax on imports. This “border adjustment” tax would benefit export-driven industries at the expense of businesses that rely on imported products. A border adjustment tax would harm consumers who use, and retailers who sell, imported goods. The border adjustment tax is another example of politicians using tax reform to pick winners and losers instead of simply reducing everyone’s taxes. When I was in Congress, I was often told that offsets do not raise taxes, they simply close loopholes. This is merely a game of semantics: by removing a way for some Americans to lower their taxes, closing a loophole is clearly a tax increase. While some claim loopholes are another way government distorts the market, I agree with the great economist Ludwig von Mises that “capitalism breathes through loopholes.” By allowing individuals to keep more of their own money, loopholes promote economic efficiency since, as economist Thomas DiLorenzo put it, “private individuals always spend their own money more efficiently than government bureaucrats do.” Instead of making the tax system more “efficient” by closing loopholes, Congress should increase both economic efficiency and economic liberty by repealing the income tax and replacing it with nothing.

Read the rest here. 2. The IRS’s Job is to Violate Our Liberties

What do you expect when you target the President?” This is what an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent allegedly said to the head of a conservative organization that was being audited after calling for the impeachment of then-President Clinton. Recent revelations that IRS agents gave “special scrutiny” to organizations opposed to the current administration’s policies suggest that many in the IRS still believe harassing the President’s opponents is part of their job. As troubling as these recent reports are, it would be a grave mistake to think that IRS harassment of opponents of the incumbent President is a modern, or a partisan, phenomenon. As scholar Burton Folsom pointed out in his book New Deal or Raw Deal, IRS agents in the 1930s where essentially “hit squads” against opponents of the New Deal. It is well-known that the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used the IRS to silence their critics. One of the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon dealt with his use of the IRS to harass his political enemies. Allegations of IRS abuses were common during the Clinton administration, and just this week some of the current administration’s defenders recalled that antiwar and progressive groups alleged harassment by the IRS during the Bush presidency. The bipartisan tradition of using the IRS as a tool to harass political opponents suggests that the problem is deeper than just a few “rogue” IRS agents—or even corruption within one, two, three or many administrations. Instead, the problem lays in the extraordinary power the tax system grants the IRS. The IRS routinely obtains information about how we earn a living, what investments we make, what we spend on ourselves and our families, and even what charitable and religious organizations we support. Starting next year, the IRS will be collecting personally identifiable health insurance information in order to ensure we are complying with Obamacare’s mandates.

Read the rest here.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2nJP7qN