Tag Archives: Richard Nixon

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Alan Greenspan Admits Ron Paul Was Right About Gold – Article by Ryan McMaken

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Categories: Economics, History, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ryan McMaken
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In the next issue of The Austrian, David Gordon reviews Sebatian Mallaby’s new book, The Man Who Knew, about the career of Alan Greenspan. Mallaby points out that prior to his career at the Fed, Greenspan exhibited a keen understanding of the gold standard and how free markets work. In spite of this contradiction, Mallaby takes a rather benign view toward Greenspan.

However, in his review, Gordon asks the obvious question: If Greenspan knew all this so well, isn’t it all the more worthy of condemnation that Greenspan then abandoned these ideas so readily to advance his career?

Perhaps not surprisingly, now that his career at the Fed has ended, Old Greenspan — the one who defends free markets — has now returned.

This reversion to his former self has been going on for several years, and Greenspan reiterates this fact yet again in a recent interview with Gold Investor magazine. Greenspan is now a fount of sound historical information about the historical gold standard:

I view gold as the primary global currency. It is the only currency, along with silver, that does not require a counterparty signature. Gold, however, has always been far more valuable per ounce than silver. No one refuses gold as payment to discharge an obligation. Credit instruments and fiat currency depend on the credit worthiness of a counterparty. Gold, along with silver, is one of the only currencies that has an intrinsic value. It has always been that way. No one questions its value, and it has always been a valuable commodity, first coined in Asia Minor in 600 BC.

The gold standard was operating at its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period of extraordinary global prosperity, characterised by firming productivity growth and very little inflation.

But today, there is a widespread view that the 19th century gold standard didn’t work. I think that’s like wearing the wrong size shoes and saying the shoes are uncomfortable! It wasn’t the gold standard that failed; it was politics. World War I disabled the fixed exchange rate parities and no country wanted to be exposed to the humiliation of having a lesser exchange rate against the US dollar than itenjoyed in 1913.

Britain, for example, chose to return to the gold standard in 1925 at the same exchange rate it had in 1913 relative to the US dollar (US$4.86 per pound sterling). That was a monumental error by Winston Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. It induced a severe deflation for Britain in the late 1920s, and the Bank of England had to default in 1931. It wasn’t the gold standard that wasn’t functioning; it was these pre-war parities that didn’t work. All wanted to return to pre-war exchange rate parities, which, given the different degree of war and economic destruction from country to country, rendered this desire, in general, wholly unrealistic.

Today, going back on to the gold standard would be perceived as an act of desperation. But if the gold standard were in place today we would not have reached the situation in which we now find ourselves.

Greenspan then says nice things about Paul Volcker’s high-interest-rate policy:

Paul Volcker was brought in as chairman of the Federal Reserve, and he raised the Federal Fund rate to 20% to stem the erosion [of the dollar’s value during the inflationary 1970s]. It was a very destabilising period and by far the most effective monetary policy in the history of the Federal Reserve. I hope that we don’t have to repeat that exercise to stabilise the system. But it remains an open question.

Ultimately, though, Greenspan claims that central-bank policy can be employed to largely imitate a gold standard:

When I was Chair of the Federal Reserve I used to testify before US Congressman Ron Paul, who was a very strong advocate of gold. We had some interesting discussions. I told him that US monetary policy tried to follow signals that a gold standard would have created. That is sound monetary policy even with a fiat currency. In that regard, I told him that even if we had gone back to the gold standard, policy would not have changed all that much.

This is a rather strange claim, however. It is impossible to know what signals a gold standard “would have” created in the absence of the current system of fiat currencies. It is, of course, impossible to recreate the global economy under a gold standard in an economy and guess how the system might be imitated in real life. This final explanation appears to be more the sort of thing that Greenspan tells himself so he can reconcile his behavior at the fed with what he knows about gold and markets.

Nor does this really address Ron Paul’s concerns, expressed for years, toward Greenspan and his successors. Even if monetary policymakers were attempting to somehow replicate a gold-standard environment, Paul’s criticism was always that the outcome of the current monetary regime can be shown to be dangerous for a variety of reasons. Among these problems are enormous debt loads and stagnating real incomes due to inflation. Moreover, thanks to Cantillon effects, monetarily-induced inflation has the worst impact on lower-income households.

Even Greenspan admits this is the case with debt: “We would never have reached this position of extreme indebtedness were we on the gold standard, because the gold standard is a way of ensuring that fiscal policy never gets out of line.”

Certainly, debt loads have taken off since Nixon closed the gold window in 1971, breaking the last link with gold:

Ryan W. McMaken is the editor of Mises Daily and The Free Market. He has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre. 

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer? – MILE Panel

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Categories: Philosophy, Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MILE-Demonstration-2-Ad

What can be done to raise public support for the pursuit of indefinite life extension through medicine and biotechnology to the same level as currently exists for disease-specific research efforts aimed at cancers, heart disease, ALS, and similar large-scale nemeses?

In this panel discussion, which occurred on October 1, 2015 – International Longevity Day – Mr. Stolyarov asks notable life-extension supporters to provide input on this vital question and related areas relevant to accelerating the pursuit of indefinite longevity. Watch the full discussion here.

This panel is coordinated in conjunction with MILE, the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension.

View the presentation slides prepared by Sven Bulterjis, “Aging Research Needs Marketing: What Can We Learn from Cancer Research?”:

Download the PDF version.
Download the Microsoft PowerPoint version.
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Also see a statement prepared by Peter Rothman for this event. This statement was read out by Mr. Stolyarov during the panel, and panelists’ responses were solicited.

Read the announcement by Keith Comito – “The #LifespanChallenge Starting on October 1 – International Longevity Day”.

See Mr. Comito’s introductory video for the Lifespan Challenge.

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Panelists

Adam Alonzi is the author of the fiction books “Praying for Death: A Zombie Apocalypse“and “A Plank in Reason”. He is also a futurist, inventor, DIY enthusiast, biotechnologist, programmer, molecular gastronomist, consummate dilletante and columnist at The Indian Economist. Listen to his podcasts at http://adamalonzi.libsyn.com/. Read his blog at https://adamalonzi.wordpress.com/.

Sven Bulterjis is a founder and member of the Board of Directors of Heales – the Healthy Life Extension Society, based in Brussels, Belgium. He has worked as a post-graduate researcher at the SENS Research Foundation and at Yale University. Moreover, he is an Advisor for the Lifeboat Foundation’s A-Prize, whose purpose is to put the development of artificial life forms into the open.

Keith Comito is a computer programmer and mathematician whose work brings together a variety of disciplines to provoke thought and promote social change. He has created video games, bioinformatics programs, musical applications, and biotechnology projects featured in Forbes and NPR.

In addition to developing high-profile mobile applications such as HBO Now and MLB AtBat, he explores the intersection of technology and biology at the Brooklyn community lab Genspace where he helped to create games which allow players to direct the motion of microscopic organisms. Read his Forbes article “Biological Games“.

Seeing age-related disease as one of the most profound problems facing humanity, he now works to accelerate and democratize longevity research efforts through initiatives such as Lifespan.io.
He earned a B.S. in Mathematics, B.S. in Computer science, and M.S. in Applied Mathematics at Hofstra University, where his work included analysis of the LMNA protein.

Roen Horn is a philosopher and lecturer on the importance of trying to live forever. He founded the Eternal Life Fan Club in 2012 to encourage fans of eternal life to start being more strategic with regard to this goal. To this end, one major focus of the club has been on life-extension techniques, everything from lengthening telomeres to avoiding risky behaviors. Currently, Roen’s work may be seen in the many memes, quotes, essays, and video blogs that he has created for those who are exploring their own thoughts on this, or who want to share and promote the same things. Like many other fans of eternal life, Roen is in love with life, and is very inspired by the world around him and wants to impart in others the same desire to discover all this world has to offer.

B.J. Murphy is the Editor and Social Media Manager of Serious Wonder. He is a futurist, philosopher, activist, author and poet. B.J. is an Advisory Board Member for the NGO nonprofit Lifeboat Foundation and a writer for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET).

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of BioViva, is a humanitarian, entrepreneur, and innovator, and is a leading voice for genetic cures. As a strong proponent of progress and education for the advancement of regenerative medicine modalities, she serves as a motivational speaker to the public at large for the life sciences. She is actively involved in international educational media outreach and sits on the board of the International Longevity Alliance (ILA). She is an affiliated member of the Complex Biological Systems Alliance (CBSA), which is a unique platform for Mensa-based, highly gifted persons who advance scientific discourse and discovery.

The mission of the CBSA is to further scientific understanding of biological complexity and the nature and origins of human disease. Elizabeth is the founder of BioTrove Investments LLC and the BioTrove Podcasts, which is committed to offering a meaningful way for people to learn about and fund research in regenerative medicine.  She is also the Secretary of The American Longevity Alliance (ALA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit trade association that brings together individuals, companies, and organizations who work in advancing the emerging field of cellular and regenerative medicine.

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Statement by Peter Rothman on the Question “How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer?”

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Categories: Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatPeter Rothman
October 1, 2015
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Editor’s Note: This statement was prepared by Mr. Rothman in connection with the October 1, 2015, Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE) Panel: “How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer?” The panel took place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. US Pacific Time on October 1, 2015. This statement was read out by me during the panel, and panelists’ responses were solicited. Watch the recording of the discussion, including panelists’ responses to Mr. Rothman’s statement, here.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator, October 1, 2015
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Question: “How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer?”

I have a few thoughts on this question. Perhaps ironically, they’re in the form of more questions.

What exactly is the War on Cancer? How did it start?

How “popular” is it?

Does popularity in this sense correspond to funding, research results, or any meaningful metric?

Is this approach something we want to emulate?

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Wikipedia reports, “The War on Cancer refers to the effort to find a cure for cancer by increased research to improve the understanding of cancer biology and the development of more effective cancer treatments, such as targeted drug therapies. The aim of such efforts is to eradicate cancer as a major cause of death. The signing of the National Cancer Act of 1971 by then U.S. President Richard Nixon is generally viewed as the beginning of the war on cancer, though it was not described as a “war” in the legislation itself.“

The War on Cancer is referring here to the passage of a law and is not really a war in the conventional sense.

The popularity of the idea is a bit of misleading thing. I’m not sure what this means here. How many people supported the law back when it was passed? How many people think it is a good idea now? How many people search for this phrase on Google? Popularity in the sense of the general public liking an idea had little or nothing to do with the passage of a law like this.

So in summary, the War on Cancer required the passage of a law allocating funds. The popularity of the idea had nothing to do with it.

The idea of war on a disease or an abstract concept such as “terror” is problematic. War suggests enemies to attack and weapons to deploy. But these metaphors are not always correct in reference to curing an illness like cancer or solving the complex problem of aging.

After all, the enemy in cancer is our own DNA. How can we attack it?

With aging the issue is even more dramatic. A war on aging suggests eliminating older persons perhaps. The war metaphor is at least overused and deserves to be questioned.

Has the war on cancer been won? Wars are won and lost, but our scientific investigation of methods to cure disease goes on. Just because a disease is able to be cured in some cases does not mean we have “won”.

Curing aging is in fact not entirely separate from curing cancer. Cancer is largely a disease of older persons, especially certain cancers. So any “war on aging” would at least overlap with the war on cancer. Creating a new war is always problematic, however.

Declaring war does not produce funding. Successfully defeating aging require funding of research and development of medical techniques, medicines, etc. It isn’t a PR campaign like “Say No to Drugs” during the Reagan era and the same methods of communication do not apply..

But transhumanists are notoriously bad at marketing, for example consider the failed Immortality Bus campaign which draws crowds of less than half a dozen people. Sure it is weird enough to get written up in Vice, but does it convince anyone that controls funding to support our efforts? Name one person or organization that has funded some scientific research as a result of this campaign. There isn’t one.

To move forward we have to focus on the efforts that matter, and that means getting research funding. A realistic approach to increasing research funding is forming a Political Action Committee to promote the idea in congress and in D.C. more generally. This is where the decision will be made as it was with Nixon’s 1971 Cancer Act. All other efforts are at best distractions, and at worst make our cause seem weird or out of the mainstream.

Weird, fringe causes do not attract funding.

In summary, I want to suggest to the panel and audience that they go All In for longevity research. This means doing whatever you can do yourself to achieve longevity. Eat right, get enough sleep. Avoid junk food. Exercise. Transhumanists that do not do these things are not in a good position to talk to the public about longevity at all in my view.

Beyond this, we need to directly support research ourselves. Crowdfunding is one avenue, but realistically crowdfunding is a drop in the bucket and will remain so when compared to the U.S. annual research budget of $65 billion dollars. Volunteer yourself.
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References
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Cancer
http://www.issues.org/19.4/updated/bailar.pdf
http://graylab.dfci.harvard.edu/assets/files/publication%20pdf/Review%20paper/Review-Haber%20DA-Cell-2011.pdf
http://timesofsandiego.com/opinion/2015/09/30/the-midlife-crisis-in-americas-war-on-cancer/
http://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(15)00365-7.pdf
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Peter Rothman, M.S. is Editor of H+ Magazine where he is looking for great articles about the future of technology, humanity, the mind, society, and human culture.

Peter is an engineering and management professional with deep experience in the design, development, and launch, of commercial software products, internet services, and other mission critical systems. He is currently doing research into analysis and visualization of text for a consumer facing application.

He was previously chief scientist of a biometrics-based fraud prevention company. He led the development of Live365.com, one of the largest providers of streaming audio on the Internet. He operated a product development and engineering team for the global multi-million dollar public software company MetaTools/MetaCreations. He founded and operated a startup software company, raised capital, and negotiated eventual sale of company. He has designed and implemented cutting-edge software, algorithms, and technologies.

Peter’s specialties include biometrics, mathematics, streaming media, virtual reality, simulation, text analysis, data visualization, and artificial intelligence.

Peter was an early developer of VR technologies, including developing applications of VR to financial visualization and a concept for unencumbered infantry training using VR for the US Army.

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Nixon’s Vindication – Article by Ron Paul

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
September 8, 2014
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Forty years ago many Americans celebrated the demise of the imperial presidency with the resignation of Richard Nixon. Today it is clear they celebrated too soon. Nixon’s view of presidential powers, summed up in his infamous statement that, “when the president does it that means it is not illegal,” is embraced by the majority of the political class. In fact, the last two presidents have abused their power in ways that would have made Nixon blush.

For example, Nixon’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service to persecute his political opponents was the subject of one of the articles of impeachment passed by the US House of Representatives. As bad as Nixon’s abuse of the IRS was, he was hardly the first president to use the IRS this way, and the present administration seems to be continuing this tradition. The targeting of Tea Party groups has received the most attention, but it is not the only instance of the IRS harassing President Barack Obama’s political opponents. For example, the IRS has demanded that one of my organizations, Campaign for Liberty, hand over information regarding its major donors.

Nixon’s abuse of federal power to spy on his “enemies” was abhorrent, but Nixon’s abuses of civil liberties pale in comparison to those of his successors. Today literally anyone in the world can be spied on, indefinitely detained, or placed on a presidential “kill list” based on nothing more than a presidential order. For all his faults, Nixon never tried to claim the power to unilaterally order anyone in the world detained or killed.

Many today act as apologists for the imperial presidency. One reason for this is that many politicians place partisan concerns above loyalty to the Constitution. Thus, they openly defend, and even celebrate, executive branch power grabs when made by a president of their own party.

Another reason is the bipartisan consensus in support of the warfare state. Many politicians and intellectuals in both parties support an imperial presidency because they recognize that the Founders’ vision of a limited executive branch is incompatible with an aggressive foreign policy. When Republicans are in power “neoconservatives” take the lead, while when Democrats are in power “humanitarian interventionists” take the lead. Regardless of party or ideological label, they share the same goal — to protect the executive branch from being constrained by the constitutional requirement that the president seek congressional approval before waging war.

The strength of the bipartisan consensus that the president should have limitless discretion in committing troops to war is illustrated by the failure of an attempt to add an article dealing with Nixon’s “secret bombing” of Cambodia to the articles of impeachment. Even at the low point of support for the imperial presidency, Congress still refused to rein in the president’s war-making powers.

The failure to include the Cambodia invasion in the articles of impeachment may well be the main reason Watergate had little to do with reining in the imperial presidency. Because the imperial presidency is rooted in the war power, attempts to rein in the imperial presidency that do not work to restore Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war are doomed to fail.

Repealing Nixon’s legacy requires building a new bipartisan coalition in favor of peace and civil liberties, rejecting what writer Gene Healy calls “the cult of the presidency,” and placing loyalty to the Constitution above partisanship. An important step must be restoring congressional supremacy in matters of war and peace.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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Universal Surveillance: PRISM and the Litmus Test for Liberty – Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Politics, Technology, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 Will enough Americans respond with outrage and exercise their First Amendment rights to bring an end to the totalitarianism-enabling NSA PRISM surveillance system?

References
Petition to Pardon Edward Snowden
– “Rand Paul planning class action lawsuit against surveillance programs” – Aaron Blake – The Washington Post – June 9, 2013
– “In the Face of Universal Surveillance: PRISM and the Litmus Test for Liberty” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “PRISM (surveillance program)” – Wikipedia
– “Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations” – Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras – The Guardian – June 9, 2013
– “Google, Apple, Facebook & AOL Deny Participating In Alleged NSA “PRISM” Program” – Danny Sullivan – Marketing Land – June 6, 2013
Project Meshnet
DuckDuckGo
– “How Scared of Terrorism Should You Be?” – Ronald Bailey – Reason Magazine – September 6, 2011
– “Futile Temporary Totalitarianism in Boston” – Article by G. Stolyarov II
– “Russian politico: U.S. ignored Tsarnaev intelligence at its own peril” – By Cheryl K. Chumley – The Washington Times – June 4, 2013

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In the Face of Universal Surveillance: PRISM and the Litmus Test for Liberty – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Politics, Technology, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
June 11, 2013
Recommend this page.
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Ladies and gentlemen, most of what do you using the Internet or your phone is being tracked by the National Security Agency via its PRISM surveillance program.  If you thought you could take measures to escape such monitoring, it is too late; the program has been operating, clandestinely, since 2007. It took the heroic courage of Edward Snowden, a former CIA and Booz Allen Hamilton employee with access to information about the full depths of this travesty, to reveal this astoundingly invasive operation to us six years later. Snowden has – at the risk of his own comfort, his income, his freedom, and possibly his life – given us the invaluable knowledge that the world is quite unlike what most of us thought it to be. Glenn Greenwald, the perceptive Guardian journalist and long-time defender of civil liberties, is also a champion of human freedom, dignity, and justice, because of his outstanding work in publicizing these abuses before a worldwide audience.

Even I – despite my strong libertarian convictions and considerable skepticism of centralized authority – could not have imagined that virtually all of the large technology companies to whom I had entrusted large amounts of my personal information – Google, Facebook, Skype, Microsoft, YouTube – were participants in the surveillance, enabling the NSA to build covert backdoors into their systems to steal the most confidential possible personal information. From e-mails, to search histories, to credit-card transactions – all of this is within the NSA’s reach; all of this could be used to destroy the reputation and life of anyone suspected of being a threat. It is only by the mercy, or the oversight, or the higher priorities, of our political masters that any of us retain vestiges of the freedom we think we have.

Upon finding out about the massive scope of this surveillance, I struggled to figure out what I could do to regain any expectation of privacy that I had even a week ago. If only one or two private companies had “partnered” with the NSA to facilitate the indiscriminate monitoring and data collection,  it might have been possible, with a few judicious restructurings of one’s habits, to avoid any services of those companies. But it seems that almost all of the major players on the Internet – the ones into whose hands hundreds of millions of us voluntarily (and, in retrospect, foolishly) entrusted vast amounts of personal data – are participants. Apart from taking the drastic (and, in many respects, self-undermining) step of ceasing to use most of the tools of the Internet and mobile technology altogether, one can do very little right away to insulate oneself from the surveillance, and even if such insulation were possible, the data already collected by the NSA are a sunk cost. It is not clear whether these companies chose to involve themselves in PRISM voluntarily, or whether they were browbeaten into it by the NSA and the Obama administration, as a price they needed to pay for being allowed to remain successful and relatively unhampered by politically motivated persecution. The companies are certainly not helping their case by denying all knowledge of their evident involvement in PRISM, using near-identical phrasing (composed by whom, I wonder?) which only prevents them from explaining any elements of their participation which might have been involuntary.

While it would have been supremely satisfying for me to simply disassociate myself from any of the companies implicated in the PRISM surveillance, they are, at present, embedded too deeply into the fabric of our lives. A gradual, evolutionary process will need to occur to enable individuals to discover ways of taking advantage of all the benefits of networked technologies, while preventing the present centralization of Internet activity from ever occurring again. The Meshnet project for creating a decentralized Internet is an intriguing concept supporting this goal.  Also helpful are anonymous search engines such as DuckDuckGo, which I have begun using in place of Google. Over the coming weeks, months, and years, it would benefit us all to think of creative ways to avoid the unwanted disclosure of our private information through the centralized Internet behemoths. As for information that we intend to be public, there seems to be no harm in disclosing that anywhere. The NSA and even Barack Obama himself may read The Rational Argumentator and watch my videos without any objections from me; indeed, this would do them much good. But I draw a clear line between the public and the private aspects of my life, and I intend to be the one who draws that line.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but some conspiracies are indeed real, and in this case, the conspiracy theorists were right. Right, too, were those who proclaimed for years that the Obama administration represents a fundamental undermining of basic American values – to which I will add that this administration is opposed to basic human values of liberty, privacy, dignity, and the presumption of innocence. This is not routine political malfeasance; it is the wielding of an overarching apparatus of monitoring – a prerequisite to complete social control – that the KGB of the Soviet Union and the Stasi of Communist East Germany could not have dreamed of possessing. Those oppressors of old had to use actual human beings to monitor political dissidents – which severely limited their reach. The default data harvesting and algorithmic mining of the PRISM program does not require a human being to find spurious “associations” with alleged threats – based solely on combinations of keywords or contacts within one’s social networks.

The system works by focusing on all those within a few “degrees of separation” from the central suspects. You could have a phone number that differs by a digit from that of a terror suspect; if someone within that suspect’s network calls you by accident, you might be flagged as a suspect, too.  Sheer curiosity about certain subjects, visitation of certain sites, mention of certain topics in e-mails or private video chats and text messages, could get you flagged. It is not a matter of doing nothing wrong and thus having nothing to hide. With this much data, taken wildly out of context as is always possible with algorithmic data-mining systems, any person’s behavior can be construed as having nefarious motivations. Any sufficiently inconvenient individual can be portrayed as an enemy by Leviathan. This is why no American is safe from his own government unless the wholesale dismantling of the PRISM system and any related surveillance measures occurs. An executive order from Obama could achieve this, but it is doubtful that Obama would issue such an order. Massive public outrage, from within and outside the United States, might, however, set in motion the political processes that would discredit this heinously intrusive system. This is no time to cower in fear, to hush up the expression of one’s honest thoughts because one is unsure about the consequences. Now, more than ever, it is essential for every one of us to make full use of our inalienable First Amendment rights.

The extensive surveillance apparatus in the hands of the administration can be readily deployed to create actual totalitarianism with the snap of a finger. For a small-scale proof of concept, witness the frightening lockdown and militaristic mobilization that occurred in Boston in the wake of the Tsarnaev brothers’ bombings – which, as must be emphasized, the same apparatus of total surveillance and police-state response failed to prevent despite repeated warnings from Russian intelligence.

And yet I know that I am not an enemy. Neither are you. Most of us are peaceful, productive citizens of purportedly free nations. We wish harm to no one and wish only to lead our lives in peace, prosperity, and self-determination. I – and hopefully you – exercise the inalienable basic human right of free speech, a right enshrined in the American First Amendment, a right for whose defense the American Founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Edward Snowden knows what it means to make such a pledge, and what its consequences can be in a world ruled by might rather than by right. This is why it is imperative that he be pardoned, if charged, for any alleged “crimes” that the U.S. government perceives him to have committed.  If you do nothing else, please go to WhiteHouse.gov and sign the petition requesting his pardon. This is, after all, Constitutionally protected speech. If the administration begins to persecute those who signed the petition, then it would be clear that this country is too far gone. Moreover, if Edward Snowden should meet an untimely end, from whatever apparent cause, I would have no doubts of the origins of his demise, and it would also be clear that this country is too far gone.

But I do not believe that this country is too far gone, yet. We may be teetering on the brink of totalitarianism, but I have hope that the fundamental decency of the American people – and the residual adherence in this country to founding American principles – will overcome the depredations of the current American government. Another vitally important project that calls upon the participation of as many Americans as possible is the class-action lawsuit spearheaded by Senator Rand Paul against the NSA PRISM program. (You can sign up to join the lawsuit here.) I have been critical of Rand Paul’s stances (particularly his endorsement of Mitt Romney) in the past, but on the issue of NSA surveillance, he is perhaps the most powerful ally that friends of liberty have within the United States, and we need all of the allies we can get right now. If Rand Paul can help to dismantle the Orwellian apparatus of the NSA, then any of his past errors of judgment would pale in comparison.

Nearly forty years ago, Richard Nixon lost his office because he authorized spying on a few political opponents. Those were the days! Barack Obama and his administration, often with the explicit support of many Members of Congress, have for years authorized and condoned spying on hundreds of millions of Americans and even more citizens of other sovereign jurisdictions – individuals over whom the United States has and ought to have no legitimate power whatsoever.  What will be the result of these disclosures for Barack Obama’s tenure in office? The principles of justice suggest strongly that Obama should resign or be impeached and then removed from office, for his transgressions in the realm of surveillance alone are orders of magnitude greater than those of Nixon. Along with Obama, all of his senior executive officials should resign, in addition to senior Members of Congress from both parties – including Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, Mike Rogers, and Peter King – all of whom have expressed unequivocal support for the violations of our Constitutional rights via the PRISM program, and some of whom have even stated that Edward Snowden is guilty of treason. Yet these politicians are the ones who have violated their oaths of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I do not mean to single out any one wing of the two-party establishment which has created the Orwellian security state in the U.S. after September 11, 2001. Leading Republicans, including many who held prominent posts in the Bush administration, deserve plenty of the blame for laying the groundwork for the PRISM system. What is needed is not a mere change in political parties (for that achieves nothing), but a change in the fundamental understanding of the role of government, held by those in government.

But will the impeachment or voluntary resignation of Obama and some of the other most powerful people in the United States – indeed, in the world – realistically occur, or will they be able to successfully portray their completely unbidden intrusions into all of our lives as being “for our own good”? Will they frighten and bamboozle us into believing that we need their monitoring of our lives, which we know to be lived innocently, in order to protect us from the threat of terrorism which, according to Ronald Bailey of Reason Magazine, is four times less likely to kill any of us than a lightning strike?  With a surveillance program this pervasive – one so clearly endorsed by officials from both parties, from the very top down – it is unlikely that the powers that be will merely decide to sacrifice a few of their subordinates and let them take the blame for this gross violation of the privacy of many (perhaps most) human beings.  It appears that the American elite has been backed into a corner; either it will vigorously defend the PRISM system as a united front – or it will need to capitulate to human decency and acknowledge the gross moral failures involved at the highest levels.

The outcome will depend on how much public outrage arises. Are Americans going to passively roll over and accept an Orwellian level of surveillance as a fait accompli, or will they let their profound displeasure be known? I, as an American citizen, do not approve of this intrusion into my personal life by the very elected officials and their appointees who are supposed to function as the guardians of freedom. I urge all Americans to use peaceful methods of speech, petition, and creative advocacy to express their absolute disapproval of PRISM. Moreover, I hope that foreign governments and their citizens will send a strong message to the Obama administration and Congress that the monitoring of innocent persons outside America will, likewise, not be tolerated. Whether or not PRISM will continue is the litmus test for liberty in the United States, and perhaps in the remainder of the world as well. The outcome of this series of events will determine whether might or right will shape the future of humankind.

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The IRS’s Job Is To Violate Our Liberties – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
May 21, 2013
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“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 lies 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.

The current tax laws even give the IRS power to marginalize any educational, political, or even religious organizations whose goals, beliefs, and values are not favored by the current regime by denying those organizations “tax-free” status. This is the root of the latest scandal involving the IRS.

Considering the type of power the IRS excises over the American people, and the propensity of those who hold power to violate liberty, it is surprising we do not hear about more cases of politically motivated IRS harassment. As the third US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall said, “The power to tax is the power to destroy” — and whom better to destroy than one’s political enemies?

The US flourished for over 120 years without an income tax, and our liberty and prosperity will only benefit from getting rid of the current tax system. The federal government will get along just fine without its immoral claim on the fruits of our labor, particularly if the elimination of federal income taxes is accompanied by serious reduction in all areas of spending, starting with the military spending beloved by so many who claim to be opponents of high taxes and big government.

While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process. Thus, the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission.

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How Long Will the Dollar Remain the World’s Reserve Currency? – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
September 3, 2012
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We frequently hear the financial press refer to the U.S. dollar as the “world’s reserve currency,” implying that our dollar will always retain its value in an ever shifting world economy.  But this is a dangerous and mistaken assumption.

Since August 15, 1971, when President Nixon closed the gold window and refused to pay out any of our remaining 280 million ounces of gold, the U.S. dollar has operated as a pure fiat currency.  This means the dollar became an article of faith in the continued stability and might of the U.S. government

In essence, we declared our insolvency in 1971.   Everyone recognized some other monetary system had to be devised in order to bring stability to the markets.

Amazingly, a new system was devised which allowed the U.S. to operate the printing presses for the world reserve currency with no restraints placed on it– not even a pretense of gold convertibility! Realizing the world was embarking on something new and mind-boggling, elite money managers, with especially strong support from U.S. authorities, struck an agreement with OPEC in the 1970s to price oil in U.S. dollars exclusively for all worldwide transactions. This gave the dollar a special place among world currencies and in essence backed the dollar with oil.

In return, the U.S. promised to protect the various oil-rich kingdoms in the Persian Gulf against threat of invasion or domestic coup. This arrangement helped ignite radical Islamic movements among those who resented our influence in the region. The arrangement also gave the dollar artificial strength, with tremendous financial benefits for the United States. It allowed us to export our monetary inflation by buying oil and other goods at a great discount as the dollar flourished.

In 2003, however, Iran began pricing its oil exports in Euro for Asian and European buyers.  The Iranian government also opened an oil bourse in 2008 on the island of Kish in the Persian Gulf for the express purpose of trading oil in Euro and other currencies. In 2009 Iran completely ceased any oil transactions in U.S. dollars.  These actions by the second largest OPEC oil producer pose a direct threat to the continued status of our dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a threat which partially explains our ongoing hostility toward Tehran.

While the erosion of our petrodollar agreement with OPEC certainly threatens the dollar’s status in the Middle East, an even larger threat resides in the Far East.  Our greatest benefactors for the last twenty years– Asian central banks– have lost their appetite for holding U.S. dollars.  China, Japan, and Asia in general have been happy to hold U.S. debt instruments in recent decades, but they will not prop up our spending habits forever.  Foreign central banks understand that American leaders do not have the discipline to maintain a stable currency.

If we act now to replace the fiat system with a stable dollar backed by precious metals or commodities, the dollar can regain its status as the safest store of value among all government currencies.  If not, the rest of the world will abandon the dollar as the global reserve currency.

Both Congress and American consumers will then find borrowing a dramatically more expensive proposition. Remember, our entire consumption economy is based on the willingness of foreigners to hold U.S. debt.  We face a reordering of the entire world economy if the federal government cannot print, borrow, and spend money at a rate that satisfies its endless appetite for deficit spending.

Representative Ron Paul (R – TX), MD, was a three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President. See his Congressional webpage and his official campaign website

This article has been released by Dr. Paul into the public domain and may be republished by anyone in any manner.

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Rand Paul’s Endorsement of Romney versus Ayn Rand’s and Murray Rothbard’s Historical Grudging Endorsements – Post by G. Stolyarov II

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 2, 2012
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A September 1 post on the Facebook page of The Capitalism Institute reads: “I fully understand the hatred of Romney by libertarians who believe he’s a liberal in sheep’s clothing. That’s perfectly understandable. What I don’t understand is the notion that Rand Paul has somehow become an enemy of the liberty movement in the eyes of many because he endorsed Romney. Murray Rothbard once endorsed George Bush, Sr. Ayn Rand once endorsed Nixon.”

Yet I see Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney as qualitatively different from the endorsements by either Ayn Rand or Murray Rothbard in previous election cycles. I think Ayn Rand unfortunately fell into the “lesser of two evils” trap when endorsing Nixon.

In particular, the following statement of Ayn Rand’s (quoted from this article by ARI Watch) is interesting: “If there were some campaign organization called ‘Anti-Nixonites for Nixon,’ it would name my position. The worst thing said about Nixon is that he cannot be trusted, which is true: he cannot be trusted to save this country. But one thing is certain: McGovern can destroy it.

Rothbard’s endorsement of Bush, Sr., was also grudging. Rothbard wrote this: “Yes, gulp, I’m down to the grim, realistic choice: Which of two sets of bozos is going to rule us in 1993-1997? No one has been more critical of George Bush than I, but yes, dammit, I am working my way back to the President.

If Rand Paul had explicitly stated that he was an “Anti-Romneyite for Romney” or stated that no one has been more critical of Romney than he – then I would have had more respect for his approach to this matter. At present, though, his comments after his endorsement of Romney have not at all highlighted Romney’s weaknesses or areas where Romney and Rand Paul disagreed. If Rand Paul had merely endorsed Romney to support “the lesser evil” in his mind, then I would still not share his opinion, but his mistake would be understandable. His actual endorsement of Romney, however, was not so grudging or reserved. Furthermore, he may have seen some (as of yet unrealized) personal political advantage from it, whereas neither Ayn Rand nor Rothbard had any personal political ambitions.

Additionally, since 1972 and even 1992, the two major political parties have come far closer together, to the point where Obama and Romney are virtually indistinguishable in their policy stances, even though they try to augment minutiae through volatile (and often outright deceptive) campaign rhetoric. Therefore, the contrasts that Ayn Rand drew between Nixon and McGovern – and those that Rothbard drew between Bush, Sr., and Clinton – cannot be drawn between Romney and Obama.  Voting for either party can no longer help “save” the country from the other (if it ever could, which I also doubt), because the same perils would befall us either way.