Audit the Fed Headed for the House Floor! – Article by Ron Paul

Audit the Fed Headed for the House Floor! – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
July 4, 2012
******************************

Last week supporters of Federal Reserve transparency had a major victory when the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform passed my Audit the Fed bill, HR 459 unanimously with all major audit provisions intact.  This clears the way for a House floor vote expected sometime in late July, and with a whopping 263 cosponsors, the chances of it passing have never looked better!  This is an unprecedented opportunity for transparency into how the currency of the United States is handled, and mishandled by the Federal Reserve.  It is more important than ever that my colleagues in the House and Senate understand what this legislation does and why it is so important.

The Federal Reserve is an enormously destructive and unaccountable force in both the U.S. economy and the greater global economy. Federal Reserve policies affect average Americans far more than fiscal, spending, and tax policies legislated by Congress; indeed the Fed “spends” more than Congress when it creates trillions of new dollars on its balance sheet to bail out favored financial institutions.

For several decades the Fed has relentlessly increased the supply of U.S. dollars (both real and electronic) and kept interest rates artificially low. These monetary policies punish thrift, erode the value of savings, and harm older Americans living on fixed incomes and the poor. The Fed’s expansion of the money supply, combined with artificially low interest rates, creates destructive cycles of malinvestment. This results in housing, stock market, and employment booms and busts that destroy lives.

While the Fed was created by Congress, current law prohibits Congress from fully auditing the Fed’s monetary policy – the Fed actions that impact Americans the most. The Fed’s financial statements are audited annually, but the Fed’s monetary policy operations are exempt from audit. Congress’ investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), currently is prohibited by law from examining discount window and open market operations; agreements with foreign governments and central banks; and Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) directives. It is precisely this information that should be made public.

The audit mandated in the Dodd-Frank Act focused solely on emergency credit programs, and only on procedural issues rather than focusing on the substantive details of the lending transactions. Most of the data on its other activities, such as open market operations and discount window lending, have only been published as a result of lawsuits—not because of Congressional action.  Dodd-Frank requires this information to be disclosed going forward, but with a two year time lag and with GAO restricted to auditing only the procedural components of any programs. H.R. 459 grants GAO and Congress access without special exemptions and ensures that ALL of the Fed’s lending actions will be subject to oversight.

Also, given the Fed’s establishment of dollar swap agreements with foreign central banks (which lent up to $600 billion at a time in 2008), and the increasing economic uncertainty surrounding Spain, Greece and the European Union, the Fed’s continued financial assistance to Europe should not be exempt from public accountability and Congressional oversight. H.R. 459 brings transparency to the Fed’s agreements with the European Central Bank and other foreign entities.

H.R. 459 does not limit the focus of the audit, making a full audit finally possible. An entity that controls the value and purchasing power of the dollar should not be permitted to operate in the dark without oversight by Congress and accountability to the people. The Fed needs transparency and H.R. 459 would provide it. We now have this opportunity to ensure solid passage of HR 459 on the House floor, then the Senate floor and have it promptly signed into law.

Representative Ron Paul (R – TX), MD, is a 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.

Review of Tyler Cowen’s “The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better” – Article by Kevin A. Carson

Review of Tyler Cowen’s “The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better” – Article by Kevin A. Carson

The New Renaissance Hat
Kevin A. Carson
July 4, 2012
******************************
Stagnation [for Carson]
Published by: Dutton Adult • Year: 2011 • Price: $12.95 • Pages: 128 •

Tyler Cowen’s thesis is that economic growth is leveling off and rates of return decreasing because we’ve already picked the “low-hanging fruit” (meaning innovations and investments that have high returns). The stagnation in GDP and median income in recent decades means “the pace of technological development has slowed down,” and the general population is benefiting less from new ideas.

I would argue, rather, that measured economic growth and income have slowed down precisely because of the increased pace of technological development.

The important trend behind the disappearance of “low-hanging fruit” is the decoupling of improved material quality of life from monetized measures of economic growth and income. Improvements in quality of life—although very real—don’t show up in conventional econometric terms.

Intensive development—increased efficiency in the use of inputs—isn’t necessarily reflected in increased money returns. Unless they’re turned into a source of rents by restrictions on competition, innovations that reduce production costs will benefit consumers in lower prices and better products.

Such rents are central to the business model of “cognitive capitalism”—the “progressive” model of capitalism pushed by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. The most profitable industries in recent years have been those that depend on returns from “intellectual property.” But such artificial scarcities are fast becoming unenforceable, and technologies of abundance are growing so rapidly that they can’t be enclosed as a source of rents.

If anything, we can expect an implosion in metrics like GDP in the coming years, even as quality of life improves enormously.

Cowen almost gets it at one point. “[I]f our food supply chain harvests, retails and sells an apple for $1, that adds a dollar to measured national income.” Exactly: GDP measures value produced in terms of the total cost of inputs consumed—not the use-value we consume, but how much stuff was used up producing it. So anything that reduces the input costs of our standard of living seems to show up as negative growth.

Actually, Cowen contradicts his own thesis. He argues that official GDP figures exaggerate growth because so much of it is simply waste. But that undermines his treatment of reduced money incomes as a proxy for reduced growth in standard of living. If the additional portion of the GDP we spend on waste—and the hours we worked to pay for it—simply disappeared, we’d be better off by that much. He can’t argue both that economic growth is the best measure of technical progress and that the levels of growth that have occurred have too little to do with real productivity.

To be sure, Cowen does address the supposed diminishing returns of technological progress in terms of personal use-value. The blockbuster innovations with the biggest effect on our daily lives, he says, have already been adopted: antibiotics, automobiles, refrigerators, television, air conditioning. There’s been far less change in the character of daily life since 1960 than before. Aside from the Internet, recent innovations have been mostly incremental.

The Internet itself, Cowen argues, may be important in terms of personal happiness, but not of generating either revenue or employment. But to treat revenue generation and employment as ends in themselves—rather than a way to pay for stuff—is perverse. If the price of what we need falls because the amount of labor and capital needed to produce it falls, then we need less revenue—and less labor—for the same standard of living. The real significance of what Cowen mistakenly calls “stagnation” is that a growing share of our needs is being decoupled from revenue by technologies of abundance.

The reduced wage employment needed to produce our standard of living, as such, is a good thing. What’s bad is when artificial property rights enable rentier classes to appropriate the benefits of increased productivity for themselves. Our goal should not be to increase the number of “full-time jobs,” but to make sure that the productivity of the hours we do work is fully internalized.

Cowen focuses mainly on the Internet as part of the furniture of daily life—the fun of web surfing—to the neglect of a far more important benefit: the basic way society itself is organized, the relative power of the individual and networks versus large institutions, and the declining ability of hierarchies to enforce their will on us.

His focus on the objects of daily life ignores revolutionary changes in the way they’re made and on the structure of the economy. There’s not such a revolutionary change in going from picture tubes to gel panels, or from carburetors to fuel injectors. But there’s an enormous difference between John Kenneth Galbraith’s mass-production oligopoly economy and one of networked garage shops using cheap machine tools.

C4SS Senior Fellow Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Is Greater Productivity a Danger? – Article by David Gordon

Is Greater Productivity a Danger? – Article by David Gordon

The New Renaissance Hat
David Gordon
July 4, 2012
******************************

It is bad enough that opponents of the free market wrongly blame capitalism for environmental pollution, depressions, and wars. Whatever the failings of their causal theories, at least they are focused on undoubtedly bad things. We have really gone beyond the pale, though, when the market is blamed for something good.

Tim Jackson, a professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey, does just that in his article. “Let’s Be Less Productive,” which appeared in the New York Times, May 26, 2012.

Jackson suggests that greater productivity may have reached its “natural limits.” By productivity, he means “the amount of output delivered per hour of work in the economy.” He acknowledges that as work has become more efficient, substantial benefits have resulted: “our ability to generate more output with fewer people has lifted our lives out of drudgery and delivered us a cornucopia of material wealth.”

Despite these benefits, danger lies ahead:

Ever-increasing productivity means that if our economies don’t continue to expand, we risk putting people out of work. If more is possible each passing year with each working hour, then either output has to increase or else there is less work to go around. Like it or not, we find ourselves hooked on growth.

If financial crisis, high prices of resources like oil, or damage to the environment make continued growth unattainable, we risk unemployment. “Increasing productivity threatens full employment.”

What then is to be done? Jackson has an ingenious remedy. We should concentrate on jobs in low-productivity areas. “Certain kinds of tasks rely inherently on the allocation of people’s time and attention. The caring professions are a good example: medicine, social work, education. Expanding our economies in these directions has all sorts of advantages.” A cynic might wonder whether it is altogether a coincidence that Jackson is himself employed in one of these professions.

Jackson has in mind other reforms besides greater emphasis on the “caring professions.” (One wonders, by the way, whether by this name Jackson intends to suggest that those engaged in high productivity occupations do not care about human beings. To say the least, that would be a rather bold suggestion.) We should also devote more resources to crafted goods that require substantial time to make and to the “cultural sector” as well.

Jackson’s program raises a question: how can these changes be achieved? He stands ready with an answer. Of course, a transition to a low-productivity economy won’t happen by wishful thinking. “It demands careful attention to incentive structures — lower taxes on labor and higher taxes on resource consumption and pollution, for example.”

Jackson is certainly right that if labor becomes more efficient, workers must find other uses for the time they now have available. But why is this a problem? Human beings have unlimited wants, and there are always new uses for human labor.

As Murray Rothbard notes,

Labor needs to be “saved” because it is the pre-eminently scarce good and because man’s wants for exchangeable goods are far from satisfied.… The more labor is “saved,” the better, for then labor is using more and better capital goods to satisfy more of its wants in a shorter amount of time.…

A technological improvement in an industry will tend to increase employment in that industry if the demand for that product is elastic downward, so that the greater supply of goods induces greater consumer spending. On the other hand, an innovation in an industry with inelastic demand downward will cause consumers to spend less on the more abundant products, contracting employment in that industry. In short, the process of technological innovation shifts work from the inelastic-demand to the elastic-demand industries. [1]

Financial crises may interrupt growth, but given the unlimited character of human wants, they cannot permanently supplant it. Jackson has offered us a cure, but he has failed to show that a disease exists that requires his remedy.

[1] Murray Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, Scholar’s Edition, pp. 587–88, emphasis omitted.

David Gordon covers new books in economics, politics, philosophy, and law for The Mises Review, the quarterly review of literature in the social sciences, published since 1995 by the Mises Institute. He is author of The Essential Rothbard, available in the Mises Store. Send him mail. See David Gordon’s article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by David Gordon via this RSS feed.

Copyright © 2012 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided full credit is given.

Mr. Stolyarov Quoted in Heartlander Magazine Article on Hawaii’s Plastic-Bag Ban

Mr. Stolyarov Quoted in Heartlander Magazine Article on Hawaii’s Plastic-Bag Ban

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 4, 2012
******************************

I have again been quoted in Heartlander Magazine, this time in “Aloha! Leave Your Plastic Grocery Bags at Home” by Kenneth Artz. I encourage you to read my comments there. Here are some of my further thoughts on this subject.

The recent banning of plastic bags in Los Angeles and Hawaii is a gross infringement on individual rights and free enterprise. Entirely harmless and consensual exchanges between stores and their customers are being prohibited, and in Los Angeles customers are being forced by the local government to pay for paper bags that stores would have preferred to give for free. This is a frightening infringement on consumer sovereignty, as it makes artificially scarce those goods which businesses would have preferred to make abundant and accessible for consumers’ benefit.

Freely available plastic and paper bags offer a superb convenience to consumers who may be making unplanned shopping trips – perhaps as a result of emergency needs.  Furthermore, store-provided bags are helpful even to consumers who have brought their own bags – just in case those consumers purchase more items than would fit into the bags they brought. The governments in Hawaii and Los Angeles are forcing such consumers to pay an extra fee because of their unforeseen, and sometimes very personal, needs. The ban and fee are hardest on the least economically advantaged consumers, for whom every penny counts. The inconvenience of the ban and the cumulative cost of the paper-bag fees can make the difference between financial sustainability and severe strain on personal and family budgets.

As my comments in the article make clear, the ban is also repugnant from the standpoint of morality and limited government. The only morally praiseworthy acts of environmental responsibility are those initiated and voluntarily sustained by private individuals and businesses.

This tax on convenience is an unacceptable exercise of arbitrary power. If a government can arrogate to itself the power to prevent mutually beneficial arrangements such as the free availability of plastic and paper bags – then what can it not do? What kinds of petty micromanagement are off limits to cities and counties? What room is left for creativity and innovation among individuals and businesses if the smallest things in life are subject to crippling prohibitions and controls?

Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview – Video by G. Stolyarov II


Seasteading has recently emerged as a promising alternative to political activism. Seasteads — a concept originated by Patri Friedman and Wayne Gramlich — are modular floating ocean platforms that can be combined and recombined to create autonomous cities on the oceans.

Mr. Stolyarov provides a general overview of the areas in which the concept of seasteading shows promise, as well as some of the significant challenges it will need to overcome.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational discourse on this issue.

Resources:

– “Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The Seasteading Institute

– “2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami” – Wikipedia

Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
June 30, 2012
******************************

With many Western national governments, particularly in the English-speaking countries, increasingly approaching totalitarianism in their policies, the need for liberty-oriented reform has never been more urgent. This totalitarianism looms over us during a make-or-break time for human civilization. Depending on whether human beings will be allowed to innovate in peace, we can either achieve astonishing technological progress that will liberate us from age-old problems and bring about unprecedented prosperity – or we can descend into the barbaric abyss of interminable miseries that has characterized much of our species’ time on Earth.

Conventional political means are capable of rousing considerable passion – witness the Ron Paul movement in the United States. But, as the defection of Ron Paul’s son Rand to the Mitt Romney camp shows, such conventional means are vulnerable to the missteps of the liberty movements’ own leaders. Rand Paul’s endorsement of Romney fractured the Ron Paul movement and has created a widespread perception of mistrust among friends of liberty, many of whom will now go their own separate ways. Of course, it has historically been a considerable challenge to get libertarians to agree on a strategy for achieving beneficial change – and perhaps it is more reasonable not to expect agreement, but rather to develop an approach that would work in achieving greater liberty without the need for such agreement. It would also help if this approach did not need to be as cumbersome, top-down, and expensive as political activism.

Seasteading has recently emerged as a promising alternative to political activism. Seasteads – a concept originated by Patri Friedman and Wayne Gramlich – are modular floating ocean platforms that can be combined and recombined to create autonomous cities on the oceans. In 2008, Friedman founded The Seasteading Institute with the financial support of libertarian entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel. The idea has attracted respectable financing from Thiel and others, as well as input from legal and engineering scholars, and proposals for seastead designs and businesses. The Seasteading Institute makes available a large collection of research papers, project ideas, and public discussions, and it is not my intent here to probe into or scrutinize every detail of its ambitions. Rather, I hope to provide a general overview of the areas in which the concept of seasteading shows promise, as well as some of the significant challenges it will need to overcome.

As a friend of liberty, I wish the seasteading movement all the best. It is vital to explore every peaceful approach that has even a possibility of reversing the galloping totalitarianism of Western national governments and creating an incentive structure for accelerating human technological innovation.

In today’s countries, the land and most homes are fixed. One cannot move with ease if one finds the government’s policies oppressive; one is reluctant to lose one’s home, land, larger articles of personal property, and other location-specific amenities. Some governments, such as that of the United States, will even try to impose an exit tax or lay claim to income earned abroad. The physical detachability of seasteads solves this problem by enabling a person and his property to move inseparably to a variety of communities, or to remain as an autonomous unit. Patri Friedman’s goal is to create laboratories for political experimentation on seasteads. Much faster implementation of innovative political structures would be possible on a seastead, as compared to a traditional country, since each seastead community would be small and modular. Quick decision-making in a small group would enable beneficial innovations to be deployed, while harmful policies could result in much easier secession from the community – simply by detaching one’s seastead and setting course for a different community.

Seasteading would not directly change existing political structures. However, it may achieve greater individual liberation in a twofold manner: (1) by liberating those individuals who choose to live on seasteads instead of in traditional nation-states, and (2) by creating a virtuous cycle of political competition that motivates traditional governments to enact reforms in order to keep up with the prosperity and innovation occurring on the seasteads. It is extremely difficult to convince a majority of citizens of a multimillion-person nation to adopt a radical new policy or to radically abolish existing policies, even if the change promises to improve life dramatically. But many people – including some politicians – who are reluctant to pioneer an improvement will be willing to accept it if it has been tried and shown to work elsewhere.

A major advantage of seasteading is that it can begin as a sufficiently low-profile movement to avoid crackdowns by existing centers of political power. The seasteading movement does not threaten the sovereignty of any country; it does not propose to take away any nation’s territory or to challenge its government’s jurisdiction over that territory. Indeed, the infant stages of seasteading may, out of practical necessity, entail the creation of seasteads that explicitly submit to the jurisdiction of the United States, Canada, or a country in Europe or East Asia. The purpose of those early seasteads would not be the direct exercise of political autonomy, but rather experimentation with seasteading technologies and modes of living. The early seasteads would yield useful insights about how to construct floating modular platforms to be durable, cost-efficient, spacious, and comfortable. At this stage, the seasteading movement does not require the support or even the notice of most people – or even all liberty-oriented people. The people who are interested can advance the viability of seasteading by their direct work on improving seastead design and creating viable seastead-based businesses.

Yet the initial stage of the seasteading movement remains its most vulnerable. Seasteads must be built somewhere under the jurisdiction of an existing government. It is possible for the various requirements pertaining to building standards, licenses, permits, and zoning to hobble the construction and deployment of seasteads. In most parts of the United States, it is difficult enough to obtain permission to build a new house or small office building! If federal agencies, such as the US Coast Guard or the Environmental Protection Agency, become involved, the difficulties would be further compounded. The seasteading movement would be greatly benefited by capable legal representatives who understand what current laws permit and would be ready to defend the construction of a seastead if it is challenged. Furthermore, it is essential to choose relatively lax and business-friendly jurisdictions for the construction and deployment of the initial seasteads. I recommend the approach of full compliance with all laws that actually exist, combined with a thorough knowledge of such laws – to give the seasteading movement the ability to refute arbitrary compliance requests that are not based in law – as well as a choice of jurisdictions where the laws in question are not as onerous. The seasteading movement must particularly be vigilant for attempts to quash the concept of seasteading itself, under the guise of achieving some formalistic compliance, but in reality motivated by an ideological opposition from the powers in a particular jurisdiction.

Once seasteads become sufficiently cost-effective and tested to be appealing to broader segments of the general public, the deployment of truly autonomous ocean communities can begin. Such communities could begin to arise once seasteads reach areas outside the territorial waters of any nation – but even there a risk exists of boarding, expropriation, and arrest by representatives of traditional nation-states. This risk is particularly high if a seastead is perceived to be engaged in activity that threatens the nation-state – such as trading in weapons or currently illegal drugs. Even though many advocates of seasteading, myself included, support drug legalization, it may be advisable to abstain from permitting certain substances on seasteads out of prudential considerations.

True political independence for seasteads will likely come about through an evolutionary process – much like the “benign neglect” of the American Colonies for decades by the government of Great Britain created a political culture that resisted restrictions on liberty when the British government began to impose them. Perhaps benign neglect from the United States and other Western powers will be the best that the early seasteaders can hope for. The first quasi-autonomous seastead communities might make a demonstration of complying with restrictions that Western governments would be particularly interested in enforcing extraterritorially. If a culture of such compliance is established, the seasteads might otherwise be left alone and free from the petty micromanagement that extends far beyond such matters as prohibiting trade in certain substances. But once there are enough seastead communities – each with already flourishing internal economies and many technological innovations to their credit – they may begin to have the resources and internal strength to resist impositions from traditional nation-states. Hopefully, this resistance will be accomplished by a peaceful assertion of sovereignty, a declaration of good will toward all other political jurisdictions, and simple acquiescence by the nation-states. Perhaps the economies of the seasteads and the traditional countries will have become so inextricably intertwined by that time, that violence will be deemed out of the question by all parties – and the populations of the traditional countries would strongly object to the notion of attacking another peaceful, prosperous, civilized community with many common cultural and even personal ties to these countries.

But inanimate nature can pose dangers to seasteads that are as great as the dangers posed by man. The oceans are not known to have the most clement conditions. Aside from severe storms, which can probably be withstood with sufficiently durable construction, the risks of earthquakes and accompanying tsunamis are immense – as Japan’s experience in 2011 has demonstrated. The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and consequent meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant undermined confidence in nuclear power worldwide – despite the existence of more advanced nuclear technology that can avoid meltdowns. An earthquake and tsunami can wipe out even sturdy seastead communities. Furthermore, a large earthquake on the ocean during the early days of seasteading may greatly undermine interest in the movement. Therefore, it is particularly important to choose sites of low seismic activity to deploy at least some of the early seasteads. Deployment into more seismically active areas will be more viable once seasteading has reached such popularity that placing a seastead near an earthquake fault will be seen as no more unusual than building a house in California.

As a risk-averse person who prefers ample space, I would not be an early adopter of the seasteading lifestyle. However, I salute the pioneers who would be willing to live on the first seasteads, with their likely cramped conditions and limited amenities. They are paving (or, as the case may be, floating) the way for the rest of us. Ultimately, however, seasteads will need to be designed to accommodate the living standards to which people are accustomed on land. Persons with a strong desire to actualize a principle or with a particularly hardy disposition may be willing to accept some degree of privation; they would be a needed and much appreciated first wave of adopters. If the political situation on land becomes physically perilous to large numbers of people, a major exodus onto seasteads might be conceivable even before the seasteads become comfortable. In the absence of such an unfortunate development, however, I anticipate that seasteads would need to have the space and facilities typical of a small American house, or at least a large recreational vehicle (RV), before they become attractive to people without significant pioneering or ideological motivations.

The incremental evolution of seasteads toward viability, autonomy, and mass adoption seems the most likely practical course, but it is legitimate to ask whether it will be enough to stem the tide of encroachments on our freedoms today. Perhaps it will – combined with other forms of pro-liberty activity, including political activism in each country and continued technological and cultural innovation in areas where it remains possible. Seasteading may not be sufficiently mature to serve as a remedy to our current condition of servitude, but it may help us keep totalitarianism at bay in combination with other approaches. This is another avenue for friends of liberty to explore, and we need as many of those as we can get. Ultimately, the objective for libertarians and others who think similarly should be not to reach complete theoretical agreement on everything, but rather to enable each individual to arrive at a position where his or her direct efforts can effectively produce greater liberty, prosperity, and progress. Seasteading will hopefully serve to empower increasing numbers of people to make such lasting contributions.

Pann Quartet in F Major, Op. 70 (2012) – Composition by G. Stolyarov II

Pann Quartet in F Major, Op. 70 (2012) – Composition by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
June 19, 2012
******************************
This joyful, triumphant, and refined contemporary classical composition was made possible by the generous support of Mr. Andrew Pann via the New Rational Classical Composition project on Kickstarter.

Mr. Pann is a cellist, and – in his honor – this piece is arranged for a cello and three pianos. The cello and the key of F major add to the warmth and brightness of the melody. This composition is played in the Finale 2011 software using the Steinway Grand Piano and Cello Plr3 instruments.Thank you, also, to Mr. Carl Witty, for contributing funds to the creation of this work.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

The artwork is Mr. Stolyarov’s Abstract Orderism Fractal 41, available for download here and here.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.
The CBO Sees the Economic Cliff Ahead – Article by Ron Paul

The CBO Sees the Economic Cliff Ahead – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
June 19, 2012
******************************

In early June 2012 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued its annual long-term budget outlook report, and the 2012 numbers are not promising. In fact, the CBO estimates that federal debt will rise to 70% of GDP by the end of the year– the highest percentage since World War II. The report also paints a stark picture of entitlement spending, as retiring Baby Boomers will cause government spending on health care, Social Security, and Medicare to explode as a percentage of GDP in coming years.

While the mainstream media correctly characterized the CBO report as highly pessimistic, they also ignored longstanding errors of methodology in CBO estimates. And those errors tend to support arguments for higher taxes and government spending, when in fact America needs exactly the opposite.

As Paul Roderick Gregory explained in a recent Forbes column (http://tinyurl.com/cf746dl), CBO has always applied wrongheaded assumptions inherent in Keynesian economics when forecasting future deficits – no matter how many times both history and economic theory have proven such assumptions incorrect. In particular, CBO seems wedded to two enduring Keynesian myths: First, that higher taxes necessarily increase federal revenue and have no negative effect on the economy; and second, that lower government spending hurts the economy.  Neither is true, of course.

CBO also fails to factor in unexpected wars and expensive foreign entanglements, and we should not assign too much validity to predictive models based on peace. Judging from the actions and rhetoric coming from both parties in Washington, new military entanglements in Syria and Iran may well spike military spending in coming years.

Despite these sobering budget realities, the CBO report suggests that a solution is possible with merely a few minor adjustments in the way Congress handles economic issues. But what we need are not minor adjustments, but rather a fundamental shift in our philosophy of government.  If we could come to our senses about the proper role of government in America, and what level of government interference is appropriate in a free economy, we would quickly find that there is no reason for government to spend so much, borrow so much, and tax so much.

If we simply allowed markets to work free of governmental or Federal Reserve interference, bad debt would be liquidated relatively quickly and malinvestment would be curtailed. Scaled-back regulations would encourage businesses to expand. Lower taxes would jump start investment and spur job creation.

This is not rocket science, it is Economics 101. All it would take is for government to get out of the way. There would be some short term pain, of course, but only by allowing the bubble to burst and bad debt to liquidate can we ever hope to begin building a real economy again.

The CBO report was alarming to most simply because they know neither party will take the steps necessary to avoid eventual fiscal calamity. Instead, despite their rhetoric, both parties want to maintain the fantasy that “deficits don’t matter.” But the CBO report, combined with what is happening in Greece and the European Union, should finally make the undeniable case that economic realities apply even to industrialized first world economies. We must take concrete steps today to avoid having America become the next Greece.

Representative Ron Paul (R – TX), MD, is a 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.

Unconstitutional Uses of Drones Must Stop – Article by Ron Paul

Unconstitutional Uses of Drones Must Stop – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
June 19, 2012
******************************

Last week I joined several of my colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama requesting clarification of his criteria for the lethal use of drones overseas. Administration officials assure us that a “high degree of confidence” is required that the person targeted by a drone is a terrorist.  However, press reports have suggested that mere “patterns of behavior” and other vague criteria are actually being used to decide who to target in a drone strike. I am concerned that an already troublingly low threshold for execution on foreign soil may be even lower than we imagined.

The use of drones overseas may have become so convenient, operated as they are from a great distance, that far more “collateral damage” has become acceptable. Collateral damage is a polite way of saying killing innocent civilians. Is the ease of drone use a slippery slope to disregard for justice, and if so what might that mean for us as they become more widely used on American soil against American citizens?

This dramatic increase in the use of drones and the lowered threshold for their use to kill foreigners has tremendous implications for our national security. At home, some claim the use of drones reduces risk to American service members. But this can be true only in the most shortsighted sense. Internationally the expanded use of drones is wildly unpopular and in fact creates more enemies than it eliminates.

Earlier this month a former top terrorism official at the CIA warned that President Barack Obama’s expanded use of drones may actually be creating terrorist “safe havens.” Robert Grenier, who headed the CIA’s counter-terrorism center from 2004 to 2006, told a British newspaper that, “[the drone program] needs to be targeted much more finely. We have been seduced by them and the unintended consequences of our actions are going to outweigh the intended consequences.”

After a drone strike in Yemen last month once again killed more civilians than suspected al-Qaeda members, a Yemeni lawyer sent a message to President Obama stating “Dear Obama, when a U.S. drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda.” These are the unseen victims of the president’s expanded use of drones, but we should pay attention and we should ask ourselves how we would feel if the tables were turned and a foreign power was killing innocent American children from thousands of miles away. Would we not feel the same?

The expanded use of drones overseas has been matched with the expanded use of drones in the United States, which should alarm every American who values the Constitution and its protections against government interference in our private lives. Recently, the governor of Virginia welcomed the expanded use of drones in his state because they “make law enforcement more productive.” I find that attitude chilling and am sure I am not alone.

Do we want to live in a country where our government constantly flies aircraft overhead to make sure we are not doing anything it disapproves of? Already the Environmental Protection Agency uses drone surveillance to spy on farmers and ranchers to see if they are in compliance with regulations. Local law enforcement agencies are eyeing drone use with great anticipation.  Do we really want to live under the watchful eye of “Big Brother”? It is terrifying enough to see how drones are being misused abroad. We must curtail the government’s ability use drones right away lest the massacres in Yemen and Pakistan turn out to be crude training exercises for what the administration has in mind on our own soil.

Representative Ron Paul (R – TX), MD, is a 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.

Doing a Happy Jig Over the Sand Dune Lizard Decision – Article by Marita Noon

Doing a Happy Jig Over the Sand Dune Lizard Decision – Article by Marita Noon

The New Renaissance Hat
Marita Noon
June 19, 2012
******************************

The American public has awakened and is acutely aware of the damage environmentally driven policy is doing to America’s citizens and economy. The decision not to add the sand dune lizard to the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act, announced Wednesday by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), was precipitated by public involvement as the citizens of Texas and New Mexico wrote the FWS, showed up at public rallies, and spoke up at official hearings in opposition to the listing. The listing of the sand dune lizard had the potential annual cost of more than $35 billion to the American economy due to lost oil production alone.

Most endangered species listings are proposed and then listed with little fanfare. The public is often totally unaware the listing is possible and the negative economic consequences on the local and national economy are not considered. But this time it was different. Armed with the history of the devastating impacts an endangered species listing can have on communities and economies—such as the spotted owl and the delta smelt—New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce drew a line in the sand and stood up for the citizens who would be impacted most by the proposed listing of the sand dune lizard. Congressman Pearce’s efforts were augmented by Texas Congressman Mike Conaway and Texas Senator John Cornyn—each deserves plaudits from the people.

In December of 2010, the FWS announced the nomination of the sand dune lizard for listing as an endangered species—a move that was prompted by a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Chihuahuan Desert Conservation Alliance.

Ben Shepperd, of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, explains it this way: “The Endangered Species Act in current form is being exploited by activist groups that generate income for themselves while hiding behind a pretense of protecting the environment. Suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a cottage industry for them. Regardless of the decision rendered in their manifold lawsuits, the groups receive legal fees—our taxpayer dollars—from the federal government.”

Throughout 2011, people came together. Community meetings were held and the stakeholders were engaged—even enraged. Large public rallies with hundreds in attendance took place in Roswell and Artesia, NM, and Midland, TX. News crews gave the issue national attention. Independent scientists gathered to examine the science behind the listing and found it full of flaws, assumptions, and erroneous conclusions—issuing a report, which was given to FWS.

In December 2011, when the Endangered Species Act required a “list,” “decline to list,” or “delay” decision, the FWS announced that it was exercising the “delay” option—which gave the agency six more months to study the newly presented evidence.

Concerned citizens and the oil and gas industry have been anxiously awaiting the decision.

Congressman Pearce called the decision a “huge victory for the people who have so tirelessly fought to save their jobs and their way of life.”

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar praised the efforts of the oil and gas industry in working to preserve the lizard’s habitat through Candidate Conservation Agreements, saying they were “nothing short of historic.”

Meanwhile, environmental groups are claiming that the “Department of Interior sold out to big oil.”

The listing of the sand dune lizard had the potential to virtually shut down oil and gas development in the Permian Basin region of Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas—an area responsible for 20% of America’s domestic production. If the decision had come down on the side of listing the lizard, it may well have decimated the local economies and had the potential to raise gas prices nationwide due to reduced supply.

The publicity the proposed sand dune lizard listing attracted has, perhaps, gotten the attention of the Obama campaign—which may have influenced the outcome. After all, could he afford to hurt a major portion of the economy in a swing state just months before the election?

The sand dune lizard victory should be an example for concerned citizens everywhere—regardless of the issue. Wake up, show up, stand up, and speak up!

Celebrate while we can! The lesser prairie chicken and the jobs it may endanger are next. Without a looming election, we might not be so lucky. But then again, maybe the election will change everything.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great, Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy and its role in freedom and in the American way of life. Combining commentary on energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.