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Month: September 2019

Endgame for the Fed? – Article by Ron Paul

Endgame for the Fed? – Article by Ron Paul


Ron Paul
September 25, 2019
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The Federal Reserve , responding to concerns about the economy and the stock market, and perhaps to criticisms by President Trump, recently changed the course of interest rates by cutting it’s “benchmark” rate from 2.25 percent to two percent. President Trump responded to the cut in already historically-low rates by attacking the Fed for not committing to future rate cuts.

The Fed’s action is an example of a popular definition of insanity: doing the same action over and over again and expecting different results. After the 2008 market meltdown, the Fed launched an unprecedented policy of near-zero interest rates and “quantitative easing.” Both failed to produce real economic growth. The latest rate cut is unlikely to increase growth or avert a major economic crisis.

It is not a coincidence that the Fed’s rate cut came along with Congress passing a two-year budget deal that increases our already 22 trillion dollars national debt and suspends the debt ceiling. The increase in government debt increases the pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates artificially low so the federal government’s interest payments do not increase to unsustainable levels.President Trump’s tax and regulatory policies have had some positive effects on economic growth and job creation. However, these gains are going to be short-lived because they cannot offset the damage caused by the explosion in deficit spending and the Federal Reserve’s resulting monetization of the debt. President Trump has also endangered the global economy by imposing tariffs on imports from the US’s largest trading partners including China. This has resulted in a trade war that is hurting export-driven industries such as agriculture.

President Trump recently imposed more tariffs on Chinese imports, and China responded to the tariffs by devaluing its currency. The devaluation lowers the price consumers pay for Chinese goods, partly offsetting the effect of the tariffs. The US government responded by labeling China a currency manipulator, a charge dripping with hypocrisy since, thanks to the dollar’s world reserve currency status, the US is history’s greatest currency manipulator. Another irony is that China’s action mirrors President Trump’s continuous calls for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates.

While no one can predict when or how the next economic crisis will occur, we do know the crisis is coming unless, as seems unlikely, the Fed stops distorting the economy by manipulating interest rates (which are the price of money), Congress cuts spending and debt, and President Trump declares a ceasefire in the trade war.

The Federal Reserve’s rate cut failed to stop a drastic fall in the stock market. This is actually good news as it shows that even Wall Street is losing faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to manage the unmanageable — a monetary system based solely on fiat currency. The erosion of trust in and respect for the Fed is also shown by the interest in cryptocurrency and the momentum behind two initiatives spearheaded by my Campaign for Liberty — passing the Audit the Fed bill and passing state laws re-legalizing gold and silver as legal tender. There is no doubt we are witnessing the last days of not just the Federal Reserve but the entire welfare-warfare system. Those who know the truth must do all they can to ensure that the crisis results in a return to a constitutional republic, true free markets, sound money, and a foreign policy of peace and free trade.

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.

 

4 Ways Employers Respond to Minimum Wage Laws (Besides Laying Off Workers) – Article by John Phelan

4 Ways Employers Respond to Minimum Wage Laws (Besides Laying Off Workers) – Article by John Phelan

John Phelan
September 25, 2019
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Most of you will be familiar with a supply and demand graph. This shows a demand curve, which graphs the relationship between the price of something and the quantity demanded of that something, as well as a supply curve, which graphs the relationship between the price of something and the quantity supplied of that something. It is probably the most basic—and useful—model in economics.Whether the something in question is a good or a service, shoes or labor, the basic supply and demand model predicts that, ceteris paribus, an increase/fall in the price of something will lead to a fall/increase in the quantity demanded of that something—this is Econ 101.

In the context of minimum wage laws, this model predicts that setting a minimum wage above the equilibrium level or raising it will lead to a lower quantity of labor demanded. Often, people think this means fewer workers employed. So, when minimum wage hikes aren’t followed by increases in unemployment, people cite this as evidence that minimum wage hikes don’t reduce employment.

But a model is an abstraction from reality. In that messy reality, there are a number of things employers can do in response to a minimum wage hike that don’t involve laying off employees.

Remember, the simple supply and demand model says that increasing the price of labor leads to a lower quantity of labor demanded. But an employer doesn’t need to cut workers to achieve that. They can cut their hours instead.

Research from Seattle illustrates this. In 2014, the city council there passed an ordinance that raised the minimum wage in stages from $9.47 to $15.45 for large employers in 2018 and $16 in 2019. In 2017, research from the University of Washington examining the effects of the increases from $9.47 to as much as $11 in 2015 and to as much as $13 in 2016, found:

…the second wage increase to $13 reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by around 3 percent. Consequently, total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016. [This was later revised to $74]

As the model predicts, the price of labor increased, and the quantity of labor demanded fell.

A follow-up paper looked at the impact on workers who were employed at the time of the wage hike, splitting them into experienced and inexperienced workers. It found that, on average, experienced workers earned $84 a month more, but about a quarter of their increase in pay came from taking additional work outside Seattle to make up for lost hours. Inexperienced workers, on the other hand, got no real earnings boost—they just worked fewer hours. Again, as the model predicts, the price of labor increased and the quantity of labor demanded fell. Instead of more money, they got more free time.

An employer could try to raise worker productivity to match the new minimum wage. One way to do this is simply to work their employees harder.

One paper by Hyejin Ku of University College London looks at the response of effort from piece-rate workers who hand-harvest tomatoes in the field to the increase in Florida’s minimum wage from $6.79 to $7.21 on January 1, 2009. It found that worker productivity (i.e., output per hour) in the bottom 40th percentile of the worker fixed effects distribution increases by about 3 percent relative to that in the higher percentiles. The author concludes:

These findings suggest that while an exogenously higher minimum wage implies a higher labor cost for the firm, the rising cost can be partly offset by the increased effort and productivity of below minimum wage workers.

Another recent study by economists Decio Coviello, Erika Deserranno, and Nicola Persico looks at the impact of a minimum wage hike on output per hour among salespeople from a large US retailer. “We find that a $1 increase in the minimum wage (1.5 standard deviations) causes individual productivity (sales per hour) to increase by 4.5%,” they note.

Importantly, tomato harvesting and sales are labor-intensive work. Any increase in output per hour can be assumed to come from increased physical effort.

Supporters of higher minimum wages talk almost exclusively about wages. But this is only one part of a worker’s total remuneration. The cost of an employee to the employer is not just the wage but total remuneration, including benefits such as health insurance. If legislation increases the wage, the employer can keep overall remuneration the same by reducing other elements.

A new paper from economists Jeffrey Clemens, Lisa B. Kahn, and Jonathan Meer finds that this is what happens in practice. The authors “explore the theoretical and empirical relationship between the minimum wage and fringe benefits, with a focus on employer-sponsored health insurance.” They find:

[There is] robust evidence that state-level minimum wage changes decreased the likelihood that individuals report having employer-sponsored health insurance. Effects are largest among workers in very low-paying occupations, for whom coverage declines offset 9 percent of the wage gains associated with minimum wage hikes. We find evidence that both insurance coverage and wage effects exhibit spillovers into occupations moderately higher up the wage distribution. For these groups, reductions in coverage offset a more substantial share of the wage gains we estimate.

Simply put, as the minimum wage rises, other elements of worker compensation fall.

If a business that plans to add 10 jobs over a year cancels these plans on the passage of a minimum wage hike, those 10 jobs have been destroyed without ever showing up in the data.

Economists from Washington University in St. Louis use wage data on one million hourly wage employees from over 300 firms spread across 23 two-digit NAICS industries to estimate the effect of six state minimum wage changes on employment. They find “…that firms are more likely to reduce hiring rather than increase turnover, reduce hours, or close locations in order to rebalance their workforce.”

As we look at responses over time, we also see the possibility that employers can substitute capital inputs for labor inputs.

Economists Grace Lordan and David Neumark analyze how changes to the minimum wage from 1980 to 2015 affected low-skill jobs in various sectors of the US economy, focusing particularly on “automatable jobs – jobs in which employers may find it easier to substitute machines for people,” such as packing boxes or operating a sewing machine. They find that across all industries they measured, raising the minimum wage by $1 equates to a decline in “automatable” jobs of 0.43 percent, with manufacturing even harder hit.

They conclude that

groups often ignored in the minimum wage literature are in fact quite vulnerable to employment changes and job loss because of automation following a minimum wage increase.

Minimum wage hikes are bad public policy. Economics, like all social sciences, has difficulty testing its models against data, but even where we can, the evidence bears this out.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment and fellow of The Cobden Centre.

This article was originally published by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

Who Are The Real Extremists? – Article by Ron Paul

Who Are The Real Extremists? – Article by Ron Paul

Ron Paul
September 25, 2019
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The recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have re-ignited efforts to pass “Red Flag” laws, which allow the government to take away a person’s guns without due process, and expanded background checks on those wishing to purchase a gun. Some supporters of these measures acknowledge they would not have prevented the Dayton and El Paso shootings, but they think the government must “do something,“ even if that something only makes it more difficult for average Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

The fact that one of the shooters may have been motivated by anti-immigrant views has led to calls for government surveillance of “right-wing extremists.” There are talks of developing computer programs to search social media and identify those whose extreme views supposedly make them likely to commit violence. There are also calls for legislation giving the government new powers to prevent “domestic terrorism.”

Proposals targeting individuals based on their political beliefs — no matter how noxious they are — are a step toward criminalizing those beliefs. If the government gains new powers to treat those with abhorrent beliefs as potential criminals, it will not be long before those powers are used against anyone who challenges the welfare-warfare status quo.

The current use of “right-wing extremism” as a justification for expanding the surveillance state is the mirror image of the use of “Islamo-fascism” to justify the post 9-11 infringements on civil liberties. That is why it is distressing to see progressives and Muslim advocacy groups pushing for new federal authority to crack down on “domestic terrorism,” just as it was disappointing when so many conservatives who opposed Bill Clinton’s attempt to expand the surveillance state endorsed the exact same proposals when they were included in the PATRIOT Act. It is ironic that progressives are supporting new laws against domestic terrorism while simultaneously protesting FBI targeting of Black Lives Matter activists as domestic terrorists.

This is not to say there are not those with extreme ideologies who threaten our liberty and safety, but they are the Republicans and Democrats located in Washington, DC! The most obvious example of DC-based violent extremism is the war party propagandists who spread falsehoods to build support for regime change wars. By the time their falsehoods have been exposed, it is too late: America is stuck in another no-win quagmire and the war party has moved on to its next target.

Demagogic politicians also fan fear and hatred to protect and expand the welfare state. Right-wing nationalists scapegoat illegal migrants without distinguishing between those who come here to take advantage of the welfare system from those who come here seeking economic opportunity — while left-wing progressives demonize the wealthy without distinguishing between those who made their fortunes in the market serving consumers and those who made their fortunes by manipulating the political process. These extremists use scapegoating and demagoguery to gain power and keep the people from focusing on the real source of their discontent: the welfare-warfare state and the fiat money system that makes it possible.<

As the welfare-warfare-fiat money system collapses, we will see increased violence. This will result in an increase in police state power. The only way to avoid this fate is for good people to unite and replace the extremist ideologies of the mainstream of both left and right with the ideas of liberty. A good start would be applying “Red Flag” laws to remove neocons from any influence over US foreign policy!

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.

Fourth Virtual Debate Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – September 17, 2019

Fourth Virtual Debate Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – September 17, 2019

Johannon Ben Zion
Jonathan Schattke
Matt Taylor
Moderated by Gennady Stolyarov II


During the Fourth Virtual Debate among the U.S. Transhumanist Party Presdidential Primary candidates, held on Tuesday, September 17, 2019, Johannon Ben Zion, Jonathan Schattke, and Matt Taylor, answered crowdsourced questions on character and leadership, radical life extension, health care, universal basic income, foreign policy, the U.S. federal budget, and various other matters. Watch this debate here.

This debate was moderated by U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II and co-hosted by Steele Archer of the Debt Nation show. See the original debate stream on the Debt Nation show (Part 1 and Part 2), including the pre-debate and post-debate shows held on the same day.

Please forgive the technical difficulties and the occasional audio lag arising from a weak and once-interrupted Internet connection.

Learn about the USTP candidates here.

View individual candidate profiles here:

Watch the Third Virtual Debate among Candidates Holsopple, Haywire, Forsythe, Kerecz, and Harris here.

Join the USTP for free here, no matter where you reside. Those who join by September 21, 2019, will be eligible to vote in the Electronic Primary which will begin on the next day.

Third Virtual Debate Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – September 14, 2019

Third Virtual Debate Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – September 14, 2019

John J. Kerecz
Charles Holsopple
Rachel Haywire
Kimberly Forsythe
Kristan T. Harris
Moderated by Gennady Stolyarov II


The Third Virtual Debate among the U.S. Transhumanist Party Presdidential Primary candidates has been the highest-quality and most substantive debate yet! Watch it here.

The first of the final two official debate segments among the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party primary candidates for President of the United States occurred on Saturday, September 14, 2019, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time and was co-hosted by Steele Archer of the Debt Nation show. In this segment candidates John J. Kerecz, Charles Holsopple, Rachel Haywire, Kimberly Forsythe, and Kristan T. Harris answered crowdsourced questions on character and leadership, radical life extension, health care, universal basic income, foreign policy, the U.S. federal budget, and various other matters.

See the original debate stream on the Debt Nation show here, including the pre-debate and post-debate shows held on the same day.

Learn about the USTP candidates here.

View individual candidate profiles (5 of 9 candidates spoke in this debate; the remaining 4 are scheduled to speak on Tuesday, September 17, 2019):

All of the candidates were thoughtful, substantive, and contributed many excellent ideas to a complex and civil discussion. We hope for the same with the September 17, 2019, Fourth Virtual Debate among Candidates Johannon Ben Zion, Jonathan Schattke, Matt Taylor, and Vrillon! (Tune into The Unshackled YouTube channel to watch that debate live at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time on September 17, 2019.)

Join the USTP for free here, no matter where you reside. Those who join by September 21, 2019, will be eligible to vote in the Electronic Primary which will begin on the next day.

Transhumanist Political Developments in the United States – Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the VSIM-2019 Conference

Transhumanist Political Developments in the United States – Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the VSIM-2019 Conference

Gennady Stolyarov II


On September 6, 2019, Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP), presented virtually to the Vanguard Scientific Instruments in Management (VSIM-2019) Conference in Ravda, Bulgaria, on the subject of recent transhumanist political developments in the United States. Watch Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation here.

See Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation slides (with interactive hyperlinks) here.

Subjects covered during the presentation included the following:

– Version 3.0 of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights
– The #IAmTranshuman Global Campaign – (See the two video compilations here and here)
– The USTP’s first legislative success in Nevada in hosting the Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum and achieving an amendment to Assembly Bill 226
– The USTP’s project to create an abundance of free transhumanist symbols, available for anyone to use –
– The forthcoming USTP Presidential Primary Election (see the candidate profiles)

Join the USTP for free, no matter where you reside, here. Those who join by September 21, 2019, will be eligible to vote in the Electronic Primary which will begin on the next day.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Apply here.

Announcement of Third and Fourth Virtual Debates Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed by Steele Archer of Debt Nation

Announcement of Third and Fourth Virtual Debates Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed by Steele Archer of Debt Nation

Gennady Stolyarov II
Steele Archer


On September 10, 2019, U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II was again interviewed by Steele Archer of Debt Nation, this time to discuss the two forthcoming official final virtual debates of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential primary season.

Watch the interview here.

3rd Virtual Debate: Candidates ForsytheHarrisHaywireHolsopple, and Kerecz – Saturday, September 14, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time – See more details here.

4th Virtual Debate: Candidates Ben ZionSchattkeTaylor, and Vrillon – Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time – See more details here.

The Debt Nation show will co-host the debates, which will be livestreamed from The Unshackled YouTube channel.

Remember to join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free before September 21, 2019, in order to be eligible to vote in the Electronic Presidential Primary that follows. Join here, no matter where you reside.

 

The Rational Argumentator’s Seventeenth Anniversary Manifesto

The Rational Argumentator’s Seventeenth Anniversary Manifesto

The New Renaissance Hat
Gennady Stolyarov II
September 3, 2019
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The seventeenth year of The Rational Argumentator’s existence has been kind to us in terms of visitation. TRA attained 1,452,542 page views between September 1, 2018, and August 31, 2019, a count exceeded only by the 1,501,473 page views from the preceding year. Altogether, cumulative lifetime visitation to The Rational Argumentator’s pages has reached 13,933,800 and will surpass 14 million soon.  During its seventeenth year, TRA published 37 features; our rate of publication has slowed once again due to the whirlwind of activity within the United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP), which is undergoing a turbulent primary election year and whose website published 123 features during the same time. However, our typical features during the past year have been in-depth and allow a thorough exploration of their subject matters.

We are pleased, furthermore, to have additional assistance and resources at our disposal. The work of TRA’s new Assistant Editor, Bobby Ridge, has enabled us to increase the pace of publication once again in recent months. Moreover, many of the highlights of the USTP’s efforts have been featured on TRA as well, allowing our readers to glimpse the many valuable activist initiatives that advocate technological progress and rational philosophy. My role as Chairman of the USTP, in which I am nearing the completion of my third year, has given me unprecedented opportunities to discuss technology, philosophy, and their impacts on politics to a worldwide audience. It is due to these activities that I was able to interview Ray Kurzweil on stage in September 2018 and co-host the Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum at the Nevada State Legislature in May 2019 – the first-ever official transhumanist event within a State legislature, which enabled a successful amendment to Nevada’s Assembly Bill 226 to remove the bill sponsor’s previously proposed prohibition against voluntary microchip implants. TRA has also featured two major academic papers that I was immensely pleased to get published: “The United States Transhumanist Party and the Politics of Abundance” (The Transhumanism Handbook, Springer Nature, July 2019) and “Empowering Human Musical Creation through Machines, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence” (INSAM Journal, Issue 2, July 2019). Furthermore, this has been a year of many constructive interviews, lively discussions and debates, and a successful visit to the Wellness and Longevity Seminar in Burbank, California, where I delivered my presentation, “Progress in the Politics of Abundance” and also hosted a U.S. Transhumanist Party discussion panel.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party has, in recent months, been applying lessons and models of creation which were refined within the pages of The Rational Argumentator for years. The USTP’s recent call for the development of free transhumanist symbols was a case in point. The non-monetary model of publication which TRA has employed since its founding has been readily scaled up to an entire non-monetary political organization, the USTP, whose projects are based on the skills and dedication of its volunteer Officers and members. By setting our sights high, guided by Reason and the desire for constructive improvement of the human condition, we can all work for a brighter future with greater enthusiasm and productivity – knowing that the results of our efforts will be directly available to others, indefinitely reproducible, and able to make concrete impacts upon the world. At times an extensive philosophical foundation, reinforced by continual study and deliberation, is needed to arrive at simple but powerful insights which, if applied, alter the dynamics of human behavior and set forth a new system of incentives where the desire to do good is itself prized.

The above explication of the value of non-monetary approaches is not intended, of course, to criticize monetary or capitalist systems in any way – but rather to highlight the importance of parallel and complementary systems of intellectual creation that do not rely on the kinds of rationing that scarcity of physical goods necessitates. Indeed, as more human creation has become possible in the digital realm, and as automation has made many physical processes far swifter and less expensive than previously, we are rapidly nearing a time when abundance, rather than scarcity, becomes the prevailing condition in terms of the availability of goods and concepts. The barrier to progress in those situations is the mindset that continues to cling to an assumption of pervasive scarcity when, in fact, positive-sum solutions exist which allow everyone to achieve their desired objectives and more besides.

While there remain major areas of scarcity to overcome – particularly the scarcity of time which limits us all and to transcend which it is imperative to achieve indefinite life extension – in many instances in today’s world scarcity is either artificially imposed (as in, for instance, monopolies on software or medical patents or exorbitant prices charged for access to some academic journal articles) or imagined (as in the numerous protectionist fallacies that pervade mainstream political discourse today). While it is difficult for humans to transcend the evolved mindsets which served our ancestors more effectively during epochs when scarcity was indeed ubiquitous and relegated most humans to the barest edges of survival, nonetheless the effort must be made to adapt our thinking to the material realities and technological possibilities of our time. We are not yet at the technological stage where the evolutionary baggage of fallacious thinking might be genetically engineered out of us, so, in the meantime, our best recourse is to exert a conscious effort to resist the traps and ruts of evolved conditioning and replace them with thorough, rational, intentional consideration of the evidence around us. The opportunities have never been greater to access a plethora of thought-provoking content that both trains and inspires the mind to pursue the rational approach instead of the evolved one. Will and time are the remaining ingredients needed for the rational approach to take root and flourish within the individual mind. However much time our readers are willing to spend on The Rational Argumentator’s pages, I am hopeful that all such time will incrementally cultivate elevated ways of thinking that will translate into world-improving action.

While there remain plentiful challenges to overcome in the contemporary culture of lowest-common-denominator discourse, there is also much to look forward to in the transformations that both technology and rational advocacy can bring about. Amidst all the difficulties, transhumanism and techno-optimism are rising in influence, and I have experienced this first-hand. I am confident that if the majority of the current problems facing humankind can be overcome in the next several decades, then any future problems that arise will be significantly less severe than the familiar predicaments of our world today. The Rational Argumentator will remain a freely available, frequently updated resource for those who seek intellectual sustenance and inspiration to fuel the attainment of the next, greatest-yet era of our civilization.

Gennady Stolyarov II,
Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator

This essay may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, G. Stolyarov II. Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.

Will Persian Gulf ‘Tanker War’ Become a Shooting War? – Article by Ron Paul

Will Persian Gulf ‘Tanker War’ Become a Shooting War? – Article by Ron Paul

Ron Paul
September 2, 2019

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The UK got a taste of its own medicine  in late July 2019, as Iran seized a British tanker, the Stena Impero, just two weeks after UK Royal Marines seized a tanker near Gibraltar carrying two million barrels of Iranian oil. As could be predicted, the US and UK media are reporting Iran’s seizure of the Stena Impero as if it were something out of the blue, pushing the war propaganda that “we” have been attacked and must retaliate. Media criticism of the UK is limited to claims that it has not put enough military into the Persian Gulf, not that it should never have seized the Iranian ship in the first place.

The truth is, the UK seizure of the Iranian ship was calculated to force Iran to retaliate and thus provide the pretext the neocons need to get their war.

As usual, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton is in the thick of this operation. Bolton Tweeted that he was so surprised – but pleased – by the UK move against the Iranian tanker. However it is becoming clearer that Bolton was playing a role behind the scenes pushing London to lure Iran into making a move that might trigger the war he’s long been yearning for.

The ramping up of tanker wars comes just as the Pentagon has announced that it will send 500 US troops to Saudi Arabia – the first such US deployment since the US withdrew its troops in 2003. At that time, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz hailed the move out of Saudi Arabia as denying al-Qaeda one of its prime recruiting tools – US troops in their holy land. What will 500 troops do in Saudi Arabia? Some say they will help prepare the Prince Sultan military air base for a possible US air squadron deployment.

We must be clear on how we got to the very edge of war with Iran. President Trump pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) promising he would exchange it for a much better deal for the US. He quickly re-applied all previous US sanctions on Iran and demanded that our allies do the same. The US policy would be to apply “maximum pressure” to Iran which would result in Iran capitulating and agreeing to all US demands.

US economic warfare against Iran would bring the country to its knees, the Administration claimed, and would deliver a big win to the US without a shot being fired. But the whole plan has gone terribly wrong.

Iran did not back down or beg for mercy in the face of Trump’s actions, and the Europeans have at least attempted to keep the JCPOA agreement alive. And the UK following neocon orders has led the country in a serious and unnecessary crisis that does not look to be easily resolved.

How could the US administration have miscalculated so badly? Many of us could have told President Trump that the neocons always promise a “cakewalk” when they are talking up a military action. Time and time again – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria – they promise a quick victory and deliver a quagmire.

The American people overwhelmingly do not want to go to war with Iran and the president wants to be re-elected. Will he return to the political base that elected him on promises of getting along with the rest of the world, or will he continue to follow his neocon advisers down the road to a failed presidency?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.

This article was first published July 22, 2019.

Today’s Schools Are Yesterday’s Streetcars: How Technology Will Transform Education – Article by Kerry McDonald

Today’s Schools Are Yesterday’s Streetcars: How Technology Will Transform Education – Article by Kerry McDonald

Kerry McDonald
September 2, 2019

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We can predict the future of education by glimpsing the past of transportation. Fueled by technological innovation, namely electricity, streetcars gradually replaced the horse-and-buggy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, followed by mass-produced automobiles that ultimately toppled the streetcar.

Throughout the 20th century, cars became safer, faster, cleaner, and cheaper and allowed individuals unprecedented mobility and autonomy. Then, in the 21st century, car-sharing applications showed how technology could once again disrupt the transportation industry, expanding rider options and challenging entrenched systems of control.

Education transformation will take a similar path. Fueled by technological innovation, schools are now in the middle of their streetcar moment. Chalkboards are still ubiquitous, but computers are increasingly being used not only to supplement learning but also to administer it. Personalized learning, as this technology-enabled classroom education is called, is all the rage.

In public schools like those using Summit Learning, a personalized, online learning approach developed by Facebook engineers and funded by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, the computer becomes the teacher, executing a largely self-paced curriculum and offering more flexibility and autonomy for students. True education transformation will come when learners realize that they don’t need an intermediary at all.

The platform has sparked controversy, as some parents and educators resist change. Like the streetcar and transportation, personalized learning in schools is altering and modernizing the educational landscape. But it is just a launchpad.True education transformation will come when learners realize that they don’t need an intermediary at all. Personalized learning in conventional schools will shift to self-directed education or unschooling, driven by the learner herself using the resource-rich networks of both real and digital communities. As Ivan Illich wrote in Deschooling Society:

The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.

Illich wrote those words in 1970 before the technological webs now at our fingertips were ever imagined. The funnel model of education, even when augmented by technology, is simply passé. Conflating learning with schooling, mired in coercion and a controlled curriculum, is an outdated idea. Schooling is something that others do to you; learning is something you do for yourself.

We already see how this works in our own adult lives. Just as the first automobiles began to disrupt old notions of transportation, recent technological innovations are recalibrating the way we learn. Whether it’s using YouTube to fix a toilet, Duolingo to learn a language, Audible to listen to books, or FaceTime to have lessons with your guitar instructor, technological platforms and applications are quickly helping us to shed our schooled vision of learning. Increasingly, we see that we can self-educate by following our own curiosities and pursuing our own personal and professional goals.

We can choose our own teachers and select the learning tools that work best for us. In his book, Illich wrote,

School prepares for the institutionalization of life by teaching the need to be taught.

Technology frees us from this institutional paradigm of education and lets us teach ourselves.

It can do the same for our children. As our own relationship to learning shifts in response to new technologies that make information and knowledge more accessible, we may begin to question the worn-out ways our children learn. As we realize the value and reward of self-education in our own lives, we’ll want to give this gift to our children.

In his academic papers and award-winning 2013 TED Talk, Newcastle University professor Sugata Mitra explains how children teach themselves without institutional schooling. His “hole in the wall” studies have been widely cited, showing how children from the poorest slums of India to elsewhere around the world are able to learn to read, to teach themselves English, and to understand advanced scientific content (like DNA replication) simply by having access to an Internet-enabled public computer.

Mitra calls this approach “minimally invasive education” and concludes in his talk:

If you allow the educational process to self-organize, then learning emerges. It’s not about making learning happen. It’s about letting it happen.

Thanks to technology, we adults now see this learning emerge all the time in our own lives. It can be the same for our children.

We will realize that we can be educated without being schooled.

In the 21st century, the transportation industry was jolted again by technological innovation. Uber, Lyft, and other car-sharing companies challenged longstanding local monopolies, granting riders more choice and flexibility with better service and lower costs. Next, autonomous vehicles may be the new wave of disruptive innovation in transportation. Meanwhile, in education, technology will continue to expand access to resources, information, knowledge, and skills that make self-education outside of schooling not only possible but preferable.

Like the streetcar and horse-and-buggy, institutional schooling will become a cultural relic, a quaint reminder of yesteryear. We will realize that non-coercive, technology-enabled, self-directed education in collaboration with others results in better, more meaningful, more enduring learning than its institutional predecessors can offer. We will realize that we can be educated without being schooled. Indeed, the future is here.