Candidates should appear on the ballot if:

Monday, January 14, 2008

The People's Gold

“Gold, which used to be a symbol of the greed of empires, has ironically become a grass-roots revolt against the ‘imperial’ management of money by the state,” says Alvaro Vargas Llosa. - Independent Institute

Rising Gold Prices Signal Inflation Worries

Judging by the run-up in the price of gold, people’s confidence in the U.S. monetary system has waned since 2001, but especially over the past month. Investors worry that inflation and a resulting weakening dollar will inflict lasting damage on the U.S. economy. It is this fear—and the excessive monetary growth that drives price inflation—that has pushed the price of gold above $900 per once, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Global Prosperity.

“Unlike oil, whose rising demand has a direct connection to increasing economic production in places such as China, the demand for gold is not tied to productive needs so much as to the psychological factor we usually call insecurity,” writes Vargas Llosa in his latest syndicated column for the Washington Post Writers Group.

“Gold, which used to be a symbol of the greed of empires, has ironically become a grass-roots revolt against the ‘imperial’ management of money by the state,” he continues. “In colonial times, gold was actually the creator of, rather than a safe haven from, inflation: by flooding the European market with bullion from the Americas, the Spanish empire caused a general distortion of prices. Today, the general distortion of prices—reflected in the credit and housing market crisis—has led people, through their investment fund managers, to rush toward gold in search of protection.”

“The People’s Gold,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (1/9/08) Spanish Translation

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tell Me Something I don't Know

Tell me something I don't know as they say on CBS's Chris Mathews Show.

What the hell is a populist-libertarian or libertarian-populist?

In his book The Populist Persuasion Michael Kazin traces "two different but not exclusive strains of vision and protest" in the original US Populist movement: the revivalist "pietistic impulse issuing from the Protestant Reformation;" and the "secular faith of the Enlightenment, the belief that ordinary people could think and act rationally, more rationally, in fact, than their ancestral overlords." - Kazin, The Populist Persuasion, pp. 10-11.

- Producerism-the idea that the real Americans are hard-working people who create goods and wealth while fighting against parasites at the top and bottom of society who pick our pocket...sometimes promoting scapegoating and the blurring of issues of class and economic justice, and with a history of assuming proper citizenship is defined by White males;

- Anti-elitism-a suspicion of politicians, powerful people, the wealthy, and high culture...sometimes leading to conspiracist allegations about control of the world by secret elites, especially the scapegoating of Jews as sinister and powerful manipulators of the economy or media;

- Anti-intellectualism-a distrust of those pointy headed professors in their Ivory Towers...sometimes undercutting rational debate by discarding logic and factual evidence in favor of following the emotional appeals of demagogues;

- Majoritarianism-the notion that the will of the majority of people has absolute primacy in matters of governance...sacrificing rights for minorities, especially people of color;

- Moralism-evangelical-style campaigns rooted in Protestant revivalism... sometimes leading to authoritarian and theocratic attempts to impose orthodoxy, especially relating to gender.

- Americanism-a form of patriotic nationalism...often promoting ethnocentric, nativist, or xenophobic fears that immigrants bring alien ideas and customs that are toxic to our culture.

The resurgent right-wing forms of populism borrow from these traditions. (1)

These six characteristics above mark the establishment academic critique of populism as a proto-fascist movement.

I disagree. As I see it, the essential root of populism in the U.S. is debtor revolt against a creditor elite which has seized control of government to extract rents from the general population by debt and taxes. All the other characteristics cited by establishment academics are transitory contigenicies of historical circumstances. Secondary details, not irrelevant, but secondary consequentials.

Libertarian-populism is rooted in Austrian School economic analysis of money and credit. Populism is like an immune response to the parasitical effects of inflation and debt. The social immune response of populism can cause symptoms that are uncomfortable and even dangerous to an entire society of individuals. But criticizing those symptoms evades the core of disease. That core is best understood by Austrian/libertarian economic analysis.

In a nutshell, libertarian-populism is an accurate explanation of the sentiment for revolt held by the vast majority of people in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries against the Wall Street-Washington 'Axis of Evil'. It is a revolt against the elites' manipulation of money and credit.

Even more bluntly, it's all about the money, stupid!

1) This list is a compilation of points made previously by Canovan and Kazin, as well as John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860-1925 (New York: Atheneum, 1972); Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965); and David H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement, (New York: Vintage Books, revised 1995, (1988)).

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why Americans don't save? It's the Axis of Evil!

There is a lot of economic blather in political circles about the US trade deficit. The typical blather focuses on the currency spread between the dollar and US trading partners. A cheap dollar blather is that it will make US exports cheaper and that will fix the trade deficit. The prospect of that is bleak. The US doesn't make enough stuff to export and currencies cannot be that easily manipulated without other consequences. An alternative fix for the trade deficit is for Americans to save more and not spend so much on imported goods. That would work, but what are Americans supposed to put their savings into?

If we just burned 10% of our cash we couldn't spend it on imports. Is that saving? It would certainly reduce imports by 4 to 8 percent. The point is that putting money into a bank savings account or similar instrument is just a slow way to burn cash and it would reduce imports...somewhat. What's the incentive to defer consumption by "saving" with a slow burn or a sudden bonfire?

Americans don't save because it is irrational in this economic environment. Money spent on any gadget or service returns some benefit greater than just burning your cash.

Fortunately, there is a way to save even now, but 90% or more of the population is clueless about how to do it. The answer: Switch your savings out of the US Dollar into foreign currency - some usually burn slower than the US Dollar. How about a fireproof savings vehicle? Yeah, you know what's coming next.

Buy gold. It's a patriotic act in the sense that it lowers the US trade deficit. It's also patriotic because it undercuts the bankers' central banking cartel and money/credit expansion engine.

Gold is for savings because is the most non-depreciating commodity available. The only thing that might depreciate gold would be a sudden discover of a massive deposit of ore that could be cheaply mined. Not likely at all. It is far more expensive to recover gold than oil. Oil is consumed. Very little gold is 'consumed'. It merely changes forms from bullion to coins to jewelry to bullion. Most of what is used in industrial production is recovered. Gold is a very "sustainable" resource.

Who besides Ron Paul among the candidates is willing to give the game away? No one yet. It's so easy to blame the Chinese or anybody but the financial/banking/political elites. Wall Street-Washington: The Axis of Evil.