Obamacare’s Unhappy Anniversary

Last month marked nine years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (popularly known as Obamacare) became law. Obamacare’s proponents promised that the law would reduce costs, expand access, and allow us to keep our doctors if we liked our doctors. The reality has been quite different.

Since Obamacare was enacted, individual health insurance premiums have more than doubled while small businesses have been discouraged from providing health insurance benefits. The increased costs of, and decreased access to, health care are a direct result of Obamacare’s mandates — particularly the guaranteed issue and pre-existing condition mandates. Another costly mandate forces most plans to cover “essential health benefits.” This mandate is why postmenopausal women must pay for contraceptive coverage.

The increase in health insurance premiums has not helped those who like their doctors keep their doctors. Instead, patients’ choices of providers are restricted to ever-narrower networks. As leading health care scholar John C. Goodman observed, the result is that a cancer patient from my hometown of Lake Jackson, Texas who obtains insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges cannot get treatment at nearby MD Anderson, one of the country’s top cancer treatment centers. If health care were a truly free market, insurance companies would compete for the business of cancer patients and others with chronic conditions by developing innovative ways to give them the best care at an affordable price.

Sadly, few in Congress support free-market health care. The Democrats are divided between progressives who want to repeal and replace Obamacare with “Medicare for all,” the latest euphemism for single-payer healthcare, and establishment Democrats who want to save Obamacare by spending more money on subsidies for individuals and insurance companies.

President Trump has made some regulatory changes that make it easier for individuals to find affordable insurance. He has also recently called on Republicans to renew efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Most Republicans reacted to the president’s call the way Dracula reacts to a crucifix. These Republicans are terrified of the issue because they believe their half-hearted attempts to enact phony repeal bills cost them control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

President Trump himself does not actually want to repeal all of Obamacare. He just wants to repeal the “unpopular” parts. However, because the popular parts include many of Obamacare’s most destructive mandates, even if President Trump gets his way, Americans will continue to suffer with low-quality, high-cost health care.

Any system combing subsidies that artificially increase demand with regulations and mandates that, by raising costs, artificially limit supply inevitably results in shortages, rationing, and lower quality. Therefore, no matter how much Democrats spend or how many “reforms” Republicans enact, Obamacare and other types of government-controlled health care will never “work.”

Instead of ignoring the issue, trying to prop up Obamacare, or implementing a single-payer plan, Congress should restore individuals’ control over health care dollars by expanding health care tax deductions and credits, as well as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Expanded charitable deductions could help ensure those who need assistance can obtain privately-funded charitable care instead of relying on inefficient government programs. Before Medicaid and Medicare, doctors routinely provided charitable care, while churches and private charities ran hospitals that served the poor. Individuals are more than capable of meeting their health care needs, and providing for the needs of the less fortunate if the government gets out of the way.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Trump Tells the Truth: Sanctions Cause People to Suffer

This week President Trump admitted what the Washington policy establishment of both parties would rather be kept quiet. Asked why he intervened to block a new round of sanctions on North Korea, he told the media that he believes the people of North Korea have suffered enough. “They are suffering greatly in North Korea…And I just didn’t think additional sanctions at this time were necessary,” he said.

The foreign policy establishment in Washington, whether they are neocons, “humanitarian interventionists,” so-called “realists,” or even progressives have long embraced sanctions as a way to pressure governments into doing what Washington wants without having to resort to war.

During my time in Congress, I saw many of my antiwar colleagues on the Left vote for sanctions because they believed sanctions are more “humane” than war. Neocons and other interventionists endorse sanctions because they know that sooner or later they will lead to war, their preferred foreign policy.

With his characteristic bluntness, President Trump has exposed this big lie. Sanctions are not a more humane alternative to war. They are just another form of war. In fact they are perhaps the cruelest form of war because they do not target the military of an adversary, but rather the innocent civilian population. As President Trump said, they make people suffer.

Sanctions are meant to make life so miserable for the civilian population that it rises up and overthrows a leader out of favor in Washington. In Iraq in the 1990s, those sanctions cost the lives of a half a million children, but then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright infamously said she thought the price was worth it. But still the people didn’t rise up and overthrow Saddam even as their lives became more and more miserable. So the neocons had to concoct some lies about WMDs and Iraq was invaded anyway. An estimated million more people were killed in that war. So much for the “humanitarianism” of sanctions.

Sanctions often target water supplies, sewage treatment, medicine, food supply and other essentials for civilian life. After the people suffer under the “soft” war of sanctions, though, they most often are forced to suffer again as the US attacks anyway. That was the case in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. And it may soon be the case for Venezuela and perhaps even North Korea.

In Yemen, sanctions have contributed to the death of some 80,000 children from starvation. Millions more are facing starvation, yet they continue to resist Saudi and US demands that they overthrow their government.

Sanctions do not inspire people to rise up and overthrow their governments. Most civilians suffering under sanctions couldn’t throw out their rulers even if they wanted to – after being impoverished and malnourished for years they are really expected to take on their own government’s military?

I am glad to hear President Trump tell the truth about sanctions. They hurt the powerless in the false hope that the powerful will change their behavior. No new sanctions on North Korea is a good start. Now how about dismantling the inhumane and counterproductive sanctions from Caracas to Damascus and from Moscow to Beirut. Let’s return to a foreign policy of peace and engagement, backed by a strong military for our defense alone.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

The Green Bad Deal

The recently-proposed Green New Deal is proof that climate change is for progressive Democrats what terrorism is for neoconservative Republicans: a ready-made excuse to expand government and curtail liberty. This radical plan would authorize the US government to seize control of major sectors of the US economy, phase out gasoline-fueled cars, make buildings “energy efficient,” and even replace air travel with rail travel.

Supporters of the Green New Deal claim that the science regarding the risk of climate change is “settled.” However, the science is far from settled. Many of the claims regarding climate change have been debunked.

Some supporters of policies like the Green New Deal have actually supported criminalizing dissent from the so-called “settled” science of climate change. This reveals the authoritarianism of some people demanding Americans give up real liberty and prosperity because of phantom fears of impending environmental disaster.

Like all forms of socialism, the Green New Deal suffers from what Ludwig von Mises identified as the “calculation problem.” Knowledge of the most efficient use of resources is conveyed by prices set in a free market. Prices reflect individuals’ subjective preferences regarding the best use of resources. When government uses force to remove resources from the marketplace, it makes it impossible for the price system to function, leaving government officials and private citizens unable to determine the most efficient use of resources. That is why every attempt at government management of the economy inevitably reduces the people’s standard of living.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has dismissed concerns regarding the almost 100 trillion dollars ten-year cost of implementing the Green New Deal by suggesting that Congress simply make the Federal Reserve pay for it by creating new money. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s claim is rooted in Modern Monetary Theory. This theory states that, when government controls the currency, it need not worry about running up large debt for welfare and war; it can have the central bank print more money to pay for more government.

Modern Monetary Theory is not modern. The Federal Reserve has facilitated the growth of government by printing money since its creation. It is no coincidence the birth of the Federal Reserve was immediately followed by the rise of the welfare-warfare state.

Whether done to monetize the federal debt or to jump-start economic growth, the Federal Reserve’s creation of new money harms the economy. In fact, Fed-induced distortions, caused by actions including money creation and interest rate manipulation, are the root cause of the boom-and-bust cycle that plagues the American economy. The Green New Deal would, in addition to its other negative impacts, hasten and deepen the inevitable Federal Reserve-caused economic crisis facing America. It would also increase the hidden and regressive inflation tax.

Ironically, the Green New Deal also would likely damage the environment. History shows that the most effective way to protect the environment is with a free-market economy that respects property rights. Therefore, those concerned with protecting the environment should support the free market, along with a legal system that holds private property owners accountable when their actions damage the environment or harm other individuals or their property.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Is Trump Really About to Attack Venezuela?

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered the last of the US diplomats out of Venezuela, saying their presence was a “constraint” on US policy toward the country. The wording seemed intended to convey the idea that the US is about to launch military action to place a Washington-backed, self-appointed politician to the presidency. Was it just bluster, designed to intimidate? Or is the Trump Administration really about to invade another country that has neither attacked nor threatened the United States?

While US Administrations engaged in “regime change” have generally tried to mask their real intentions, this US-backed coup is remarkable for how honest its backers are being. Not long ago the National Security Advisor to the president, John Bolton, openly admitted that getting US companies in control of Venezuelan oil was the Administration’s intent. Trump Administration officials have gone so far as mocking the suffering of Venezuelans when a suspiciously-timed nationwide power failure heightened citizens’ misery.

According to media reports, Vice President Mike Pence is angry with the Venezuela coup leader, Juan Guaido, because he promised the whole operation would be a cakewalk – just like the neocons promised us about Iraq. Guaido said hundreds of thousands of protesters would follow him to the Colombian border to “liberate” US aid trucks just over the border, but no one showed up. So Pompeo and the neocons made up a lie that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s thugs burned the aid trucks to prevent the people from getting relief from their suffering. Even the pro-war New York Times finally admitted that the Administration was lying: it was opposition protesters who burned the trucks.

Was the US behind the take-down of Venezuela’s power grid? It would not be the first time the CIA pulled such a move, and US officials are open about the US goal of making life as miserable as possible for average Venezuelans in hopes that they overthrow their government.

Congress has to this point been strongly in favor of President Trump’s “regime change” policy for Venezuela. Sadly, even though our neocon foreign policy of interventionism has proven disastrous – from Iraq to Libya to Syria and elsewhere – both parties in Congress continue to act as if somehow this time they will get it right. I have news for them, they won’t.

Even weak Congressional efforts to remind the president that Congress must approve military action overseas sound like war cries. In Rep. David N. Cicilline’s (D-RI) statement introducing his “Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act” last week, he sounded more hawkish than John Bolton or Elliott Abrams! The statement makes all the arguments in favor of a US military attack on Venezuela and then – wink wink – reminds the president he needs authorization beforehand. As if that’s going to be a hard sell!

So is President Trump about to attack Venezuela? At a recent US House hearing, one of the expert witnesses testified that such an invasion would require between 100,000 and 150,000 US troops, going up against maybe three times that number of Venezuelan troops in a country twice the size of Iraq. With a lot of jungle. All for a “prize” that has nothing to do with US security. If the president makes such a foolish move he might find the current war cheerleaders in the Democrat Party changing their tune rather quickly. Let’s hope Trump changes his tune and returns to his promises of no more regime change wars.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Bipartisan Attacks on the Second Amendment

The House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would expand the national background check system to require almost everyone selling firearms, including private collectors who supplement their incomes by selling firearms at gun shows, to perform background checks on the potential buyers. The bill has a section purporting to bar creation of a national firearms registry. However, the expanded background check system will require the government to compile lists of those buying and selling guns. In other words, it creates a de facto national gun registry.

Similar to the experience with other types of prohibition, making it more difficult to legally buy a gun will enhance the firearms black market. Criminals, terrorist, and even deranged mass shooters will thus have no problem obtaining firearms.

It is no coincidence that the majority of mass shootings take place in “gun-free zones,” where shooters know their targets will be unarmed. This shows that any law making it more difficult for Americans to own and carry firearms makes us less safe. If Congress really wanted to reduce the incidence of gun violence, it would repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act. This law leaves children easy prey for mass shooters by mandating that public schools be “gun-free zones.”

A nationwide system of gun registration could be a step toward national gun confiscation. However, antigun bureaucrats need not go that far to use the expanded background check system to abuse the rights of gun owners. Gun owners could find themselves subject to surveillance and even harassment, such as more intensive screening by the Transportation Security Administration, because they own “too many” firearms.

Republican control of the White House and the Senate does not mean our gun rights are safe. Republicans have a long history of supporting gun control. After the 1999 Columbine shooting, many Republicans, including many who campaigned as being pro-Second Amendment, eagerly cooperated with then-President Bill Clinton on gun control. Some supposedly pro-gun Republicans also tried to pass “compromise” gun control legislation after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Neoconservative Senator Marco Rubio has introduced legislation that uses tax dollars to bribe states to adopt red flag laws. Red flag laws allow government to violate an individual’s Second Amendment rights based on nothing more than a report that the individual could become violent. Red flag laws can allow an individual’s guns to be taken away without due process simply because an estranged spouse, angry neighbor, or disgruntled coworker tells police the individual threatened him or otherwise made him feel unsafe.

President Trump has joined Rubio in wanting the government to, in Trump’s words, “take the guns first, go through due process second.” During his confirmation hearing, President Trump’s new Attorney General William Barr expressed support for red flag laws. California Senator and leading gun control advocate Dianne Feinstein has expressed interest in working with Barr to deprive gun owners of due process. It would not be surprising to see left-wing authoritarians like Feinstein work with right-wing authoritarians like Barr and Rubio on “compromise” legislation containing both a national red flag law and expanded background checks.

My years in Congress taught me that few politicians can be counted on to protect our liberties. Most politicians must be pressured to stand up for freedom by informed and involved pro-liberty citizens. That is why those of us who understand the benefits of liberty must remain vigilant against any attempt to erode respect for our rights, especially the right to defend ourselves against private crime and public tyranny.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Did Bolton Blow North Korea?

President Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un last week was criticized by both parties in Washington long before Air Force One even touched down in Hanoi. Washington’s political class seemed terrified that the nearly 70-year state of “war” with North Korea might actually end. In the end, the only positive thing they could say about the meeting was that Trump apparently walked away with nothing to show for it.

The location of the meeting – Hanoi, Vietnam – serves as a great example of what can be won in peace versus what is lost in war. After losing nearly 60,000 US service members in an unnecessary war that took a million Vietnamese lives, the US loss of the Vietnam war resulted not in a communist takeover of Southeast Asia but something very different: the domino theory failed because communism was destined to fail. Now we are close trading partners with an increasingly pro-market Vietnam. The result of trade and exchange versus war is a better life for all.

Unfortunately for Washington, the real lesson of Vietnam has not been learned. That is why the Republicans, Democrats, and the entire mainstream media spoke as one against President Trump’s decision to take a bold step and actually meet again, one-on-one, with one of our “enemies” to see if we can avoid nuclear conflict.

One leading Democrat, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), attacked Trump for meeting with Kim because speaking to the North Korean “gives him legitimacy.” Does it make any sense that we should not even speak with our nuclear-armed adversaries because it gives them “legitimacy”? He’d rather have a nuclear war as long as Kim remains “illegitimate”? This is sadly the kind of thinking that prevails in Washington.

The media reported that Trump walked away from the meeting before the scheduled signing ceremony and closing press event. The talks broke down, it was reported, because Kim demanded an end to all sanctions before any reduction in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Washington sighed with relief and said all together, “better no deal than a bad deal.”

Meanwhile, the North Koreans held a rare press conference clarifying that they only asked for partial sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling one of their main nuclear facilities. Further, press reports began to surface that National Security Advisor John Bolton threw additional demands on the table which led Kim to draw the meeting to an early close.

Who’s telling the truth? We likely won’t know. But given Bolton’s strong opposition to any kind of peace agreement with North Korea, it’s hard to doubt that he had something to do with the blow-up of the summit. As the New York Times reported over the weekend, while Trump’s advisors were shocked when he decided to meet Kim face-to-face the first time for negotiations, John Bolton wasn’t worried at all. As the Times writes, “Mr. Bolton told colleagues not to worry. The negotiations, he said, would collapse on their own.” And so they did.

Will Trump continue to allow his diplomatic efforts to be undermined by his own staff? Let’s hope the president will ignore Washington, ignore the neocons, and continue to work for peace with North Korea.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Emergencies Do Not Trump the Constitution

After Congress rejected President Trump’s request for 5.7 billion dollars for the border wall, the president declared a national emergency at the southern border. Present Trump claims this “emergency” gives him the authority to divert funds appropriated for other purposes to building the border wall.

President Trump’s emergency declaration is not just an end run around Congress. It is an end run around the Constitution. Article One of the Constitution gives Congress sole authority to allocate federal funds.

While President Trump’s order may be a particularly blatant abuse of power, it is hardly unprecedented. Most modern presidents have routinely used so-called national emergencies to expand their power, often at the expense of liberty. For example, Present Franklin Delano Roosevelt used “emergency powers” to justify internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two.

President Trump, like other recent presidents, is relying on the 1976 National Emergencies Act for legal justification for his emergency declaration. This act gives the president broad powers to declare national emergencies for almost any reason. All the president need do is inform Congress he has declared an emergency. Once the emergency is declared, the president simply needs to renew the declaration once a year to maintain a state of emergency. Since this act passed, 59 emergency declarations have been issued, with 31 of those still in effect.

Another statute giving the president broad “emergency” powers is the Defense Production Act. Under this law, the president can force private businesses to produce goods for the military. The law also enables the president to impose wage and price controls and even make loans to private businesses. All a president need do to invoke these vast powers is submit “findings” to Congress that “national security” requires the president seize near-dictatorial control of certain industries or even the entire economy. According to the Congressional Research Service, some presidents have invoked the Defense Production Act without making the required findings to Congress, and the act has been used to justly federal interference in areas having little or nothing to do with national defense.

Section 606(c) of the Communications Act gives the president “emergency” power to seize control of every television network, radio station, smartphone, laptop, and other electronic devices.

Emergency powers are not the only means by which presidents violate the Constitution. The 2001 authorization for use of military force (AUMF), which only authorizes the president to use force against those responsible for the September 11 attacks, has been used to justify military interventions that have no relationship to those attacks. The 2001 AUMF has been used to justify mass surveillance, indefinite detention, and even “kill lists.” Fortunately, Representative John Garamendi has introduced the Walter B. Jones Restoring Power to Congress Act that would pay tribute to a true champion of peace by repealing the 2001 AUMF.

Many neoconservatives and progressives who defended prior presidents’ abuses of power are critical of President Trump’s emergency declaration. These “never-Trumpers” will no doubt resume their love affair with the imperial presidency when the Oval Office is again occupied by someone who shares their agenda.

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution terminating President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. Hopefully, this precedent will be used against all future presidents who use spurious claims of national emergencies to expand their powers and shrink our liberties.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Walter Jones & The Vote To End US War On Yemen

In a fitting legacy for my friend Walter Jones, Jr. who passed away last week, the US House made history by voting in favor of H.J.Res. 37, a resolution “Directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” As George O’Neill wrote in the American Conservative magazine this week, the historic 248-177 victory for a bill demanding the end of the US participation in the nearly five-year Saudi war of aggression “reflects how many hearts and minds were influenced by the late Congressman’s tireless efforts.”

Walter Jones did not care who controlled Congress. He was happy to join forces with any Member to end the senseless US global military empire, which sends thousands of young men and women off to patrol foreign borders, overthrow foreign governments, and needlessly put themselves at risk in missions that have nothing to do with the safety and security of the United States.

US participation in the Saudi war on Yemen is a classic example of the abuse of the US military that made Walter Jones most angry. When the Saudis decided in 2015 that they wanted their puppet to be Yemen’s president, they launched a brutal and inhuman war that many call the worst humanitarian disaster of our time. Millions face starvation as Saudi bombs and US sanctions combine to create a hell on earth that is unrelated in any way to US national security.

Why this ongoing support for Saudi death and destruction in Yemen? Washington’s neocons have successfully promoted the lie that the Saudi attack on Yemen is all about preventing Iran from gaining more strength in the Middle East. Ironically it was the neocon-backed US attack on Iraq in 2003 that provided the biggest boost for Iranian influence in the region. Now, after Iraq’s “liberation,” Baghdad’s ties to Tehran are closer than ever.

Meanwhile, who exactly are we supporting in Yemen? Even CNN, normally a big backer of US military actions overseas, has noticed something funny about US participation in the Saudi war on Yemen. As a CNN investigation found this month, “Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have transferred American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen, in violation of their agreements with the United States.” Does that sound like we are on the side of the “good guys” in this battle? We are helping the Saudis arm al-Qaeda? Is this really a smart move?

So we should be encouraged that Walter Jones’ legacy is being honored in the House vote to end the US participation in the Yemen war. While US “humanitarian” aid is being used as a weapon for regime change in Venezuela, the warmongers in Washington have never lifted a finger to help those suffering from a real genocide in Yemen.

If the Yemen War Powers resolution passes the Senate, which is likely, Congress will have provoked the first veto from President Trump. Such a veto should not discourage us. Even the strongest army cannot stop an idea whose time has come. Ending senseless US wars is an idea whose time has come. We can thank Walter Jones for his role in making it so.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

President Starts a War? Congress Yawns. Threatens to End One? Condemnation!

Last week’s bipartisan Senate vote to rebuke President Trump for his decision to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan, unfortunately, tells us a lot about what is wrong with Washington, DC. While the two parties loudly bicker about minor issues, when it comes to matters like endless wars overseas they enthusiastically join together. With few exceptions, Republicans and Democrats lined up to admonish the president for even suggesting that it’s time for US troops to come home from Afghanistan and Syria.

The amendment, proposed by the Senate Majority Leader and passed overwhelmingly by both parties, warns that a “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from the on-going fight…in Syria and Afghanistan, could allow terrorists to regroup.” As one opponent of the amendment correctly pointed out, a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is hardly “precipitous” since they’ve been there for nearly 18 years! And with al-Qaeda and ISIS largely defeated in Syria a withdrawal from that country would hardly be “precipitous” after almost five years of unauthorized US military action.

Senators supporting the rebuke claim that US troops cannot leave until every last ISIS fighter is killed or captured. This is obviously a false argument. Al-Qaeda and ISIS did not emerge in Iraq because US troops left the country – they emerged because the US was in the country in the first place. Where was al-Qaeda in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion the neocons lied us into? There weren’t any.

US troops occupying Iraqi territory was, however, a huge incentive for Iraqis to join a resistance movement. Similarly, US intervention in Syria beginning under the Obama Administration contributed to the growth of terrorist groups in that country.

We know that US invasion and occupation provides the best recruiting tools for terrorists, including suicide terrorists. So how does it make sense that keeping troops in these countries in any way contributes to the elimination of terrorism? As to the “vacuum” created in Syria when US troops pull out, how about allowing the government of Syria to take care of the problem? After all, it’s their country and they’ve been fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda since the US helped launch the “regime change” in 2011. Despite what you might hear in the US mainstream media, it’s Syria along with its allies that have done most of the fighting against these groups and it makes no sense that they would allow them to return.

Congress has the Constitutional responsibility and obligation to declare war, but this has been ignored for decades. The president bombs far-off lands and even sends troops to fight in and occupy foreign territory and Congress doesn’t say a word. But if a president dares seek to end a war suddenly the sleeping Congressional giant awakens!

I’ve spent many years opposing Executive branch over-reach in matters where the president has no Constitutional authority, but when it comes to decisions on where to deploy or re-deploy troops once in battle it is clear that the Constitution grants that authority to the commander-in-chief. The real question we need to ask is why is Congress so quick to anger when the president finally seeks to end the longest war in US history?

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

It’s Time To Shut Down The TSA!

Hard as it is to believe, airline travel recently became even more unpleasant. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees being required to work without pay for the duration of the government shutdown resulted in many TSA workers calling in sick. The outbreak of “shutdown flu” among TSA employees forced some large airports to restrict the number of places mandatory TSA screenings were performed, making going through screening even more time-consuming and providing one more reason to shut down the TSA.

Airline security should be provided by airlines and airports. Private businesses, such as airlines, have an incentive to ensure their customers’ safety without treating them like criminal suspects or worse. Security personnel hired by, and accountable to, airlines would not force a nursing mother to drink her own breast milk or steal a stuffed lamb from a wheelchair-using three-year-old and subject the child to such an intensive screening that she cries “I don’t want to go to Disneyworld.” Those who claim that the TSA is necessary to keep us safe should consider that the Department of Homeland Security’s own studies show that TSA’s screenings and even the intrusive pat-downs are ineffective at discovering hidden guns, explosives, and other weapons.

TSA employees have no incentives to please, or even care about the well-being of, airline passengers. Instead, their jobs depend on pleasing politicians and bureaucrats. If we have learned anything since 9/11, it is that most politicians are more concerned with appearing to be “doing something” about security than actually reducing the risk of terrorist attacks. That is why politicians’ response to 9/11 was a series of actions — such as creating the TSA, passing the PATRIOT Act, and invading Iraq — that trade our real liberties for phantom security. Sometimes, pro-TSA politicians will bemoan the TSA’s “excesses” and even call for “reforming” the agency in order to pretend they care about their constituents’ rights.

Restoring responsibility for providing security to private businesses will encourage the development of new and innovative ways to more effectively provide security. In a free market, airlines and airports could compete for business on the basis that their flights are safer or their screening is less unpleasant than that of their competitors. If airlines were able to set their own security policies, they would likely allow pilots to carry firearms.

Private companies also strive to be consistent in providing services. Therefore, a company providing private security would never inconvenience its customers because of a “temporary shutdown.”

Because government operations are funded by coercive taxation rather than voluntary choices of consumers, federal officials cannot rely on the price system to inform them of whether they need to increase or decrease spending on airline security. In the private sector, businesses that charge more for security — or any other good or service — than individuals are willing to pay, lose customers. Also, if businesses do not spend enough on security, people concerned about safety will be unwilling to use their services. Privatizing airline security is the only way to ensure that the “correct” amount of resources is being spent on airline safety.

In the 18 years since Congress created the TSA, the agency has proven itself incapable of providing real security, but more than capable of harrying Americans and wasting taxpayer dollars on security theater. Congress should permanently close the TSA and return responsibility for security to private businesses.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Trump’s Venezuela Fiasco

Last week President Trump announced that the United States would no longer recognize Nicholas Maduro as president of Venezuela and would recognize the head of its national assembly, Jose Guaido, as president instead. US thus openly backs regime change. But what has long been a dream of the neocons may well turn out to be a nightmare for President Trump.

Why did Trump declare that the Venezuelan president was no longer the president? According to the State Department, the Administration was acting to help enforce the Venezuelan constitution. If only they were so eager to enforce our own Constitution!

It’s ironic that a president who has spent the first two years in office fighting charges that a foreign country meddled in the US elections would turn around and not only meddle in foreign elections but actually demand the right to name a foreign country’s president! How would we react if the Chinese and Russians decided that President Trump was not upholding the US Constitution and recognized Speaker Nancy Pelosi as US president instead?

Even those who would like to see a change of government in Venezuela should reject any notion that the change must be “helped” by the United States. According to press reports, Vice President Mike Pence was so involved in internal Venezuelan affairs that he actually urged Guaido to name himself president and promised US support. This is not only foolish, but it is also very dangerous. A Venezuelan civil war would result in mass death and even more economic misery!

Regime change has long been US policy for Venezuela. The US has been conducting economic warfare practically since Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, was first elected in 1998. The goal of US sanctions and other economic measures against Venezuela (and other countries in Washington’s crosshairs) is to make life so miserable for average citizens that they rise up and overthrow their leaders. But of course, once they do so they must replace those leaders with someone approved by Washington. Remember after the “Arab Spring” in Egypt when the people did rise up and overthrow their leader, but they then elected the “wrong” candidate. The army moved in and deposed the elected president and replaced him with a Washington-approved politician. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry called it “restoring democracy.”

It is tragically comical that President Trump has named convicted criminal Elliot Abrams as his point person to “restore democracy” in Venezuela. Abrams played a key role in the Iran-Contra affair and went on to be one of the chief architects of the disastrous US invasion of Iraq in 2003. His role in helping promote the horrible violence in Latin America in the 1980s should disqualify him from ever holding public office again.

Instead of this ham-fisted coup d’etat, a better policy for Venezuela these past 20 years would have been engagement and trade. If we truly believe in the superiority of a free market system we must also believe that we can only lead by example, not by forcing our system on others.

Just four months ago President Trump said at the UN: “I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.” Sadly it seems that these were merely empty words. We know from Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. that this will not end well for President Trump. Or for the United States. We must leave Venezuela alone!

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Fire the Fed?

President Trump’s frustration with the Federal Reserve’s (minuscule) interest rate increases that he blames for the downturn in the stock market has reportedly led him to inquire if he has the authority to remove Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Chairman Powell has stated that he would not comply with a presidential request for his resignation, meaning President Trump would have to fire Powell if Trump was serious about removing him.

The law creating the Federal Reserve gives the president power to remove members of the Federal Reserve Board — including the chairman — “for cause.” The law is silent on what does, and does not, constitute a justifiable cause for removal. So, President Trump may be able to fire Powell for not tailoring monetary policy to the president’s liking.

By firing Powell, President Trump would once and for all dispel the myth that the Federal Reserve is free from political interference. All modern presidents have tried to influence the Federal Reserve’s policies. Is Trump’s threatening to fire Powell worse than President Lyndon Johnson shoving a Fed chairman against a wall after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates? Or worse than President Carter “promoting” an uncooperative Fed chairman to Treasury secretary?

Yet, until President Trump began attacking the Fed on Twitter, the only individuals expressing concerns about political interference with the Federal Reserve in recent years were those claiming the Audit the Fed bill politicizes monetary policy. The truth is that the audit bill, which was recently reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and will soon be reintroduced in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), does not in any way expand Congress’ authority over the Fed. The bill simply authorizes the General Accountability Office to perform a full audit of the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy, including the Fed’s dealings with Wall Street and foreign central banks and governments.

Many Audit he Fed supporters have no desire to give Congress or the president authority over any aspect of monetary policy, including the ability to set interest rates. Interest rates are the price of money. Like all prices, interest rates should be set by the market, not by central planners. It is amazing that even many economists who generally support free markets and oppose central planning support allowing a government-created central bank to influence something as fundamental as the price of money.

Those who claim that auditing the Fed will jeopardize the economy are implicitly saying that the current system is flawed. After all, how stable can a system be if it is threatened by transparency?

Auditing the Fed is supported by nearly 75 percent of Americans. In Congress, the bill has been supported not just by conservatives and libertarians, but by progressives in Congress like Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, and Peter DeFazio. President Trump championed auditing the Federal Reserve during his 2016 campaign. But, despite his recent criticism of the Fed, he has not promoted the legislation since his election.

As the US economy falls into another Federal Reserve-caused economic downturn, support for auditing the Fed will grow among Americans of all political ideologies. Congress and the president can and must come together to tear down the wall of secrecy around the central bank. Auditing the Fed is the first step in changing the monetary policy that has created a debt-and-bubble-based economy; facilitated the rise of the welfare-warfare state; and burdened Americans with a hidden, constantly increasing, and regressive inflation tax.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Campaign Finance Reform Helps Special Interests

One of the new Democratic House majority’s top priorities is so-called campaign finance reform legislation. Contrary to the claims of its supporters, campaign finance reform legislation does not limit the influence of powerful special interests. Instead, it violates the First Amendment and burdens those seeking real change in government.

The First Amendment of the Constitution forbids Congress from interfering in any way with any citizen’s ability to influence government policies. Spending money to support candidates and causes is one way individuals influence government policies. Therefore, laws limiting and regulating donations to campaigns and organizations that work to change government policies violate the First Amendment.

One very troubling aspect of campaign finance reform laws is forcing organizations involved in “electioneering” to hand over the names of their top donors to the federal government. Electioneering is broadly defined to include informing the public of candidates’ positions and records, even if the group in question focuses solely on advancing issues and ideas. Burdening these types of organizations will make it harder for individuals to learn the truth about candidates’ positions.

America has a long and distinguished tradition of anonymous political speech. Both the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist papers where published anonymously. As Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote in NAACP v. Alabama, where the Supreme Court upheld the NAACP’s right to keep its membership list confidential, “Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.”

Supporters of groups with “dissident beliefs” have good reason to fear new disclosure laws. In 2014, the IRS had to pay 50,000 dollars to the National Organization for Marriage because an IRS employee leaked donors names to the organization’s opponents. Fortunately, the Trump administration has repealed the regulation forcing activist groups to disclose their donors to the IRS. Unfortunately, Congress seems poised to reinstate that rule.

In recent years, we have seen the rise of authoritarian political movements that think harassment and even violence against those with differing views are acceptable tactics. Can anyone doubt that activists in these movements would do all they could to obtain the lists of donors to groups that oppose their agenda? They may be able to obtain the lists either by hacking government databases or by having a sympathetic federal employee “accidentally” leak the names.

As long as businesses can profit by currying favor with politicians and bureaucrats who have the power to reward or punish them via subsidies and regulations, powerful interests will find a way to influence the political process. These special interests seek out and reward politicians who support policies favoring their interests. So foreign policy hawks can count on generous support from the military-industrial complex, supporters of corporatist health care systems like Obamacare can count on generous support from the health insurance-pharma complex, and apologists for the Federal Reserve can count on support from the big banks.

Special interests do not favor free-market capitalism. Instead, they favor a mixed economy where government protects the profits of large business interests. That is why big business is more likely to support a progressive or a “moderate” than a libertarian. Campaign finance and donor disclosure laws will make it harder for grassroots liberty activists to challenge the corporatist status quo. Those wishing to get big money out of politics should work to get politics out of all aspects of the economy.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Trump’s Neocons Reverse His Syria Withdrawal Plan

I’m starting to wonder whether President Trump has any power over US foreign policy at all. Many people believe that the US president is just a figurehead, with actual foreign policy firmly in the hands of the deep state. Trump’s latest dramatic U-turn on pulling troops from Syria certainly feeds such theories.

When President Trump announced just a couple of weeks ago that the US was removing its troops from Syria and possibly reducing troops from Afghanistan, the neocons, the media, the military-industrial complex, and the left-wing “never-Trump” people were livid. They were silent when President Obama made the horrible decision to overthrow Assad in Syria and sent weapons to jihadists to do so. They never said a word when billions of dollars were committed to this immoral and dangerous “regime change” policy. They weren’t interested in the rule of law when President Obama thumbed his nose at Congress and sent troops into Syria.

But when President Trump declared the obvious – that ISIS was effectively defeated and that we had no business being in Syria – these above groups in unison declared that actually bringing US troops home was a “gift to Russia.” They said bringing US troops home would create instability in the regions they left. Well, is there any proof that occupation by US troops actually brings stability?

No sooner did President Trump announce our departure than his neocon advisors began walking his words back. First, he had to endure a lunch with Sen. Lindsey Graham reading him the riot act, where, according to the Senator, Trump agreed to no timetables for departure. Then his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, began to tell the world that President Trump’s statements on troop pullout were just empty words, not US policy.

While Syrian Christians newly liberated from the rule of US-backed extremists celebrated Christmas for the first time in years, John Bolton dusted off the old warning to Assad that the US would attack if he “again” gassed his people. With the Syrian president personally taking part in some of the Christmas celebrations, does anybody really believe he’d go back to his office and order a gas attack?

Bolton then claimed that the US would shift troops from Syria to Iraq to continue fighting ISIS and that the US fully backs Israeli airstrikes on Syrian territory. Did President Trump even agree to any of this?

Even worse, Secretary of State Pompeo is embarking on a Middle East tour where he will essentially tell leaders in the region that the US president is a liar. According to one State Department official quoted in a report on Sunday, Pompeo’s message to the Middle East will be, “Despite reports to the contrary and false narratives surrounding the Syria decision, we are not going anywhere. The secretary will reinforce that commitment to the region and our partners.”

Calling the US president’s actual words on Syria “false narratives”? How is this not insubordination?

Will President Trump stand by and watch this coup taking place under his nose? Does he realize how his credibility suffers when he boldly announces a US withdrawal and the does a U-turn days later? Has he noticed recent polls showing that the majority of the American people agree with him? Why is he so intimidated by the neocons?

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Rough Time Ahead, But Liberty Can Still Win

While Congress and the president fight over funding a border wall, they continue to ignore the coming economic tsunami caused by the approximately 22 trillion dollars (and rapidly increasing) federal debt. President Trump may not be troubled by the debt’s effect on the economy because he believes he will be out of office before it becomes a major problem. However, the crisis may come sooner than he, or most people in DC, expects.

The constituency for limited government, while growing, is still far outnumbered by those wanting government to provide economic and personal security. From lower-income Americans who rely on food stamps, public housing, and other government programs, to middle-class Americans who live in homes they could not afford without assistance from federal agencies like Fannies Mae and Freddie Mac, to college students reliant on government-subsidized student loans, to senior citizens reliant on Social Security and Medicare, to billionaire CEOs whose companies rely on bailouts, subsidies, laws and regulations written to benefit politically-powerful businesses, and government contracts, most Americans are reliant on at least one federal program. Many programs are designed to force individuals to accept government aid. For example, it is almost impossible for a senior citizen to obtain health insurance outside of Medicare.

The welfare state is fueled by the Federal Reserve’s easy money policies, which are also responsible for the boom-and-bust cycle that plagues our economy. The Federal Reserve’s policies do not just distort our economy, they also distort our values, as the Fed’s dollar depreciation causes individuals to forgo savings and hard work in favor of immediate gratification. This has helped create an explosion of business and individual debt. There has been a proliferation of bubbles, including in credit card debt, auto loans, and student loans. There is even a new housing bubble.

An economy built on fiat currency and public and private debt is unsustainable. Eventually, the bubbles will burst. The most likely outcome will be the rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status due to government debt and the Federal Reserve’s monetization of debt. When the bubbles pop, the result will be an economic crisis that will likely dwarf the Great Depression.

The fall of the dollar and the accompanying economic downturn will make it impossible for the government to continue running up huge debts to finance a massive welfare-warfare state. Thus, Congress will be forced to raise taxes and cut benefits. Cowardly politicians will likely outsource the job of raising taxes and cutting benefits to the Federal Reserve. This will cause a dramatic increase in the most insidious of taxes: the inflation tax.

As the Federal Reserve erodes the value of the dollar, thus reducing the value of both earned paychecks and government-provided welfare benefits, a large number of Americans who believe they are entitled to economic security will react by engaging in acts of violence. Politicians will use this violence to further crackdown on civil liberties. The resulting economic and civil unrest will further the growth of authoritarian political movements.

Fortunately, the liberty movement continues to grow. This movement counters the authoritarian lies with the truths of Austrian economics and the non-aggression principle. While the years ahead may be tough, if those of us who know the truth work hard to educate others, the cause of liberty can prevail.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Troops Out of Syria and Afghanistan? That’s a Good Start!

We all had a big shock this week when, seemingly out of the blue, President Trump announced that he was removing US troops from Syria and would draw down half of the remaining US troops in Afghanistan. The president told us the troops were in Syria to fight ISIS and with ISIS nearly gone, the Syrians and their allies could finish the job.

All of a sudden, the Trump haters, who for two years had been telling us that the president was dangerous because he might get us in a war, were telling us that the president is dangerous because he was getting us out of a war! These are the same people who have been complaining about the president’s historic efforts to help move toward peace with North Korea.

There was more than a little hypocrisy among the “never Trump” resistance over the president’s announcement. Many of the talking heads and politicians who attacked George W. Bush’s wars then, who were silent for President Obama’s wars, are now attacking President Trump for actually taking steps to end some wars. It just goes to show that for many who make their living from politics and the military-industrial complex, there are seldom any real principles involved.

Among the neoconservatives, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s reaction was pretty typical. Though it seems Sen. Graham is never bothered when presidents violate the Constitution to take the US into another war without authorization, he cannot tolerate it when a president follows the Constitution and removes US troops from wars they have no business being involved in. Sen. Graham is now threatening to hold Congressional hearings in an attempt to reverse the President’s decision to remove troops from Syria.

Neoconservatives are among the strongest proponents of the idea that as a “unitary executive,” the president should not be encumbered by things like the Constitution when it comes to war-making. Now all of a sudden when a president uses his actual Constitutional authority to remove troops from a war zone the neocons demand Congressional meddling to weaken the president. They get it wrong on both fronts! The president does have Constitutional authority to move US troops and to remove US troops; Congress has the power and the obligation to declare war and the power of the purse to end wars.

Most of the Washington establishment – especially the “resistance” liberals and the neocons – are complaining that by removing US troops from these two war zones President Trump has gone too far. I would disagree with them. I call President Trump’s announcement a good start. Americans are tired of being the world’s policemen. The United States does not “lose influence” by declining to get involved in disputes oceans away. We lose influence by spending more on the military than most of the rest of the world combined and meddling where we are not wanted. We will lose a whole lot more influence when their crazy spending makes us bankrupt. Is that what they want?

We should pay attention to Washington’s wild reaction to Trump’s announcement. The vested interests do not want us to have any kind of “peace dividend” because they have become so rich on the “war dividend.” Meanwhile, the middle class is getting poorer and we’re all less safe. Let’s hope President Trump continues these moves to restore sanity in our foreign policy. That would really make America great again!

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Ron Paul: The Market Correction Could Make Things ‘Worse Than 1929’

Former presidential candidate, Dr. Ron Paul says that the current market conditions are ripe for a correction of 50% and Wall Street is vulnerable to depression-like conditions in the next year. “It could be worse than 1929,” Dr. Paul said recently in an interview.

Paul said Thursday on CNBC‘s “Futures Now that “Once this volatility shows that we’re not going to resume the bull market, then people are going to rush for the exits.”  Paul added that “it could be worse than 1929.”  He was referencing the fateful day in October of 1929 when the stock market crashed, and the United States was flung into the Great Depression that lasted ten years. During that year, a worldwide depression was ignited because of the U.S.’s market crash.  The stock market began hemorrhaging and after falling almost 90 percent, sent the U.S. economy crashing a burning.

And of course, no one believes it could happen again. But Dr. Paul is continuously warning against the media’s constant optimism. As well-known Libertarian, Paul has been warning Wall Street that a massive market plunge is inevitable for years. He’s currently projecting a 50 percent decline from current levels as his base case, citing the ongoing U.S.-China trade war as a growing risk factor. “I’m not optimistic that all of the sudden, you’re going to eliminate the tariff problem. I think that’s here to stay,” he said. “Tariffs are taxes.”  And these tariffs are a direct tax on the American economy and consumer.

Paul places the blame for the inevitable future crash on the Federal Reserve’s “easy money policies” also known as quantitative easing.  He contended the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing has caused the “biggest bubble in the history of mankind.” And this time, it’s an everything bubble.

‘The Everything Bubble’: Why The Coming Collapse Will Be Even Worse Than The Last

Soon, investors will be forced to reconcile a massive expansion of debt and falling productivity and growth with a host of potentially disruptive crises: The advent of government-sponsored cyber-warfare, followed by the collapse of the global dollar-based monetary system. Whereas the last crisis trigger massive devaluations in the real estate and stock markets, the next crash will be the result of a triple bubble in stocks, real estate and bonds as investors bail out of traditional assets in favor of the safety of gold, silver and – perhaps – cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. –Tyler Durden,  ZeroHedge.com

Unlike the Great Depression, however, Paul said the next historic downturn doesn’t have to last a decade. “If you allow the liquidation, it doesn’t last long,” De. Paul said, according to CNBC.

Paul also stated that Washington lawmakers, aka. the political elitists, do not have an ability to effectively fix the debt problem, nor will they be able to fix the next Great Depression, which along with the Federal Reserve, is mostly their fault.  and he’s been highly critical of the 2017 Trump tax cuts for creating a dire debt situation. “It’s so important to understand the original cause of the problem, and that is the Federal Reserve running up debt and letting politicians spend money,” he added. Anyone with even the smallest amount of sense can figure that out though.  So why won’t mainstream media blame the government and the Federal Reserve? We believe you know the answer to that question…

Article posted with permission from Mac Slavo

Why The Senate Vote to End Yemen War is So Important

Last week something historic happened in the US Senate. For the first time in 45 years, a chamber of the US Congress voted to pull US forces from a military conflict under the 1973 War Powers Act.

While there is plenty to criticize in the War Powers Act, in this situation it was an important tool used by a broad Senate coalition to require President Trump to end US participation in the Saudi war against Yemen. And while the resolution was not perfect – there were huge loopholes – it has finally drawn wider attention to the US Administration’s dirty war in Yemen.

The four-year Saudi war on neighboring Yemen has left some 50,000 dead, including many women and children. We’ve all seen the horrible photos of school buses blown up by the Saudis – using US-supplied bombs loaded into US-supplied aircraft. Millions more face starvation as the infrastructure is decimated and the ports have been blocked to keep out humanitarian aid.

Stopping US participation in this brutal war is by itself a wise and correct move, even if it comes years too late.

The Senate vote is also about much more than just Yemen. It is about the decades of Presidential assaults on the Constitution in matters of war. President Trump is only the latest to ignore Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution, which grants war power exclusively to Congress. Yes, it was President Obama who initially dragged the US illegally into the Yemen war, but President Trump has only escalated it. And to this point, Congress has been totally asleep.

Fortunately that all changed last week with the Senate vote. Unfortunately, Members of the House will not be allowed to vote on their own version of the Senate resolution.

Republican Leadership snuck language into a rule vote on the Farm Bill prohibiting any debate on the Yemen war for the rest of this Congressional session. As Rep. Thomas Massie correctly pointed out, the move was both unconstitutional and illegal.

However, as is often the case in bipartisan Washington, there is plenty of blame to go around. The Republicans were able to carry the vote on the rule – and thus deny any debate on Yemen – only because of a group of Democrats crossed over and voted with Republicans. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer is being blamed by progressives for his apparent lack of interest in holding his party together.

Why would Democrats help a Republican president keep his war going? Because, especially when you look at Congressional leadership, both parties are pro-war and pro-Executive branch over-reach. They prefer it to be their president who is doing the over-reaching, but they understand that sooner or later they’ll be back in charge. As I have often said, there is too much bipartisanship in Washington, not too much partisanship.

Americans should be ashamed and outraged that their government is so beholden to a foreign power – in this case, Saudi Arabia – that it would actively participate in a brutal war of aggression. Participating in this war against one of the world’s poorest countries is far from upholding “American values.” We should applaud and support the coalition in the Senate that voted to end the war. They should know how much we appreciate their efforts.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Too Much Partisanship in Washington? No, Too Much Bipartisanship!

Washington is once again gripped by the specter of a government shutdown, as Congress and President Trump negotiate an end-of-year spending deal. A main issue of contention is funding for President Trump’s border wall. Sadly, but not surprisingly, neither Congress nor the administration is fighting to cut, or at least not increase, spending.

Federal spending has increased from 3.6 trillion dollars to 4.4 trillion dollars since Republicans gained control over both chambers of Congress in 2014. Some may try to defend congressional Republicans by pointing out that for two years the Republican Congress had to negotiate spending deals with President Obama. But federal spending has increased by 7.5 percent, or over 300 billion dollars, since Donald Trump become President.

A big beneficiary of the Republican spending spree is the military-industrial complex. Republicans have increased the “defense” budget by eight percent in the past two years. President Trump and congressional Republicans claim the increases are necessary because sequestration “decimated” the military. But Congress, with the Obama administration’s full cooperation and support, suspended sequestration every year but one, so the planned cuts never went into full effect. Congress and Obama also “supplemented” the official military budget with generous appropriations for the Pentagon’s off-budget Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Spending on militarism increased by as much as 600 billion dollars over the amounts allowed for under sequestration.

President Trump has proposed reducing the projected military budget for fiscal year 2020 to 700 billion dollars. This would be a mere two percent cut, yet the usual voices are already crying that this tiny reduction would endanger our security. If history is any guide, the military-industrial complex’s congressional allies and high-priced lobbyists will be able to defeat the president’s proposed reductions and convince President Trump to further increase the military budget.

This huge military budget has little or nothing to do with America’s legitimate security needs. In fact, as candidate Trump recognized, America’s military interventions in the Middle East have endangered our security by empowering terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

While the warfare state has been a big beneficiary of the Republican spending spree, the GOP has hardly neglected the welfare state. Domestic spending has increased seven percent since 2016. Except for a half-hearted attempt to repeal Obamacare and some food stamp reforms that were included in and then dropped from this year’s farm bill, Republicans have not made any effort to roll back or even reform the welfare state.

The farm bill, which Congress is expected to pass this week, will spend as much as 900 billion dollars over the next ten years. Much of that spending will be on taxpayer subsidies for wealthy farmers and even “farmers in name only.”

Trump’s budget deals have been supported by the majority of Democrats. Even those who have called for the president’s impeachment are more than happy to vote with him when it comes to increasing spending and debt. These Democrats are the mirror image of 1990s Republicans who made a big spending deal with President Clinton while simultaneously trying to impeach him.

We suffer from too much bipartisanship when it comes to the welfare-warfare state. This bipartisanship has resulted in a national debt that is rapidly approaching 30 trillion dollars. This will inevitably lead to a major economic crisis. The way to avoid this crisis is to replace the bipartisan welfare-warfare consensus with a new consensus in favor of limited government, peace, free markets in all areas including currency, and auditing then ending the Fed.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Trump Foreign Policy: Doing the Same Thing and Expecting a Different Result

After a week of insisting that a meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina was going to happen, President Trump at the last minute sent out a Tweet explaining that due to a Russia/Ukraine dispute in the Sea of Azov he would no longer be willing to meet his Russian counterpart.

According to Trump, the meeting had to be cancelled because the Russians seized three Ukrainian naval vessels in Russian waters that refused to follow instructions from the Russian military. But as Pat Buchanan wrote in a recent column: how is this little dispute thousands of miles away any of our business?

Unfortunately, it is “our business” because of President Obama’s foolish idea to overthrow a democratically-elected, pro-Russia government in Ukraine in favor of what his Administration believed would be a “pro-Western” and “pro-NATO” replacement. In short, the Obama Administration did openly to Ukraine what his Democratic Party claims without proof the Russians did to the United States: meddled in a vote.

US interventionism in Ukraine led to the 2014 coup and many dead Ukrainians. Crimea’s majority-Russian population held a referendum and decided to re-join Russia rather than remain in a “pro-West” Ukraine that immediately began discriminating against them. Why would anyone object to people opting out of abusive relationships?

What is most disappointing about President Trump’s foreign policy is that it didn’t have to be this way. He ran on a platform of America first, ending foreign wars, NATO skepticism, and better relations with Russia. Americans voted for this policy. He had a mandate, a rejection of Obama’s destructive interventionism.

But he lost his nerve.

Instead of being the president who ships lethal weapons to the Ukrainian regime, instead of being the president who insists that Crimea remain in Ukraine, instead of being the president who continues policies the American people clearly rejected at the ballot box, Trump could have blamed the Ukraine/Russia mess on the failed Obama foreign policy and charted a very different course. What flag flies over Crimea is none of our business. We are not the policemen of the world and candidate Trump seemed to have understood that.

But now Trump’s in a trap. He was foolish enough to believe that Beltway foreign policy “experts” have a clue about what really is American national interest. Just this week he told the Washington Post, in response to three US soldiers being killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, that he has to keep US troops fighting in the longest war in US history because the “experts” tell him there is no alternative.

He said, “virtually every expert that I have and speak to say if we don’t go there, they’re going to be fighting over here. And I’ve heard it over and over again.”

That is the same bunkum the neocons sold us as they lied us into Iraq! We’ve got to fight Saddam over there or he’d soon be in our streets. These “experts” are worthless, yet for some reason President Trump cannot break free of them.

Well here’s some unsolicited advice to the president: Listen to the people who elected you, who are tired of the US as the world’s police force. Let Ukraine and Russia work out their own problems. Give all your “experts” a pink slip and start over with a real pro-American foreign policy: non-interventionism.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Allow Americans to ‘Opt Out’ of Abortion & War

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released proposed rules allowing individuals to opt out of Obamacare’s abortion and contraception mandates for moral or religious reasons. These new rules should be cheered by all who agree with Thomas Jefferson that forcing people to subsidize that which they find abhorrent is “sinful and tyrannical.”

Sadly, Congress continues to pass, and President Trump continues to sign, spending bills subsidizing abortion providers. When government gives taxpayer money to abortion providers, it forces anti-abortion taxpayers to fund something they believe is murder. This is every bit as “sinful and tyrannical” as forcing health plans to pay for abortion and contraception.

If Congress is going to continue giving taxpayer dollars to abortion providers, then it should at least find a way to protect those with moral or religious objections to abortion from subsidizing the practice with their tax dollars. Creating a special fund for the taxes of those who object to abortion and ensuring money in that fund is not used to subsidize abortion providers would help ensure that anti-abortion taxpayers are no longer directly subsidizing what they believe is the murder of unborn children. However, it would force pro-life taxpayers to indirectly subsidize abortion because money is fungible. So, if the government used money from the pro-life taxpayers to increase spending on programs that do not subsidize abortion, it would be able to use a greater percentage of the taxes collected from other taxpayers to fund abortionists.

A better way to protect anti-abortion taxpayers is to give them an expanded charitable tax credit. Pro-life taxpayers could use the credit to support crisis pregnancy centers and other charities that help pregnant women and new mothers. This approach would increase funding to private charities, while ensuring that, since the plan reduces government revenue, anti-abortion taxpayers are neither directly nor indirectly subsidizing abortions.

Opponents of abortion are not the only Americans who should be allowed to opt out of paying for what they consider murder. The many Americans with moral and religious objections to Washington’s militaristic foreign policy should also be able to redirect some of their taxes from the warfare state to private charities. Some may claim this would weaken America’s defenses. However, since America’s military budget is higher than the combined military budgets of the next seven biggest spending countries, and since our militaristic foreign policy has little or no relation to actual security, there is no reason the military budget cannot and should not be reduced.

Allowing taxpayers to opt out of subsidizing war and abortion would be major victories. However, there are other government programs that might offer exemptions for moral or religious objections. For example, followers of Ayn Rand have moral objections to government-funded welfare. Some Christians also find government-provided welfare morally objectionable because they believe it is the duty of the church, not the state, to help the less fortunate. Others may find corporate welfare, the drug war, or restrictions on the First and Second Amendments morally objectionable.

It may be impossible to find a welfare-warfare state program that does not offend someone’s moral or religious beliefs. For many the entire welfare-warfare state is immoral because it is built on a foundation of aggression. The only way to stop the government forcing taxpayers to subsidize activities they consider immoral is to return to limited, constitutional government that does not steal from the people via the income tax and the inflation tax.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Pentagon Fails First Audit – Neocons Demand More Spending

The Pentagon has finally completed its first ever audit and the results are as many of us expected. After spending nearly a billion dollars to find out what has happened to trillions in unaccounted-for spending, the long look through the books has concluded that only ten percent of all Pentagon agencies pass muster. I am surprised any of them did.

Even the Pentagon is not surprised by the failure of the audit. “We failed the audit. But we never expected to pass it,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. Can we imagine any large US company subject to the prying eyes of the IRS being so unfazed by the discovery that its books have been so mis-handled?

As with all government programs, but especially when it comes to military spending, the failure of a program never leads to calls for funding reductions. The Pentagon’s failure to properly account for the trillions of taxpayer dollars shoveled in year after year only means, they say, that we need to send more money! Already they are claiming that with more resources – meaning money – they can fix some of the problems identified by the audit.

If you subsidize something you get much more of it, and in this case, we are subsidizing Pentagon incompetence. Expect much more of it.

Outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, warned against concluding that this mis-handling trillions of dollars should make us hesitant to continue sending trillions more to the Pentagon. The failed audit “should not be used as an excuse for arbitrary cuts that reverse the progress we have begun on rebuilding our strength and readiness,” he said.

The neocons concur. Writing in the Free Beacon, editor Matthew Continetti (who happens to be Bill Kristol’s son-in-law) warns that now is “the wrong time to cut defense.”

But I agree with the young neoconservative Continetti. I would never support cutting a penny of defense. However, the Pentagon’s lost trillions have nothing to do with defense. That is money propping up the high lifestyles of those connected to the military-industrial complex.

Continetti and the neocons love to throw out bogeymen like China and Russia as excuses for more military spending, but in fact, they are hardly objective observers. Look at how much the military contractors spend funding the neocon publications and neocon think tanks telling us that we need more military spending! All this money is stolen from the productive economy and diverted to enrich neocon cheerleaders at our expense.

Of course, the real problem with the Pentagon and military spending, in general, is not waste, fraud, and abuse. It is not ten thousand dollar toilet seats or coffee mugs. The problem with military spending is the philosophy that drives it. If the US strategy is to maintain a global military empire, there will never be enough spending. Because there is never enough to control every corner of the globe. But if we are to return to a well-defended republic, military spending could easily be reduced by 75 percent while keeping us completely safe. The choice is ours!

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

President Trump’s Iran Policy – Is It ‘Normal’?

It’s not often that US Government officials are honest when they talk about our foreign policy. The unprovoked 2003 attack on Iraq was called a “liberation.” The 2011 US-led destruction of Libya was a “humanitarian intervention.” And so on.

So, in a way, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was refreshingly honest last week when, speaking about newly-imposed US sanctions, he told the BBC that the Iranian leadership “has to make a decision that they want their people to eat.” It was an honest admission that new US sanctions are designed to starve Iranians unless the Iranian leadership accepts US demands.

His statement also reveals the lengths to which the neocons are willing to go to get their “regime change” in Iran. Just like then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said it was “worth it” that half a million Iraqi children died because of our sanctions on that country, Pompeo is letting us know that a few million dead Iranians is also “worth it” if the government in Tehran can be overthrown.

The US Secretary of State has demanded that Iran “act like a normal country” or the US would continue its pressure until Iran’s economy crumbles. How twisted is US foreign policy that Washington considers it “normal” to impose sanctions specifically designed to make life miserable – or worse – for civilians!

Is it normal to threaten millions of people with starvation if their leaders refuse to bow down to US demands? Is the neoconservative obsession with regime change “normal” behavior? Is training and arming al-Qaeda in Syria to overthrow Assad “normal” behavior? If so, then perhaps Washington’s neocons have a point. As Iran is not imposing sanctions, is not invading its neighbors, is not threatening to starve millions of Americans unless Washington is “regime-changed,” perhaps Iran is not acting “normal.”

So what is normal?

The continued Saudi genocide in Yemen does not bother Washington a bit. In fact, Saudi aggression in Yemen is viewed as just another opportunity to strike out at Iran. By making phony claims that Yemen’s Houthis are “Iran-backed,” the US government justifies literally handing the Saudis the bombs to drop on Yemeni school buses while claiming it is fighting Iranian-backed terrorism! Is that “normal”?

Millions of Yemenis face starvation after three years of Saudi attacks have destroyed the economy and a Saudi blockade prohibits aid from reaching the suffering victims, but Secretary Pompeo recently blamed Yemeni starvation on, you guessed it: Iran!

And in a shocking display of cynicism, the US government is reportedly considering listing Yemen’s Houthis as a “terrorist” organization for the “crime” of fighting back against Saudi (and US) aggression. Labeling the Yemeni resistance a “terrorist” organization would effectively “legalize” the ongoing Saudi destruction of Yemen, as it could be justified as just another battle in the “war on terror.” It would also falsely identify the real culprits in the Yemen tragedy as Iran, which is repeatedly and falsely called the “number one sponsor of terrorism” by Pompeo and the rest of the Trump Administration neocons.

So yes, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told one wicked truth last week. But before he demands that countries like Iran start acting “normal” or face starvation, perhaps he should look in the mirror. Are Pompeo and the neocons “normal”? I don’t think so.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Censorship and Gun Control Will Not Make Us Safe

Sadly, but not unexpectedly, the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is being used to justify new infringements on liberty. Of course, opponents of gun rights are claiming this shooting proves America needs more gun control. Even some who normally oppose gun control say the government needs to do more to keep guns out of the hands of the “mentally ill.” Those making this argument ignore the lack of evidence that background checks, new restrictions on the rights of those alleged to have a mental illness, or any other form of gun control would have prevented the shooter from obtaining a firearm.

Others are using the shooter’s history of posting anti-Semitic comments on social media to call for increased efforts by both government and social media websites to suppress “hate speech.” The shooter posted anti-Semitic statements on the social media site Gab. Gab, unlike Twitter and Facebook, does not block or ban users for offensive comments. After the shooting, Gab was suspended by its internet service provider, and PayPal has closed the site’s account. This is an effort to make social media websites responsible for the content and even the actions of their users, turning the sites’ operators into thought police.

Some social media sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter, are eager to silence not just bigots but those using their platforms to advocate for liberty. Facebook has recently banned a number of libertarian pages— including Cop Block, a site opposing police misconduct. Twitter has also banned a number of conservatives and libertarians, as well as critics of American foreign policy. Some libertarians say we should not get upset as these are private companies exercising private property rights. However, these companies are working with government and government-funded entities such as the Atlantic Council, a group funded by NATO and the military-industrial complex, to determine who should and should not be banned.

The effort to silence “hate speech” is not just about outlawing racist, sexist, or anti-Semitic speech. The real goal is to discredit, and even criminalize, criticism of the welfare-warfare state by redefining such criticism as “hate.” It is not just progressives who wish to use laws outlawing “hate speech” to silence political opponents. Some neoconservatives want to criminalize criticism of Israel for the nonsensical reason that any criticism of Israel is “anti-Semitic.” Other right-wing authoritarians wish to expand hate crime laws to include crimes committed against police officers.

Ironically neoconservatives and other right-wing authoritarians are among the biggest purveyors of real “hate speech.” What could possibly be more hateful than speech advocating perpetual war? Cultural Marxists are also guilty of hate speech with their calls for both government and private violence against political opponents, and for the use of government force to redistribute property. Just about the only individuals advocating a political philosophy not based on hate are those libertarians who consistently advance the non-aggression principle.

Preserving the right to free speech is vital to preserving liberty. All who value freedom should fight efforts to outlaw “hate speech.” “Hate speech” laws may initially be used to target bigoted and other truly hateful speech, but eventually they will be used to silence all critics of the welfare-warfare state and the authoritarian philosophies that justify omnipotent government. To paraphrase Ludwig von Mises, libertarians must fight hate speech—including the hate speech emanating from Washington, D.C.— with the “ideas of the mind.”

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Trump Is Right, the Fed Is Crazy

President Trump recently called the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes crazy. Leaving aside President Trump’s specific complaint, which is likely motivated by the belief that low rates will help him win reelection, he is right that “crazy” is a good way to describe the Federal Reserve.

When not forced to use a government-created currency, individuals have historically chosen to use a precious metal such as gold or silver as money. The reasons include that precious metals are durable and their value tends to remain relatively stable over time. A stable currency ensures that prices accurately convey the true value of goods and services.

A main value of a precious metal is it accurately conveys the true price of money, which is the Interest rate. If the interest rate reflects the manipulation of central bankers and not true market conditions, individuals will be unable to properly allocate resources between savings and current consumption.

In contrast to market money, government-created fiat currency is anything but stable. Central banks constantly increase and decrease the money supply in an attempt to control the economy by controlling the interest rates. This causes individuals to misread market conditions, leading to a misallocation of resources. This can create an illusion of prosperity. But eventually, reality catches up to the Federal Reserve-created fantasies. When that happens, there is a recession or worse, leading the Fed to start the whole boom-and-bust cycle over again.

When central banks create money, those who first get the new money enjoy an increase in purchasing power before the new money causes a real increase in prices. Those who receive the money first are members of the banking and financial elite. By the time the new money reaches the middle class and working class, inflation has set in, so any gain in purchasing power is more than offset by the increase in inflation. Thus, central banking causes income inequality.

Since the Federal Reserve’s creation in 1913, the dollar has lost most of its value. The steady erosion of the dollar’s value punishes savers and rewards those who seek instant gratification even if it requires piling up massive debts. So the Federal Reserve is at least partially to blame for the rise of a culture that devalues thrift.

The very act of creating money and manipulating interest rates distorts the market. Therefore, the Federal Reserve System cannot be fixed with a “rules-based” monetary policy or even with “tying” the Fed-created money supply to the price of gold. It is amazing how many economists who oppose price controls on all other goods support allowing a secretive central bank to control the price of money.

Trusting the Federal Reserve to produce permanent prosperity instead of a boom-and-bust cycle is a textbook example of a popular definition of insanity being repeating the same action in hope of getting different results. The Federal Reserve System is as unworkable and doomed to failure as every other form of central planning.

It is likely that the next Fed-created recession will come sooner rather than later. This could be the major catastrophe that leads to the end of fiat currency. The only way to avoid crisis is to force Congress to end our monetary madness. The first steps are passing the Audit the Fed bill, allowing people to use alternative currencies, and exempting all transactions in precious metals and cryptocurrencies from capital gains taxes and other taxes.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

The Saudis Keep Changing Their Story on the Murder of Khashoggi. What Should We Do?

The Saudi version of the disappearance and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi seems to change every day or so. The latest is the Saudi government claim that the opposition journalist was killed in a “botched interrogation” at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Or was it a fist-fight? What is laughable is that the Saudi king has placed Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a prime suspect, in charge of the investigation of Khashoggi’s murder!

Though the official story keeps changing, what is unlikely to change is Washington’s continued relationship with Saudi Arabia. It is a partnership that is in no way beneficial to Americans or the US national interest.

President Trump has promised “severe punishment” if the Saudi government is found to have been involved in Khashoggi’s murder, but he also took off the table any reduction in arms sales to prop up the murderous Saudi war on Yemen. It’s all about jobs, said President Trump. So the Saudi killing of thousands in Yemen can go on. Some murders are more important than others, obviously.

The killing of Khashoggi puts the Trump Administration is in a difficult situation. President Trump views Iran as designated enemy number one. Next month the US Administration intends to impose a new round of sanctions designed to make it impossible for Iran to sell its oil on the international market. To keep US fuel prices from spiking over this move Trump is relying on other countries, especially Saudi Arabia, to pump more and make up the difference. But the Saudis have threatened $400 a barrel oil if President Trump follows through with his promise of “severe punishment” over the killing of Khashoggi.

The Saudis have also threatened to look for friendship in Moscow or even Tehran if Washington insists on “punishing” the regime in Riyadh. For a super-power, the US doesn’t seem to have many options.

What whole mess reveals is just how wise our Founding Fathers were to warn us against entangling alliances. For too many decades the US has been in an unhealthy relationship with the Saudi kingdom, providing the Saudis with a US security guarantee in exchange for “cheap” oil and the laundering of oil profits through the US military-industrial complex by the purchase of billions of dollars in weapons.

This entangling relationship with Saudi Arabia should end. It is unfortunate that the tens of thousands of civilians dead from Yemen to Syria due to Saudi aggression don’t matter as much as the murder of one establishment journalist like Khashoggi, but as one Clinton flack once said, we should not let this current crisis go to waste.

This is not about demanding that the Saudis change their ways, reform their society on the lines of a liberal democracy, or allow more women to drive. The problem with our relationship with Saudi Arabia is not about Saudi Arabia. It is about us. The United States should not be in the business of selling security guarantees overseas to the highest bidder. We are constantly told that the US military guarantees our own safety and so it should be.

No, this is about returning to a foreign policy that seeks friendship and trade with all nations who seek the same, but that heeds the warning of George Washington in his Farewell Address that “a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.” If we care about the United States we must heed this warning. No more passionate attachments overseas. Friendship and trade over all.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Ten Years After the Last Meltdown: Is Another One Around the Corner?

September marked a decade since the bursting of the housing bubble, which was followed by the stock market meltdown and the government bailout of the big banks and Wall Street. Last week’s frantic stock market sell-off indicates the failure to learn the lesson of 2008 makes another meltdown inevitable.

In 2001-2002 the Federal Reserve responded to the economic downturn caused by the bursting of the technology bubble by pumping money into the economy. This new money ended up in the housing market. This was because the so-called conservative Bush administration, like the “liberal” Clinton administration before it, was using the Community Reinvestment Act and government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make mortgages available to anyone who wanted one — regardless of income or credit history.

Banks and other lenders eagerly embraced this “ownership society”’ agenda with a “lend first, ask questions when foreclosing” policy. The result was the growth of subprime mortgages, the rush to invest in housing, and millions of Americans finding themselves in homes they could not afford.

When the housing bubble burst, the government should have let the downturn run its course in order to correct the malinvestments made during the phony, Fed-created boom. This may have caused some short-term pain, but it would have ensured the recovery would be based on a solid foundation rather than a bubble of fiat currency.

Of course, Congress did exactly the opposite, bailing out Wall Street and the big banks. The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to historic lows and embarked on a desperate attempt to inflate the economy via QE 1, 2, and 3.

Low-interest rates and quantitative easing have left the Fed with a dilemma. In order to avoid a return to 1970s-era inflation — or worse, it must raise interest rates and draw down its balance sheet. However, raising rates too much risks popping what financial writer Graham Summers calls the “everything bubble.”

Today credit card debt is over a trillion dollars, student loan debt is at 1.5 trillion dollars, there is a bubble in auto loans, and there is even a new housing bubble. But the biggest part of the everything bubble is the government bubble. Federal debt is over 21 trillion dollars and expanding by tens of thousands of dollars per second.

The Fed is unlikely to significantly raise interest rates because doing so would cause large increases in federal government debt interest payments. Instead, the Fed will continue making small Increases while moving slowly to unwind its balance sheet, hoping to gradually return to a “normal” monetary policy without bursting the “everything bubble.”

The Fed will be unsuccessful in keeping the everything bubble from exploding. When the bubble bursts, America will experience an economic crisis much greater than the 2008 meltdown or the Great Depression.

This crisis is rooted in the failure to learn the lessons of 2008 and of every other recession since the Fed’s creation: A secretive central bank should not be allowed to manipulate interest rates and distort economic signals regarding market conditions. Such action leads to malinvestment and an explosion of individual, business, and government debt. This may cause a temporary boom, but the boom soon will be followed by a bust. The only way this cycle can be broken without a major crisis is for Congress both to restore people’s right to use the currency of their choice and to audit and then end the Fed.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

NAFTA 2018: Free Trade or Central Planning?

Last week the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Sadly, instead of replacing NAFTA’s managed trade with true free trade, the new USMCA expands government’s control over trade.

For example, under the USMCA’s “rules of origin,” at least 75 percent of a car’s parts must be from the US, Canada, or Mexico in order to avoid tariffs. This is protectionism designed to raise prices of cars using materials from outside North America.

The USMCA also requires that 40 to 45 percent of an automobile’s content be made by workers earning at least 16 dollars per hour. Like all government-set wages, this requirement will increase prices and decrease employment.

The USMCA also requires Mexico to pass legislation recognizing the “right of collective bargaining.” In other words, this so-called free trade agreement forces Mexico to import US-style compulsory unionism. If the Mexican legislature does not comply, the US and Canada will impose tariffs on Mexican goods.

The USMCA also requires the three countries to abide by the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards for worker rights. So, if, for example, the bureaucrats at the ILO declared that Right to Work laws violate “international labor standards”’ because they weaken collective bargaining and give Right to Work states an unfair advantage over compulsory unionism states and countries, the federal government may have to nullify all state Right to Work laws.

The USMCA also obligates the three countries to work together to improve air quality. This sounds harmless but could be used as a backdoor way to impose costly new regulations and taxes, such as a cap-and-trade scheme, on America.

This agreement also forbids the use of currency devaluation as a means of attempting to gain a competitive advantage in international trade. Enforcement of this provision will be difficult if not impossible, as no central bank will ever admit it is devaluing currency to obtain a competitive advantage in international trade. Of course, given that the very act of creating money lowers its value, the only way to stop central banks from devaluing currency is to put them out of business. Sadly, I don’t think the drafters of the USMCA seek to restore free-market money.

The currency provision will likely be used to justify coordination of monetary policy between the Federal Reserve and the Mexican and Canadian central banks. This will lead to region-wide inflation and a global currency war as the US pressures Mexico and Canada to help the Fed counter other countries’ alleged currency manipulation and challenges to the dollar’s reserve currency status.

A true free trade deal would simply reduce or eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers. It would not dictate wages and labor standards, or require inter-governmental cooperation on environmental standards and monetary policy. A true free trade deal also would not, as the USMCA does, list acceptable names for types of cheeses.

Those of us who support real free trade must not let supporters of the USMCA get away with claiming the USMCA has anything to do with free trade. We must also fight the forces of protectionism that are threatening to start a destructive trade war. Also, we must work to stop the government from trying to control our economic activities through regulations, taxes, and (most importantly) control of the currency through central banking and legal tender laws.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Venezuela’s Socialism…And Ours

This week we witnessed the horrible spectacle of Nikki Haley, President Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations, joining a protest outside the UN building and calling for the people of Venezuela to overthrow their government.

“We are going to fight for Venezuela,” she shouted through a megaphone, “we are going to continue doing it until Maduro is gone.”

This is the neocon mindset: that somehow the US has the authority to tell the rest of the world how to live and who may hold political power regardless of elections.

After more than a year of Washington being crippled by evidence-free claims that the Russians have influenced our elections, we have a senior US Administration official openly calling for the overturning of elections overseas.

Imagine if President Putin’s national security advisor had grabbed a megaphone in New York and called for the people of the United States to overthrow their government by force!

At the UN, Venezuela’s President Maduro accused the Western media of hyping up the crisis in his country to push the cause for another “humanitarian intervention.” Some may laugh at such a claim, but recent history shows that interventionists lie to push regime change, and the media goes right along with the lies.

Remember the lies about Gaddafi giving Viagra to his troops to help them rape their way through Libya? Remember the “babies thrown from incubators” and “mobile chemical labs” in Iraq? Judging from past practice, there is probably some truth in Maduro’s claims.

We know socialism does not work. It is an economic system based on the use of force rather than economic freedom of choice. But while many Americans seem to be in a panic over the failures of socialism in Venezuela, they don’t seem all that concerned that right here at home President Trump just signed a massive $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill that delivers socialism on a scale that Venezuelans couldn’t even imagine. In fact this one spending bill is three times Venezuela’s entire gross domestic product!

Did I miss all the Americans protesting this warfare-welfare state socialism?

Why all the neocon and humanitarian-interventionist “concern” for the people of Venezuela? One clue might be the fact that Venezuela happens to be sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves. More even than Saudi Arabia. There are plenty of countries pursuing dumb economic policies that result in plenty of suffering, but Nikki and the neocons are nowhere to be found when it comes to “concern” for these people. Might it be a bit about this oil?

Don’t believe this feigned interest in helping the Venezuelan people. If Washington really cared about Venezuelans they would not be plotting regime change for the country, considering that each such “liberation” elsewhere has ended with the people being worse off than before!

No, if Washington – and the rest of us – really cared about Venezuelans we would demand an end to the terrible US economic sanctions on the country – which only make a bad situation worse – and would push for far more engagement and trade. And maybe we’d even lead by example, by opposing the real, existing socialism here at home before seeking socialist monsters to slay abroad.
Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

New Tax Plan Makes It Easier to ‘Ed-Exit’

This week the House of Representatives will vote on a package of bills making the temporary tax cuts contained in last year’s tax reform bill permanent and making additional tax law changes. The bills will likely pass in the House, but will almost certainly be filibustered in the Senate if the Senate leadership tries to bring them to the floor.

The GOP tax plan does offset some of the damage caused by federal control of education by making it easier for parents to escape failing government schools or “ed-exit.” It accomplishes this by allowing money saved in a tax-free 529 education savings account to be used for homeschooling expenses.

This provision will help homeschooling families and inspire more families to consider homeschooling. Homeschooling parents must not only pay for all their children’s education expenses, they also must subsidize government schools via property taxes and other taxes. A commitment to homeschooling may also require a parent to limit or even forgo outside employment.

Despite the financial costs, more families are choosing to homeschool. This is due to increasing dissatisfaction with government schools, greater public acceptance of homeschooling, and the availability of quality online homeschooling curricula, such as my Ron Paul Curriculum.

My curriculum provides students with a well-rounded education including rigorous programs in history, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences. The curriculum also provides instruction in personal finance. Students can develop superior oral and verbal communication skills via intensive writing and public speaking courses. Students also get the opportunity to create and run their own internet businesses.

The government and history sections emphasize Austrian economics, libertarian political theory, and the history of liberty. However, unlike government schools, my curriculum never puts ideological indoctrination ahead of education.

Unlike government schools, and even many private schools, my curriculum addresses the crucial role religion played in the development of Western civilization. However, the materials are drafted in such a way that parents of any or no religious belief can feel comfortable using the curriculum.

Interactive forums allow students to engage with and learn from each other. The forums ensure students are actively engaged in their education as well as give them an opportunity to interact with their peers outside of a formal setting.

The latest Republican tax plan has laudable features, such as allowing the use of tax-free education savings accounts for homeschooling. However, as long as Congress refuses to offset tax cuts with spending cuts, the benefits of tax cuts will be limited and short-lived. Therefore, while all lovers of liberty should support any and all tax cuts, we must work to pressure Congress to cut spending. Bringing the troops home and shutting down the Department of Education are two good places to start.

Parents interested in my homeschooling curriculum can find out more about it at ronpaulcurriculum.com.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Republicans’ Responsibility for Socialism’s Comeback

According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos survey, 70 percent of Americans, including about 50 percent of Republicans, support Medicare for all, the latest incarnation of single-payer health care. Republican support for a health plan labeled “Medicare for all” is not surprising considering that Republican politicians support Medicare and that one of their attacks on Obamacare was that it would harm the program. Furthermore, the biggest expansion of Medicare since its creation — the Part D prescription drug program — occurred under a conservative president working with a conservative Congress.

Conservative Republicans do propose reforming Medicare to reduce its costs, but their proposals are always framed as “saving Medicare,” and most reform plans increase spending. Few conservative Republicans would dare advocate allowing young people to opt out of paying Medicare taxes in exchange for agreeing to forgo Medicare benefits.

Many conservative Republicans favor other government interventions into health care, including many features of Obamacare. In fact, Obamacare’s individual mandate originated as a conservative proposal and was once championed by many leading Republicans. Many other Republicans simply lack the courage to repeal Obamacare, so they say they only want to repeal the “unpopular” parts of the law. It would not be surprising if we soon heard conservatives and Republican politicians talk about defending Obamacare from supporters of socialized medicine.

The same dynamic at work in health care is at work in other areas. For example, the same conservative administration and Congress that created Medicare Part D also dramatically expanded federal control of education with “No Child Left Behind.” Conservative Republicans who (rightly) fight against deficit spending when a Democrat sits in the White House decide that “deficits don’t matter” when the president has an “R” next to his name.

Many Republican politicians — and even conservative intellectuals — will say they are being pragmatic by not fighting progressives on first principles, but instead limiting the damage done by the welfare state. The problem with this line is that, by accepting the premise that government can and should solve all of life’s problems, conservatives and Republicans will inevitably get into a “bidding war” with progressives and Democrats. The only way Republicans can then win is to join Democrats in continually increasing spending and creating new programs. This is why the so-called “conservative welfare state” ends up as bloated and expansive as the progressive welfare state. Refusing to question the premises of the welfarists and socialists is not a pragmatic way to advance liberty.

While progressives blame social crises on the free market, Republicans and conservatives are unwilling to admit the problems were caused by prior government interventions. Thus the passage of Dodd-Frank was aided by claims that the housing bubble was created by deregulation, while Obamacare’s passage benefited from widespread misconception that America had a free-market health care system prior to 2010.

Until a popular intellectual movement arises that is able and willing to challenge the premises of Keynesianism, welfarism, and democratic socialism, while putting forth a positive vision of a free society, government will continue to expand. Fortunately, such a movement exists and is growing as more Americans — particularly young Americans— are studying the ideas of Liberty and working to spread those ideas. If the new liberty movement grows and stays true to its principles, it will be able to defeat the socialists of all parties, including those who call themselves conservative.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Why Is The US Siding With Al-Qaeda?

Last week, I urged the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to stop protecting al-Qaeda in Syria by demanding that the Syrian government leave Idlib under al-Qaeda control. While it may seem hard to believe that the US government is helping al-Qaeda in Syria, it’s not as strange as it may seem: our interventionist foreign policy increasingly requires Washington to partner up with “bad guys” in pursuit of its dangerous and aggressive foreign policy goals.

Does the Trump Administration actually support al-Qaeda and ISIS? Of course not. But the “experts” who run Trump’s foreign policy have determined that a de facto alliance with these two extremist groups is for the time being necessary to facilitate the more long-term goals in the Middle East. And what are those goals? Regime change for Iran.

Let’s have a look at the areas where the US is turning a blind eye to al-Qaeda and ISIS.

First, Idlib. As I mentioned last week, President Trump’s own Special Envoy to fight ISIS said just last year that “Idlib Province is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” So why do so many US officials – including President Trump himself – keep warning the Syrian government not to re-take its own territory from al-Qaeda control? Wouldn’t they be doing us a favor by ridding the area of al-Qaeda? Well, if Idlib is re-taken by Assad, it all but ends the neocon (and Saudi and Israeli) dream of “regime change” for Syria and a black eye to Syria’s ally, Iran.

Second, one of the last groups of ISIS fighters in Syria are around the Al-Tanf US military base which has operated illegally in northeastern Syria for the past two years. Last week, according to press reports, the Russians warned the US military in the region that it was about to launch an assault on ISIS fighters around the US base. The US responded by sending in 100 more US Marines and conducting a live-fire exercise as a warning. President Trump recently reversed himself (again) and announced that the US would remain at Al-Tanf “indefinitely.” Why? It is considered a strategic point from which to attack Iran. The US means to stay there even if it means turning a blind eye to ISIS in the neighborhood.

Finally, in Yemen, the US/Saudi coalition fighting the Houthis has been found by AP and other mainstream media outlets to be directly benefiting al-Qaeda. Why help al-Qaeda in Yemen? Because the real US goal is regime change in Iran, and Yemen is considered one of the fronts in the battle against Iranian influence in the Middle East. So we are aiding al-Qaeda, which did attack us, because we want to “regime change” Iran, which hasn’t attacked us. How does that make sense?

We all remember the old saying, attributed to Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, that “if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.” The “experts” would like us to think they are pursuing a brilliant foreign policy that will provide a great victory for America at the end of the day. But as usual, the “experts” have got it wrong. It’s really not that complicated: when “winning” means you’re allied with al-Qaeda and ISIS, you’re doing something wrong. Let’s start doing foreign policy right: let’s leave the rest of the world alone!

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Can’t We Just Leave Syria Alone?

Assad was supposed to be gone already. President Obama thought it would be just another “regime change” operation and perhaps Assad would end up like Saddam Hussein or Yanukovych. Or maybe even Gaddafi. But he was supposed to be gone. The US spent billions to get rid of him and even provided weapons and training to the kinds of radicals that attacked the United States on 9/11.

But with the help of his allies, Assad has nearly defeated this foreign-sponsored insurgency.

The US fought him every step of the way. Each time the Syrian military approached another occupied city or province, Washington and its obedient allies issued the usual warnings that Assad was not liberating territory but was actually seeking to kill more of his own people.

Remember Aleppo, where the US claimed Assad was planning mass slaughter once he regained control? As usual, the neocons and the media were completely wrong. Even the UN has admitted that with Aleppo back in the hands of the Syrian government, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have actually moved back. We are supposed to believe they willingly returned so that Assad could kill them?

The truth is Aleppo is being rebuilt. Christians celebrated Easter there this spring for the first time in years. There has been no slaughter once al-Qaeda and ISIS’ hold was broken. Believe me, if there was a slaughter we would have heard about it in the media!

So now, with the Syrian military and its allies prepare to liberate the final Syrian province of Idlib, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again warns the Syrian government against re-taking its own territory. He Tweeted on Friday that: “The three million Syrians, who have already been forced out of their homes and are now in Idlib, will suffer from this aggression. Not good. The world is watching.”

President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has also warned the Syrian government that the US will attack if it uses gas in Idlib. Of course, that warning serves as an open invitation to rebels currently holding Idlib to set off another false flag and enjoy US air support.

Bolton and Pompeo are painting Idlib as a peaceful province resisting the violence of an Assad who they claim just enjoys killing his own people. But who controls Idlib province? President Trump’s own Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, said in Washington just last year that, “Idlib province is the largest al-Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11, tied to directly to Ayman al Zawahiri, this is a huge problem.”

Could someone please remind Pompeo and Bolton that al-Qaeda are the bad guys?

After six years of a foreign-backed regime-change operation in Syria, where hundreds of thousands have been killed and the country nearly fell into the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda, the Syrian government is on the verge of victory. Assad is hardly a saint, but does anyone really think al-Qaeda and ISIS are preferable? After all, how many Syrians fled the country when Assad was in charge versus when the US-backed “rebels” started taking over?

Americans should be outraged that Pompeo and Bolton are defending al-Qaeda in Idlib. It’s time for the neocons to admit they lost. It is time to give Syria back to the Syrians. It is time to pull the US troops from Syria. It is time to just leave Syria alone!

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Turkey Now, America Later?

President Trump recently imposed sanctions on Turkey to protest the Turkish government’s detention of an American pastor. Turkey has responded by increasing tariffs on US exports. The trade war is being blamed for the collapse of Turkey’s currency, the lira. While the sanctions may have played a role, Turkey’s currency crisis is rooted in the Turkish government’s fiscal and (especially) monetary policies.

In the past seven years, Turkey’s central bank has tripled the money supply and pushed interest rates down to 4.5 percent. While Turkey’s government did not adopt Ben Bernanke’s proposal to drop money from helicopters, Turkish politicians have taken advantage of easy money policies to increase subsidies for key voting blocs and special interests.

The results of the Turkish government’s inflation-fueled spending binge are not surprising to anyone familiar with Austrian economics or economic history. Turkey is now plagued with huge deficits, a collapsing currency, and a looming economic crisis, making it the next candidate for a European Union or Federal Reserve bailout.

Turkey’s combination of low-interest rates, money creation, and massive government spending to “stimulate” the economy parallels the policies the US government has pursued for the past ten years. Without drastic changes in fiscal and monetary policies, economic trouble in America is around the corner.

The very large and growing federal debt will cause a major crisis as the government’s debt burden will be unsustainable. Instead of cutting spending or raising taxes, politicians can be expected to pressure the Federal Reserve to do their dirty work for them via inflation. We may even see the Fed “experiment” with negative interest rates, which would punish Americans for saving. The monetization of the federal debt will erode the dollar’s purchasing power and decimate middle-and-working-class Americans who are already seeing any gains in their incomes eaten away by inflation.

If we are lucky, the next Fed-caused downturn will cause only a resurgence of 1970s-style stagflation. The more likely scenario is the type of widespread economic chaos not seen in America since the Great Depression. The growth of cultural Marxism, the widespread entitlement mentality, and the willingness of partisans of various sides to use force against their political opponents suggests that this economic crisis will result in civil unrest that will be used to justify new crackdowns on individual liberty.

Those who understand the causes of, and cures for, our current predicament have two responsibilities. First, prepare a plan to protect your family when the crisis occurs. Second, do all you can to spread the truth in hopes the liberty movement reaches critical mass so it can force Congress to make the changes necessary to avert disaster.

Since the crisis will result in a rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status, individuals should consider alternatives such as gold and other precious metals. Restoring a free-market monetary system should be a priority for the liberty movement. Other priorities include ending our interventionist foreign policy, cutting spending in all areas, rolling back the surveillance state, protecting all civil liberties, and auditing (and ending) the Federal Reserve. If we do our jobs, we can build a society of peace, prosperity, and liberty atop the ashes of the welfare-warfare state.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Protectionism Abroad and Socialism at Home

One of the most insidious ways politicians expand government is by creating new programs to “solve” problems created by politicians. For example, government interference in health care increased health care costs, making it difficult or even impossible for many to obtain affordable, quality care. The effects of these prior interventions were used to justify Obamacare.

Now, the failures of Obamacare are being used to justify further government intervention in health care. This does not just include the renewed push for socialized medicine. It also includes supporting new laws mandating price transparency. The lack of transparency in health care pricing is a direct result of government policies encouraging overreliance on third-party payers.

This phenomenon is also observed in foreign policy. American military interventions result in blowback that is used to justify more military intervention. The result is an ever-expanding warfare state and curtailments on our liberty in the name of security.

Another example of this is related to the reaction to President Trump’s tariffs. Many of America’s leading trading partners have imposed “retaliatory” tariffs on US goods. Many of these tariffs target agriculture exports. These tariffs could be devastating for American farmers, since exports compose as much as 20 percent of the average farmer’s income.

President Trump has responded to the hardships imposed on farmers by these retaliatory tariffs with a 12 billion dollars farm bailout program. The program has three elements: direct payments to farmers, use of federal funds to buy surplus crops and distribute them to food banks and nutrition programs, and a new federal effort to promote American agriculture overseas.

This program will not fix the problems caused by Tramp’s tariffs. For one thing, the payments are unlikely to equal the money farmers will lose from this trade war. Also, government marketing programs benefit large agribusiness but do nothing to help small farmers. In fact, by giving another advantage to large agribusiness, the program may make it more difficult for small farmers to compete in the global marketplace.

Distributing surplus food to programs serving the needy may seem like a worthwhile use of government funds. However, the federal government has neither constitutional nor moral authority to use money taken by force from taxpayers for charitable purposes. Government-funded welfare programs also crowd out much more effective and compassionate private efforts. Of course, if government regulations such as the minimum wage and occupational licensing did not destroy job opportunities, government farm programs did not increase food prices, and the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies did not continuously erode purchasing power, the demand for food aid would be much less. By increasing spending and debt, the agriculture bailout will do much more to create poverty than to help the needy.

Agriculture is hardly the only industry suffering from the new trade war. Industries — such as automobile manufacturing — that depend on imports for affordable materials are suffering along with American exporters. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (who supports tariffs) has called for bailouts of industries negatively impacted by tariffs. He is likely to be joined in his advocacy by crony capitalists seeking another government handout.

More bailouts will only add to the trade war’s economic damage by increasing government spending and hastening the welfare-warfare state’s collapse and the rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status. Instead of trying to fix tariffs-caused damage through more corporate welfare, President Trump and Congress should pursue a policy of free markets and free trade for all and bailouts for none.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul

Trump vs. His Own Administration?

Are President Trump’s senior cabinet members working against him? It’s hard not to conclude that many of the more hawkish neocons that Trump has (mistakenly, in my view) appointed to top jobs are actively working to undermine the president’s stated agenda. Especially when it seems Trump is trying to seek dialogue with countries the neocons see as adversaries needing to be regime-changed.

Remember, just as President Trump was organizing a historic summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un, his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, nearly blew the whole thing up by making repeated references to the “Libya model” and how it should be applied to North Korea. As if Kim would jump at the chance to be bombed, overthrown, and murdered at the hands of a US-backed mob!

It seems that Trump’s appointees are again working at cross-purposes to him. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he was invoking a 1991 US law against the use of chemical weapons to announce yet another round of sanctions on Russia over what he claims is Putin’s involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.

The alleged poisoning took place in March and only now did the State Department make its determination that Russia was behind it and thus subject to the 1991 sanction law. Was there new information that came to light that pointed to Russian involvement? According to a State Department briefing there was none. The State Department just decided to take the British government’s word for it.

Where do we get authority to prosecute Russia for an alleged crime committed in the UK, by the way?

President Trump’s own Administration is forcing him to accept the State Department determination and agree to sanctions that may well include, according to the 1991 law, a complete break of diplomatic relations with Russia. This would be a de facto declaration of war. Over unproven allegations.

Trump has authority to reject the imposition of new sanctions, but with his Democrat opponents continuing to charge that he is in league with the Russian president, how could he waive sanctions just before the November US Congressional elections? That would be a windfall for the Democrats seeking to take control of the House and Senate.

The only way Russia could avoid the second, most extreme round of these sanctions in November is to promise not to use chemical weapons again and open its doors to international inspections. What government would accept such a demand when no proof has been presented that they used chemical weapons in the first place?

Certainly, it is possible that President Trump is fully aware of the maneuverings of Bolton and Pompeo and that he approves. Perhaps he likes to play “good cop, bad cop” with the rest of the world, at the same time making peace overtures while imposing sanctions and threatening war. But it certainly looks like some of his cabinet members are getting the best of him.

If President Trump is to be taken at his word, that he welcomes dialogue “without pre-conditions” with leaders of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere, he would be wise to reconsider those in his employ who are undermining him every step of the way. Otherwise, it is hard to believe the president is sincere. Let’s hope he does choose dialogue over conflict and clips the wings of those under him attempting to push him in the other direction.

Article posted with permission from Ron Paul