What America Could Learn from Singapore’s Social Welfare System

To take a look at how and where a minimal standard of welfare design has been implemented successfully, one need only look at the city-state of Singapore.

A common libertarian view when it comes to welfare is that the role of the state should simply be restricted to providing a safety net. Such a basic net would guard society’s most economically vulnerable against falling through the cracks. Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax as a way of encouraging the poor to work their way out of poverty. In one of his most oft-quoted passages (for reasons of ideological axe-grinding, no doubt), F. A. Hayek similarly espoused such a view in The Road to Serfdom:

There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.

It is clear why this policy is consistent with a free-market-oriented philosophy: It understands that the wealth of nations are retarded when incentives to work are eroded by easily accessible state welfare. At the same time, it does not dogmatically apply the pure logic of economic efficiency within a political vacuum. This view forgoes any grand illusions about big modern governments possibly abolishing its bloated welfare state bureaucracy and realizes that real-world social problems like unemployment and homelessness can potentially spur democratic backlashes and lead to worse anti-market outcomes.

To take a look at how and where such a minimal standard of welfare design has been implemented successfully, one need only look at the city-state of Singapore. The Singapore welfare system is considered one of the most successful by first-world standards. World Bank data shows that Singapore’s government health expenditure in 2015 is only 4.3 percent of GDP, a small fraction in comparison to other first-world countries—16.9 percent in the US; 11 percent in France; 9.9 percent in the UK; 10.9 percent in Japan, and 7.1 percent in Korea—while achieving comparatively equal or better health outcomes of low infant mortality and higher life expectancies. While most of Europe, Scandinavia, and North America spend 30-40 percent of GDP on social welfare programs, Singapore spends less than half as much while maintaining similar levels of economic growth and a society relatively free of social problems.

The first thing to know about Singapore’s welfare system is that qualifying for welfare is notoriously difficult by the standards of most of the developed Western world. The Singapore government’s position on welfare handouts is undergirded by a staunch economic philosophy of self-reliance and self-responsibility where the first lines of welfare should be derived from one’s individual savings, the family unit, and local communities before turning to the government. The state, in other words, should not act as a guarantor of means but merely a guardian of final recourse.

One of the most substantial organizational forms of welfare in Singapore are the state-guided self-help community groups that are structured along racial lines. They were formed to help tackle poverty alleviation for the lowest-income citizens by helping them through various schemes of general education to improve their economic opportunities. This welfare program started within the Malay community in 1981 and was deemed so successful by the end of the decade that the government gradually expanded it to form similar self-help organizations for the “under-performing” groups of the ChineseIndian, and Eurasian races, too.

The Singapore government’s involvement in these community groups goes only as far as a general regulatory oversight. Unlike typical welfare states, funds for these welfare organizations are not mechanically funneled from a large taxpayer-funded pool into an ever-increasing bureaucracy. Instead, funding is derived from a mixture of government schemes that draw a token sum of one to two dollars from each citizen’s government savings account (in other words, crowdfunding), as well as encouraging optional charity from the general community.

Most importantly, the discretionary processes involved with allocating welfare to the low-income members are left to the community group leaders. This privatized form of welfare where key decision-making is carried out at a decentralized level has proved to be a far more economically efficient form of welfare.

This philosophy of self-reliance and responsibility is prominent not only in social welfare but is also replicated in the Singapore government’s approach to retirement savings, health care, education, and housing. For instance, the state’s preferred policy of ensuring individuals have sufficient resources for a rainy day is via the Central Provident Fund, a government-mandated savings account where a portion of one’s monthly salary is deducted and deposited into it. These funds can be used only for health expenses/insurance, the purchase of a home, or at the age of retirement, reflecting the government’s encouragement of self-reliance where you should “help yourself before asking others for help.”

By compelling Singaporeans to save, welfare in Singapore has traditionally been internalized first to the individual and the family/grassroots level. This forms the crux of the government’s “Many Helping Hands” social policy where the role of the family and immediate community in welfare provision is emphasized over government-funded programs. Such a form of privatized charity is neither new nor unique, as a wealth of research shows how mutual aid societies predated modern welfare states in the 20th-century United States and the 19th-century United Kingdom.

There is an important lesson to be drawn from the Singaporean case study. The success of the Singapore government’s approach to welfare stems from its decentralized design that revolves around communities at the grassroots level. This approach has worked well because it fundamentally overcomes critical knowledge problems that welfare programs have to deal with.

Remember that poverty alleviation is just that: alleviation. Softening economic hardship temporarily is entirely different from the goal of upliftingthe poor out of poverty. Welfare that is efficient must perform the former without encouraging dependency or destroying the incentive for the poor to work. Even if poverty is a collective problem for “society,” the knowledge required to solve individual cases of poverty is never collectively centralized in a state bureau. On the contrary, such knowledge is widely dispersed and would differ radically across different cultures, religions, communities, occupations, and individuals.

The causes of social poverty can stem from persisting cultural practices, personal habits, or other local institutional problems. Such contextual knowledge and incentives are rarely available to far-removed government welfare bureaus. It is easy to place the duty of welfare provision on an abstract entity we call the “government.” But it is often far more complex for state bureaucrats to allocate taxpayer-funded welfare efficiently, as seen by the trillions of wasted dollars that have failed to help the poor or the gargantuan costs wasted in merely administrative purposes in the US welfare state.

Effective welfare programs that are managed at a private, decentralized level are better equipped with the contextual knowledge required to cope with the existing environment. When decision-making is decentralized, the unique circumstances and life stories of each individual can be better assessed, thereby also offering a more robust safeguard against potentially opportunistic welfare recipients. Singapore’s hybrid private-public model of welfare provision offers useful lessons to those who believe that comprehensive welfare programs can be easily designed to eliminate poverty in a stroke. Such simplistic views stem from undeniably benevolent intentions. But poverty alleviation will be far better tackled through a market-based approach that recognizes the epistemological limits of policymakers, as Singapore’s decentralized approach has shown.

COLUMN BY

Donovan Choy

Donovan Choy is a Students For Liberty Charter Teams Member. You can learn more about the situation in Singapore by contacting him at choydonovan@gmail.com.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission.

Gun Controllers Want Credit Card Companies to Monitor and Restrict Lawful Purchases

Gun controllers frustrated that their federal agenda has been repeatedly rejected by Americans through their elected representatives are seeking to restrict gun rights by way of the private financial system. The goal is to pressure financial services companies into either not doing business with the firearms industry and gun owners or to comprehensively surveille their lawful activity.

On December 24, the gun confiscation supporters at the New York Times ran a thinly-veiled advocacy piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the news section, titled, “Devastating Arsenals, Bought With Plastic and Nary a Red Flag.” The piece outlined how some of the perpetrators of high-profile mass murders had purchased firearms and ammunition in the same manner that many ordinary law-abiding Americans do, with credit cards. 

The online edition of the piece carried the headline “How Banks Unwittingly Finance Mass Shootings,” suggesting that financial services companies were somehow complicit in violence by facilitating the exchange of lawful goods that were ultimately used for criminal purposes. Under such juvenile logic the U.S. Treasury Department should have to answer for all of the unlawful conduct they’ve facilitated by printing dollars and minting coins.

According to the misbranded op-ed, banks and other financial services companies are “uniquely positioned” to monitor gun owner purchasing habits. Under Sorkin’s preferred scenario, credit card companies would require retailers to tag firearms-related purchases with additional data that could be used by the credit card companies to compile information on gun owners. The surveillance data could then be used to flag suspicious purchases for law enforcement.

Moreover, the piece suggests that this data collection could be used to restrict certain types of lawful firearms transactions outright. Sorkin suggested,

Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods this year announced that they would not sell firearms to anyone under 21. If banks chose to use the systems they already have in place, they might decide to monitor such customers, perhaps preventing them from buying multiple guns in a short period of time.

To their credit, when asked for comment by the Times’s advocate, the major financial transaction firms expressed a reluctance to violate the privacy of their law-abiding customers. A Visa spokesperson explained, “We do not believe Visa should be in the position of setting restrictions on the sale of lawful goods or services… Asking Visa or other payment networks to arbitrate what legal goods can be purchased sets a dangerous precedent.” A Mastercard spokesperson added that the transaction company values the privacy of their customers’ “own purchasing decisions.”

Sorkin’s “news article” echoes many of the ideas he advocated in a February 2018 Times commentary. Making clear Sorkin has none of the objectivity on this topic one might have expected from a professional journalist pursuing a news story, the earlier piece overtly advocated for leveraging the private financial system to restrict firearms transactions. Sorkin contended that it would take “leadership and courage” on behalf of the financial services industry in order to implement his private firearms restrictions, which included a plan to eliminate commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms “from virtually every firearms store in America.” Were journalistic ethics as integral to the operation of the legacy press as those institutions purport, Sorkin’s authorship of the more recent item may have drawn interest of a forthright editor, ombudsman, or the Columbia Journalism Review.

The Sorkin article is just part of a wider-ranging effort to attack firearms owners through the financial system. In April 2018, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety expressed their support for increased credit card company surveillance of firearms transactions. Moreover, the anti-gun organization has developed “guidelines” for financial institutions doing business with the firearms industry. Under the guidelines, firearms manufacturers and retailers would be forced to adopt a host of gun control measures in order to do business with financial services providers.

In 2013, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice instituted Operation Chokepoint. Under the program, the DOJ leveraged the power of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to discourage banks from transacting with lawful businesses they deemed to be “associated with high-risk activity,” including members of the firearms industry.

The anti-gun proposals targeting credit card companies should be of grave concern to all gun owners. As the Federal Reserve regularly reports, consumer use of credit and debit cards is growing. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s 2017 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice reported that “[i]n October 2017, the period covered by this DCPC, consumers made most of their payments with cash (30.3 percent of payments), debit cards (26.2 percent), and credit cards (21.0 percent).”

The recent credit card proposals also prompt important questions. Under what a scenario would a gun owner’s purchases be flagged as suspicious or be outright denied? Might the criteria be defined by anti-gun activists to include any volume of firearms-related goods they consider deviant? Gun owners routinely purchase large quantities of firearms products and ammunition for the same reason consumers buy anything in bulk, to save money.

Moreover, gun owners should be aware that any increase in the information that the financial services companies collect may wind up in the federal government’s hands. A June 2013 item in the Wall Street Journal reported that the National Security Agency was scooping large quantities of data from credit card providers. At the time, experts speculated that the NSA would not be able to obtain the exact products an individual purchased, but could see where the purchases were made and the merchant category codes. Changing merchant category code data to be more descriptive is one of the ways control advocates intend to advance their credit card company gun control scheme.

Even those who do not value the right to keep and bear arms but do cherish their other civil liberties should be concerned with the recent credit card transaction proposals. Back in early 2018, when some of these ideas were first floated, Georgetown University Law Professor Adam Levitin pointed out, “There’s a privacy angle here… There’s the slippery slope danger if it’s guns today maybe it is pornography tomorrow and the day after it’s right-wing literature.” 

And with even mainstream television fare such as “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Simpsons” having come under fire by today’s social justice vigilante mob, it’s difficult to imagine any product or service that could be immune from their perpetually outraged sensibilities.

New rules or surveillance procedures imposed by the credit card industry on firearms transactions would have a profound negative effect on gun owners and the firearms industry and pose a broader threat to all liberty-minded Americans. NRA will continue to monitor these efforts and keep our members apprised of any further developments.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by NRA-ILA is republished with permission.

Mass Transit Is a Colossal Government Failure

“Due to moderate gas prices, increasing auto ownership, and the growth of the ride-hailing industry, the nation likely reached ‘peak transit’ in 2014.”

I like subways and spent most of my adult life taking them to work. Unfortunately, most people prefer to drive. It can take an hour and a half to take buses and trains to work for a commute that would take only half an hour by car.

Mass transit is largely a failure and continues to decline despite growing subsidies to many mass transit systems. Light rail systems are white elephants. The money spent on light rail would be better spent on bus lines. The underground corridors used for some subways might better be devoted to self-driving cars.

Randal O’Toole describes just what a failure mass transit is in this country, a failure on every level, in a recent Cato Institute report:

Nationwide transit ridership has declined steadily since 2014, with some of the largest urban areas, including Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles, losing more than 20 percent of their transit riders in the last few years. While this recent decline is stunning, it results from a continuation of a century-long trend of urban areas becoming more dispersed and alternatives to transit becoming more convenient and less expensive.

Those trends include a dispersion of jobs away from downtowns and increasing automobile ownership, both of which began with Henry Ford’s development of the moving assembly line in 1913. As a result, per capita transit ridership peaked in 1920 at 287 trips per urban resident per year, and have since fallen to just 38 trips per urbanite in 2017.

Congress began federal subsidies to transit with passage of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, and since then federal, state, and local governments have spent well over $1 trillion on subsidies aimed at reversing transit’s decline. Yet those subsidies have failed to do more than slow the decline, as the trends that have made transit obsolete and nearly irrelevant to the vast majority of urban Americans have overwhelmed the subsidies….transit carries fewer than 3 percent of commuters to work in half the nation’s 50 largest urban areas, as well as in the vast majority of smaller ones, making transit nearly irrelevant to those regions except for the high taxes needed to support it. Due to moderate gas prices, increasing auto ownership, and the growth of the ride-hailing industry, the nation likely reached “peak transit” in 2014.

The supposed social, environmental, and economic development benefits of transit are negligible to nonexistent. Federal, state, and local governments should withdraw subsidies to transit and allow private operators to take over where the demand still justifies mass transit operations.

His very readable and interesting full report is at this link.

So-called bullet trains generally turn out to be white elephants. South Korea is abolishing its celebrated high-speed rail line from its capital, Seoul, to a nearby major city because it can’t cover even the marginal costs of keeping the trains running. Most people who ride trains don’t need maximum possible speed, and most of those who do will still take the plane to reach distant destinations.

Despite Japan’s much-vaunted bullet trains, most Japanese don’t take the bullet train either; they take buses because the bullet train is too expensive. Bullet trains do interfere with freight lines, so Japanese freight lines carry much less cargo than in the United States, where railroads—rather than trucks—carry most freight, thereby reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

California’s so-called bullet train is vastly behind schedule and over budget, and will likely never come close to covering its operating costs once it is built. As Reason magazine noted, transportation officials have warned that California’s misnamed “bullet train” is a disaster in the making. California is drastically understating the costs of its high-speed rail project. Just the first leg of this $77 billion project will cost billions more than budgeted. And the project is already at least 11 years behind schedule.

This article is reprinted from Liberty Unyielding.

COLUMN BY

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law.

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission.

Universal Basic Income Is a (Costly) Socialist Pipe Dream

It is the height of hypocrisy to ask the United States government, already USD $22 trillion in debt, to fund handing out free money to the entire nation.

Universal basic income has had a phenomenal year in 2018 when it comes to publicity. Silicon Valley billionaires, academics, and leftist politicians are raving about the brilliant new scheme, which we are told will prevent a Social Darwinist dystopian future in which average Joes everywhere stand to lose their low-functioning blue collar jobs to the grave perils of automation.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and one of the three wealthiest individuals in the world, is a big fan. He has emerged as a high-profile public cheerleader for the universal basic income scheme. During last year’s Harvard commencement address, the fanciful concept featured prominently: “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

Zuckerberg seems to miss something on a basic human nature level. It may be fashionable to promote a philosophy of egalitarianism. The reality, however, is that human beings are not equal in terms of ability or anything else. Under our constitutional system, human beings enjoy equal protection of our constitutional rights, but that hardly means we should expect equality of outcomes. And that is something the Silicon Valley pseudo-socialists will never understand.

It would be nice to believe that a universal basic income program would allow human beings to fully realize their potential. Young people with few opportunities would enjoy the economic freedom to become captains of industry, technological pioneers, and inventors, perhaps learning how to code in their free time, developing software programs, and founding the next major social media platform to compete with Facebook.

To say this is a fanciful notion is an understatement. There are human beings who are highly motivated. There are human beings who are incredibly lazy and unproductive. There are human beings with IQs of 130, and there are human beings with IQs of 70. What message will human beings take away from receiving a monthly check, with no strings attached, for USD $1,000…or $2,000, or $5,000? Will this usher in some golden new age of invention, of technological wonder, of allowing the teeming and downtrodden masses to realize their full potential?

Such a program has never been tried on a large scale, so there are no empirical results, except for small-scale test runs. A basic understanding of human nature, coupled with common sense, however, suggests that the UBI is not the golden panacea that a few starry-eyed Silicon Valley billionaires make it out to be.

Why should we reward human beings for doing nothing? Mark Zuckerberg is the rare technological genius who would spend his free time coding and developing his own social media platform. What about typical human beings? With a check in the mail each month for doing nothing, how many are now going to be “liberated” to work in what they really love, and how many are going to be encouraged to do nothing?

Setting aside human nature, for a moment, let’s take a look at the economics of a UBI program.

Surprise, surprise. They are phenomenally expensive to implement. Just doling out USD $1,000 a month to Americans would cost USD $3.8 trillion a year, according to a recent study by Bridgewater Associates. Well, golly, that’s a tab even Zuckerberg can’t pick up.

National and local governments across the world have been cutting funding for UBI programs in droves. They are expensive and wreak havoc on local budgets. Unsurprisingly, taxpayers (one would presume even of a left-wing bent) don’t take too kindly to funding such pilot programs, especially when they are not the beneficiaries of this state largesse.

Programs in both Canada and Finland have been shut down under political and budgetary pressure, which brings us to the point.

Zuckerberg can champion the idea of a UBI all he wants, but unless he and his Silicon Valley brethren are prepared to fund them personally, they will remain pipe dreams.

Even with an incredibly low-brow American public, ever more eager to get something for nothing through the smoke and mirrors of big government socialism, I believe Americans are intelligent enough to see through the farce of the basic income.

I have no problem with Mark Zuckerberg or other wealthy benefactors funding such programs and showing us their data—holding up the great successes for all the world to see. But it is the height of hypocrisy to ask the United States government, already USD $22 trillion in debt, to fund handing out free money to the entire nation.

This article was reprinted from PanAm Post.

COLUMN BY

David Unsworth

David Unsworth is a Boston native. He received degrees in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis and subsequently spent five years working in real estate development in New York City. 

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission.

OPEN BORDERS FACILITATE AMERICA’S RACE TO THE BOTTOM: “Cheap labor” is anything but cheap.

For decades the United States government, on all levels, has betrayed its own citizens, promoting open borders policies that have come to undermine national security, public safety, public health, and jobs and wages for American workers.

The massive influx of alien children who lack English language proficiency also has a profound impact on the education of American kids.  Increasingly schools across the United States are forced to provide costly ESL (English as a Second Language) services draining funds that could and should be used to provide quality education for American children.  Additionally, as autism rates soar and with it the growing need for special services and early intervention for such learning challenged children, money that should be spent on those vital programs that could help so many of those children live better and more productive lives is being used, instead, to fund those ESL programs for illegal aliens and frequently the children of illegal aliens who do not speak English in their homes.

When early intervention is withheld from at-risk students, the results are frequently catastrophic, yet with all of the emotional arguments posed by the immigration anarchists who call for compassion for illegal aliens, their calls for compassion utterly disregard the plight of American children. 

Open borders policies permit huge numbers of foreign workers to enter the United States and displace American workers, not because American’s “won’t do these jobs” as claimed by the duplicitous politicians, but because these foreign workers are willing to accept lower wages and worse conditions than would the American workers whom they displace.

We can all think back to the days when we were growing up and sought our very first jobs to provide us with some spending money, enabling us to put our foot on the bottom rung of the economic ladder.

We often encountered the conundrum of not being able to get a job without a reference.  In order to get a reference we had to have a previous employer vouch for us.  This made getting that very first job all the more difficult and, at the same time, all the more important.

I remember my first job, when I was 14 yeas old, working during my summer vacation in a Kosher delicatessen, a short bike ride from home in Brooklyn where I washed dishes, fried potatoes and served hot dogs at the counter, waited on tables and delivered sandwiches to the women who spent hours at the nearby beauty parlors.

It was exciting and empowering to be earning money instead of asking my parents for an allowance.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that job also provided me with an education in life lessons, teaching me to be responsible, punctual and take instructions from an employer.  That job also taught me the value of money, I was far less likely to squander money when I had to work so hard to earn it.

Finally, that job provided me with that important first reference that helped me get other jobs in the future as I climbed the economic ladder to a successful life.

Many of my friends also worked in nearby restaurants. Brooklyn has no shortage of great places to eat, often small “mom and pop” restaurants and everyone of those establishments routinely hired teenagers and college students who were desperate to earn money.

Today most of those jobs in all too many local restaurants and other businesses are not taken by teenage American kids, but but illegal aliens, thereby shutting out Americans.

Consequently, these American kids are often unable to get that first job that would mean so much to them and provide them with important life lessons including a sense of self-worth and empowerment.

Unable to find legitimate employment, some kids, particularly in the poor neighborhoods, resort to committing crimes to get their hands on some money to take a girl on a date or make purchases.  This often puts these teenagers on a trajectory that does not end well for them or for their communities, or for America.

Illegal alien day laborers often displace construction workers, resulting in massive unemployment for American and lawful immigrant workers, boosting the profits of their employers who hire them “off the books” and pay them extremely low wages.

The open-borders/immigration anarchists are quick to invoke arguments about the need for compassion.  The reality is that there’s no compassion in the exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers nor is there compassion in the destruction of wages and jobs for Americans.

Now with the legalization of marijuana in many cities and states across the United States the issue not being raised in the media is that inasmuch as many companies test their employees for illegal drugs, it is likely that those who are encouraged to smoke marijuana will lose their jobs, perhaps leading to the globalists claiming that not only are lazy Americans not willing to take physically demanding jobs, and too dumb to take hi-tech jobs but are now too stoned to take any jobs.

The displacement of American workers is not limited to the economic bottom rung jobs.  America has been increasingly importing computer programmers and other hi-tech workers from India and other countries to displace Americans.

The Democratic Party used to act in the interests of American workers and, as a part of their efforts to protect the jobs and wages of Americans, opposed the importation of foreign workers.  Today, the Democratic Party no longer represents American workers and, in fact, has come to betray American workers and their families.  Today’s Democratic Party insists on raising the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour to achieve “wage equality.”  This works out to an annual wage of slightly more than $30,000.  The question that is never asked, particularly by the mainstream media is: “with whom would these workers become equal?”

It would be one thing if they insisted on a $15.00 minimum wage to help America’s working poor.  But to tout that wage as a means of achieving “wage equality” should give all Americans cause for pause.

As I noted in an article I once wrote about the veiled attack on the middle class,

The Wage Equality Deception, Alan Greenspan the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, invoked the notion of wage equality way back on April 30, 2009 when he testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship that was, at that time, chaired by Chuck Schumer.

The subject of the hearing was “Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?”  Greenspan’s prepared testimony included this assertion:

But there is little doubt that unauthorized, that is, illegal, immigration has made a significant contribution to the growth of our economy. Between 2000 and 2007, for example, it accounted for more than a sixth of the increase in our total civilian labor force. The illegal part of the civilian labor force diminished last year as the economy slowed, though illegals still comprised an estimated 5% of our total civilian labor force. Unauthorized immigrants serve as a flexible component of our workforce, often a safety valve when demand is pressing and among the first to be discharged when the economy falters.

Some evidence suggests that unskilled illegal immigrants (almost all from Latin America) marginally suppress wage levels of native-born Americans without a high school diploma, and impose significant costs on some state and local governments.

Greenspan must not have gotten the memo- when America’s poorest workers suffer wage suppression they are likely to become homeless and, indeed, across the United States, homelessness has increased dramatically.  This not only creates chaos in the lives of the homeless and their children, but imposes severe economic burdens on cities that have to cope with this disaster.

Greenspan went on to state the United States must accede to Bill Gates’ demand for more H-1B visas as Gates noted in his testimony at a previous hearing, that we are “driving away the world’s best and brightest precisely when we need them most.” 

Where I come from, “the world’s best and brightest” are AMERICANS!  This is what is commonly referred to as “American Exceptionalism.”

Greenspan supported his infuriating call for many more H-1B visas by the following “benefits” for America and, as you will see, the last sentence of his outrageous paragraph addresses the notion of reducing “wage inequality” by lowering wages of middle class, highly educated Americans whom Greenspan had the chutzpah to refer to as “the privileged elite”!

Consider this excerpt from his testimony:

First, skilled workers and their families form new households. They will, of necessity, move into vacant housing units, the current glut of which is depressing prices of American homes. And, of course, house price declines are a major factor in mortgage foreclosures and the plunge in value of the vast quantity of U.S. mortgage-backed securities that has contributed substantially to the disabling of our banking system. The second bonus would address the increasing concentration of income in this country. Greatly expanding our quotas for the highly skilled would lower wage premiums of skilled over lesser skilled. Skill shortages in America exist because we are shielding our skilled labor force from world competition. Quotas have been substituted for the wage pricing mechanism. In the process, we have created a privileged elite whose incomes are being supported at noncompetitively high levels by immigration quotas on skilled professionals. Eliminating such restrictions would reduce at least some of our income inequality.

Generally, the prospect of high-paying jobs incentivized American students to go on to college and acquire costly and time-consuming educations to be qualified to take those exciting and well-paying jobs.  If wages for high-tech professionals are slashed, those jobs will no longer be attractive to Americans.

Greenspan, Schumer and their cohorts are determined to create a $15.00 per hour “standard wage” to be paid to all workers irrespective of education or the nature of their jobs.  This is called Communism! 

Many have said that the Democrats want to import immigrants who will vote for their candidates.

What is often overlooked is that the downward economic spiral caused by the massive influx of cheap alien labor pushes ever more beleaguered Americans to vote for the Democrats who promise to help the hapless, financially strapped Americans for whom, no matter how hard they may strive, the “American Dream” has become an unattainable dream.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images originally appeared in FrontPage Magazine. It is republished with permission.

Why California’s 1% Dip in Homelessness Is No “Success Story”

If my friends on the left see this as an example of success, I’d hate to see their definition of failure.

I often write about the failure of government.

In other words, there’s lots of evidence that government spending makes things worse.

Needless to say, this puts a lot of pressure on folks who favor bigger government. They desperately want to find any type of success story so they can argue that increasing the size and scope of the public sector generates some sort of payoff.

And they got their wish. Check out the ostensibly good news in a story from the San Fransisco Chronicle:

Investing billions of dollars in affordable housing and homeless programs in recent years has apparently put the brakes on what had been a surge in California’s homeless population, causing it to dip by 1 percent this year, a federal report released Monday showed. …The report put California’s homeless population this year at 129,972, a drop of 1,560 in the number of people on the streets in 2017. …“I think San Francisco has shown that when targeted investments are made, we see reductions in homelessness here,” [Jeff Kositsky, head of the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing], said. He pointed out that family, youth and chronic veterans homelessness dropped in the city’s last full count — although the number of chronically homeless people went up.

Maybe I’m not in the Christmas spirit, but I don’t see this as a feel-good story.

Are we really supposed to celebrate the fact that the government spent “billions of dollars,” and the net effect is that the homeless population dropped just 1 percent?

The story doesn’t contain enough details for precise measurements, but even if we assume “billions” is merely $2 billion, then it cost taxpayers close to $1.3 million to get one person off the street. For that amount of money, taxpayers could have bought each of them a mansion!

In other words, the program has been a rotten investment. Heck, it makes Social Security seem like a good deal by comparison.

To be sure, maybe the number isn’t quite so bad because we’re comparing multi-year outlays with a one-year change in the homeless population, though it’s possible the number is even worse because taxpayers actually coughed up far more than $2 billion.

The bottom line is that if my friends on the left see this as an example of success, I’d hate to see their definition of failure.

This article was reprinted with permission from International Liberty.

COLUMN BY

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review. 

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE, with images, is republished with permission. Image credit: Pixabay

The Myth That Standard Oil Was a ‘Predatory Monopoly’

In light of recent calls to enforce antitrust laws against Google, it is worth scrutinizing the argument behind antitrust regulation. As is often the case, these regulatory efforts hurt consumers more than they help.

Consider some history. The Sherman Antitrust Act was passed in 1890 against the backdrop of the nascent Industrial Revolution and the rise of big business in America. The ostensible rationale for antitrust regulation was to protect consumers from the “predatory pricing” of large companies. The theory holds that a company could cut its prices low enough to drive competition out of the marketplace. Then, when it corners a market, it could raise prices and exploit consumers. It’s a plausible-sounding theory. But almost never has it been documented in practice.

Take the case against Standard Oil, which is regarded today as textbook evidence of predatory monopoly power. In 1870, when it was in its early years, Standard Oil owned just 4 percent of the petroleum market. John D. Rockefeller, however, obsessed over improving efficiency and cutting costs. Through economies of scale and vertical integration, he vastly improved oil-refining efficiency. His business grew as a result.

By 1874, his share of the petroleum market jumped to 25 percent, and by 1880 it skyrocketed to about 85 percent. Meanwhile, the price of oil plummeted from 30 cents per gallon in 1869 to eight cents in 1885. Put simply, Rockefeller increased production and lowered prices while creating thousands of well-paid jobs along the way (he usually paid his workers significantly more than his competition did). His business was a model of free-market efficiency.

But neither his competitors nor the US Supreme Court seemed to take note. In 1911, the court declared Standard Oil a monopoly and ordered its breakup. Revealingly, as scholars have noted, the court made no mention of either predatory pricing or withholding production, as monopoly theory maintains. In fact, economist John S. McGee reviewed over 11,000 pages of trial testimony, including the charges brought by Standard Oil’s competitors. Publishing his findings in the Journal of Law and Economics, he concluded that there was “little to no evidence” of wrongdoing, adding that “Standard Oil did not use predatory price cutting to acquire or keep monopoly power.”

Furthermore, and also in contradiction to monopoly theory, Standard Oil’s share of the market had declined from close to 90 percent in the late 1800s to about 65 percent at the time of the court’s ruling. These facts, however, did not faze the judiciary. The court ruled that because Standard Oil had consolidated some 30 divisions under one single management structure it counted as a monopoly. In other words, Standard Oil did precisely the opposite of what monopoly theory maintains—it reduced rather than raised prices, it increased rather than cut production, it lost rather than “controlled” market share, and it paid its employees more rather than less than its competitors—yet the theory that Standard Oil engaged in “predatory practices” and “exploited” consumers has prevailed in our history books.

But the truth is the theory is as lacking as the evidence is scarce. First, it is incredibly risky for a company to artificially hold down its prices in hopes that it drives competitors out of the market. No company knows how long that might take—weeks, months, years? Who can afford that risk? Second, at any point a competitor could enter the market and force a predatory business to continue driving its prices down, thus inflicting even more financial pain. Third, artificially low prices encourage increased consumer demand, meaning a business that sells product below cost must step up its production to meet higher demand, accelerating its financial losses.

For these reasons, private monopolies are virtually non-existent in the historical record. Indeed, University of Hartford economics professor and antitrust expert Dominick Armentano reviewed 55 of the most famous antitrust cases in US history. In his landmark book, Antitrust and Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure, he concluded:

Antitrust policy in America is a misleading myth that has served to draw public attention away from the actual process of monopolization that has been occurring throughout the economy. The general public has been deluded into believing that monopoly is a free-market problem, and that the government, through antitrust enforcement, is on the side of the ‘angels.’ The facts are exactly the opposite. Antitrust…served as a convenient cover for an insidious process of monopolization in the marketplace.

In other words, the very antitrust policies that were designed to prevent monopolies have in fact created them. For example, economist Tom DiLorenzo documents that following the breakup of Standard Oil, the government created the Oil Division of the US Fuel Administration and the Federal Oil Conservation Board, effectively making the oil industry a government-protected monopoly.

While the purported purpose was to assure steady oil production during and after WWI, it, in fact produced the full repertoire of predatory monopoly policies: price fixing (at artificially high rates), the elimination of competition, inefficiency, corruption, and waste. Moreover, this pattern has been a consistent feature of antitrust policy. As Armentano notes, “the entire antitrust system—allegedly created to protect competition and increase consumer welfare—has worked, instead, to lessen business competition and lessen the efficiency and productivity associated with the free-market process.”

Thus, the record is clear: Antitrust has inflicted far more harm than good. Those calling to enforce it against Google ought to study that record. Doing so would encourage them to realize that antitrust policy is the problem and that applying it is far from a helpful solution.

COLUMN BY

David Weinberger

David Weinberger

David Weinberger previously worked at a public policy institution. He is currently a freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter @dweinberger03.Email him at dwdweinberger@gmail.com.

RELATED ARTICLE: Trump helping Europe cut the electric cord with Russia

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission.

How the ‘Zero-sum Struggle’ gave rise to Nationalism [Videos]

There has been much written about the polarization of politics in America and rise of nationalism particularly in Europe.

Much to the amazement of many Donald J. Trump was elected as President of the United States. His campaign slogan was Make America Great Again! At the same time the English people voted to leave the European Union. Both of these historic events inspired Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to state, “The era of liberal democracy is over.”

There is no better proof of the end of liberal democracy than when it’s strongest proponents state,

“[E]conomic or social change or some combination of the two” is “leading inevitably to dissatisfaction with liberal democracy and a readiness to embrace populist, illiberal, or even undemocratic alternatives.”

Sheri Berman’s article “How Liberalism Failed: After decades of relative stability, Western elites forgot how precious and precarious liberal democracy really is” in the Fall 2018 edition of Dissent Magazine provides an insightful analysis of the self-inflicted suicide of liberal democracy. Berman blames the fall of liberal democracy on two narratives:

  1. Economic change.
  2. Social change.

Berman begins by stating,

Today, the West is probably facing its greatest crisis since the end of the Second World War. Liberal democracy has faltered in Eastern Europe, is threatened by populists in Western Europe and the United States, and is being challenged by resurgent authoritarianism in Russia, China, and elsewhere.

Yoram Hazony, author of The Virtue of Nationalism, discuses the rise of nationalism globally in the below video titled “Why You Should Be a Nationalist”:

How has Liberal Democracy failed?

It has failed just as it failed in the former Soviet Union in 1989 and in Venezuela in 2018. Berman quotes The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality by Brink Lindsey and Steven M. Teles:

“When people feel economically insecure, they grow more defensive, less open and generous, and more suspicious of ‘the Other.’ When life seems like a zero-sum struggle, gains by other groups are interpreted as losses by one’s own group.”

Nationalists want to undo the “captured economy.” President Trump’s administration has focused it’s efforts on reducing government control over the economy from unelected bureaucrats (the swamp), eliminating government regulations and ending policies that hinder individual growth and prosperity.

Berman notes that Lindsey and Teles argue:

[H]ow the misregulation of the financial sector enriched the financial elite and introduced unnecessary risks and distortions into the economy; how the expansion of copyright and patent protection has created “monopolies,” limited innovation, and showered “riches on a favored few”; how occupational licensing protects incumbent firms and favored professions and obstructs competition, entrepreneurship, and consumer interests; and how land-use regulations and zoning distort markets, hamper Americans’ ability to move where opportunity is, and instead redistribute wealth to “higher-income homeowners and the bankers who provide mortgage finance” to them.

Berman concludes, “Why has government acted in socially counterproductive and economically inefficient ways? Because it has been ‘captured’ by plutocrats who use economic resources to influence government policy in ways that rig the game even further.”

This idea of the “power of the plutocrats” is best explained in this short video featuring Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger:

How Immigration plays a key role in the “Zero-sum Struggle!”

Immigration has been a signature issue for President Trump and the growing numbers of nationalists in Europe, Australia, Africa and beyond. Berman notes how immigration/refugee resettlement has become a seminal issue in the Western world. Sasha Polakow-Suransky in his book Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy examines how immigration has roiled Western democracies” argues that liberal’s:

“[F]ailure to confront the real tensions and failures of integration, by pretending violent extremism and attacks on free speech were not problems, infuriated many voters and left them feeling abandoned by mainstream parties.”

When governments fail to protect the indigenous people of a nation they react by abandoning liberal Democratic policies like open borders, unfettered refugee resettlement, multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion. Tucker Carlson explains in the below video “Illegal Immigration: It’s About Power”:

Both Republicans, Libertarian, Social Democrats, Independents and Democrats need to wake up and smell the nationalism revolution. Failure to do so will cost them dearly.

RELATED ARTICLE: Ben Sasse’s Wise Counsel for a Lonely, Polarized Country

EDITORS NOTE: The videos from Prager University are republished with permission. The featured photo is by Randy Colas on Unsplash.

Trump, Money and the Fed

So who are these guys in this picture?Legendary author of The Creature from Jekyll Island”, researcher and film producer G. Edward Griffin, my good friend and founder of PollMole Dr.Richard Davis, (R.I.P.), Mad Max Mullen and oh a yeah, a much younger me, John Michael Chambers. This post, Trump, Money and the Fed lay the important groundwork and understanding for what President Trump has begun to take on.

Back in 2009 as the founder of the Save  America Foundation a 501(c)(4), we held a large convention in Tampa, Florida sounding the alarm bells in our desperate individual and collective attempts to save America. fast forward. Donald Trump has blasted onto  the scene. Some say he cannot handle the storm when in fact he is the storm. This really is a very important article. Please read on and share this post. People need to know to secure and expand our supportive base for President Trump for what lies ahead by end of Q1 2019, will be challenging.

The following has been excerpted and somewhat revised and edited from a book I wrote in 2014-2015 while in Belize and mostly in Thailand titled, “Misconceptions and Course Corrections”. Since Trump has begun taking on the Fed (Federal Reserve), I thought it would be good to gain a better understanding of what money actually is, who the Fed is, how they came to be and what it is that they have done. This is about to come to be challenged and changed forever beginning after in 2019. I will be writing about this historical event as it unfolds. It has already begun. But for those that need a better understanding of the Fed, I have resurrected this chapter. Here goes…

What is Money?

What is money? Money is an idea backed by confidence,which is used as a means of exchange, rather than say barter. Today we live in a debt based monetary system. Some say that money is the root of all evil; I disagree with this. There was a period of time many a moon ago where money did not exist, yet there was plenty of evil around. My best guess (I could be wrong), is that people who misuse life’s energy are the root of all evil, not money. Money is not evil and abundance is wonderful; there are evil people.

In this world it seems we have assigned power to money. It’s a pretty big agreement since everyone seems to be trying to acquire the stuff. So to that end, money is power in the sense that it is the means by which one can acquire tangible items, own things, have things,influence people and agendas, as well as affording perhaps better healthcare,better food, some things luxury, and all things essential to survival. Money allows one to participate in many things as well as to travel. The person with money can also take advantage of various opportunities to explore many new aspects and experiences in life than a person without money. Having said all that, money is still not the measure of the man (woman).

Money can’t buy contentment or happiness or love, but it can ease the experience of life and living if handled properly.There is nothing wrong with acquiring great wealth. It’s what you do with this great wealth that helps determine the character of the person. Some people, as we know, become very greedy and misuse the power that comes with having lots ofmoney, and this can be seen in many ways. Others put that money to good use,such as a quality home, education for children and young adults, trust accountsfor posterity, and many are philanthropic or charitable.

History, Digging in a Little Deeper

Presently and since 1944, the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and this, coupled with a great change that is currently taking place which will affect every person on the planet (which we will discuss a bit further on), is why we must understand more about the U.S.dollar and the debt based monetary system.

Many Americans and people throughout the world believe that the Federal Reserve in the United States is part of the Federal government. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Federal Reserve is no more a government agency than Federal Express! Check this video at marker1:09. Even former Fed chairman AlanGreenspan agrees.Freedom to Fascism, in case you missed all those years ago, can be viewed here. An absolute must see.

It is imperative if you want to understand how the money system works that you procure a copy of “The Creature from Jekyll Island,” a second look at the Federal Reserve by the legendary author, researcher, and film producer, Mr. G.Edward Griffin. This book will outline in great detail the formation of the Federal Reserve System.Below is a summary.

1910

In November of 1910, on Jekyll Island,Georgia, seven men who represented directly or indirectly one fourth of the world’s wealth, met in secrecy for nine days. It is there, at this location,where the Charter of the Federal Reserve was drafted. The Federal Reserve is a privately held for profit corporation,a banking cartel. The main objective for a corporation is to make a profit, and they do indeed make a profit. Let’s take a brief stroll through history as we look into the formation of the Federal Reserve and the results of the Federal Reserve Charter that was enacted into law by the U.S. Congress in1913.

J.P. Morgan, Senator Nelson Aldrich, Piatt Andrews, Frank Vanderlip, Henry P. Davison, Paul Warburg, and Charles D.Norton arranged for hundreds of millions of dollars to be poured into the campaigns of the most powerful members of Congress. In 1912, they backed an obscure Princeton professor for President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson.He later became President.

The Coup’ of 1913

Late on Tuesday December 23, 1913, just days after the Christmas recess had commenced, a secret Senate vote was“arranged” with only a few Senators remaining in Washington D.C.The act passed with 43 voting “yea” and 25 voting “nay.” 27 did not vote since they had not been notified and had already left town to go home for the Holidays. All had previously expressed their opposition to the act. So on Dec 23, 1913, their plan worked by one of the most cunning manipulations in parliamentary history;Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.In its charter, the act clearly states as its main objective: “To provide the action with a safer,more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.”

This means of a fractional reserve debt system controlled by a private for Profit Corporation has not worked out too well for the American people and thus the world to a greater or lesser extent.I mean we do not have a more stable monetary financial system at all.What we have is a debt based monetary system no longer backed by gold or silver. We have a currency that will soon be replaced as the world’s reserve currency. The Federal debt alone is $19 trillion dollars. It is mathematically impossible topay off this debt which will in a couple of short years will soon reach $22trillion and will make the U.S. situation look like Greece on steroids! Therefore “a safer, more flexible and more stable monetary and financial system” as set forth in this charter clearly has not worked out so well. And so by this means of fractional reserve banking,governments may secretly and unobserved, confiscate the wealth of the people and not one man in a million will detect the theft. This system of fractional reserve banking and the printing of all this fiat (now digital fiat) currency,is purely inflationary and the U.S. dollar has lost over 95% of its purchasing power since its inception.

1944 The Bretton Wooods Agreement

Another critical factor, which contributed to the rise of power in America, was the Bretton Woods agreement of1944. The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world’s major industrial states in the mid-20th century. The BrettonWoods system was the first example of a fully negotiated monetary order intended to govern monetary relations among independent nation-states. It is through the Breton Woods agreement that the U.S. dollar became the world’s “reserve currency. 

Preparing to rebuild the international economic system as World War II was still raging, 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods,New Hampshire, United States, for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. 

The delegates deliberated upon and signed the Bretton Woods Agreements during the first three weeks of July 1944. Setting up a system of rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system, the planners at the Bretton Woods Agreements during the first three weeks of July 1944. Setting up a system of rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system, the planners at Bretton Woods established the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD),which today is part of the World BankGroup. These organizations became operational in 1945 after a sufficient number of countries had ratified the agreement.

The chief features of the Bretton Woods system were an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate by tying its currency to the U.S. dollar and the ability of the IMF to bridge temporary payments. Simply stated, the power centers of the world met in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and it was decided that international trade and settlements such as the purchase of oil for example, must be exchanged with the U.S. dollars. This meant that the central banks of these nations were required to have sufficient U.S. dollars.

As a result, the increasing global demand for the U.S. dollar continued and based on supply and demand this kept the dollar strong. Another reason for this decision in 1944 is due to the fact that up until that point in history, America’s currency was kept under control without runaway inflation as the U.S. dollar was backed by gold and silver and  the trust and confidence in the US.Dollar was strong. Confidence is the critical underlying factor that keeps the financial structures and systems in place.Including confidence in the currency itself. In fact it can be stated that money is nothing more than an idea backed by confidence and a means to easily facilitate trade and keep order. What happens when this confidence is shattered?

1971 – The Nixon Shock

On August 15, 1971, the United States unilaterally terminated convertibility of the dollar to gold. As a result, the Bretton Woods system officially ended and the dollar became fully ‘fiat currency,’backed by nothing but the promise of the federal government. This action, referred to as the Nixon shock, created the situation in which the United States dollar became a reserve currency used by many states. From the1970’s and forward, Americans enjoyed what is considered to be a lavish lifestyle in comparison to most countries around the world.

Lesson from the Dustbin of History

 “Give me control of a nation’s money supply, and I care not who makes its laws.”– Amschel Rothschild, Mayer and German banker. He was the founder of the Rothschild family international banking dynasty.

The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch its currency.” “The best way to crush the bourgeoisie (middle class), Is to grind between the millstones of taxation and inflation.” – Vladimir Lenin, Chairman of Russia’s Council of peoples Commissars 1917-1924

“By a continuing process of inflation,government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.” –John MaynardKeynes, Fabian Socialist and father of Keynesian Economics

“The dirty little secret is that both houses of Congress are irrelevant. Both   congress is now being run by Alan Greenspan (Ben Bernanke today) and the Federal Reserve and America’s foreign policy is now being run by the IMF. When the President decides to go to war he no longer needs a declaration of war  Money in our current system is nothing more than debt, and we have lots of it!.“ – Robert Reich 22nd U.S.labor Secretary

“The government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of the consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only   prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest  .” –President Abraham Lincoln

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” President Thomas Jefferson

“Inflation has now been institutionalized at a fairly constant 5% per year. This has been determined to be the optimum level for generating the most   causing public alarm. A 5% devaluation applies, not only to the money earned this year, but to all that is left over from previous years. At the end of the first year, a dollar is worth 95 cents.At the end of the second year, the 95cents is reduced again by 5%, leaving its worth at 90 cents, and so on. By the time a person has worked 20 years, the government will have confiscated 64%of every dollar he saved over those years. By the time he has worked 45 years,the hidden tax will be 90%. The government will take virtually everything a person saves over a lifetime.” – American Author, Researcher and Filmmaker, G. Edward Griffin

“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are   hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.” – President Woodrow Wilson, aftersigning the Federal Reserve into existence

Money in our current system is nothing more than debt, and we have lots of it! Weeks away from http://usadebtclock.com/$22Trillion and that’s just the Federal debt alone!

Concluding Remarks

So the Federal Reserve, a private for profit baking cartel,comes to the table with no “skin in the game.” They unleash what is now digital fiat currency with no tangible backing or accountability into the banking system and this is then leveraged by Fractional Reserve Banking. The banks then can loan out these dollars (with a multiplier of 10 or 100 or more times the amount than they received from the Fed.), to other banks, to governments, corporations, and individuals and charge an interest rate. They typically own title for example, as in a mortgage or car loan. And when they decide to“reap the harvest,” they seize the assets when the consumer is unable to survive in a jobless inflationary climate (which they helped to create). They also fund both sides of all wars for huge profits as the innocent little children are laid in shallow graves and billed as nothing more than collateraldamage”.

This subject of Fractional Reserve Banking is also defined in great detail in a simple to understand format in the DVD titled“ Money as Debt”

This Federal Reserve Act of 1913,although passed by congress, was in contradiction to the United States Constitution which in Article 1, Section 8, Phrase5. It clearly states the following regarding money that “  have power to coin money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.“ This power was given to a private bank called the Federal Reserve in 1913. Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh Sr. back then said – “This Federal Reserve Act establishes the most gigantic trust on earth. When President Wilson signs this bill, the invisible government of the monetary power will be legalized. This is the worst legislative crime of the ages that has been perpetuated by this banking and currency bill. From now on, all depressions will be scientifically created.”

And since the inception of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Dollar has lost over 97% of its purchasing power. I believe the U.S. Dollar may experience a false sense of stability for the short to near term as the Euro and other currencies falter and fail, but once the U.S. dollar loses its world reserve currency status (at least as we know it) as the global financial reset is now upon us just a few short months from now (It is December23, 2018 as I write today), Trump will make his move against the Fed. Watch for my article on this in the coming days.

2019 and Beyond

It is because of this power and control which money affords that you will come to realize why governments and banks around the world are moving towards a cashless society. That’s right, a cashless society. If governments can control your money they can control your life. There are more and more laws, rules, and regulations in the U.S., Europe,and many places around the world restricting the amount of cash you can withdraw from your own accounts. Banks are now beginning to charge negative interest to hold your money.

Pulling cash from your bank or excessive international bank wires in any amount over a few thousand dollars, the banks can report you to the government as a “suspicious person,” potential money launderer, or terrorist, and a series of such withdrawals can put you in violation of criminal structuring/money laundering regulations, with huge fines and jail sentences. The ultimate goal of the global socialists is to eliminate all cash on a global basis and force everyone on the planet into the computerized electronic banking/credit card system. Cryptocurrencies have gained much momentum (albeit very volatile).

This will eventually lead to the National ID card, then the Global ID card, and then the chip through injection. This is the ultimate control and this is the direction the world is presently heading.I recommend getting a copy of the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor report May 2015 titled “War on Cash”, orread more about this in my archived articles section under “financial”.

So What to Do About All This?

There will be quite the bloodbath in the stock, bond and real estate markets. In fact, this has just begun. Support President Trump. Stay the course. Awaken others. Turn off the fake news. It is poisoning your mind, thoughts and feeling world and making you miserable. Follow Q-There is a plan.Stay informed. Sign up to receive my weekly articles to your in box via this FREE RSS Feed.

Surveys indicate that people no longer trust the media for news, politicians for the truth, or that Wall Street has Main Street’s best interest in mind. The John Michael Chambers Report informs and empowers individuals in a changing world. Sign up. Be informed and empowered. Stay connected.

As to your personal finances? The time for action is now. While so many others will continue to operate in the deceitful and flawed modalities being advised by an industry they no longer trust, critical thinkers see the dangers and opportunities. But you must act. A great change is on the near term horizon. The time for action is now. You can survive and thrive through the battle that has just begun for global currency supremacy. Got questions? I can help. Contact me.

Video Commentary

Beginning 2019, I will be providing a short weekly commentary video reflecting on the state of affairs as they unfold weekly. There will be unprecedented events occurring in 2019 and 2020. We will make sense of the madness as Trump takes on the Fed and the Deep State. The first video will be launched here on January 6, 2019 and each Sunday thereafter. Until then, have a Merry Christmas!
See you soon!

New Census Data Show Americans Are Migrating from Tax-Punishing States

The Census Bureau released new data that show Americans are continuing to move from high-tax to low-tax states.


The Census Bureau has released new data on state population growth between July 2017 and July 2018. Domestic migration between the states is one portion of annual population change. The Census data show that Americans are continuing to move from high-tax to low-tax states.

This Cato study examined interstate migration using IRS data for 2016. The new Census data confirms that people are moving from tax-punishing places such as California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey to tax-friendly places such as Florida, Idaho, Nevada, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

In the chart, each blue dot is a state. The vertical axis shows the one-year Census net interstate migration figure as a percentage of 2017 state population. The horizontal axis shows state and local household taxes as a percentage of personal income in 2015. Household taxes include individual income, sales, and property taxes.

On the right, most of the high-tax states have net out-migration. The blue dot on the far right is New York with a tax burden of 13 percent and a net migration loss of nearly 1 percent (0.92) over the past year.

On the left, nearly all the net in-migration states have tax loads of less than 8.5 percent. The outlier on the bottom left is Alaska. If policymakers want their states to be people magnets, they should get their household tax burdens down to 8.5 percent of personal income or lower.

The red line is fitted from a simple regression that was highly statistically significant.

This Cato Institute article was republished with permission.

COLUMN BY

Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at Cato and editor of DownsizingGovernment.org.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission. The featured photo is by rawpixel on Unsplash.

What Life Inside Venezuela’s Crumbling Authoritarian Regime Looks Like

The citizens rely on the government for their livelihood, but they have little control over the government that supposedly represents them.


Sixty-five miles southwest of Venezuela’s capital Caracas lies Cagua. It’s a small city with just over 100,000 people—who live each day in survival mode. The 2018 Global Peace Index ranks Venezuela 143 out of 163 countries. Violent crime, homicide, and violent demonstrations are ranked at 5/5, making it one of the least peaceful and most dangerous countries on earth.

The monthly pay that most Venezuelan workers bring home is 4,500 bolivars, or around 11 U.S. dollars, making shopping for groceries in the socialist country nearly impossible. And since the idea of buying a house or a car is simply out of the question, young people don’t have the ability to become independent from their parents.

Oswaldo, a young man who lives in Cagua, graduated with a degree from a university in Venezuela in 2016. In an interview, Oswaldo described his life in Venezuela and the struggles he faces each day as a young man striving to succeed inside a failing country.

In addition to the problem of finding food and basic medicine, Oswaldo explained that citizens are often plagued with faults in electricity, water, and gasoline services. Many places in the country have to ration water consumption, but much of their drinking water in cities like Valencia is contaminated, anyway. The government has kept the gasoline prices so low that shortages are becoming the norm. This misallocation of resources is inevitable when gas prices are less than one penny for a gallon—sometimes dropping even lower than that.

While there is nothing explicitly prohibiting him from leaving, Oswaldo said the sketchy documentation system and price of flights deter him from even attempting to flee. The country, too, lacks the adequate resources to document who leaves and returns, posing potential problems for any Venezuelan citizen who wished to return. Nevertheless, more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled their homeland since 2015—numbers comparable to Syria and Afghanistan’s emigration tally.

Movement inside the country isn’t much different. Public transportation, once a system commonly used by Venezuelans, has become a rarity. Bus owners often cannot cover the cost of the spare parts to fix their vehicles, forcing citizens to find new ways to travel.

It’s not out of the ordinary to see cargo trucks transporting people across the country or pickup trucks packed with individuals, transporting as many people as possible. The police and military have been known to take things into their own hands, charging fines and collecting bribes from innocent travelers in order to make their own ends meet.

Oswaldo says that getting rich in Venezuela is possible, but the only way to do so is by contracting with the government. Venezuela’s former national treasurer from 2007 to 2011 even admitted recently that he received more than $1 billion in bribes while in office. According to Oswaldo, if a business has a good relationship with the crony government, they can make a small fortune. But businesses that rely strictly on customer demand for their products rarely do.

The citizens rely on the government for their livelihood, but they have little control over the government that supposedly represents them. After an election, for instance, it’s not uncommon for the opposition leader to be imprisoned. Votes are often illegitimate and the corrupt electoral body names the government-backed candidate the winner.

For these reasons, political participation has diminished considerably since early 2017, Oswaldo says. Opposition parties don’t want to call out their rulers and risk being singled out by those in power. The cycle of corruption and control of people’s lives is never-ending.

Organizations promoting freedom aren’t currently being persecuted because the government doesn’t feel threatened, Oswaldo says. But that could change at any moment. “All Venezuelans are at risk in our country,” he said. “Those most exposed are those who do political activism since their work puts the stability of the government at risk.”

Oswaldo is fighting for freedom in his home country—freedom that’s so often taken for granted in the United States. But Venezuelans are starting to get used to the lack of liberty and the never-ending struggle for their survival in Venezuela, which could very well lead to the regime remaining in power for some time. There are few people inside the country willing to fight against socialism, having seen the horrors of patriots fighting against a dangerous regime. But Oswaldo is holding out for the day that people have more control over their government and citizens can finally have the opportunity to find better lives.

It’s an uphill battle, Oswaldo says, but it’s a battle worth the fight.

COLUMN BY

Jake Grant

Jake Grant

Jake Grant is the Outreach Director for the Coalition to Reduce Spending and a contributor to Young Voices. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer. Follow him on Twitter @thejakegrant.

RELATED ARTICLES:

The Ongoing Implosion of Venezuelan Statism

Venezuelan Gangs Are Using Food to Recruit Kids

Socialism, Not Corruption, to Blame for Venezuela’s Oil Production Drop

Venezuela’s Socialist Nightmare: A Prediction on Where It Ends

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission. Image by Jamez42 [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Electric Vehicle Tax Credits Another Form of Corporate Welfare

If America’s auto manufacturers wrote letters to Santa, it’s not hard to guess what would be high on their lists: retaining the federal tax credit for electric vehicles.

For several years now, Uncle Sam (who often acts like Santa’s U.S.-based cousin) has tried to encourage the public to buy electric vehicles by offering those who do so a tax credit of up to $7,500.

But the credit wasn’t created to be available forever, and it already caps out when a manufacturer has sold 200,000 electric vehicles.

General Motors Co., which is more than happy to have taxpayer money propping up part of its business, wants the credit made permanent and the cap lifted. So do other auto manufacturers, such as Nissan and Tesla. Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem more than happy to give them what they want.

Guess who isn’t? President Donald Trump. When General Motors recently announced plant closings and a 15 percent cut in its workforce, the president said he was “looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”

As well he should. Government has no business interfering in the market and trying to push consumers to buy what they don’t want. And it’s even more galling when lawmakers use taxpayer money to do it.

This type of cronyism is bad enough on principle alone. But it gets worse in the case of electric vehicle tax credits.

For one thing, the cost is borne disproportionately by lower- and fixed-income families who can’t afford electric vehicles. Who’s taking advantage of the subsidies? Primarily America’s wealthiest households. They don’t need a tax break to afford an electric vehicle, but hey, if it’s there, they’ll take it.

So, in an ironic twist, we have the government taking money from a wide swath of Americans, including those on the low end of the income scale, to put those who are more well off into “green” vehicles.

The Pacific Research Institute found that in 2014, 79 percent of electric vehicle tax credits went to households making over $100,000, while 99 percent of them went to households making at least $50,000.

Auto manufacturers, like any other company, should base their decisions about what to make solely on what customers want—not on what government wants them to want.

If people want electric vehicles, fine. But it should be their free choice, not something they purchase because they get some “free” money.

But some people may say it’s worth it for the environmental benefit. “Switching to electric cars is key to fixing America’s ‘critically insufficient’ climate policies,” The Guardian wrote earlier this year. That’s the rationale the Obama administration used to justify its push for electric vehicles.

But as economist Nicolas Loris points out in a recent article, “the numbers tell a different story.” In a study published in May, the Manhattan Institute calculated the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from increased adoption of electric vehicles. The bottom line? Yes, electric vehicles reduce emissions, but in amounts far too small to make a difference.

“Based on the [Energy Information Administration’s] projection of the number of new electric vehicles, the net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions between 2018 and 2050 would be only about one-half of 1 percent of total forecast U.S. energy-related carbon emissions,” the report reads. “Such a small change will have no impact whatsoever on climate.”

Plus, let’s keep in mind that the mining of materials for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles itself pumps out a lot of carbon emissions. Add in the fact that the electricity being used to recharge these batteries is manufactured in coal-powered plants.

The auto manufacturers may disagree, but I have a better wish for Santa: End the electric vehicle credit and other forms of corporate welfare. Let the people decide what they want to buy without Uncle Sam putting his thumb on the scale.

Originally published by The Washington Times

COLUMN BY

Portrait of Ed Feulner

Ed Feulner

Edwin J. Feulner’s 36 years of leadership as president of The Heritage Foundation transformed the think tank from a small policy shop into America’s powerhouse of conservative ideas. Read his research. Twitter: @EdFeulner.


The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters /Newscom.

The Case for Privatizing Social Security Just Got Stronger

A new OECD report highlights some of the economic benefits of private retirement systems.


The world is in the middle of a dramatic demographic transition caused by increasing lifespans and falling birthrates.

One consequence of this change is that traditional tax-and-transfer, pay-as-you-go retirement schemes (such as Social Security in the United States) are basically bankrupt.

The problem is so acute that even the normally statist bureaucrats at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are expressing considerable sympathy for reforms that would allow much greater reliance on private savings (shifting to what is known as “funded” systems).

Countries should introduce funded arrangements gradually… Policymakers should carefully assess the transition as it may put an additional, short-term, strain on public finances… Tax rules should be straightforward, stable and consistent across all retirement savings plans. …Countries with an “EET” tax regime should maintain the deferred taxation structure… Funded, private pensions may be expected to support broader economic growth and accelerate the development of local capital markets by creating a pool of pension savings that must be invested. The role of funded, private pensions in economic development is likely to become more important still as countries place a higher priority on the objective of labour force participation. Funded pensions increase the incentive to work and save and by encouraging older workers to stay in the labour market they can help to address concerns about the sustainability and adequacy of public PAYG pensions in the face of demographic changes.

Here’s a chart from the OECD report. It shows that many developed nations already have fully or partly privatized systems.

By the way, I corrected a glaring mistake. The OECD chart shows Australia as blue. I changed it to white since they have a fully private Social Security system Down Under.

The report highlights some of the secondary economic benefits of private systems.

Funded pensions offer a number of advantages compared to PAYG pensions. They provide stronger incentives to participate in the labor market and to save for retirement. They create a pool of savings that can be put to productive use in the broader economy. Increasing national savings or reallocating savings to longer-term investment supports the development of financial markets. …More domestic savings reduces dependency on foreign savings to finance necessary investment. Higher investment may lead to higher productive capacity, increasing GDP, wages and employment, higher tax revenues and lower deficits.

Here’s the chart showing that countries with private retirement systems are among the world leaders in pension assets.

The report highlights some of the specific nations and how they benefited.

Over the long term, transition costs may be at least partially offset by additional positive economic effects associated with introducing private pensions rather than relying solely on public provision. …poverty rates have declined in Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland since mandatory funded pensions were introduced. The initial transformation of Poland’s public PAYG system into a multi-pillar DC approach helped to encourage Warsaw’s development as a financial centre. …the introduction of funded DC pensions in Chile encouraged the growth of financial markets and provided a source of domestic financing.

For those seeking additional information on national reforms, I’ve written about the following jurisdictions.

At some point, I also need to write about the Singaporean system, which is one of the reasons that nation is so successful.

P.S. Needless to say, it would be nice if the United States was added to this list at some point. Though I won’t be holding my breath for any progress while Trump is in the White House.

This International Liberty article was republished with permission.

COLUMN BY

Muslim workers at Amazon demand longer prayer times, less work

Amazon has banned Jihad Watch from Amazon Smile and Amazon Associates, but its aid to jihadis has not led to its being accorded any breaks by its Muslim workers.

“Amazon says it has offered accommodations such as providing prayer mats for workers, converting a conference room into prayer space during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and approving shift transfers for fasting workers.”

But it isn’t enough.

“The workers, many of whom are practicing Muslims, say the required productivity rate is too high, the company is unconcerned about worker injuries and that the conditions don’t allow practicing Muslims to pray as they otherwise would.”

The idea is to reinforce the principle, already established in other cases, that Muslims must always have special privileges and accommodations that others do not have. This is true now at Amazon unless non-Muslim workers get time off work equal to the prayer breaks that Muslims are given. Islamic law denies non-Muslims basic rights; only Muslims enjoy full rights in an Islamic society. To establish a similar situation in the U.S. is the ultimate goal here.

“Somali-American Amazon workers demand better conditions,” by Kerem Yucel and Nova Safo, AFP, December 15, 2018 (thanks to Mark):

A group of Amazon workers in Minnesota who are Somali refugees resettled in the Midwestern US state demanded better working conditions Friday during a protest outside one of the retailer’s warehouses.

Hundreds braved frigid temperatures to demonstrate outside of the Amazon warehouse in the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee—home to a sizable Somali immigrant population from which Amazon has heavily recruited….

“We don’t have rights in the company,” worker Abdulkadir Ahmad, 30, told AFP.

The workers, many of whom are practicing Muslims, say the required productivity rate is too high, the company is unconcerned about worker injuries and that the conditions don’t allow practicing Muslims to pray as they otherwise would.

“We do not have enough time to pray. There is a lot of pressure. They say your rate is too low,” Ahmad said.

The workers timed their protest during the busy holiday shopping season, hoping to force the online retailer to make changes.

Amazon’s accommodations

They already have had some success. Amazon says it has offered accommodations such as providing prayer mats for workers, converting a conference room into prayer space during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and approving shift transfers for fasting workers.

“Additionally, we’ve continued to hire and develop East African employees. We’re a leader in this space and we feel really good about our record here,” Amazon spokeswoman Shevaun Brown told AFP via email….

But workers say Amazon’s efforts so far have fallen short.

“We are appreciative they’ve sat down and talked with us, but we are not seeing real action,” activist Abdi Muse said.

Muse is the executive director of the Awood Center, a union-backed non-profit that organized the protest and helps East African workers in the state….

“When workers leave Amazon, they still live with the back pain, chronic illness, and hurt and harm caused during their employment,” said Ahmed Anshur, the imam at the Al-Ihsan Islamic Center in the nearby state capital of Saint Paul.

Protesters said they want the multibillion-dollar company to give back to the struggling community that has been a major source of its workforce in the Minneapolis area by giving money to a community fund to help struggling immigrant families.

“It’s not a handout or a donation,” said Mohamed Omar, imam at another Minneapolis suburban mosque….

Of course not. Why, who would think such a thing?\

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images originally appeared on Jihad Watch. It is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.

The Elderly & The World Wide Web (Infographic)

By Dr. Nikola Djordjev


While seniors don’t have the same level of Internet adoption as millennials, recent studies have shown that elderly people are now more connected than ever.

As a matter of fact, more than 70% of Internet users aged 65+ now use the World Wide Web on a daily basis. Furthermore, Baby Boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 – nowadays spend roughly 27 hours online every week.

Some senior groups that are highly educated – especially the younger ones – report owning and using multiple Internet-capable devices. Interestingly enough, a vast majority of seniors, around 75% of them, use the Internet to communicate with friends and family members.

At MedAlertHelp.org, we’ve created the infographic below that will help you understand the seniors’ relationship with digital technology, more specifically – their relationship with the Internet.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with infographic is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash.