Random Libertarian Political Thoughts – September 26, 2015

Right after the last Republican debate, I wrote a short analysis of each candidate’s performance.  My shortest comment was on Scott Walker.  I said, “Does anyone even remember anything this guy said?  Do you remember Tim Pawlenty?”  I knew Walker was done, but I was surprised how quickly he dropped out.

There should be a bunch more of the Republican candidates dropping out soon.  All of the candidates that were not in the main debate the last time should already be out.

If Carly Fiorina keeps rising in the polls, we are going to have to pay more attention to her.  Aside from Lindsey Graham, she may be the most likely candidate to bring the country into another war.  And I say that knowing that there are still a Bush and a Clinton in the race.

While I think Donald Trump is still the favorite for the Republican nomination, he is still well below 50% in the polls.  I expect the anti-Trump crowd to coalesce around somebody at some point.  In 2008 and 2012, I did not speak out much about this, but I figured the same would happen to Ron Paul if he became a strong contender for the nomination.  The establishment will push out the rest of the candidates, except one or two people.  So from Trump’s perspective, the longer that more candidates stay in the race, the better it is for him.  They can split up the anti-Trump votes.

It is looking like more of a possibility that the establishment will rally around Marco Rubio.  He has his consistency issues, as they all do, but he is a pretty good talker and he has managed to stay out of a lot of the petty bickering.

I haven’t said anything about the Pope’s visit to the U.S.  I will just say that for anyone who wants to redistribute wealth via the state, they can only do so by using violence or the threat of violence.  If the Pope were calling for people to voluntarily give up their wealth to help poor people, I would have no moral objection to this.  We could argue about whether or not that is the best way to help the poor, but that is it.  But since he wants to use violence to redistribute wealth, I believe this is inconsistent with Christianity and really all of the major religions.

Is Joe Biden going to enter the presidential race on the Democratic side?  It would certainly make for more entertainment.

I wonder if Janet Yellen ever reads anything outside of her own little bubble.  Is she familiar with free market arguments against the Fed?  Does she understand the libertarian arguments against the central bank?  I have had this dilemma for a long time now – at least for as long as I’ve been a libertarian.  Are politicians stupid or corrupt?  Do central bankers know what they are doing is bad for the economy, or do they really believe some of the things they say?  And the same goes for politicians.  I have never figured this out, but I think it is a combination of stupidity and corruptness.  I think they self-consciously, at least to a degree, just purposely ignore opposing views.

And my last random thought for the day:

If one of the presidential candidates wants to win some people over, he or she should spend some time talking about the struggles of the middle class, particularly in terms of rising health insurance premiums.  They could also mention that prices are rising faster than wages, despite what any statistics may say.  There is major discontent in this country because people are struggling.  They work hard every day and they still feel it is hard to get ahead.  It is hard just to pay the bills each month.  Of course, the main solution to this is to drastically reduce the size of government.  So maybe that is why nobody is pushing the issue too much.

CPI Update – September 2015

I occasionally like to examine the Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers.  Although they are government statistics, they are useful to us nonetheless.

First, the statistics show us trends.  Maybe the numbers understate actual price inflation, but this is really impossible to measure anyway because the quality of products are constantly changing, as well as what is demanded in the marketplace.  But regardless, we can see if price inflation is picking up, slowing down, or staying steady, at least according to the CPI numbers.

Second, analysts look at these numbers, including Federal Reserve members.  This can affect the Fed’s decisions in terms of monetary policy.  So it doesn’t matter if the Fed is wrong in using these numbers.  We have to take the CPI numbers into account because they give us a better idea of what the Fed may do.

The latest numbers are out for August.  The CPI is down 0.1% in August from the previous month.  But this doesn’t tell us the whole story.

Over the last 12 months, the CPI is up just 0.2%, which is well below the Fed’s supposed target of 2%.  However, the CPI less food and energy is up 1.8% from a year ago, indicating that oil is largely responsible for the flat number.

Just as with many other statistics, we often get a better picture using the median instead of the average.  The median CPI is up 2.3% from a year ago.

Of course, the CPI numbers can be quite misleading because they largely don’t take asset inflation into account.  The big run up in stock prices since 2009 is not reflected.

This is similar to what happened in the lead up to the stock market crash that marked the beginning of the Great Depression.  There was an easy money policy in the mid to late 1920s, but consumer prices were not rising much.  Meanwhile, there was a bubble in stock prices.

This isn’t to say we are going to get another Great Depression.  The initial stock crash was just one event in the Great Depression.  If the government had let the markets clear and done nothing about it, then there probably would have been a quick recovery.  There certainly would not have been a 12-year depression, or longer if you count the hard times during World War 2.

If you are looking to invest or speculate in gold or gold stocks, then you could really take these numbers in two ways.  The relatively low CPI numbers indicate there is little fear of inflation, which is bearish for gold.

On the other hand, the low CPI numbers make it more likely that the Fed will have a looser monetary policy in the future if it does not deem price inflation as a threat.  This is bullish for gold.

My overall sense is that we should be really cautious right now.  There is a good chance for an economic downturn.  This could be bad for gold investors in the short run.  However, if the Fed turns back to its quantitative easing (money creation), then I believe gold will shine shortly after that.

We’ll keep watching the CPI numbers as part of watching what the Fed is doing.

Federal Reserve Policy Misallocates Resources

The Federal Reserve – along with any other central bank that has a government-granted monopoly over money – does great damage to the economy.  It hurts production and lowers our standard of living.

Unfortunately, it gets away with this to a large degree because it is hard to trace.  Many people – some libertarians included – think the Fed’s primary damage is causing rising prices.  While this is one possible symptom of the Fed’s monetary inflation, it does not really pinpoint the damage that is being done.

Worse, when we are in an environment of low price inflation (according to government statistics) as we are now, many people assume that there isn’t damage being done.  The Keynesians will say that the Fed can keep interest rates low and even increase its balance sheet (through more money creation) because there is no immediate threat of price inflation.

But everything the Fed does is damaging to the economy.  Unless it is doing absolutely nothing, which is never the case, it is distorting the economy.  Whether it is manipulating interest rates or changing the money supply, it is distorting the price of money and how resources are allocated.

If the Fed weren’t centrally planning the economy, then we would likely have falling prices due to increased production and technology. But we don’t get this benefit because of the Fed.

The Fed also greatly misallocates savings and investment.  In most cases, the savings rate would likely be higher if we had a free market in money and interest rates.

The Fed also continues to redistribute wealth.  Again, it is unfortunate that most people cannot recognize this, although I think there is more of a sense of this happening, even if people can’t quite explain it.  The Fed is paying banks 0.25% on their reserves.  If the Fed raises its key interest rate, the banks will get paid more by the Fed.

Where does this money come from?  It comes from the Fed’s own balance sheet, which it built up by creating money out of thin air.

When the Fed increases the money supply, it is redistributing wealth, even if it does not result in price inflation.  Even if the newly created money goes into excess reserves at banks, it is still a redistribution of wealth and a misallocation of resources.  If nothing else, it is funding the government’s debt, and the government’s spending is a misallocation of resources.

While government regulation and taxes stifle the economy to a great degree, the Federal Reserve is really the worst culprit of all.  It enables the debt to grow over a long period of time.  It is more deceptive, as it takes away people’s money without them really knowing what happened.

In other words, don’t be fooled like the masses into thinking that the Fed isn’t doing much damage because consumer price inflation is low.  Some people probably never even think about this.

On the optimistic side, I believe many more people are aware of the harmful effects of central banking than at any other time in the Fed’s existence.  Let’s hope this trend continues.

FOMC Meeting – September 17, 2015

The FOMC recently released its latest monetary policy statement.  This was a much-anticipated meeting because there was no consensus on what the Fed was going to do.

It turns out that the Fed will not raise its key interest rate this time around.  Apparently 7 years of near zero interest rates is not enough stimulus for the economy (in the eyes of the Fed).

You can read my expanded thoughts on this here.  I bring up the possibility that we may see the Fed eventually raise its key rate while also turning back on its digital printing press, something I have already mentioned here before.

The Fed is in a bind.  Stocks are really shaky and a possible economic downturn is looming.  The Fed has already tightened its monetary policy when it ended QE last year.  It is afraid to go a step further and attempt to raise interest rates.  But by not raising rates, it is also signaling that it does not trust the so-called recovery.

And if the Fed does “raise rates”, it may actually lower rates.  It can raise its key rate by paying a higher rate on bank reserves, but market interest rates may fall if there is a major economic downturn.

Republican Debate on CNN – September 16, 2015

The second Republican debate for this political season is just wrapping up.  I could say it is the second debate, as there has been no Democratic debate.  I am not including the Republican debates with the second-tier candidates.

Below is my analysis of the candidates and their performance.  This is from a libertarian point of view and from a general point of view of how I think others will perceive the candidates.

Donald Trump: He had a lot of time on stage.  A lot of the discussion was on his personal remarks, his business practices, his temperament, etc.  In other words, there was not a lot about his actual positions, although he did touch on those.  This is what the audience wants to see though.  They want drama television.  Overall, I don’t think Trump was hurt any in the debate.  Most of his positions are terrible from a libertarian perspective, but people like the fact that he speaks his mind.  It is encouraging that he proudly points out the fact that he opposed the Iraq War.  This would have been a non-winning position in previous Republican races.

Jeb Bush: He continues to have to defend his brother’s actions.  He says he is his own man.  The problem is that he doesn’t repudiate anything his brother did.  The CNN moderators pointed out that his foreign policy advisors come from his brother’s and father’s administrations.  Bush said that his brother kept everyone safe.  I wish someone had pointed out that the hundreds of thousands Iraqis that died at the hands of the war were not kept safe.  And the thousands of U.S. soldiers who died were not kept safe.

Scott Walker: Does anyone even remember anything this guy said?  Do you remember Tim Pawlenty?

Ted Cruz: He sounds like a robot alien from Mars.  I’m sure some hardcore conservatives will like him.  His economic/ domestic positions are decent, at least relative to the rest of the field.  On foreign policy, he is as bad as they get, if you don’t include Lindsey Graham.  Cruz is so pro war, no libertarian should consider supporting him at all.

Marco Rubio: He was about the same as the first debate.  He is a good talker.  I don’t expect him to move dramatically up or down in the polls.

Chris Christie: He played a different strategy of trying to get along with everyone.  I do agree with him that entitlement spending is the major economic issue that is being largely ignored.  Aside from that, he is probably the most liberal (in the modern sense) Republican of the 11 candidates.  I am not counting the other 4 that were in the warm-up debate.

Mike Huckabee: He was also about the same as in the first debate.  He will get some support from social conservatives, but I don’t think he will be the nominee.

Rand Paul: He came out with a much more libertarian message.  When he isn’t fighting with Trump, he actually can sound intelligent and reasonable.  Don’t get me wrong here; he still didn’t sound anywhere near as libertarian as his father.  But if Rand Paul had come out early on in his campaign the way he did in that second debate, then he would actually be a significant presence.  His poll numbers would be far higher.  Unfortunately for him, I think it is too little, too late.  He spoke up when Trump said he was the only one against the Iraq War.  Paul finally said that he was against it too.  Why didn’t he do that in the first debate?  Paul sounded really intelligent when talking about states’ rights and the 14th Amendment.  But hardcore libertarians don’t trust him and will suspect he is just changing his message for political reasons, which is probably the case.  It’s too bad he didn’t come out with a more libertarian message in the beginning of his campaign.

Carly Fiorina:  I can understand why she was so popular from her first debate.  She is a decent debater.  From a libertarian perspective, I had no idea she is such a war hawk.  In response to dealing with Russia, she said she would not talk to Putin, she would ramp up military exercises in the region, she would send more troops to Germany, and she would arm the Kurds.  Maybe she gives some competition to Cruz as the most hawkish candidate.

Ben Carson: I am not sure what the polls will show after this debate.  He had his good moments and his bad ones.  I don’t agree with him that there is no link between vaccines and autism.  From a political perspective, the government should stay out of the business of vaccinating people.  This is a very divisive issue though, and he may lose a few supporters for his position which is in line with the medical establishment.  His stance on the minimum wage was terrible.  In terms of foreign policy, it was nice to hear a less pro-war stance.  Again, it is a bit encouraging that more candidates are taking a less hawkish stance.

John Kasich: I don’t think there will be a big change in his numbers, but again I am encouraged that he is taking a less pro-war stance.  He went up slightly on my own scale for this.  Overall, his positions are terrible, but it is nice that candidates can take a softer stance on foreign intervention and not feel shunned by the Republican electorate.

Lastly, I didn’t love the job that CNN did.  There were a lot of questions that weren’t asked that could have been quite relevant.  There were too many personal things, but they may just be giving the audience what they want.  I would like to see some questions on the Federal Reserve and on the unfunded liabilities.  With that said, I thought CNN did a better job than Fox News, especially in terms of staying more objective.  At least it wasn’t as blatant as Fox News, where the anchors tried an attack job on Donald Trump that failed miserably.

The Fed and the Global Effects

There was a recent article by Charles Hugh Smith (also linked on Lew Rockwell’s site) explaining why the Fed would be insane to raise rates.

This is one of those situations that I have to criticize someone who generally seems to be on the pro-liberty side.  I have read Smith before and he often has some interesting insights.  But on this recent article, I dissent on virtually everything.

This isn’t a situation of criticizing an author on economic policy such as Paul Craig Roberts or Pat Buchanan.  I typically don’t agree with them on economic matters, but I like their writings on other issues such as foreign policy or civil liberties.

Smith typically focuses strictly on economic issues, so it is interesting that I find so many points of contention in his latest piece.

I dissent immediately just on the title.  I don’t think it would be insane for the Fed to raise rates.  I’m not sure that it matters much at all, except that the Fed will be paying a higher rate on bank reserves.

What is insane is the Fed’s policies over the last 7 years.  It approximately quintupled the adjusted monetary base over this period and has served to greatly misallocate resources, thus setting us up for another bust.

Smith says that the strong U.S. dollar is the core driver of the global recession.  But this is just ridiculous.  There may be a correlation, but the strong dollar isn’t the cause.

If there is a global recession, it is because all of the major central banks of the world have been engaging in massive monetary inflation.  This has severely misallocated resources, run up debt, and allowed governments to spend recklessly.  It also discourages saving and investment, which growth and productivity are ultimately built upon.

The only reason the U.S. dollar is strong is because it is the least bad of the major currencies right now.  All of the other major central banks are destroying their currencies at a greater pace than what the Fed is doing to the dollar.

Smith says that as the dollar gets stronger, capital will flee emerging markets and China.  But why is now any different than in the past?  If China wants to attract capital investment, then the bureaucrats there should open up the markets, stop the central bank money printing, and stop rigging the markets.

To blame China’s problems on the U.S. dollar is rather silly.  A homeless man can blame the weather for getting all wet, but someone sitting in a house isn’t going to help him by suggesting to change the weather patterns.

It is amazing how so many people will blame China for our problems and then some people will blame the U.S. for China’s problems.  I think everyone needs to take a look in the mirror here.

I blame the Fed for a lot of things, but most of China’s problems are a direct result of Chinese government and central bank policies.

People can talk about “exporting inflation” and “currency manipulation” all they want.  But the strength of a currency is a direct result of the central bank’s policy for that currency.  The supply of money and the demand for it by the people (which is largely dictated by supply expectations) determine how strong a currency is.  If a country has high price inflation, it can’t blame another central bank or another country for this problem, barring an actual war.

Smith thinks the Fed is insane to raise rates because it will deepen the global recession.  Sorry, but the insane policies were already enacted years ago.  The Fed has actually been less insane over the last year with its tighter monetary policy.  This has more to do with monetary inflation than it does interest rates.

I encourage people to read diverse opinions on different matters.  But it is important to recognize when someone’s arguments are way off base.

The Greatest Period of Liberty

As someone who spends quite a bit of time reading and listening to other libertarians, I find that the majority are pessimistic.  While libertarians correctly identify the state as the main problem, it is amazing how much libertarians underestimate the power of the free market.

Libertarians also underestimate a natural tendency for people to want liberty.  It is part of human nature, and it is big government that is attempting to defy human nature.

Many libertarians also believe that we are continually losing our freedom every day.  They just see government getting bigger and more authoritarian, particularly in the United States.

To a certain extent, this is true.  When it comes to certain sectors, the government is more heavily involved than ever before.  Healthcare immediately comes to mind, and it shows in the dramatically rising costs.

While the state of education is bad, are we worse off than we were 30 years ago?  Some public (government) schools are worse off, but we also have more choices.  Homeschooling is much easier today than it was then, and even private schools tend to be more available, although they are admittedly expensive.

It is easy to fail to recognize the changes that are constantly taking place right under our noses.  Uber (and now Lyft too) are destroying the taxicab monopoly in regions all across the country.

Email, cell phones, and social media are making the Post Office more obsolete by the day.

If you look at unions, they have actually been shrinking over the last several decades.

It is so hard to compare today’s world with the world of 100 years ago or 200 years ago.  It is hard to differentiate between liberty and freedom.  Liberty has shrunk in the sense that the federal government is more overbearing.  But freedom has increased in the sense that you have more choices today than ever before.

Someone living 100 years ago would have had more in common with someone from 2,000 years ago than they would have in common with someone today.  This gives a good perspective on how much technology and production have increased.

Computers, cell phones, the internet, and everything related to electronics have certainly exploded over the last 2 decades.  But if you compare today to 100 years ago, you have to talk about cars, airplanes, electricity, refrigerators, microwave ovens, air conditioning, etc.

Despite the presence of big government and the high cost of some basic needs, we are so much better off today than ever before, it is not even really comparable.

In terms of liberty, you must also consider things that we take for granted today.  Even though the U.S. continues to stir up wars overseas, Americans get to live in relative peace.  There is no draft.  There are no world wars.  War has been the norm for thousands of years.

19th century America was relatively free, especially in terms of the federal government.  Of course, there was slavery, which was the complete opposite of liberty.  There was also the so-called Civil War that resulted in well over half a million Americans dying in an area that wasn’t that populated at the time.

If you compare virtually anywhere prior to the 18th century to today, we are vastly freer in almost every sense.  We really do have freedom of speech and freedom of religion compared to those days.

After 1913, the U.S. got a federal income tax, the Federal Reserve, and the direct election of senators.  World War I quickly followed this.  Then we had alcohol prohibition, which overlapped with the Great Depression, which overlapped with World War II.

In terms of liberty, I think the only period that could be comparable to today would be the period in the United States between the end of the Civil War and prior to World War I.  Even there, we had the Spanish-American War in 1898.  Maybe you could just try around 1880 as the most libertarian time in history.

In comparing it to today, it is really comparing apples and oranges.  The federal government was unquestionably smaller at that time, but it was far from perfect.

Still, even if you make the argument that there was more liberty in 1880 than today, does it really matter that much?  Almost nobody would actually choose to go back to that time.  By today’s standards, it was a miserable time.

I write all of this just to offer some perspective, especially for libertarians.  We actually have it pretty good right now.

If Rand Paul Were More Like Ron Paul

When Rand Paul first entered into politics, I was told that he was more politically savvy than his father, Ron Paul.  I was told that he had his father’s libertarian streak, but that he knew how to tone his message down in order to appeal to a wider audience.

Rand Paul, in his first major foray into politics, succeeded by winning a Senate seat.  Perhaps his supporters were correct.

When Rand Paul was campaigning for his Senate seat, I immediately detected his far less radical message than his father.  I was told this was a good thing.  I was told that he is really a libertarian and that he just needs to say some of those “mainstream” things in order to get elected.  Once in office, he would be like his dad.

Since being in office, Rand Paul has not been like his father.  He is probably one of the best senators out of the 100, but that isn’t really saying much.

Now that he is running for president, I am told that Rand Paul has had to take certain positions in the Senate in order to position himself as electable in the presidential race.  Once in office, he will be more like his dad.

I suppose if Rand gets elected president, then I will be told throughout his first term that he has to take certain positions in order to get elected to a second term.  Once he gets into a second term, then he will be more like his dad.

For the last 6 years, I have been told by libertarian-leaning conservatives, and even some libertarians, that Rand Paul cannot be too much like his father.  If Rand is like Ron, then he won’t be successful.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what would have happened if Rand had been like Ron.  What if Rand had been delivering the same radical message as his father?  We don’t even have to go back over the last 6 years.  Let’s just consider if Rand’s presidential campaign had been similar to his father’s campaigns from 2007/2008 and 2011/2012.

  1. If Rand had been more like Ron, there would be hundreds of thousands of young adults today converted to a more radical libertarian message because they were too young to comprehend or take an interest in Ron’s message 4 or 8 years ago.
  2. If Rand had been more like Ron, there would be college students today taking their summers and holiday breaks to campaign for Rand.
  3. If Rand had been more like Ron, we would be seeing “money bombs” in which Rand’s campaign could be raising millions of dollars over a one-day period.
  4. If Rand had been more like Ron, we would be seeing blimps flying overhead with his name on them.
  5. If Rand had been more like Ron, there would be people taking leaves of absence from work to campaign for him.
  6. If Rand had been more like Ron, there would be signs and bumper stickers all over the place with Rand’s name on them.
  7. If Rand had been more like Ron, the post-debate polls taken online would have been overwhelmed with Rand supporters.
  8. If Rand had been more like Ron, we would be hearing true opposition to foreign interventionism, the drug war, the Federal Reserve, and other issues where we currently do not hear a libertarian message.
  9. If Rand had been more like Ron, he would be much higher in the polls.
  10. If Rand had been more like Ron, he would actually have a decent chance of winning in Iowa.

What worked for Rand in running for his Senate seat has not worked in running for the presidency.  Libertarians are worse off for Rand Paul not being a libertarian.  But we don’t have to worry about him winning the presidency and being misrepresented as a libertarian.  That’s because he is not going to be elected.

He has miscalculated politically, and I still don’t think he understands.  He thought he could play both sides of the fence.  Instead, he has managed to turn off both sides of the fence.

He wasn’t elected Senator by hiding from his father’s name.  If his name were Rand Smith, he would never have been elected to the Senate.  In terms of his presidential run, his name may as well be Rand Smith.

Will the U.S. Dollar Turn Into the Venezuelan Bolivar?

There was a recent article published on SchiffGold and reproduced on LewRockwell.com.  It asks the question if Americans could someday be using dollars as napkins?

The story is really about Venezuela.  The currency there is in hyperinflation.  Different people have different definitions of hyperinflation, but when estimates of the inflation rate range from 400% annually to over 800% annually, then most people will agree that is hyperinflation.

Venezuela is a great example of the “paradise” that the socialists seek.  The people chose Hugo Chavez to rule over them and his successor continues on with the same authoritarian policies.

The government will do everything in the name of helping the poor.  Meanwhile there are a greater percentage of poor people suffering in Venezuela than anywhere else in South America.  You can read stories about massive shortages of food, toilet paper, and other basic necessities.  This is the socialist paradise that Bernie Sanders wants to impose on us.

The government policies have been horrific in virtually every aspect, but the hyperinflation is probably the worst aspect.  When you can’t trade with a reliable currency, it leads to complete market chaos.  The whole pricing system is corrupt, if you can even call it a pricing system.  Until the hyperinflation stops or the currency is abandoned, the massive shortages will continue.

The article linked to above shows a picture of someone using a 2 bolivar note as a napkin to hold food.  It points out that the 2 bolivar note is somewhere around the equivalent of one-third of a U.S. cent.  This may be cheaper than using a napkin.  Unfortunately, paper money does not typically have a good texture for being used as toilet paper.  Toilet paper in Venezuela is more valuable at this point.

As to the question of whether the U.S. dollar will ultimately be used as a napkin, I still believe this is not going to happen.  Hyperinflation is not an impossible scenario in the U.S., but it is not a likely one.

This would mean a total loss of control of the currency by the Federal Reserve.  The Fed members would be destroying their own power and their own pensions.

We could certainly see double-digit price inflation as was seen in the 1970s, but it would be hard to imagine the Fed letting it go beyond that without calling in the likes of a Paul Volcker.

We also have to realize that the central bank’s actions are at least somewhat of a reflection of popular opinion.  If the public has little opinion, then they will try to get away with as much as they can.  I said above that the Venezuelans “chose” Hugo Chavez to rule over them.  This isn’t true of every individual in Venezuela, but it is true as a collective.  In order for a thug to rule as he did, there has to at least be tacit consent among a majority of the population.

It may not always feel this way, but there is a more independent and liberty-oriented streak in the hearts of the American people.  Just imagine if price inflation reaches 10% by the government’s own statistics.  What will happen?

My guess is that it won’t be like the 1970s.  There will be a strong minority who understand that the problem is central banking.  They will be posting articles and YouTube videos on Facebook.  They could do that now, but a lot of their friends probably ignore it.  If prices are going up at a significant pace and the American middle class is really feeling it, then some will start to pay attention.

I would say that 5 to 10 percent of the adult population in the U.S. have a decent understanding of the central bank.  They at least understand that the Fed is the primary culprit in rising prices.  If a good percentage of these people take to social media to tell their friends and relatives, I believe that a majority of Americans will come to at least a basic understanding that the central bank is the problem.

For this reason, I don’t think we will be using U.S. dollars as napkins.  They don’t soak up grease very well anyway.

Government Solutions Vs. Voluntary Solutions

The big story in the news today was the Kentucky clerk who is refusing to issue marriage licenses.  This comes after a Supreme Court decision that permits marriage licenses for gay couples.

This all reached an apex today when it was reported that the clerk – Kim Davis – was arrested after being found in contempt of court.  There is so much wrong with this, it is hard to know where to begin.

My immediate reaction was surprise.  I know the state does some crazy things, but are they really sending someone to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses?  In the real world outside of government, you don’t go to jail for not doing your job.  Usually your boss will tell you to do your job or they will find someone else to do it.  In most cases, if you still refuse, you will be fired.

This is the stark contrast between the force of government and the voluntary society.  In the free marketplace, this situation would be handled peacefully.  Nobody would be sent to jail.  If someone refused to do their job, they would likely be fired and not allowed on the property any more.  They would receive their last paycheck.

With this outrage, I get to hear all of the ignorant comments from both sides of the debate.  I generally try to be optimistic for the future of liberty, but I have to admit it is a little harder to be optimistic on days like today.

I have heard both sides citing the First Amendment to the Constitution.  I actually heard some ignorant fool saying that she is violating the 1st Amendment by not issuing the licenses because she is denying people their rights.

Let’s all read the 1st Amendment together.  In fact, you really only need to read the first five words: “Congress shall make no law…”

In case you need a translation, it means that Congress shall make no law.  How can somebody not in Congress not doing something be a violation of the 1st Amendment?  She is in violation of not doing her job, but there is quite a difference.

I don’t really sympathize with this woman either.  I know everyone has issues they are passionate about, but get a life.  The woman is working for the government, so what does she expect?  And for all of those defending her in the name of religious freedom, it must be difficult knowing that the woman was reportedly divorced four times.  I think someone should have refused to issue her a marriage license at some point along the way.

Of course, when it comes down to it, the government shouldn’t be licensing marriage.  As a libertarian, I have to remind people that this shouldn’t even be a debate.  It should be settled between private parties.  This may or may not include a church, but it shouldn’t involve the state.

I wish gay couples would just get married without the government-approved license.  Just avoid the gatekeepers.

I am sympathetic to the fact that gay couples are not treated equally in terms of filing taxes and health benefits.  As usual, this is all a problem created by the state.  There should be no income tax, so that would solve that problem.

In terms of health benefits, it is only tied to employers because of government taxes and regulations that originally put us on that path. This would also become a non-issue if the income tax were eliminated and health regulations repealed.

In terms of marriage, if there is to be any involvement, it should just be the state recognizing what is basically a contract.  This would be useful in cases of divorce and a few other circumstances such as granting access to records.

Regardless though, this should be decentralized to at least the state level.  Washington DC should have nothing to do with this issue.  After all of the ignorant fools get done reading what the 1st Amendment actually says, maybe they can move on to the 10th Amendment.

I hope this latest case of Kim Davis being sent to jail at least illustrates for some Americans the brutality of the state and how it handles situations.  We must always push for voluntary solutions that do not involve the use of force.