Immigration Ban: A Libertarian Perspective

There is much uproar over Donald Trump’s executive order to temporarily ban people from a list of seven particular countries.  There has been a lot of confusion about it all, but it seems that it has been clarified that green card holders are still able to return to the U.S.  If this had not been the case, it really would have been outrageous.

While I am offering my libertarian perspective here, I do have to say that it is my perspective.  There is much disagreement over the subject of immigration amongst libertarians, and there is much disagreement over this ban by Trump.

It is a tough issue for libertarians because of the fact that we are so far removed from anything resembling a free society.  Libertarians can agree that there should not be government welfare for immigrants (or anyone else), which would go a long way to solving the problem.  In addition, libertarians (at least the real ones) can agree that the U.S. government should stop the war making and interventions in other countries, especially since the governments of these countries did not aggress against us.  If this were the case, the threat of terrorism would decrease tremendously.

It becomes hard though when you have a state (government) and national borders.  There are libertarian arguments to be made for both sides of the immigration debate, as well as other alternative views that are not often discussed.

Overall, I do not agree with Trump’s ban, even if it is temporary.  But I do understand the thinking of those who favor it.

Of course, terrorism is an irrational fear for most Americans.  It is statistically ridiculous to worry about it.  The same people who are afraid of terrorists under their bed have little fear when they get into a car or take a bike ride.  They don’t have a fear of eating too much sugar, or going to the hospital and picking up an infection.  With terrorism, there is a miniscule chance of something actually happening.  You just hear about it when something does happen.

Another ridiculous thing about this ban is that – as some have pointed out – it doesn’t include Saudi Arabia.  That is a country that specializes in radicalizing people (for the worse).  It is a country where most of the 9/11 hijackers originated from, and the Saudi government was likely involved in supporting the 9/11 attacks.  Again, it makes no sense.

But the immigration ban itself isn’t the biggest story for me.  It is the absolute hypocrisy of most of the left.  It is a story of just how much the establishment media controls the narrative.

It goes without saying that many on the right can be hypocritical too, but not so much on this issue.  If they are wrong on this issue, at least they are being consistently wrong.

The media is pushing out all of these tragic stories about chaos at airports and people returning to the U.S. who are being denied access.  We hear about people missing a family member’s wedding or someone who was going to finish up their education.

I’m not trying to minimize all of these stories, but a little perspective would help.  Most of the people wailing and crying about this ban were silent for the last 8 years.  I know some have pointed out that Obama had some kind of 6-month ban on Iraqis entering the U.S., but that isn’t even what I’m talking about here.

The whole reason there is a refugee crisis in many of these countries is because the U.S. government has either threatened war or instituted war.  Obama and company overthrew the government in Libya and caused complete chaos.  Obama and company tried to overthrow Assad in Syria, and it has caused complete chaos.  The U.S. has been funding many of the bad guys there.

Over 26,000 bombs fell in 2016 alone by the U.S. government.  There are tens of thousands of people who have died at the hands of Obama (O-bomb-a?).  Where were the outcries?

While I don’t agree with Trump’s temporary ban, it is on a completely different scale from what has already happened.  It’s not to say that Trump won’t continue the bombing and interventions, but that is not what the left is crying about right now.

If I were a Muslim living in the Middle East, I would be a lot more upset about U.S. bombs blowing up my family members than not being able to enter one particular country on the entire planet.

If the left is so upset at Trump, should they not also be upset at every other country on the planet?  Why can’t some other first-world country take these people in if it is so important?  New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Japan, and Singapore would all be great places to live.  In fact, if you are coming from a war-torn region, even Mexico or Malaysia would be a great step up.  Where is the outcry?

These people are either total hypocrites, or completely naïve, or some combination of the two.  Obama and the presidents before him have completely destroyed civilization in much of the Middle East.  They have caused total chaos.  That is the number one problem.  It isn’t Trump’s ban on immigration from some of these countries.

The thousands of people who have died in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere all had a story.  The family members still suffering all have a story.  We don’t hear about the death and destruction though.  We hear about the poor Iranian guy who just missed a family member’s wedding because he was denied access.  We don’t hear about the Libyan guy who saw his child blown up at a wedding.

I think the death is a much bigger outrage, but that is just me.  Apparently the left doesn’t mind death and destruction, as long as it is being done by a Democrat.  It just really upsets them that the whole world can’t enter the United States and go on welfare.  At least we know where their priorities are.

Trump’s Unifying Speech

After Donald Trump’s inaugural speech on January 20, 2017, many of his critics went after Trump because his speech was supposedly not unifying.  They say that we typically have these tough campaigns where harsh words may be said, and that the inauguration of the new president should be a time where he brings us together in a conciliatory tone.

Trump’s speech was certainly not conciliatory, but it was unifying in a sense.  It depends on your perspective.

The reason Trump received the Republican nomination in the first place is because many Republicans are tired of electing politicians who don’t stand firm once they are elected.  While some view Trump as a bully, his supporters saw his tone as coming from someone who is an advocate and who is willing to fight on their behalf.  They are tired of politicians going to Washington D.C. only to appease all of the special interests.

Donald Trump is the first elected president in the U.S. in a very long time (maybe ever) who doesn’t really owe anything to anyone other than the general population.

If you didn’t see Trump’s speech, it is a good idea to read the text of it.  In fact, I think reading the text is actually a better idea than watching it because it can take some of your biases out of it.

Trump said, “we are transferring power from Washington D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”

He went on, “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.  Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth.  Politicians prospered, but the jobs left.  And the factories closed.”

Trump continued, “The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country.  Their victories have not been your victories.  Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.  And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.  That all changes starting right here and right now.  Because this moment is your moment.  It belongs to you.”

Trump also reiterated his “America First” message.  He said, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world.  But we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.  We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather to let it shine as an example.  We will shine for everyone to follow.”

There are certainly some aspects of Trump’s speech that libertarians should not like.  His vow to eradicate radical Islam is in conflict with his message of a less interventionist foreign policy.  He also repeats his protectionist lines about saving American jobs, but that is just bad economics.

Overall though, his speech is once again an anti-establishment speech.  He was pointing out the truth to the American people that they have been ripped off.  And many of the people ripping them off were sitting around Donald Trump while he was giving this speech.

So to the political establishment that has benefitted greatly at the expense of the average American, this was not a unifying speech.  He was specifically calling them out.

It was unifying for the American people if only they would pay attention to his actual words.  I am not saying that Trump is going to be able to fix everything, or even have any significant impact in the short term.  But Trump is identifying the criminals who are starting wars based on lies and who are ripping off the American public.

If a slave goes along with his master and doesn’t question anything, then this is unifying according to the Trump critics.  If someone points out to the slaves that they are being abused and can do better, then this is not a unifying message according to these people.

Trump actually had one of the most unifying speeches in presidential history.  He was trying to unify the 325 million people who are getting ripped off.  It was not unifying to those who have had the power in Washington D.C.

My conclusion, which is no great revelation, is that the non-libertarian Trump haters simply don’t understand that they are enslaving themselves.  Of course, you could say the same about many Trump supporters too, but to a lesser degree.

The Trump haters don’t understand the evils of the state.  They don’t understand, or don’t care to understand, the death and destruction that is brought to foreign lands at the hands of the U.S. government.  They don’t understand that the federal government spends $4 trillion per year, which is about $32,000 per household.  They don’t consider how much they could do with this money if left in their own hands.

Yet many of these Trump haters call for still bigger government.  Would they be happy if the government spent $5 trillion per year?

There is an irrational hatred of Trump.  Even though Trump won the election in the face of a hostile mainstream media, the media is not irrelevant.  If it were, there would not be so much irrational hatred of Trump.

If you want to criticize Trump on libertarian grounds, that’s fine.  But I don’t think most of these marchers and protesters and loud critics would have done the same thing if Hillary Clinton had been elected.  They were nowhere to be found over the last 8 years with Obama starting and continuing wars and cracking down on whistleblowers.

The non-libertarian Trump haters worship the state.  They do not understand that they are supporting evil.  They don’t understand that they are enslaving themselves.

Dow 20,000. Why Not Dow 100,000?

The Dow finally hit the 20,000 mark.  It seemed as inevitable as an anti-Trump story hitting the nightly news.

The Dow is only 30 stocks, and 20,000 is only a nice round number.  Maybe it is psychologically significant, but I think it is more significant as a symbol of our economy.

As I speculated recently, we may be in something of a mini-boom right now.  It is a mild boom for certain sectors of the economy.  Unfortunately, this does not include most of middle-class America.

And even for those in middle-class America who do seem to be doing ok, some of it may be an illusion.  It may be a rug under their feet that is about to be pulled.

I think stock prices are highly misleading as economic indicators.  There is no question that they are relevant.  It is no coincident that stock prices tumbled in the fall of 2008 with the fall of the economy.

But the economy was set to fall anyway.  There was a bubble economy that had been set by many years of monetary inflation and low interest rates, courtesy of the Fed.  This happened under Greenspan, before Bernanke took office.  The short time Bernanke was in office prior to the financial crisis, the Fed had actually tightened monetary policy.  Then the inevitable bust came.

Stocks are not an indication of the health of the economy.  If they are at all, it is the exact opposite of what we are told.  A booming stock market often means that there is a great deal of malinvestment (misallocated resources) taking place.  While the times may feel good for some, much of it is an illusion.

Imagine a world without any monetary inflation.  It doesn’t matter if it is a highly disciplined central bank that doesn’t print money, or if it is some kind of commodity that can’t increase.  In such a world, rising stock prices would not be the norm.  Individual stocks would go up and down as usual based on company profitability and potential future profitability.  But stock indexes would likely be relatively stable.

People would still own stocks for the possibility of capital gains, but the primary reason would be dividends from the profits.  It is confusing in today’s world where supposedly profitable companies pay little or no dividends.  What is the point of owning an investment if it never pays out a dividend?  Much of the capital gains are a result of easy money and speculation, and little to do with future dividends.

Of course, in a world with no monetary inflation, your purchasing power would increase as productivity increases.  Even if your stocks did not increase in price, your purchasing power would still be increasing if the prices stayed the same.

Japan in an interesting example of where the stock market (the Nikkei) hit its all-time high in 1989.  After a major crash, it has done very little since that time.  It has been a horrible investment.  It is only with the recent monetary inflation that stocks have done ok there (but still down about 50% from its all-time nominal high nearly 3 decades ago).

Japan had a relatively tight monetary policy throughout the 1990s and 2000s.  But the economy still struggled due to high government spending.  It is unique because the government spent massive amounts of money and accumulated great amounts of debt, but did not finance it through central bank inflation until only recently.  For some reason, the Japanese people felt some kind of patriotic duty to buy their government’s debt at low interest rates.

In most cases, a tight monetary policy is good for an economy because it limits government spending.  It may not seem like a booming time, but it is key in avoiding the busts.  It is better to grow consistently rather than having these booms and busts that distort production and make us poorer than we otherwise would have been.

Dow 20,000 is no victory.  If anything, it should serve as a warning sign.  We could have Dow 100,000 if the Fed really wanted it that way.  They could start up QE4 and start buying up assets at a rate of $100 billion per month or more.  If they are more aggressive than QE3, then they could keep this party going for quite a bit longer.

Of course, this would be highly destructive in the long run.  It would only serve to misallocate more resources and divert investment away from consumer goods that would be most in demand if left to the free market.

Nobody should hope for Dow 100,000.  It would be a sign of great monetary inflation and a massive drain on capital investment that is in accordance with consumer demand.  Dow 20,000 is bad enough.

We should hope for a tight monetary policy and a reduction in government spending.  This is the key ingredient for more savings and capital investment.  This is the key to greater productivity that is in accordance with consumer demand.  This is the way we increase our living standards sustainably.

Price Inflation Uptick in December 2016

I like to look at the updated Consumer Price Index (CPI) each month.  I look at the CPI that is most often quoted by the Fed and financial media.  I also like to look at the median CPI, which tends to be more stable.

The numbers in December show that consumer price inflation is continuing to tick upwards.  The CPI was up by 0.3% from the previous month.  Perhaps more importantly, the year-over-year CPI is now at 2.1%, which actually puts it slightly above the Fed’s 2% target.

The median CPI continues to be stable.  The year-over-year median CPI ticked back up to 2.6%.  It had been at 2.5% for the previous 3 months.

Since this is a libertarian blog, I have to give the usual disclaimer of why I am even looking at the CPI – a government statistic.  While it is true that the government’s numbers on consumer prices do not reflect the true inflation, the CPI numbers are important nonetheless.

It is impossible to measure overall consumer prices anyway.  It is impossible to account for all of the changes in quality, and it is impossible to know how much each consumer product is made up of each person’s expenditures.  Even if you could get an accurate account, the numbers are going to be different for each individual and their family.  Some families spend more on food, while others prefer to live in a bigger house.  Other families may have to spend a higher percentage of income on medical expenses.

The CPI numbers are important though for two reasons.  First, it is useful for telling us trends.  Maybe the CPI numbers are understated, but they are telling us right now that price inflation is ticking upwards, at least according to the government’s own numbers.

Second, the CPI is important to look at because it is used by the Fed and the financial media.  If the Fed is using the CPI numbers to base its decisions on monetary policy, then we must look at it too.

Right now, the CPI is telling us that consumer prices are slightly rising.  It is not a lot.  It is nothing close to the 1970s.

It is interesting though because the Fed has kept a tight monetary policy since it ended QE3 in October 2014 (over 2 years ago).  But there are other factors that impact price inflation.  These include productivity, the demand for money, and bank lending.

As I noted in a previous post, the excess reserves held by commercial banks have dropped significantly, even a little beyond the stated drop in the adjusted monetary base.  If banks are lending more money, this is essentially the same as an increase in the money supply due to the process of fractional reserve lending.

Regardless of the various reasons for an uptick in consumer prices, it is important in how it may impact Fed policy.  At this point, it seems it will make it more likely that the Fed will continue with its tight monetary policy, and that continued hikes in its target rate are more likely.

The Fed has been increasing (even if slowly) its target federal funds rate, which is the overnight borrowing rate for banks.  The Fed has been increasing this rate by paying a higher interest rate on bank reserves.  This is a continued subsidy (bailout?) for the banks.

So far, the Fed’s two rate hikes (December 2015 and December 2016) have not increased excess reserves.  If anything, it has been the opposite.  But if the Fed hikes its target rate enough times, it will have an impact.  It will discourage banks from lending, as it is easier for them to earn a decent interest rate by parking their depositors’ money at the Fed.  It is better to have a guaranteed rate with no risk of default.

It is possible we are in some kind of a mini-boom right now, as stock indexes continue to test new highs.  But we shouldn’t expect this to last long.  The Fed will have trouble keeping interest rates down if consumer price inflation continues to tick higher.  The Fed will not be able to credibly threaten more monetary easing either.

Even though criticism of the Fed is running high (at least compared to the past where it received almost none), the Fed has still had something of a free lunch.  It has been able to manipulate monetary policy with little fear of price inflation in the markets.  The Fed was able to multiply the base money supply by almost five times from 2008 to 2014, yet there was little consumer price inflation to show for it.

Perhaps the easy days are over for the Fed.  If consumer price inflation becomes any kind of significant factor, it is going to further limit the Fed’s ability to manipulate monetary policy, particularly on any future easing.

The worst-case scenario for the Fed would be a situation similar to the 1970s where there is increasing price inflation with recessionary conditions.  It is still possible we could see that again, even if it takes a few years to play out.

Trump Bullies His Way to the Presidency

Donald Trump has officially become the 45th president of the United States.  To be more accurate, he is the 45th president under the U.S. Constitution.  We forget about the presidents who served under the Articles of Confederation.

As I have stated previously, Trump has put his life in great danger by taking some of the positions he has, and picking some of the fights he has.  This isn’t about him having squabbles with celebrities or certain reporters.  It is about his entire challenge to the establishment and the status quo.

Trump has questioned the U.S. empire overseas.  He has questioned belonging to NATO.  He says he wants to get along with the Russians.  More recently, he has been taking on the CIA and other intelligence (so-called) agencies.  He has also shown the establishment media for the liars that they are, at least for anyone who cares enough to look.

Trump has put himself in danger, but it isn’t from a lone nut who thinks he is a racist because he heard it on television.  The threat is from the establishment.  It is the heads of the CIA.  It is the Clinton family.  It is the Bush family.  It is McCain and Graham in the senate.  It is the other elements of what some refer to as the deep state.

I hear over and over again that Trump is a bully.  The only problem I have with this characterization is that most of the verbal fights that involve Trump are either with political opponents or people who initially went after him.  In this sense, he is a defensive bully if anything.

If Trump’s wife is worried about him being a playboy, I am not sure she has to worry much anymore.  He is too busy sending out tweets about celebrities at 3:00 in the morning.

Trump supposedly doesn’t sleep much though.  He really is the opposite of low-energy Jeb.  Trump can spend five hours a day responding to insults and still have another 12 hours to make speeches, have meetings, and study policy.

While some consider Trump to be a bully, I think his persona is the reason he won the presidency.  This is an important point to realize.  People are tired of being walked over, and they are tired of electing people who get walked over.  The typical Republican politician gets elected and then proceeds to backtrack on almost everything that was said about taking on Washington or reducing big government.

People want an advocate.  They want a fighter, as long as he is perceived to be on their side.  They don’t want somebody who is going to roll over.

For all of you libertarians out there, imagine if Rand Paul had won the presidency.  Do you really think he would have the guts to take on the CIA directly?  Do you think he would tell a CNN reporter that he works for a horrible organization that puts out lies?  Do you think he would continually challenge the establishment?

Ron Paul, if he had been elected president, probably would have challenged the establishment in a more quiet way.  Ron Paul is a gentleman and probably wouldn’t have gotten involved in squabbles.  Then again, it may be part of the reason he didn’t get even more votes than what he did in is presidential runs.  If you don’t fight back, then the American public accepts the lies that are told about you.

Here is a reality check.  If Trump hadn’t continuously fought back on Twitter and elsewhere, he would not be the president.  He had to fight back, or otherwise the lies told about him would have stuck more than they did.  They have still stuck with about half the country, but the other half likes that he fights back.  They want him to fight on their behalf as well.

We have no idea what Trump will do as president.  Maybe he will continue with his tough words but lay down on the major issues.  Maybe it will only be a slightly different status quo, although we can hope for better.

The major problem with Trump for libertarians is his lack of grounded principles.  He does not understand basic economics, and he does not have any firm and consistent beliefs that span the issues.  His main principle is that he wants to judge each individual issue on its own merits.  He certainly has no understanding of a concept such as the non-aggression principle.

Still, given our current populace, I think Trump might be as good as we could have hoped for.  If he has some honesty in him, and he tries to take on the forces of evil, then it will be a service to all of the good people in the country (and outside the country) whether they know it or not.

We have not had an honest president since at least Ronald Reagan, and I’m not even sure about him.  It’s possible that Jimmy Carter was honest, but he was too incompetent even if he was.  I think Kennedy had some honesty within him, which is likely why he was taken out by the CIA.

Over the next 4 years, I think a major goal for libertarians should be to help honest Trump haters understand just why he was elected.  There are some people out there who hate Trump and can’t understand how he could be elected, yet might be open-minded enough to listen to some reasoning.  The biggest problem these people face is that they do not comprehend how evil the establishment forces are.  They don’t understand how bad big government is to their liberties and their pocketbooks.

You don’t have to defend everything Trump does in order to do this.  We know Trump will do some horrible things, particularly on the economic front.  But it is important to point out that people voted for Trump because they feel forgotten and wanted an advocate.  They were tired of the lies, and they were tired of the elite who think the little people don’t matter.

Trump may or may not be a bully.  But many millions of Americans saw his toughness as a giant middle finger to the establishment.  Some people are tired of being walked over and want to be left alone.

Did Obama Just Do Something Right?

There hasn’t been a whole lot for libertarians to celebrate over the last 8 years of an Obama presidency.  It’s not that there was a lot to celebrate prior to Obama either, but there was at least a glimpse of hope in 2008 that maybe Obama would follow through on some of his campaign promises of less war and greater civil liberties.

The few good things I can say about Obama are things that he didn’t do.  He didn’t start a war with Iran.  He didn’t impose martial law.  He didn’t aggressively go after states that legalized marijuana.

Obama also opened up some trade with Cuba, although even here you could argue that he just stopped enforcing the embargoes.

Most everything Obama did do was wrong and anti-liberty.  I already pointed out 6 of his biggest lies.

Well, Obama may have done something at least somewhat right, just as he is leaving office.  It was reported today that Obama has commuted most of the rest of the prison sentence for Chelsea Manning.  Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but will be set free on May 17 of this year.

I don’t fully know the reasoning that Obama did this.  I know it was not out of pure principle and the goodness of his heart because Obama is a liar and has helped kill tens of thousands of people overseas.  In 2017 alone, Obama’s military dropped over 26,000 bombs.

There must have been some pressure from certain groups to free Chelsea Manning.

Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) is in jail for exposing the criminality of government workers.  Manning exposed some of the many atrocities of the Iraq War, including abuse of detainees.  A video was also released showing a helicopter attack on people on the ground in Iraq, as the American murderers in the helicopter casually comment on the death.

This is the world of the Obama presidency.  He campaigned to have a transparent administration, with protection for whistleblowers.  But I guess he meant he would only protect whistleblowers from private corporations.  If you expose the criminality of government, then you yourself become the criminal.

It is the same with Edward Snowden, who exposed the top-level liars at the NSA.  He exposed the criminal spying of the NSA, only to become one of the most-wanted men in the world by the U.S. government.

I don’t know if it was the pressure of anti-war groups, transgender groups, civil liberty groups, or a bunch of groups combining forces.  But for some reason, Obama decided to commute Chelsea Manning’s long sentence.  Of course, he should have issued a full pardon and immediate release, but it is still a small shining light.

This obviously does not change my opinion of Obama in any way.  He still holds much responsibility for all of the death and destruction that has rained down on the Middle East over the last 8 years.  Still, we can celebrate this one minor victory for the cause of liberty and justice.

Trump Takes on the CIA

The Trump presidency is going to be one for the ages.  He challenged the establishment media again in his last press conference, essentially calling the people at CNN a bunch of liars and propagators of fake news.

As I write this, there is less than one week to go until Trump is set to take the presidency.  We’ll see if he can make it there.

Rosie O’Donnell stated earlier in the week that she supports delaying Trump’s presidency by imposing martial law.  I don’t think even Obama will try to get away with this though.

The scarier aspect is just how many enemies Trump has accumulated inside the establishment.  The worst of the worst characters are all against him.  He should realize that he shouldn’t even trust everyone who has supposedly supported him.  If I were Trump, I would not be trusting of the war hawks from the Bush era such as John Bolton.

It is good that Trump is realizing who is enemies are and just how dangerous they are.  He should fear the Bush family, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham just as much as the media and the Democratic establishment.

Trump’s biggest challenge is perhaps the spy/ intelligence agencies.  They are putting out these lies about Trump.  At least Trump is understanding that they are his enemies.

Trump is going to be the first president since Kennedy to boldly take on the CIA.  Of course, we all know how Kennedy’s presidency ended.  I know that Trump is keeping some of his personal security, but I really hope he knows how dangerous the situation is for him.

If the establishment insiders do try to assassinate Trump, it is possible it could ultimately work against them.  Think about when Obi Wan Kenobi allowed Darth Vader to strike him down.  He allows this only when he sees that Luke is watching.

Well, in this situation, the entire country is watching.  If they try to strike down Trump, only the most naive will believe a lone-nut theory.  You would really have to have your head in the sand to not understand that it was the establishment (the powers-that-be, the deep state, whatever you want to call it) responsible for it.

Trump is not a libertarian.  There are many positions he takes that are anti-libertarian.  Still, sometimes certain things have a way of taking shape.

Just the fact that Trump took on the establishment and won the presidency is a great accomplishment.  It means that the American people do have a say.  It means that we are not fully controlled by the establishment.

I think Trump serves a purpose of gaining long-term liberty for us.  He is throwing a wrench into the whole system.  His ideas on how to fix the problems aren’t as relevant as the fact that he is exposing the awful system.  While the insiders try to delegitimize Trump, he is helping to delegitimize them.

I’d like to make something of an analogy here.  Perhaps we can see certain similarities with Mikhail Gorbachev.  He was the head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991.  He became the head of state of the Soviet Union in 1988.  He also oversaw the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev had a lot of bad ideas.  He was a communist.  But in the end, he was a decent enough human being to not use violence in opposing the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union.  Maybe he just saw the writing on the wall, but it is easy to imagine many dictators not letting things go so easily without a violent fight.

Gorbachev was about the best we could have hoped for at that time in the Soviet Union.  There wasn’t going to be a libertarian head of state there, or anything close to that.  Gorbachev was just good enough that it allowed the state to collapse and for some liberty to find light.

Perhaps it is the same with Trump.  We all know he has his shortcomings.  But maybe he has just enough honesty and is principled enough to keep standing up against the evil establishment.  Maybe he will serve the simple purpose of exposing just how evil the establishment and all of the cronies are.

Trump has put himself in great danger.  For this, he has done a service to the American people, whether they know it or not.  He is exposing the media for the liars that they are.  He is exposing just how rotten the entire system is.

I don’t know if Trump will personally win his fight with the CIA, but either way the American people are the beneficiaries of this fight.  It is removing the legitimacy of this agency and the entire bureaucratic structure.  For this, we can thank Trump for his service so far, even before he has become president.

Excess Reserves Fall With Adjusted Monetary Base

One chart that we have to pay particular attention to this year is the excess reserves held by banks.  You can find that here.

This is an important piece of economic data, coupled with the adjusted monetary base.  You can find the adjusted monetary base here.

The excess reserves have been falling.  There was a peak of $2.7 trillion in August 2014.  Just for some context, excess reserves were around $2 billion prior to September 2008.  Prior to the financial crisis, most banks did not hold any significant amounts of excess reserves.  This is why the federal funds rate (overnight borrowing rate) was so much more important back then.

Since the peak of about $2.7 trillion over 2 years ago, the total excess reserves now stand around $1.925 trillion.  We have seen a drop of nearly $800 billion.

In August 2014, the adjusted monetary base was just over $4.1 trillion. (It had been just over $800 billion prior to September 2008.) The monetary base is now around $3.4 trillion.

In other words, the excess reserves have dropped with the dropping monetary base.  The excess reserves have fallen slightly more.

If excess reserves were to drop without a corresponding drop in the monetary base, then this would be highly inflationary.

The Fed is supposed to be maintaining a tight money policy now.  QE3 ended in October 2014, but the Fed is still rolling over maturing debt.  There are some technicalities of why the monetary base may be gradually decreasing.

The important thing right now is the relationship between excess reserves and the monetary base.  If we see a divergence at some point, it is going to give us a good indication of the economic environment that is coming.

The Fed has raised its target federal funds rate, which means it is paying a higher interest rate on reserves.  This should keep banks from lending, but it hasn’t seemed to have done much up to this point.

If the monetary base continues to gradually decrease or flatten while the excess reserves start going back up, then this will indicate a greater chance of recession.

If the monetary base flattens while the excess reserves keep falling, then this will indicate a higher likelihood of increasing inflation in the near future.

We will continue to watch these two sets of data throughout 2017.

Trump Needs to Stop “Saving” Jobs

The next four years are going to be interesting. Trump has really split many libertarians on whether or not to support him.

Of course, the answer is simple. As libertarians, we should cheer him on when he is right, and we should oppose him when he is wrong. And when he is wrong, we should explain why he is incorrect and what the libertarian answer is.

Trump has been great in opposing much of the establishment. Most of the people I most loathe are enemies of Trump. Therefore, I conclude that Trump must have some good qualities.

For this piece though, I must oppose him. He is simply wrong on the issue of bringing jobs back to the United States.

Not long after being elected, Trump took credit for saving jobs that the company Carrier was going to move outside the country. This was an issue that divided many libertarians.

Libertarians are often divided on the subject of targeted tax deductions. Some will say that any tax deduction should be supported because it means less money for the government, and it is allowing someone to keep more of their own money.

Some libertarians oppose targeted tax deductions because it does not put everyone on a level playing field. They say if we are going to lower taxes, it should be done for everyone, or at least everyone paying that particular tax. In addition, when the government uses debt to finance some of its expenditures, the decreased taxes for one company or individual really can come at the expense of others.

I tend to side more with the first group, while still being sympathetic to the latter. Still, with this Trump/ Carrier story, I thought the libertarian critics might be on to something. And as it turns out, I now think they were on to something important.

Trump is already starting to act as something of an economic dictator. He should not be singling out individual companies unless those companies are getting specific government benefits in the first place.

After Trump was criticizing Ford and General Motors (two companies, particularly the latter, that we should not feel sorry for because of government favors), he is now going after car companies based outside of the United States. Trump recently went after Toyota, saying they could face a big border tax if the company built cars in Mexico and then sold them in the U.S. market.

As this article points out, Nissan could really be in trouble, as it produces more than 800,000 cars per year in Mexico, and it has been producing cars there for a long time now.

Many of these plants have been established for a long time, and it would be very costly to move them into the United States. In the case of Nissan, the inexpensive (relatively) Versa and Sentra are produced in Mexico. These are cars that are affordable to some Americans who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a new car at all. If Trump forces these companies to move operations to the U.S. or face a border tax, the price of these cars will rise significantly.

With all that said, here is the biggest problem with Trump on this issue. He is simply wrong in his economic analysis. It should not be his goal to create jobs. It should not be his goal to bring jobs into the United States from foreign countries.

This is a major economic fallacy than even many conservatives and libertarian-leaning people get wrong.

In order to increase our living standards, the key to success is increased productivity. We don’t want to create jobs for the sake of creating jobs. If it is being done through government interference, it is harming production and misallocating resources.

Trump needs to learn the concept of comparative advantage. Perhaps no cars should be built in the United States from an economic efficiency point of view. Some jobs are better left for others. Is Trump going to try to bring manufacturing back to his hometown of New York City? After all, New York City barely produces any manufactured goods. They are mostly dealing with digital services.

If cars can be made cheaper in Mexico, that is fine. There are plenty of jobs to be done as long as we live in a world with scarce resources. There is nothing wrong with Americans specializing in providing services. This should all be sorted out by the free market.

Now, it could be the case that some of these jobs in Mexico (or anywhere else) might not have gone there in the first place if the U.S. government did not impose high corporate taxes and a high regulatory burden. Of course, this should be corrected in the form of reduced regulations and lower corporate taxes (and even individual taxes). This is something that Trump could work towards fixing that would actually improve our economy and our living standards.

Placing tariffs on goods for the sake of punishing companies is counter productive. It just hurts American consumers, which is basically everyone living inside the United States.

Trump should stop trying to save jobs, other than freeing up the marketplace. If he continues with these threats – or worse, imposes tariffs – it is going to make the economy worse.

Creating jobs does not make us wealthier. Increased production that is in accordance with consumer demand makes us wealthier.

6 Major Lies of the Obama Administration

After nearly 8 years of an Obama presidency, and despite a major defeat for Democrats in the last election, Obama remains somewhat popular. While a lot of people aren’t necessarily happy with the state of the union, many still see Obama as a likeable guy.

If Obama really were just a nice guy who happened to oversee some bad policies, then maybe we could have some sympathy towards him. But, while I don’t think Obama is the sharpest tool in the shed, he isn’t naïve either. He has known that he has overseen evil over the last 8 years.

His administration has continually lied to the American people for 8 years, and Obama himself has helped in the lying and deceiving. Here is a list of 6 of the biggest lies of the Obama administration, many of which cost countless lives and impacted tens of millions of people.

  1. When pushing for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), he stated over and over again that if you are happy with your doctor and your health insurance plan, then you can keep it. It was not long after the implementation of Obamacare that health insurance plans that were previously available were no longer available due to the changes and mandates in the law.
  2. The Obama administration claimed that Assad (in Syria) used chemical weapons against his own people. There was no evidence of this at the time, and it was easy to see that it was a lie being told to justify war in Syria. Like so many things that high-level government officials say, it was likely the exact opposite. It was most likely the enemies of Assad (likely funded by the U.S. government) who used the chemical weapons.
  3. Obama and company lied about Libya. He first said that regime change would be a mistake. He said that Qaddafi was a threat to the civilian population. It was another lie to justify war, which has caused massive death and destruction in the country. Libya is now far more dangerous and unstable than it was before. It is Obama who was a major threat to the civilian population of Libya.
  4. The CIA and other elements within the U.S. government helped to overthrow the democratically elected leader in Ukraine. After this, the people of Crimea voted (with over 96% approval) to join Russia. The people there are mostly Russian speaking, and it is no surprise that they wanted to break away from the unstable Ukraine where living standards are far worse than in Russia. Then the U.S. government and its puppet media tell the lie that Putin invaded and annexed Crimea. Putin did not invade Crimea. He simply accepted their vote and will to join Russia.
  5. When a Turkish airline was shot down over Ukraine, the Obama administration almost immediately blamed Russia with no evidence. Even if it was shot down by Russians, this does not automatically implicate the Russian state. Obama responded with sanctions against Russia. There is still no proof that the Russian state was responsible for this in any way.
  6. In the lead up to the Iraq War, the Bush administration would make hints that Iraq played a role in the 9/11 attacks. They would not directly say that, but they allowed others to say it without correction. They steered the narrative that way without officially lying (although many other lies were told). This is what Obama is doing with the allegations of Russian hacking. As Julian Assange stated in an interview, Obama is playing a lawyer. He is being very careful with his words. There is absolutely no evidence that Russia was involved in the information turned over to Wikileaks or hacked the election in any way. I will take Assange’s word over Obama’s word any day. Are we really supposed to trust an anonymous CIA source? These are many of the same people and all of the same agencies that lied about weapons of mass destruction. If a high-level CIA person says something important, you should believe the opposite until you can prove otherwise. Obama is playing war games with Russia and joining the war hawk conservatives in trying to delegitimize Trump. Obama is knowingly lying and deceiving about this.

Obama may seem like a fun guy who likes to play basketball, but he is an apologist for the regime. He originally campaigned that he would have a transparent presidency. Now he seeks to punish anyone who dares to tell the truth about the government’s lies and all of its crimes.

Obama has major blood on his hands. It was reported recently that in 2016 alone, the U.S. government dropped 26,171 bombs on foreign countries.

Obama is not a nice guy. He is a killer. He is a liar. He has intentionally helped to commit these evil crimes.

He will now retire from the presidency and make a lot of money giving speeches and live in a huge house with his family. Meanwhile, tens of millions of people and their countries lay in ruin because of his policies.