Archive | September, 2013

The Secret FISA Court Sytem

26 Sep

Is the FISA Court Constitutional?

By

After President Richard Nixon left office in 1974, a bipartisan congressional investigation discovered many of his constitutional excesses. Foremost among them was the use of FBI and CIA agents to spy on Americans in violation of federal law and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Nixon argued that the government needed to monitor “subversives” in order to shore up the “national security.” As for breaking the law and violating the Constitution, Nixon defended himself by proclaiming in a now infamous post-presidency interview with David Frost that: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

That Henry VIII-like statement was too much for Congress to bear in the Carter years, so it enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which prohibited domestic spying unless the feds first obtained search warrants for surveillance from a federal judge sitting on a newly created FISA court. The FISA court, populated by sitting federal judges assigned there by the chief justice, was charged with issuing secret general warrants based upon secret evidence or no evidence and all in violation of the Constitution, which requires the presentation of evidence that constitutes probable cause of crime as the sole linchpin for the issuance of a search warrant.

When Edward Snowden, the former contractor to the National Security Administration (NSA), revealed that since at least 2004 the FISA court has been issuing general warrants to NSA agents and to telecoms and Internet service providers directing that the NSA capture in bulk the content of telephone calls and emails and texts sent into, out of or within the United States, we learned a bit more about the operation of the FISA court.

What we learned makes it self-evident that the FISA Court itself is unconstitutional.

The Constitution establishes a limited federal government, which includes a limited federal judiciary. Because the Framers feared that federal judges might act as super-legislatures and go about declaring unconstitutional whatever legislation or presidential actions displeased them, they wrote into Article III of the Constitution the absolute prerequisite of the existence of a case or controversy before the jurisdiction of any federal court could be invoked.

The case or controversy requirement was drafted to prevent courts from rendering advisory opinions whereby they simply declared that they had certain authority or that some statute or executive act was unconstitutional. The case or controversy requirement has been uniformly interpreted by the Supreme Court to require either a plaintiff whose allegations state a case of real palpable harm against a defendant, or a defendant in a criminal case who is in real jeopardy of losing life, liberty or property at the hands of the government before a federal court may have jurisdiction.

The case or controversy requirement demands that there be real adversity between two or more distinct entities each of which has a stake in the outcome of a dispute before a federal court can exercise any jurisdiction. Federal courts can only resolve disputes; they cannot rule with finality in the abstract or when approached by only one party. They can grant preliminary temporary relief to one party — in order to freeze the status quo and in anticipation of an adversarial contest on the merits — but they cannot rule when only one party is noticed and shows up.

This is precisely how the FISA court functions, and yet we have no merit-based ruling by the Supreme Court on its constitutionality. We do, however, have a solid indication as to how the court would rule. The seminal case in Supreme Court history is Marbury v. Madison (1803). In that case, Congress had attempted to give original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to hear a dispute that the Constitution said could only be heard by that court in an appellate setting. In denying Marbury’s meritorious claim, the court held definitively that Congress cannot alter the Constitution’s requirements that serve as a precondition for invoking the jurisdiction of a federal court.

But this is just what Congress did with FISA. In the FISA court, only the government appears, seeking a generalized search warrant without regard to the facts of any specific case. There is no case or controversy in the constitutional sense as there is no adversariness: No plaintiff is suing a defendant, and no defendant is being prosecuted by the government. Absent adversariness, the federal courts have no jurisdiction to do anything.

This flawed system is complicated even further by the fact that should the FISA court deny an application for a general warrant because it believes the government’s procedures to be illegal or unconstitutional, those court orders are non-binding and the government has ignored them. Unenforceable rulings that may be disregarded by another branch of the government are not judicial decisions at all, but impermissible advisory opinions prohibited by the Framers.

When a FISA court judge rules that the NSA has the constitutional power to spy on Americans about whom it has no evidence of wrongdoing, as one judge did two weeks ago, because that ruling did not emanate out of a case or controversy — no one was in court to dispute it — the court is without authority to hear the matter, and thus the ruling is meaningless.

By altering the constitutionally mandated requirement of the existence of a case or controversy before the jurisdiction of the federal courts may be invoked, Congress has lessened the protection of the right to be left alone that the Framers intentionally sought to enshrine. But don’t expect the government to wake up to this threat to our freedom. Its consistent behavior has demonstrated that it doesn’t care whether it violates the Constitution. Instead, expect the president’s secret agents and the politicians who support them to hide their wrongdoing behind more layers of secrecy.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

Copyright © 2013 Andrew P. Napolitano

The Emerging American Police State

24 Sep

ARKET

Common Core: A Lesson Plan for Raising Up Compliant, Non-Thinking Citizens

By

The Rutherford Institute

As I point out in my new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, there are several methods for controlling a population. You can intimidate the citizenry into obedience through force, relying on military strength and weaponry such as SWAT team raids, militarized police, and a vast array of lethal and nonlethal weapons. You can manipulate them into marching in lockstep with your dictates through the use of propaganda and carefully timed fear tactics about threats to their safety, whether through the phantom menace of terrorist attacks or shooting sprees by solitary gunmen.  Or you can indoctrinate them into compliance from an early age through the schools, discouraging them from thinking for themselves while rewarding them for regurgitating whatever the government, through its so-called educational standards, dictates they should be taught.

Those who founded America believed that an educated citizenry knowledgeable about their rights was the surest means of preserving freedom. If so, then the inverse should also hold true: that the surest way for a government to maintain its power and keep the citizenry in line is by rendering them ignorant of their rights and unable to think for themselves.

When viewed in light of the government’s ongoing attempts to amass power at great cost to Americans—in terms of free speech rights, privacy, due process, etc.—the debate over Common Core State Standards, which would transform and nationalize school curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade, becomes that much more critical.

Essentially, these standards, which were developed through a partnership between big government and corporations, in the absence of any real input from parents or educators with practical, hands-on classroom experience, and are being rolled out in 45 states and the District of Columbia, will create a generation of test-takers capable of little else, molded and shaped by the federal government and its corporate allies into what it considers to be ideal citizens.

Moreover, as Valerie Strauss reports for the Washington Post: “The costs of the tests, which have multiple pieces throughout the year plus the computer platforms needed to administer and score them, will be enormous and will come at the expense of more important things. The plunging scores will be used as an excuse to close more public schools and open more privatized charters and voucher schools, especially in poor communities of color. If, as proposed, the Common Core’s ‘college and career ready’ performance level becomes the standard for high school graduation, it will push more kids out of high school than it will prepare for college.”

With so much money to be made and so many questionable agendas at work, it is little wonder, then, that attempts are being made to squelch any and all opposition to these standards. For example, at a recent public forum to discuss the implementation of these standards in Baltimore County public schools, one parent, 46-year-old Robert Small, found himself “pulled out of the meeting, arrested and charged with second-degree assault of a police officer” simply for daring to voice his discontent with the standards during a Q&A session with the superintendent.

“Don’t stand for this. You are sitting here like cattle,” shouted Robert Small to his fellow attendees as he was being dragged out of the “forum” on the Common Core standards. “Is this America?”

No, Mr. Small, this is no longer America. This is, instead, fascism with a smile, sold to us by our so-called representatives, calculating corporations, and an educational system that is marching in lockstep with the government’s agenda.

In this way, we are being conditioned to be slaves without knowing it. That way, we are easier to control. “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude,” writes Aldous Huxley.

The original purpose of a pre-university education in early America was not to prepare young people to be doctors or lawyers but, as Thomas Jefferson believed, to make citizens knowledgeable about “their rights, interests, and duties as men and citizens.”

Yet that’s where the problem arises for us today. Most citizens have little, if any, knowledge about their basic rights, largely due to an educational system that does a poor job of teaching the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Many studies confirm this. For instance, when Newsweek asked 1,000 adult U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29% of respondents couldn’t name the current vice president of the United States. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why America fought the Cold War. More critically, 44% were unable to define the Bill of Rights.

That Americans are constitutionally illiterate is not a mere oversight on the part of government educators. And things will only get worse under Common Core, which as the Washington Post reports, is a not-so-subtle attempt “to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum.”

Putting aside the profit-driven motives of the corporations and the power-driven motives of the government, there is also an inherent arrogance in the implementation of these Common Core standards that speaks to the government’s view that parents essentially forfeit their rights when they send their children to a public school, and should have little to no say in what their kids are taught and how they are treated by school officials. This is evident in the transformation of the schools into quasi-prisons, complete with metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, and surveillance cameras. The result is a generation of young people browbeaten into believing that they have no true rights, while government authorities have total power and can violate constitutional rights whenever they see fit.

Yet as Richard Dreyfuss, Oscar-winning actor and civics education activist, warns: “Unless we teach the ideas that make America a miracle of government, it will go away in your kids’ lifetimes, and we will be a fable.”

The Best of John W. Whitehead

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead [send him mail] is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto (Sourcebooks).

Copyright © 2013 The Rutherford Institute

The Racial Divide

23 Sep

Social Oncology, Race, and the Legacy Media

“It´s Just a Lump. It Will Probably Go Away.”

By

I think I will don a loin cloth, stop bathing, and ascend a moutain where I will gibber, drool, and perhaps cástrate myself and wait to go to Hale-Bopp. This is a patrioitic plan. I don´t want to distance myself too much from my fellow Americans.

Though, on thought, I may welsh on the castration part.

Every morning, as I shamble through the heather of the internet in search of reason (any day now), I find another story of a savage racial attack on whites by blacks. At least, when a black man says, “I´m gonna kill the next white I see,” and does so, I begin to suspect a racial motive. Perhaps this is unfair. Perhaps the gentleman really meant to say, “…find a good book on Keynes and the Austrian school, and compare with Veblen.” I remain suspicious.

Where is this taking us?

In the past these attacks were carefully hidden by the Legacy Media, aka Mainstream. An argument, understandable if not satisfying, can be made for this. Detwaddled, it amounts to saying that the black underclass is permanent, that stopping the crime would require something close to martial law, and that ghastly riots would then ensue with unpredictable consequences. The path of wisdom is then to grin and bear it. This is a dismal analysis, but not unreasonable.

However, it suggests a degree of intelligent design by the media that is contradicted by other regions of their behavior. Usually they appear to be trying to increase racial hostility. Note the deliberate distribution of a version of the Rodney King tape edited to make the use of force seem unjustified. Also note the editing of the Zimmerman audio by track by NBC to make him sound racially biased. Given an underclass that majorly can´t read and entirely doesn´t, this is dangerous incitement. And of course the media spin every story to make blacks believe that they are victims when they are not.

If you work in the media in Washington, you see that there is no intention to do anything more than bask in narcissisitc appreciation of one´s preternatural rightness. As someone said, never suspect a conspiracy when stupidity is an adequate explanation. Many reporters know exactly what is going on, but saying so would cost them their jobs, so they don´t.

Then you have the ideological lefties, who dominate most newsrooms. They, in my experience at any rate, genuinely don´t know what is happening. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, reporters run to combativeness instead of contemplation. For another, they are not thinkers but hurried fact-accountants. For a third, they spend their time with each other, reinforcing what they all think.

They really truly believe that blacks are brutalized, beaten, mistreated, that they suffer discrimination of various sorts, chiefly invisible to others, and that white racists want to impoverish them. They simply reject as prejudice anything that doesn´t fit this view of the world.  It makes no sense to the rational, but they are sincere. The psychology seems to be that if you deny the existence of something, such as a combination of grotesquely high crime rates and racial attacks, it will go away.

If you point out (as I have done on many occasions) that the statistics on crime come from the Obama administration´s FBI (the Uniform Crime Reports) eyes glaze. It doesn´t get in. Say that the public schools of Washington are horrible, as documented by myriad studies and decried by black columnists, and you will be told that it isn´t true, that the reports are biased, and so on.

If you don´t recognize the existence of a problem, how can you solve it?

An ominous development is that the wall of protective silence begins to crack. In the past, the race of criminals simply wasn´t divulged. Then some television stations, though still saying nothing of race, played the surveillance footage while talking of “teens,” a word suggesting fun-loving striplings. Many papers now publish photos, and others often mention in graff fifteen that the assailants were “young black males” (though often girls are also involved).

But the internet was the true fly in the ointment. The internet and the cell phone, I should say. Today web sites, some of them huge, regularly post stories and video of attacks on whites: the Drudge Report and World Net Daily News, for example.

These have too much circulation to ignore. Further, stories that used to be covered only by local media that had no choice began to be picked up by the web, and thus became national. E.g., the Wichita Massacre.

The upshot was that mention of racial problems became increasingly less taboo. Second-tier publications like The American Conservative began publishing pieces on black crime. And there was that curious new world of web-pubs too intelligent and well-written for the main stream, and utterly independent of the straitjackets muzzling the legacy media. The new kids on the block could talk about anything. And do. There is Taki´s Magazine, the American Spectator, or even, in a very minor way, Fred on Everything. Their readers were not great in number, but high in intelligence. This was, as we say in Pentagonese, a force multiplier.

Then came Ann Coulter´s book, Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, about race hustlers and black crime (which I recommend without qualification: highly intelligent, well-researched, and blunt). The book, methinks, constitutes something of a watershed. So far as I know, it is the first time a major, respectable writer, not remotely of the fringe, has written a book saying, “OK, boys and girls, here is what is going on, here´s the scam, and here´s who is doing it.”

In sum, as the major media incite an already angry black underclass, the internet and, increasingly, the legacy media incite white anger by publicizing attacks. Does no one understand that this can have really, really ugly consequences?

My question is: What now? Television will continue to control the idiot demographic, but as more and more of the sentient realize what is happening, and that they can talk about it, things will change. Just how I don´t know. But we had better do some thinking. The racial divide is the worst danger this country has faced, or refused to face. If we don´t think of something to do about it, it´s going to wreck the joint, and nobody will like it.

I am now going to climb my mountain and await Hale-Bopp. Without surgery.

The Best of Fred Reed

Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be, Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About VietNam, and A Grand Adventure: Wisdom’s Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about Mexico. Visit his blog.

Copyright © 2013 Fred Reed

Previous article by Fred Reed: The Culture War Is Lost

How to Stay Secure Against the NSA

23 Sep

NSA surveillance: A guide to staying secure

The NSA has huge capabilities – and if it wants in to your computer, it’s in. With that in mind, here are five ways to stay safe
theguardian.com,

A patron works on his laptop during the Tech Crunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, California, September 11.

‘Trust the math. Encryption is your friend. That’s how you can remain secure even in the face of the NSA.’ Photograph: Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

Now that we have enough details about how the NSA eavesdrops on the internet, including today’s disclosures of the NSA’s deliberate weakening of cryptographic systems, we can finally start to figure out how to protect ourselves.

For the past two weeks, I have been working with the Guardian on NSA stories, and have read hundreds of top-secret NSA documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. I wasn’t part of today’s story – it was in process well before I showed up – but everything I read confirms what the Guardian is reporting.

At this point, I feel I can provide some advice for keeping secure against such an adversary.

The primary way the NSA eavesdrops on internet communications is in the network. That’s where their capabilities best scale. They have invested in enormous programs to automatically collect and analyze network traffic. Anything that requires them to attack individual endpoint computers is significantly more costly and risky for them, and they will do those things carefully and sparingly.

Leveraging its secret agreements with telecommunications companies – all the US and UK ones, and many other “partners” around the world – the NSA gets access to the communications trunks that move internet traffic. In cases where it doesn’t have that sort of friendly access, it does its best to surreptitiously monitor communications channels: tapping undersea cables, intercepting satellite communications, and so on.

That’s an enormous amount of data, and the NSA has equivalently enormous capabilities to quickly sift through it all, looking for interesting traffic. “Interesting” can be defined in many ways: by the source, the destination, the content, the individuals involved, and so on. This data is funneled into the vast NSA system for future analysis.

The NSA collects much more metadata about internet traffic: who is talking to whom, when, how much, and by what mode of communication. Metadata is a lot easier to store and analyze than content. It can be extremely personal to the individual, and is enormously valuable intelligence.

The Systems Intelligence Directorate is in charge of data collection, and the resources it devotes to this is staggering. I read status report after status report about these programs, discussing capabilities, operational details, planned upgrades, and so on. Each individual problem – recovering electronic signals from fiber, keeping up with the terabyte streams as they go by, filtering out the interesting stuff – has its own group dedicated to solving it. Its reach is global.

The NSA also attacks network devices directly: routers, switches, firewalls, etc. Most of these devices have surveillance capabilities already built in; the trick is to surreptitiously turn them on. This is an especially fruitful avenue of attack; routers are updated less frequently, tend not to have security software installed on them, and are generally ignored as a vulnerability.

The NSA also devotes considerable resources to attacking endpoint computers. This kind of thing is done by its TAO – Tailored Access Operations – group. TAO has a menu of exploits it can serve up against your computer – whether you’re running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, or something else – and a variety of tricks to get them on to your computer. Your anti-virus software won’t detect them, and you’d have trouble finding them even if you knew where to look. These are hacker tools designed by hackers with an essentially unlimited budget. What I took away from reading the Snowden documents was that if the NSA wants in to your computer, it’s in. Period.

The NSA deals with any encrypted data it encounters more by subverting the underlying cryptography than by leveraging any secret mathematical breakthroughs. First, there’s a lot of bad cryptography out there. If it finds an internet connection protected by MS-CHAP, for example, that’s easy to break and recover the key. It exploits poorly chosen user passwords, using the same dictionary attacks hackers use in the unclassified world.

As was revealed today, the NSA also works with security product vendors to ensure that commercial encryption products are broken in secret ways that only it knows about. We know this has happened historically: CryptoAG and Lotus Notes are the most public examples, and there is evidence of a back door in Windows. A few people have told me some recent stories about their experiences, and I plan to write about them soon. Basically, the NSA asks companies to subtly change their products in undetectable ways: making the random number generator less random, leaking the key somehow, adding a common exponent to a public-key exchange protocol, and so on. If the back door is discovered, it’s explained away as a mistake. And as we now know, the NSA has enjoyed enormous success from this program.

TAO also hacks into computers to recover long-term keys. So if you’re running a VPN that uses a complex shared secret to protect your data and the NSA decides it cares, it might try to steal that secret. This kind of thing is only done against high-value targets.

How do you communicate securely against such an adversary? Snowden said it in an online Q&A soon after he made his first document public: “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

I believe this is true, despite today’s revelations and tantalizing hints of “groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities” made by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence in another top-secret document. Those capabilities involve deliberately weakening the cryptography.

Snowden’s follow-on sentence is equally important: “Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.”

Endpoint means the software you’re using, the computer you’re using it on, and the local network you’re using it in. If the NSA can modify the encryption algorithm or drop a Trojan on your computer, all the cryptography in the world doesn’t matter at all. If you want to remain secure against the NSA, you need to do your best to ensure that the encryption can operate unimpeded.

With all this in mind, I have five pieces of advice:

1) Hide in the network. Implement hidden services. Use Tor to anonymize yourself. Yes, the NSA targets Tor users, but it’s work for them. The less obvious you are, the safer you are.

2) Encrypt your communications. Use TLS. Use IPsec. Again, while it’s true that the NSA targets encrypted connections – and it may have explicit exploits against these protocols – you’re much better protected than if you communicate in the clear.

3) Assume that while your computer can be compromised, it would take work and risk on the part of the NSA – so it probably isn’t. If you have something really important, use an air gap. Since I started working with the Snowden documents, I bought a new computer that has never been connected to the internet. If I want to transfer a file, I encrypt the file on the secure computer and walk it over to my internet computer, using a USB stick. To decrypt something, I reverse the process. This might not be bulletproof, but it’s pretty good.

4) Be suspicious of commercial encryption software, especially from large vendors. My guess is that most encryption products from large US companies have NSA-friendly back doors, and many foreign ones probably do as well. It’s prudent to assume that foreign products also have foreign-installed backdoors. Closed-source software is easier for the NSA to backdoor than open-source software. Systems relying on master secrets are vulnerable to the NSA, through either legal or more clandestine means.

5) Try to use public-domain encryption that has to be compatible with other implementations. For example, it’s harder for the NSA to backdoor TLS than BitLocker, because any vendor’s TLS has to be compatible with every other vendor’s TLS, while BitLocker only has to be compatible with itself, giving the NSA a lot more freedom to make changes. And because BitLocker is proprietary, it’s far less likely those changes will be discovered. Prefer symmetric cryptography over public-key cryptography. Prefer conventional discrete-log-based systems over elliptic-curve systems; the latter have constants that the NSA influences when they can.

Since I started working with Snowden’s documents, I have been using GPG, Silent Circle, Tails, OTR, TrueCrypt, BleachBit, and a few other things I’m not going to write about. There’s an undocumented encryption feature in my Password Safe program from the command line); I’ve been using that as well.

I understand that most of this is impossible for the typical internet user. Even I don’t use all these tools for most everything I am working on. And I’m still primarily on Windows, unfortunately. Linux would be safer.

The NSA has turned the fabric of the internet into a vast surveillance platform, but they are not magical. They’re limited by the same economic realities as the rest of us, and our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible.

Trust the math. Encryption is your friend. Use it well, and do your best to ensure that nothing can compromise it. That’s how you can remain secure even in the face of the NSA.

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Why the Feds Really Hate Sound Money.

23 Sep

One of the most pressing issues of our time is the push for monetary freedom. The only sound monetary system is one which protects sound money and allows consumers, businesses, and investors the freedom to transact in the currency of their choice. The importance of sound money is summed up nicely by Ludwig von Mises:

“It is impossible to grasp the meaning of the idea of sound money if one does not realize that it was devised as an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments.”

It is no wonder that governments fight tooth and nail against sound money, as sound money protects the well-being of the middle class and the poor while preventing the expansion of government.

Most people understand the risks inherent in stock or bond investment, but the risk of holding savings accounts or cash is still drastically under-appreciated.

Governments throughout history have sought to monopolize the issuance of money, either directly or through the creation of central banks. The growth of central banking in the 20th century allowed governments to monetize their debt in an indirect manner while still ensuring a ready market for government debt. And central banks’ slow but sure debasement of the currency allowed governments to repay their debts in devalued money. What debtor would not want such a sweetheart deal?

Indeed, the 20th century witnessed a revolt by governments against the strictures of sound money. In some countries such as Weimar Germany the revolution came quickly and the results were both immediately apparent and instantaneously disastrous. In other countries such as the United States, the revolt came more gradually, with the destructive effects of money printing only recently becoming apparent to more and more Americans.

Over the past 100 years, the Federal Reserve has continually pumped new money into the economy, resulting in a 96 percent devaluation of the dollar. This devaluation does not affect everyone equally, as the banks who receive this new money first benefit from using it before prices rise, while average Americans suffer the price rises first and receive only a trickle of money well afterward. In this way the Fed enriches Wall Street while impoverishing Main Street, leading to a growing disparity of wealth.

The wealthy are always able to protect the value of their assets against inflation to an extent that the middle class and poor cannot. Anyone with enough money and resources can set up a foreign bank account denominated in euros or Hong Kong dollars, or purchase gold and silver that will be safely stored in London or Singapore. The rich are best able to purchase precious metals, the only ones able to invest in high-yielding hedge funds, and the ones most able to shelter their assets from punitive taxation.

All the legislation and regulation that ostensibly protects the average American from losing money in fact does exactly the opposite. It keeps the average American from being able to defend against inflation by investing in precious metals, forces him into mediocre investment opportunities that do not even keep up with inflation, and leaves him at the mercy of the taxman. Compared to their counterparts in other countries, the average American has far fewer financial options available to them.

Mexican workers can set up accounts that are denominated in ounces of silver, and can take delivery of that silver whenever they want, tax-free. In Singapore and some other Asian countries, individuals can set up bank accounts denominated in gold and silver. Debit cards can be linked to gold and silver accounts so that customers can use their gold and silver to make point of sale transactions, a service which is only available to non-Americans. In short, Americans have far fewer options to protect their wealth than citizens of many foreign countries do.

The solution to this problem is to legalize monetary freedom and allow the circulation of parallel and competing currencies. There is no reason why Americans should not be able to transact, save, and invest in the currency of their choosing.

Unfortunately, decades of government restrictions and regulations have hampered and prevented the circulation of parallel currencies and destroyed the familiarity of Americans with any sort of money aside from Federal Reserve Notes or bank deposits denominated in U.S. dollars. The thought of introducing parallel currencies undoubtedly scares many people who understandably wish to minimize their financial risk.

 

All financial activity is fraught with risk. Most people understand the risks inherent in stock or bond investment, but the risk of holding savings accounts or cash is still drastically under-appreciated. Everyone is familiar with the maxim “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and investors and savers are constantly urged to diversify their portfolios, yet the U.S. government continues to set roadblocks that force Americans to transact and save in dollars that continue to depreciate.

According to the government’s official figures, price inflation runs around two percent per year which means that, since interest rates on savings accounts are near zero, the real rate of return on savings accounts is negative. Anyone holding a savings account or cash is losing nearly two percent of the value of his savings per year with this relatively mild inflation. Some private economists estimate that actual price inflation is running closer to nine percent per year, which would make the loss from holding dollars enormous.

It is horribly unjust to force the American people to do business with a dollar that is continuously debased by the Federal Reserve.

Even greater danger comes during bouts of hyperinflation, such as during Weimar Germany and more recently in Zimbabwe. But when Zimbabwe’s dollar became worthless, people began to use U.S. dollars, South African rand, and Zambian kwacha to conduct transactions. Similarly in Weimar Germany, many individuals resorted to using dollars, pounds, and precious metals.

So despite the economic hardship wrought by hyperinflation, not all economic activity ground to a halt, largely due to the circulation of parallel currencies. Should the United States ever face a hyperinflationary crisis, which due to the Fed’s quantitative easing is very possible, the only means of survival would be through the use of parallel currencies.

It is horribly unjust to force the American people to do business with a dollar that is continuously debased by the Federal Reserve. Forcing a monopoly currency with legal tender status onto the people benefits the issuer (government) while harming consumers, investors, and savers.

The American people should be free to use the currency of their choice, whether gold, silver, or other currencies, with no legal restrictions or punitive taxation standing in the way. Restoring the monetary system envisioned by the Constitution is the only way to ensure the economic security of the American people.

Regards,

Ron Paul
for The Daily Reckoning

This essay was edited from the Congressional Record

Ed. Note: The decline of paper currencies is no secret to anyone who’s paid attention to history. Eventually they all go the way of the dodo. That’s why it’s so important to find ways around it… something The Daily Reckoning email edition offers its readers every single day… FREE. Sign up for The Daily Reckoning, for free, right here, and start learning the best ways to safeguard and even grow your wealth no matter what happens to untrustworthy paper currencis.

 

Back to School: Student Indoctrination Begins

20 Sep

Student Indoctrination

By

September 19, 2013

The new college academic year has begun, and unfortunately, so has student indoctrination. Let’s look at some of it.

William Penn, Michigan State University professor of creative writing, greeted his first day of class with an anti-Republican rant. Campus Reform, a project of the Arlington, Va.-based Leadership Institute, has a video featuring the professor telling his students that Republicans want to prevent “black people” from voting. He added that “this country still is full of closet racists” and described Republicans as “a bunch of dead white people — or dying white people” (http://tinyurl.com/lve4te7). To a student who had apparently displayed displeasure with those comments, Professor Penn barked, “You can frown if you want.” He gesticulated toward the student and added, “You look like you’re frowning. Are you frowning?” When the professor’s conduct was brought to the attention of campus authorities, MSU spokesman Kent Cassella said, “At MSU it is important the classroom environment is conducive to a free exchange of ideas and is respectful of the opinions of others.”

That mealy-mouthed response is typical of university administrators. Professor Penn was using his classroom to proselytize students. That is academic dishonesty and warrants serious disciplinary or dismissal proceedings. But that’s not likely. Professor Penn’s vision is probably shared by his colleagues, seeing as he was the recipient of MSU’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 2003. University of Southern California professor Darry Sragow shares Penn’s opinion. Last fall, he went on a rant telling his students that Republicans are “stupid and racist” and “the last vestige of angry old white people” (http://tinyurl.com/185khtk).

UCLA’s new academic year saw its undergraduate student government fighting for constitutional rights by unanimously passing a resolution calling for the end of the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant.” The resolution states, “The racially derogatory I-word endangers basic human rights including the presumption of innocence and the right to due process guaranteed under the U.S.

Constitution.” No doubt some UCLA administrators and professors bereft of thinking skills helped them craft the resolution.

The New York Post (8/25/11) carried a story about a student in training to become dorm supervisor at DePauw University in Indiana. She said: “We were told that ‘human’ was not a suitable identity, but that instead we were first ‘black,’ ‘white,’ or ‘Asian’; ‘male’ or ‘female’; … ‘heterosexual’ or ‘queer.’ We were forced to act like bigots and spout off stereotypes while being told that that was what we were really thinking deep down.” At many universities, part of the freshman orientation includes what’s called the “tunnel of oppression.” They are taught the evils of “white privilege” and how they are part of a “rape culture.” Sometimes they are forced to discuss their sexual identities with complete strangers. The New York Post story said: “DePauw is no rare case. At least 96 colleges across the country have run similar ‘tunnel of oppression’ programs in the last few years.”

University officials are aware of this kind of academic dishonesty and indoctrination; university trustees are not. For the most part, trustees are yes men for the president. Legislators and charitable foundations that pour billions into colleges are unaware, as well. Most tragically, parents who pay tens of thousands of dollars for tuition and pile up large debt to send their youngsters off to be educated are unaware of the academic rot, as well.

You ask, “Williams, what can be done?” Students should record classroom professorial propaganda and give it wide distribution over the Internet. I’ve taught for more than 45 years and routinely invited students to record my lectures so they don’t have to be stenographers during class. I have no idea of where those recordings have wound up, but if you find them, you’ll hear zero proselytization or discussion of my political and personal preferences. To use a classroom to propagate one’s personal beliefs is academic dishonesty.

Vladimir Lenin said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” That’s the goal of the leftist teaching agenda.

Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University, and a nationally syndicated columnist. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page.
Copyright © 2013 Creators.com

Video

President Obama pledge to never raise taxes.

18 Sep

Maybe Murray Rothbard was right when he wrote in 1976 (Revisionism and Libertarianism):

“Revisionism is an historical discipline made necessary by the fact that all states are governed by a ruling class that is a minority of the population in which subsists as a parasitic and exploitative burden upon the rest of society. Since its rule is exploitative and parasitic, the state must purchase the allegiance of a group of court intellectuals whose task is to bamboozle the public into accepting and celebrating the rule of its particular state. The court intellectuals have their work cut out for them. In exchange for their continuing work of apologetics and bamboozlement, the court intellectuals win their place as junior partners in the power, prestige and loot extracted by the state apparatus from the deluded public. The noble task of revisionism is to de-bamboozle, to penetrate the fog of lies and deception of the state and its court intellectuals and to present to the public the true history of the motivation, the nature and the consequences of state activity.”

And that’s why we’re here. We are here to de-bamboozle. There was no such word before Rothbard but I believe it should be in the Webster’s Dictionary –