Congress And The Fed Refuse To Learn From Their Mistakes

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent economic meltdown. The mood in Congress following the meltdown resembled the panicked atmosphere that followed the September 11th attacks. As was the case after September 11th, Congress rushed to pass hastily written legislation that, instead of dealing with the real causes of the crisis, simply gave the government more power.

Just as few understood the role our interventionist foreign policy played in the September 11th attacks, few in Congress understood that the 2008 meltdown was caused by the Federal Reserve and Congress, not by unregulated capitalism. Not surprising to anyone familiar with economic history, the story of the 2008 meltdown starts with the bursting of the Fed-created tech bubble.

Following the collapse of the tech bubble, the Fed began aggressively pumping money into the economy. This money flooded into the housing market, creating the housing bubble. The Bush Administration and the Republican Congress also added fuel to the housing bubble. These so-called “free-market” conservatives expanded federal housing programs in hopes of creating an “ownership society.”

If Congress understood the Austrian theory of the business cycle, it would have allowed the recession that followed the housing bubble’s inevitable collapse to run its course. Recessions are the economy’s way of eliminating the distortions caused by the Federal Reserve. Attempts by Congress and the Fed to end a recession via inflation and government spending will only lead to future, and more severe, economic downturns.

The corporate bailouts, government spending, and money creation via quantitative easing that Congress and the Fed have engaged in since the fall of 2008 have failed to produce even the illusion of prosperity. The daily experience of most Americans shows that the government’s doctored statistics drastically understate both unemployment and inflation.

This is not to say that no Americans have benefited from Federal Reserve policies. Even Donald Trump has called quantitative easing “a great deal for guys like me.” Much of the growth of government over the past seven years, from the bailouts to the increases in military and domestic spending to Obamacare, has also benefited politically-connected crony capitalists.

The Federal Reserve’s continued delay of an interest rate increase suggests that, contrary to its public statements, the Fed understands that the economy has not recovered from the meltdown and is on the brink of another major recession. Fear that the Fed is not being fully forthcoming with its view of the economy is one reason the stock market declined following the Fed’s recent decision to once again postpone increasing interest rates.

Learning the full truth about how the Fed evaluates the economy and its plans to respond to another downturn are two reasons why it is important to pass the Audit the Fed bill.

A vote on Audit the Fed would probably be the only good thing to occur in Congress this year. A Congress that cannot defund Planned Parenthood is unlikely to make any serious cuts in spending. Instead of waiting for politicians to do the right thing, those who know the truth must spread the ideas of liberty as far and wide as possible. Only when the teachings of the Austrian school are embraced by a critical mass of Americans will Congress cut warfare spending, cut welfare spending, and audit, and then end, the Fed.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

The Military Gravy Train: Full Speed Ahead

There’s something very odd about the United States military that makes many of the most budget-hawkish fiscal conservatives turn into starry-eyed, big government welfare pushers. The hypocrisy is breathtaking; at the same time as many conservatives are talking about “America’s descent into socialism” they are pushing their own brand of military socialism to ever more absurd lengths.

At a whopping $581 billion per year, the United States already spends more than the rest of the world combined on its military. However, even that number doesn’t represent the entire picture. As Robert Higgs has shown, when everything is included (from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the nuclear weapons expenditures in the State Department to the net interest on past debt-financed defense outlays, etc.) that sum is actually over one trillion dollars. Despite this, every Republican presidential candidate is pushing to increase the military budget. Even Rand Paul proposes adding $76.5 billion to the defense budget — which by itself is more than the military budgets of all but two other countries in the world (China and Saudi Arabia).

Fiscal conservatives love to pass around examples of government waste, such as the $615,000 grant that was given to the University of California at Santa Cruz to digitize photos, t-shirts, and concert tickets for The Grateful Dead, or the $175,587 spent “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior.” Yet, many of the best examples of such mind-numbingly insane expenditures come from the woefully bloated military of the United States.

For example, in 2007, the Pentagon spent $998,798 to ship two 19-cent washers; and the Department of Defense spends over $10 million dollars each year to maintain hundreds of golf courses it owns, presumably an effort to keep America safe. But the worst boondoggle may be the F-22 fighter. Or perhaps it’s the F-35? It’s hard to decide.

According to The Washington Post, the F-22 “… has recently required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000 …” Oh, and it can’t fly in the rain either. On the other hand, the F-35 has brought with it a modest price tag of only $400 billion dollars, 70 percent over its initial cost estimate. And it can’t even defeat the fighter jet it is supposed to replace in a dogfight. These massive taxpayer rip-offs join many other projects costing hundreds of billions of dollars, for weapons the military often doesn’t even want.

Indeed, the “military-industrial complex” as Dwight Eisenhower called it, is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, examples of corporate welfare and corporate/government malfeasance around. Lockheed Martin and other military contractors use a variety of unsavory means to ensure ever bigger contracts for ever more unnecessary military contraptions to be paid for at the taxpayer’s expense.

One method is spreading the work around. Basically, these companies will contract and subcontract the work for any given project to as many congressional districts as possible to ensure wide support among congressmen who don’t want to see their district lose jobs. (It should be noted that Eisenhower originally wanted to call it the military-industrial-congressional complex.) For example, the F-35 mentioned above had 1,300 suppliers in forty-five states.

Another tactic is using the “cost plus” approach, which basically has the government pay the contractor’s cost, plus a certain agreed upon profit. Unfortunately, as is probably apparent, this provides the extremely perverse incentive for the company to let the project become as expensive as possible in order to make as big a profit as possible. And with examples such as the F-35, it’s hard to believe these companies haven’t taken advantage of this incentive.

Just as welfare degrades people’s work ethic and resourcefulness, when looking at the sheer waste of these military contracts, it appears corporate welfare degrades a company’s dynamism. As Tom Woods notes in his book Rollback, the amount the United States has spent on its military is absolutely staggering:

… during the period from 1947 through 1987 [the Pentagon] used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62 trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation’s plants, equipment, and infrastructure (capital stock), at just over $7.29 trillion. In other words, the amount spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or modernized and replaced the existing stock.

And what has all of this gotten us? Tom Woods again:

… after all this spending, the end result has actually been a smaller military with older equipment. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, more than $2 trillion has been added to the 1999 baseline Pentagon budget. Roughly half went to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the other trillion went to non-war military spending. What did Americans get for that trillion bucks? A smaller Navy and Air Force, and a trivial increase in the size of the army.

Add to this that the Pentagon is the only federal department exempt from audit (well, aside from the Federal Reserve if you consider that a department). And this makes perfect sense as its books are in complete disarray. Back in 2001, Donald Rumsfeld admitted that “According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” And as Reuters reports, the Pentagon “doctored ledgers [to] conceal epic waste” such as when “the Army lost track of $5.8 billion of supplies between 2003 and 2011 as it shuffled equipment between reserve and regular units.”

Is this the kind of “small government” these fiscal conservatives are looking for?

Perhaps it is. As conservative Mark Steyn noted in his book After America, specifically with regard to the bloated welfare systems in Europe and the United States, as well as the demographic decline of the West,

Faced with a choice between unsustainable entitlements and maintaining armed forces of global reach, the United States, as Europe did, will abandon military capability and toss the savings into the great sucking maw of social spending. That, in turn, will make for not only a more dangerous world but a more vulnerable America that, to modify President Bush, will wind up having to fight them over here because we no longer have the capacity to fight them over there.

Perhaps Steyn should have rephrased it as the “great sucking maw of military spending would be transferred to the great sucking maw of social spending.” And what exactly the Iraq War, for example, did to make the world less dangerous or America less vulnerable is — for good reason — left unstated.

And of course, the biggest question is left altogether undiscussed; why does the United States need either a bloated welfare state or a bloated warfare state?

And this boils down to the heart of it; the two parties have little more than two slightly different versions of big government they want to foist on the American people and use to line the pockets of their favored interests. Only slightly of course, because it’s not like the Republicans reduce welfare spending or the Democrats reduce military spending.

In the end, it’s not very complicated; a small government with a massive military is an oxymoron. It’s about time that fiscal conservatives figured this out.

This commentary originally appeared at and is reprinted here under a Creative Commons license

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

The Economics Of Hillary Clinton

In a recent Labor Day speech to union workers in Illinois, Hillary Clinton declared that if she is elected president of the United States, she would make sure that “some employers go to jail for wage theft and all the other abuses they engage in.” Her incendiary comments were obvious “red meat” for the audience, but it also helped to clarify her own economic views and how she would govern if elected.

Even though Clinton is somewhat mired down in a scandal involving her email servers used while she was at Foggy Bottoms, it seems that she will survive it — as she and her husband have survived every other scandal that has defined their political careers — and be the official Democratic Party nominee. Given the current state of US politics and given the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a Republican challenger who can stand up to her star power, at least from this current vantage point, it seems Clinton will slide into the office for where she has been “destined” since 1992.

Given that there is a very good chance Clinton will march into the White House in January 2017, we should scrutinize her economic beliefs and her proposed economic policies, as we may well have to be living them in less than two years. Not surprising for people interested in economics of liberty (or, better put, the economics of prosperity), Hillary’s policies will disappoint and disappoint greatly.

If one combines that Clinton line with other things she has said about economic policy, as well as what is written on her website about what she calls “the economy of tomorrow,” a picture emerges that does not bring confidence to anyone who understands the role freedom plays in a market economy. Like Bernie Sanders, whose policies and viewpoints I already have covered, Clinton takes a hardcore statist approach to economic policies.

When she was First Lady, Clinton spoke of “channeling Eleanor Roosevelt.” In the current campaign, at least what she declares on her website and in her stump speeches, she also channels Eleanor’s husband, Franklin. Although Clinton claims that her proposals are part of “the economy of tomorrow,” the hard reality is that they essentially are the economy of the New Deal, and the part of the New Deal that created so much damage that a Congress dominated by Roosevelt’s own party repealed much of it. Like her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, Clinton is trying to revive a second New Deal.

While Franklin Roosevelt placed his policies under the umbrella of the “Four Freedoms,” Clinton has characterized her proposals under the aegis of the “Four Fights” in which she promises to “fight” for this and “fight” for that. She especially claims to be fond of the American middle class, so we should see how her plans advance middle-class prospects.

Actions vs. Rhetoric

Before examining Hillary Clinton’s economic proposals, however, I remind readers that this is not another screed to satisfy the Hillary-phobia Republicans and what they have expressed in the past two decades. This opinion piece does one thing: scrutinize her economic ideas, and allow readers to make their own decisions about her candidacy.

We also need to separate Clinton’s rhetoric from her own actions, and especially the economics of her current life, for there are no greater champions for what is derisively called “crony capitalism” than Clinton and her husband, and perhaps no two people in current public life have benefited from this economic hybrid more than the Clintons. Hillary Clinton will champion the middle class in her rhetoric, but the dynamics and the history of crony capitalism tell us that the middle class and the poor suffer the most from such an arrangement of political economy.

The Crony-Capitalist Clintons

(To the credit of some on the Left, a couple of Progressive outlets have exposed Clinton’s close ties with the firms that dominate an industry that she denounces in her campaign rhetoric.)

When Bill Clinton left office, he and his wife essentially had a negative net worth, as their legal liabilities well outstripped their personal assets. Thanks to some outside help, they were able to find lodging in the tony Hamptons, which is not exactly a middle-class suburb; and soon afterward, money began to fill their bank accounts. Because Hillary was tied to her US Senate salary, having been elected to office by New York voters in 2000, the couple depended upon Bill making speech after speech and collecting huge fee after fee.

The focal point of the Clintons and crony capitalism is not the huge speaker fees that both Bill and Hillary received (after Hillary left the State Department), however, but the role that the Clinton Foundation has played in turning the Clintons into multi-millionaires. To be blunt, the Clintons essentially ran a protection racket through the foundation that would have made Don Corleone blush.

When she was at State, Hillary would grant a firm some legal or administrative favors, and then the firm would make large contributions to the Clinton Foundation or had Bill make a speech with an accompanying honorarium that could take care of numerous middle class families for a year. For example, there was the case of the Swiss Bank UBS, as noted in a recent posting by The Atlantic:

The Swiss bank UBS is one of the biggest, most powerful financial institutions in the world. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton intervened to help it out with the IRS. And after that, the Swiss bank paid Bill Clinton $1.5 million for speaking gigs.The Wall Street Journal reported all that and more Thursday in an article that highlights huge conflicts of interest that the Clintons have created in the recent past.

Not only did UBS pay Bill directly, but it also contributed more than $600,000 to the Clinton Foundation, and this hardly was the only time something like this happened. There are no direct examples of the quid pro quo in which someone might have hard evidence that Hillary sold favors at State, but one cannot help but look suspicious.

The critics of Hillary’s actions correctly note that trading favors for large sums of money and running a populist campaign do not go together. Furthermore, as this article examines her “populist” economic platform, one suspects that competition from Bernie Sanders and the shadow of Elizabeth Warren in the background have had a lot to do with Clinton’s newfound “discovery” that Wall Street has some shady characters (including those who have donated to the Clinton Foundation or paid Bill and/or Hillary a tidy speaker’s fee).

There is no doubt that Clinton, like Sanders and Warren, has a “zero-sum” view of economic activity, and thus believes she is fully-justified in promoting her own versions of economic statism. Furthermore, she and her husband, along with about everyone else in her circle, has done well personally by pushing “protection racket economics,” and has come to see businesses and business owners as bottomless wells from which to draw funds both for herself and for her pet projects.

Clinton, Alinsky, and “New Era” Politics

Unlike her husband, Hillary Clinton was a disciple of Saul Alinksy, the radical Marxist who employed social activism as a means of destroying both private and governmental institutions so that a “new era” could take its place. Like so many other radicals, Alinksy was a master of destruction and knew which buttons to push and how to organize people to demand favors for themselves; but he had absolutely no understanding of how economics works, and, he had no interest in finding out. The entrepreneur, in his view, was a bloodsucker, and eliminating that parasite was foundational to all of his activism.

While Hillary is not as ideological in her economic approaches as are Sanders and Warren (and even Barack Obama with his “you didn’t build that” mentality to entrepreneurship), she is just as destructive. An examination of her economic proposals on the campaign website demonstrates that hard fact. While she does not claim to be an outright socialist like Bernie Sanders (who apparently believes he can turn the entire country into Sweden, or at least Minnesota), nonetheless it is clear that Sanders — and Elizabeth Warren — have greatly influenced her campaign.

Campaigning for a New New Deal

Like Sanders, who wants our future to look a lot like the era of eighty years ago, Clinton’s “Economy of Tomorrow” looks a whole lot like FDR’s economy of 1937, as she channels Bernie Sanders (and maybe Eleanor Roosevelt again) for the newest edition of the New Deal:

  • Build “Infrastructure”: Once again, a Democrat trots out the “infrastructure” line complete with the promise of the massive public works programs that are reminiscent of the old Public Works Administration (PWA) and, of course, the Works Progress Administration (WPA);
  • “Invest” in Research and Education: One is reminded of Bill Clinton’s old stump line, “We’re gonna invest in education and the environment.” That means Hillary looks to increase federal appropriation for government-directed research and federal education programs that are dominated by standardized testing;
  • Raise the Minimum Wage: While not endorsing $15 an hour, Clinton still repeats the old saw that raising the minimum wage magically raises all worker’s pay, suddenly making everyone wealthier;
  • Bring Back the Unions: No Democratic presidential campaign is complete without a call to return to the 1950s, when a vast swath of the US economy was dominated by labor unions. It also was a time when massive strikes and deadly labor-oriented violence ruled the day. Clinton has vowed to do whatever is possible to shore up the generous-but-usually-underfunded union pensions;
  • Further Subsidize Higher Education: A Hillary administration promises to vastly increase student subsidies for college and “forever make college affordable and available.” How she will pay for this vast new entitlement is not on the website;
  • Expand Day Care: This has been standard Democratic presidential fare since Michael Dukakis based his 1988 campaign on day care for working mothers. Enough said;
  • Promote Universal Healthcare: What people were calling HillaryCare in 1994 is now ObamaCare, and Clinton promises to protect and expand it, all while both trying to “slow the growth of overall health care costs and deliver better care to patients”;
  • Expand Social Security Benefits: Increase Social Security payouts and bring more people under the SS umbrella. Again, Clinton does not state how her government will fund this huge new entitlement.

So far, the proposals look to be something akin to New Deal Lite. However, unlike Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who has declared in no uncertain terms that regulations place no hardships whatsoever on small or even large businesses, Clinton at least gives lip service to some of the difficulties small businesses face. Unfortunately, she also continues her party’s attack language on businesses in general, especially larger corporations.

  • “Cut Red Tape for Small Business”: Clinton says she will offer regulatory relief for small business enterprises and entrepreneurs. However, this is puzzling, given her open disdain for private enterprise, including her infamous remarks given earlier this year at a rally in Massachusetts: “Don’t let anybody, don’t let anybody tell you that, ah, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”
  • Provide Tax Relief for Small Businesses: She is not specific, but claims her administration will lessen tax burdens for small businesses, but not for “big corporations that can afford lawyers and lobbyists.”
  • Tap New Markets: Clinton promises to aid businesses in expanding domestic and overseas markets. She claims to support innovation, yet has brutally attacked the “sharing economy,” which has been a large creator of new wealth;
  • Improve Access to Capital: Clinton promises to bring together the “the best ideas from the private sector and government” to bring about more capital directed toward small business. The problem, of course, is not a lack of “ideas,” but rather the fact that so much capital has been misdirected, thanks to both Federal Reserve System policies and direct governmental interference;
  • Force Investors to Hold onto Stocks and Bonds: Clinton has resurrected the bogus criticism from the 1980s that market participants are myopic and only short-term in investment outlook, while politicians and bureaucrats care more about the long-term future. Commentator George Will even called for a law requiring anyone who purchases stock to hold onto those shares for a minimum of two years. (Economist Robert Higgs has noted that when governments are overtly hostile to private enterprise, business owners become uncertain about the future and are forced into making short-term decisions in order to survive the ordeal.);
  • Expand Employee Benefits and Force Up Minimum Wage: Clinton claims on her website, “When workers feel secure, they are more productive, efficient, and successful,” and proposes to require employers to add family leave and other benefits as well as increasing the minimum wage;
  • Rein in Wall Street: There is rich irony here, as few people have benefited more from Wall Street largess than Clinton and her husband. She defends the Dodd-Frank Act and vows to defend all its particulars, despite the fact that Dodd-Frank actually has favored larger and more politically-connected banks over the smaller community banks that Hillary claims to favor. In other words, she supports the supposed intentions of regulatory measures but quietly favors the results which turn the intentions upside down, all the while feigning outrage at the inevitable outcomes;
  • Promote “Green Energy” at the Expense of Conventional Energy Sources: This is standard fare for many in the political classes who claim that the “clean energy” sector is “creating jobs.” In reality, the new “green jobs” gobble up far more resources per unit of output than do conventional sources of energy and kill employment opportunities elsewhere.

Despite Clinton’s newfound populist rhetoric, her economic agenda reflects her own lifestyle of practicing crony capitalism. Other than her promise to remove “red tape” for small business startups, Clinton’s economic propositions follow the same depressing line that we have seen from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren: private enterprise extracts wealth from the economy, while the expansion of government power builds wealth and employment opportunities.

If one briefly can summarize Clinton’s policy-making viewpoints, it is this: Hillary Clinton believes that an economy should be a tool of the state and reflect the political interests of Washington. Anything else is called “greed,” or “profits before people.” Private employers and business owners should not seek to be profitable, but rather to be virtuous, with the necessary virtue being decided by Clinton herself.

Hillary Clinton, a beneficiary of the very worst aspects of crony capitalism, has decided after all that she is an economic populist who wants to “share the wealth.” No one is mistaking her for Bernie Sanders or even Huey Long; but, nonetheless, she is a thoroughgoing statist telling voters that the way to improve the economy is to make it more difficult to produce things and force up business costs.

She clearly is not claiming to be a free-enterpriser and stands by her view that state control of economic exchanges will result in more exchanges and improved employment prospects and increased income. What she does not say is that the very economic burdens she promises to lay upon businesses will further erode the prospects of the American middle class she claims to support.

The economics of Hillary Clinton are first and foremost about expanding the power and scope of the US government, and as government gains more control, the more employers and business owners need to be in the good graces of American politicians. To be blunt, Clinton believes that people like herself can continually loot US businesses, with business owners paying their protection money without complain. After all, Hillary knows best; just ask her.

This commentary originally appeared at and is reprinted under a Creative Commons license


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Envy, Economic Destruction, And Moral Decay: Pope Francis And Bernie Sanders

Both Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders seem to be down on capitalism, and they support the imposition of more economic regulations, and higher taxes on “the rich,” in the name of reversing “income inequality.” Which means taking more wealth and income away from the producers, the innovators, the entrepreneurs, the providers of jobs. Which ultimately causes slowed productivity, factory shut-downs and higher unemployment. And then these socialists and fascists call for more interventions, more bureaucratic intrusiveness into private industry, and ultimately, government seizures of whole industries (like health care).

Yes, they are both fascists as well as socialists. But “fascist” sounds bad, unlike “socialist.” That has “social” in it. “We love people!” So Bernie calls himself a “socialist.” And while I don’t think Pope Francis calls himself a “socialist,” I’m sure he probably doesn’t object to that description.

As opposed to “fascist,” which sounds like “Hitler” and all that. But both words have economic meanings, and that’s important.

In my simplistic view of things, I see socialism as “public ownership of the means of production” which really means government ownership, which means bureaucrats usurping ownership away from the people. It is theft, in actuality. And fascism supposedly allows for private ownership, but the controls over the industries, property, contracts and labor are seized by those covetous and power-grabbing government bureaucrats. Both socialism and fascism are enslavement of the people.

As I have stated in the past, the minimum wage is an example of economic fascism. Bureaucrats order employers to pay workers not less than a certain amount. The choice is: pay the worker less than demanded by ignoramus bureaucrats and go to jail, or cut those jobs if the employer can’t afford it. Most employers choose the latter rather than going to jail. So that’s a fascist control usurped by bureaucrats over the wage part of the private contract between employer and employee.

Interesting how “liberals” are concerned when private businesses engage in “price gouging,” even though the free market’s raising prices at certain times actually benefits those most in need (as opposed to anti-price-gouging laws which backfire and cause shortages). But when the “liberals” artificially raise the price of labor (minimum wage), they really are “price-gouging” by legal force, and thus causing people to lose their jobs! (Some “liberals”!)

Now, Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders’s complaints are supposedly of the greed of “capitalism” and the “1%“. They want to crack down on Wall Street. In my view, Wall Street is just a de facto branch of the federal government, and is rigged to enrich the insiders at the expense of small investors. Wall Street is also a beneficiary of socialism. Example: The Wall Street Bailout at involuntary taxpayer expense. So Wall Street is not an example of actual free market capitalism.

Actually, there has been very little capitalism–that is, free market capitalism–in America, certainly not in Europe or any of the other areas of the world. There is crony capitalism, in which the established firms get in bed with the bureaucracy’s major power wielders, who write special legislation to pay off the insider established firms’ bigwigs, who have all the legal forces at their fingertips to get around whatever legislation is written that the smaller firms can’t afford to do. This is a main component of fascism, by the way.

Besides the minimum wage, one textbook example of crony capitalism and fascism (that some people have been mistakenly referring to as “socialism”) has been the ObamaCare law, or the Affordable Care Act. This law was largely written by the lobbyists of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. They have benefited a great deal from this new health insurance racket.

In contrast, real capitalism is this: Free markets, i.e. freedom, in which everyone is free to do with one’s own person, labor, property, capital and wealth whatever one wants, as long as you don’t steal or use fraud, coercion or aggression against others. And that’s it. No governmental intrusions or guilty-until-proven-innocent controls, mandates, licensing, or reporting anything to the government. For those are all trespasses, in my view; and thus, they are criminal intrusions, which is what socialism and fascism are all about.

In contrast, free market capitalism is the way of life which, during the 19th Century, led to the greatest expansion in human prosperity and raised the standard of living of most of the people in society. It raised the standard of living of those at the bottom, as well as the middle.

And then in the 20th Century, the socialists and fascists came in and wrecked all that. Besides the Europeans and their socialist and fascist centrally planned economic policies and wars, in America there were Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, the two major players whose socialism and fascism gave us the income tax, the Federal Reserve System, and FDR’s many, many fascist bureaus and programs, ordering people to do this and do that, or else.

The socialist redistribution-of-wealth schemes and takeovers of whole industries and/or fascist controls that Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders want to impose on America are an expansion of those which began over the last century. The policies they support are not those of promoting freedom, of liberating the people from the shackles of the State, but just the opposite.

Socialism and fascism are government enslavement of the people. Of course, they would never admit to that, just as the “tax” theft advocates don’t want to call their policies “stealing.” As I wrote in this earlier post, there are some people who mistakenly view the relationship between a capitalist employer and employee as like an “enslavement.” I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “wage slavery.” But in free market capitalism, everything is voluntary. The worker is not being forced to work at that place of employment. In a free society, all relationships and contracts are voluntary. In socialism and fascism, they are not voluntary — they are coerced, forced, compelled, ordered, mandatory, or prohibited by government bureaucrats who just like to order people around. And that’s one of the biggest differences between free markets and the socialist/fascist utopia envisioned by Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis.

Besides the personal enslavements, the results of economic policies that Bernie Sanders wants to impose on America, and Pope Francis wants to see globally, would be like the terrible conditions in Venezuela. Government’s socialist takeovers of industries and fascist price controls cause shortages and empty store shelves and long lines.

In America, just look at all the free market-directed grocery stores and food distributors we have, with minimal or non-existent bureaucratic intrusions. Prices are set by wholesalers and retailers, not government bureaucrats. No long lines and empty store shelves. That’s capitalism, freedom, and prosperity.

The motivations of Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders, and most of the people on the left, should be viewed as dubious when they continually support policies of government theft of private wealth and government regulations which have mainly succeeded in causing higher unemployment, inflation and economic distress. The Left’s most recent anti-capitalist hero, French economist Thomas Piketty, wrote in his book, Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, that a progressive, global tax on capital and individual wealth “would not bring the government much in the way of revenue, because it would quickly fulfill its objective: to drastically reduce remuneration…” As quoted in this Mises Institute article, Piketty writes his main point, which in my view mirrors most on the left: “The primary purpose of the capital tax is not to finance the social state but to regulate capitalism.” I.e., it is not as important to help the poor as it is to make the rich less rich. Which ultimately takes more opportunities away from the middle class and the poor, and makes the poor poorer as well — that’s how things work with these government interventions. We know that from actual historical and empirical evidence.

So really, Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders reflect the Left’s general sentiment of envy toward the successful, the entrepreneurs, and producers and creators of wealth. They promote the policies of wealth destruction and economic and moral decay. After all, promoting the stealing from others’ honestly acquired wealth and property is just that: stealing. And that’s immoral. They can rationalize the institutionalized theft all they want, but that’s what it is. This is also what motivates their obsession with higher taxes on producers to cure “global warming/climate change,” as well. In my view, they are not as concerned with cleaning the environment and preventing “melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels” as they are obsessed with taking more wealth away from the producers of society (and thus taking jobs away from the workers!).

This article originally appeared at Scott’s blog

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Exposed: Obama’s Deceitful, Unsustainable Energy Decrees

“That’s not the American way. That’s not progress. That’s not innovation. That’s rent-seeking and trying to protect old ways of doing business, and standing in the way of the future.”

That wasn’t the Wall Street Journal lambasting the mandate- and subsidy-dependent renewable energy consortium. It was President Obama demonizing critics of his plans to replace carbon-based energy with wind, solar and biofuels, stymie the hydraulic fracturing revolution that’s given the United States another century of oil and gas – and “fundamentally transform” and downsize the US and global economies.

The president thinks this legacy will offset the Iran, Iraq, Islamic State and other policy debacles he will bequeath to his successors. His presidential library exhibits won’t likely mention those foreign policy fiascoes or the ways his energy policies mostly benefit the richest 1% of Americans, especially political cronies and campaign contributors – while crippling the economy and pummeling millions of families and businesses that depend on reliable, affordable oil, gas and coal energy for their income and welfare.

Mr. Obama and his regulators have already imposed enormous financial, labor, ozone, water, climate, power generation and other burdens on our economy – mostly with trifling benefits that exist only in computer models, White House press releases, and rosy reports from advocacy groups that receive billions of dollars from his Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and other agencies. On August 24, he announced another billion-dollar program to force America to produce 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030: mostly wind and solar, plus a little more geothermal and biomass.

Those sources now provide less than 8% of all electricity, so this is a monumental increase. If the president wants to take credit for any alleged benefits, he must also accept blame for the abysmal failures.

One of the biggest is Solyndra, the solar company that got $535 million in taxpayer-guaranteed loans just before it went belly-up. A four-year investigation found that Solyndra falsified its financials, sales outlook and other business dealings and omitted material facts. However, the Department of Energy failed in its due diligence obligations and apparently buckled under White House pressure to approve the financing.

Par for the course, though, the Justice Department will not seek criminal indictments of any Solyndra officials, nor penalize any DOE apparatchiks for their willing incompetence. After all, a principal investor in the company (George Kaiser) was a major donor to Obama campaigns.

Of course, dozens of other companies also dined at the federal trough, before going under and costing us taxpayers many billions of dollars. But the administration wants more money and mandates – and more rules that destroy conventional energy competitors – to drive his climate and “transformation” agendas.

Meanwhile, he ignores the one truly and steadily innovative business that has generated real energy, jobs, wealth and tax revenues during his presidency – and largely kept the tepid Obama economy afloat: fracking. In fact, his bureaucrats are working to ban the technology on federal lands and regulate it into a marginal role elsewhere, even as the industry reduces its water use, keeps gasoline prices low, finds ways to produce oil at $45 per barrel, and proves its practices do not contaminate drinking water.

The president also ignores inconvenient facts about his “clean, eco-friendly” renewable energy utopia. For example, wind and solar facilities require vast land acreage and are increasingly moving into sensitive wildlife habitats, threatening protected and endangered birds, bats and other species.

The proposed 550-mile Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline from West Virginia shale gas fields across Virginia to southern North Carolina would impact about 4,600 acres (12% of the District of Columbia), and nearly all that land would be restored to croplands or grassy habitats as soon as the pipe is laid. The fuel is destined mostly for existing gas-fired electrical generating units on a few hundred total acres. If all that gas were used to generate electricity, it would produce 190,500 megawatt-hours of electricity per day.

In stark contrast, generating the same electricity with wind would require 46,000 400-foot turbines on some 475,000 acres of land – plus thousands of acres of towering transmission lines to urban centers hundreds of miles away. They would be permanent and highly visible eyesores and wildlife killers, crossing deforested mountain ridges and scenic areas, and generating electricity maybe 20% of the time. Building them would require millions of tons of concrete, iron, copper, rare earth metals from China’s ruined Baotou region, and petroleum for the monstrous bird- and bat-chopping turbine blades.

Energy analyst Robert Bryce says meeting the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan emission goals would require blanketing 34 million acres (an area larger than New York State) with wind turbines.

A 2013 study estimates that US wind turbines already kill some 573,000 birds a year – 83,000 of them bald and golden eagles and other raptors. Far better data from Europe, however, suggests that the annual US death toll is closer to 13 million birds and bats. And our wildlife agencies exempt wind companies from endangered species and other environmental laws. More turbines will multiply the carnage.

Moreover, we would still need the gas-fired units, operating inefficiently on standby spinning reserve status and going to full power dozens of times daily, whenever the wind stops blowing. Ditto for solar.

Using solar panels to generate 190,500 MWH per day would require 1.7 million acres of land – akin to blanketing Delaware and Rhode Island with habitat-destroying panels – plus long transmission lines and gas-fired units. Los Angeles recently refused to buy power from a much smaller 2,557-acre solar project proposed for the Mojave Desert because of impacts on desert tortoises and bighorn sheep.

President Obama never mentions any of this – or the fact that greater natural gas use is reducing carbon dioxide emissions, which he claims have replaced the sun and other powerful natural forces in driving climate change. This April, US CO2 emissions fell to their lowest level for any month in 27 years. But now that he’s sent coal marching toward history’s ash heap, natural gas is next on his target list.

To top it off, all the billions of dollars, crony corporatism, campaign cash for helpful politicians, feed-in tariffs and Renewable Fuel Standards (mandates and diktats) – and all the habitat and wildlife impacts – will raise the wind, solar, geothermal and biomass share of the nation’s energy mix from 8% today to only 10% in 2040, to supply our growing population, Energy Information Administration analysts project.

Since 2006, US households received over $18 billion just in federal income tax credits for weatherizing homes, installing solar panels, buying hybrid and electric vehicles, and other “clean energy” investments. But the bottom 60% of families received only 10% of this loot; the top 10% got 60% of the total and 90% of the subsidies and tax credits for ultra-expensive electric vehicles, like the $132,000 Tesla Model S. Worse, that $18 billion could have drilled wells to provide safe drinking water for five billion people!

The United States depends on energy-rich fossil fuels, plus nuclear and hydroelectric power – not pie-in-the-sky ideas or smoke-and-mirrors solutions to imaginary climate catastrophes. So does the rest of the world. We cannot afford pseudo-environmental ideologies, climate fabrications and dictatorial decrees.

Germany’s Energiewende (mandated energy transformation) program also seeks to replace coal and nuclear energy with wind, solar and biofuels. It has made German electricity prices (including $31.5 billion in hidden annual subsidies) nearly ten times higher than in US states that still rely on coal for power generation. The program has already killed countless jobs and threatens to send still more energy-intensive companies overseas – to countries that justifiably refuse to slash their hydrocarbon use, CO2 emissions or economic growth in the name of controlling Earth’s eternally changing climate.

Every winter, German, British and other European policies literally kill thousands of poor and elderly people who can no longer afford to heat their homes properly. Where is that vaunted liberal compassion?

Why would the United States want to proceed lemming-like down a similarly delusional energy pathway to economic ruin and the needless deaths of birds, bats and our most vulnerable citizens? Other than reelecting Mr. Obama, what did we do to deserve this? And how can we undo the damage?

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth