Author Archives: Antonius Aquinas

     

 

 

Glitches on the Road to MAGA

While the farcical Kavanaugh confirmation hearings dominated the news cycle for the past couple of weeks, little mention was made of a disturbing economic headline – the August US trade deficit. Despite all the bluster from the Trump Administration about “winning trade wars” and “trade wars are easy”, America’s trade imbalances for August were the highest ever and its deficit with its most contentious partner – China – reached an all-time high.

 

Bi-directional trade bazooka [PT]

 

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A Piece of Paper Alone Cannot Secure Liberty

The idea of a constitution and/or written legislation to secure individual rights so beloved by conservatives and among many libertarians has proven to be a myth. The US Constitution and all those that have been written and ratified in its wake throughout the world have done little to protect individual liberties or keep a check on State largesse.

 

Sound money vs. a piece of paper – which is the better guarantor of liberty? [PT]

 

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Bombs Away!

Two recent articles* have again demonstrated that the greatest “terrorist” entity on earth are not the bogymen – Russia, China, Iran, North Korea – so often portrayed by Western presstitutes and the American government, but the United States itself!

 

This is an old cartoon, but still a good one. It perfectly describes the trigger-happy Western political class and the depth of its “thinking”. By happenstance we recently reviewed the Libya intervention (Libya is the failed state in the Maghreb that used to be one of the most prosperous countries in Africa). The eccentric tinpot dictator Gadaffi was not necessarily likable, although he was certainly entertaining from afar. But everything we were told by the press about his actions and plans during the “Arab Spring” that was used by Western politicians as a justification for  bombing the country back into the stone age and making it a safe haven for jihadists and crazed warlords in which inter alia slave markets are thriving openly these days, was a lie. It was really nothing but lies from A to Z, essentially a repetition of the pre-Iraq war playbook. After a UK parliamentary report pointed all of this out after a comprehensive post mortem investigation (it included the evidence that was deliberately withheld in the run-up to the intervention), some apologists tried to argue that political leaders at the time were perhaps not sufficiently informed and made a few small but ultimately excusable “mistakes” in their eagerness to save innocent lives. Right – after all, they only had the most sophisticated surveillance and espionage systems in all of history at their disposal. Anyone interested in a bridge in Brooklyn? [PT]

 

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Redefined Terms and Absurd Targets

At one time, the Federal Reserve’s sole mandate was to maintain stable prices and to “fight inflation.”  To the Fed, the financial press, and most everyone else “inflation” means rising prices instead of its original and true definition as an increase in the money supply.  Rising prices are a consequence – a very painful consequence – of money printing.

 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell apparently does not see the pernicious effects of inflation (at least he seems to be looking around… [PT])

Photo credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

 

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Voting with their Feet

A couple of recent articles have once more made the case, at least implicitly, for political decentralization as the only viable path which will begin to solve the seemingly insurmountable political, economic, and social crises which the Western world now faces.

 

Fracture lines – tax and regulatory competition allows people to “vote with their feet” – and they certainly do. [PT]

 

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Contradictory Palaver

The recent hullabaloo among President Trump’s top monetary officials about the Administration’s “dollar policy” is just the start of what will likely be the first of many contradictory pronouncements and reversals which will take place in the coming months and years as the world’s reserve currency continues to be compromised.  So far, the Greenback has had its worst start since 1987, the year of a major stock market reset.

 

A modern-day reenactment of the famous “our currency, your problem” play that went over so extremely well in the 1970s… [PT]

 

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A Brief Outbreak of Sanity

After nearly a year of gaffes, provocations, threats, bombings, destabilizing arms deals, and, most recently, the disastrous decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the sanest member of the Trump Administration, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, appeared to have begun a new and promising diplomatic direction in relations with tiny, beleaguered North Korea.

 

Oil man and uranium man – will there be an exchange of binoculars soon? As regular readers know, after studying numerous official photographs of Kim, we have concluded that what he really wants is a pair or two of really spiffy new binoculars. International diplomacy is not exactly rocket science, one just needs to be a little observant. And giving him new field glasses would be a lot cheaper, less bloody, and less likely to generate unhealthy levels of radiation than waging war.  [PT]

Screenshot via nypost.com

 

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Rude Interruptions

As long as the US Empire can be funded and maintained on the backs of its taxpaying public, the chance of a deescalation of tensions not only on the Korean peninsula, but throughout the world are practically nil.  And as long as the nation’s current interventionist ideology holds sway, it will only be through a financial meltdown that the role of the US as global policeman will come to a much-needed end.

 

Hamhung, North Korea, June 30, 1950; an example of minor collateral damage suffered by North Korea during the behavior-modification police action of the early 1950s. Let us be clear that we have no sympathy for the hereditary Stalinist dynasty/junta oppressing the people of North Korea. Nevertheless, it should be crystal clear by now why military interventionism is problematic: it usually not only fails to achieve anything remotely resembling the desired result, in most cases it actually brings about the exact opposite. It bolsters popular support for even the vilest regimes, as the focus of the population’s anger is redirected at an external enemy; instead of destabilizing  autocrats and tyrants, it often ends up fortifying their position. Anything short of a complete victory will leave an implacable enemy in place, who as we can see in the example of North Korea can end up posing a major problem for decades. Past attempts to persuade the regime to abandon nuclear weapons (usually in exchange for economic concessions) often failed because the NK regime sabotaged them; all indications are that its decisions are driven by intense paranoia. In light of this, past agreements were often ill-conceived, as they inter alia involved the transfer of nuclear technology for supposedly “peaceful” purposes. The regime’s actions are mainly informed by a desire for self-preservation – its threats and posturing have to be seen in the context of this overarching goal. Given the deep scars left by the Korean war and the examples of tinpot dictators elsewhere who surrendered their WMD capabilities only to be hunted down and killed while their fiefdoms were bombed back into the stone age, it should not be too difficult to figure out why the NK regime wants to hang on to its nuclear weapons. [PT]

Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images

 

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Expensive Politics

Instead of a demonstration of its overwhelming military might intended to intimidate tiny North Korea and pressure China to lean on its defiant communist neighbor, President Trump and the West should try to learn a few things from China.

 

President Trump meets President Xi. The POTUS reportedly had a very good time in China. [PT]

Photo credit: AP

 

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Communism: An Unmitigated Disaster

This October marks the centennial anniversary of the Bolshevik takeover of Russia and the establishment of Soviet-style Communism which tragically, for the Russian people, would last for some seventy interminable years.  Not only did the Soviet regime liquidate and imprison millions, but its idiotic system of central planning impoverished the country, turning it into an economic basket case, the effects of which reverberate to this day.

 

The communist monster – Vladimir Ulyanov, a.k.a. Lenin. The New York Times was brimming with apologias for communism on the occasion of the revolution’s centennial this year. Apparently word was given to the vast hordes of Marxists still infesting society that they were free to use the platform to publish editorials explaining why the whole thing wasn’t so bad after all. For instance, in one of these screeds we learned that Lenin was a “great environmentalist” because he decided that vast stretches of no-man’s land in the Soviet Union should be designated nature reserves. As one can easily determine by looking at a map of Russia, this is no great feat, since there are large areas with a population density reminiscent of the Sahara. Lenin’s legacy as an environmentalist certainly pales against his crimes (it was not mentioned if any “New Soviet Men” inhabited these regions and whether they were forcibly relocated or exterminated to preserve the pristine state of these areas). Lenin had second thoughts on the unworkable socialist economic system in his later years and introduced the so-called “New Economic Policy”, as the country was on the verge of suffering a famine. This concession to the superiority of capitalism was hastily reversed by Stalin at the cost of millions of lives by means of state-sponsored starvation. Food production crashed due to the coercive collectivization of all economic activity and the former “bread basket” Ukraine became the scene of one of the largest and most brutal democides in human history. But hey, Lenin was a great environmentalist! And didn’t he say that if you wanted to make an omelet, you had to break a few eggs? Stalin concluded that if you want to make a really big omelet, you have to break millions of eggs. [PT]

Photo credit: Imago

 

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Cryptic Pronouncements

If a world conflagration, God forbid, should break out during the Trump Administration, its genesis will not be too hard to discover: the thin-skinned, immature, shallow, doofus who currently resides in the Oval Office!

 

The commander-in-chief – a potential source of radiation?

 

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Misguided Enthusiasm

While not a jubilee year, last week marked the 230th anniversary of the US Constitution. Naturally, most of its devotees enthusiastically praised the document which by now is seen on a par with Holy Writ itself.

 

The constitutional convention in Philadelphia, anno 1787. Things have gone downhill ever since. Many – though not all – of those taking part in the convention were members of the moneyed elite, the land speculators who had instigated the war of independence when King George foolishly tried to keep them from expanding their speculative activities to the West with his ill-conceived edict of 1763. Having won the war, they were no longer constrained by the edict, but they couldn’t leave well enough alone… sitting on their laurels apparently just wasn’t their style. The constitution was the next logical step – a successful attempt to install a centralized Merchant State after the British model, only sans King George. As Albert Jay Nock points out in Our Enemy, the State: “The great majority of them, possibly as many as four-fifths, were public creditors; one-third were land-speculators; some were moneylenders; one-fifth were industrialists, traders, shippers; and many of them were lawyers.” Not exactly the first thing they tell pupils in public schools about, we would guess. Nock also reminds us, ibid: “Wherever economic exploitation has been for any reason either impracticable or unprofitable, the State has never come into existence; government has existed, but the State, never”. [PT]

 

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