Archive for July, 2010

Pick an Agency, Any Agency: GIPSA

July 30th, 2010 11:42 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Constitution, government spending, Liberty, Market Regulation  |  Comments Off

As fiscal conservatives continue to seek avenues through which to derail the federal gravy train, it helps from time to time to take a look at the mind-numbingly long list of federal departments and agencies that are on board. Of course, this list is hardly exhaustive – just one that is publicly available – but it can certainly give us some concrete ideas on how and where to cut the spending.

Today: Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration

About: “The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products, and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture. GIPSA is part of USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs, which are working to ensure a productive and competitive global marketplace for U.S. agricultural products.”
FY 2010 Budget: $84 million (Source)

You read that correctly. The USDA essentially has a marketing department called GIPSA, established in 1994. While they speak of a “competitive global marketplace,” however, they don’t deal with foreign marketing or exports; no, for that, you’d have to go down a couple floors to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). But that’s another article for another day. If GIPSA is in the business of marketing, but there’s a separate agency to improve American agriculture in foreign markets, then what does that leave GIPSA tasked with?

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Jake Towne Calls on Charlie Dent to Repeal Health Care Tax

July 30th, 2010 11:41 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Election, Liberty, Politics  |  1

Originally published July 30, 2010 here http://towneforcongress.com/economy/jake-towne-calls-on-charlie-dent-to-repeal-health-care-tax/

Independent congressional candidate Jake Towne issued this statement today:


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Don’t Lose Sleep over Deflation

July 29th, 2010 9:52 am  |  by  |  Published in Debt, Economics, Federal Reserve, government spending, inflation, Money, national debt  |  Comments Off

by Michael Pento, Senior Economist and Vice President of Managed Products at Euro Pacific Capital

After hearing the dire warnings of deflation that have become the standard talking points of most economists, American investors may be reaching for a bottle of Prozac. I believe that their anxiety is misplaced. Unfortunately, modern economists don’t understand what deflation is or why, in reality, we have much more to fear from inflation.

Moderate deflation is actually the natural trend of a productive economy. If a producer can increase his output per unit of input, then he can afford to expand his market by lowering prices while still increasing profits. In that way, deflation allows consumers to buy items that they may not have previously afforded. It also promotes savings, which is essential for investment and capital development. Read More »

Pick an Agency, Any Agency: Amtrak

July 28th, 2010 9:35 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Constitution, government spending, Liberty  |  21 Responses

As fiscal conservatives continue to seek avenues through which to derail the federal gravy train, it helps from time to time to take a look at the mind-numbingly long list of federal departments and agencies that are on board. Of course, this list is hardly exhaustive – just one that is publicly available – but it can certainly give us some concrete ideas on how and where to cut the spending.

Today: The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)

Amtrak Logo

About: “The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak (reporting mark AMTK), is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States.”
FY 2010 Budget: $2.02 billion (Source)

As I recently contemplated a trip in several weeks from New York City to visit friends in Washington, DC, I considered my options. Being on a tight budget as a college student, a flight was out of the question – besides, the trip isn’t so far, and I’d rather not subject myself to whatever the airport security standards happen to be in a few weeks. Fortunately, I turned to one of the many privately-run bus lines that operates on a 24/7 basis for a great deal: at only $17 round-trip, a 4-and-a-half hour bus ride would be a breeze, especially with the wireless internet.

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America, the Odd Man Out

July 27th, 2010 3:26 pm  |  by  |  Published in Debt, Economics, government spending, inflation, Liberty, Money, national debt, Obama, War  |  Comments Off

by John Browne, Senior Market Strategist, Euro Pacific Capital

At long last, a good portion of mainstream economists now concede that a ‘double dip’ recession is in the cards for the United States. To head off the pain, sixteen top economists addressed an open letter to the President urging him to “stimulate” the economy with a massive new round of government spending. We feel this is a recipe for driving a recession into a depression. However, there can be few doubts that such a move is being considered in the highest policy circles. Flush from victories in financial regulation and healthcare, the Administration may feel the conditions are ripe to push through another bold initiative.

If so, the United States may find itself in a very diminishing bloc of nations who fail to appreciate the magnitude of the global debt crisis. Its policies will become increasingly at odds with the drift of other world powers. Given American dependence on economic support from abroad, the risks of such isolation are significant.

On July 20th, UK Prime Minister David Cameron made his first official visit to the US. At a joint press conference that followed the private meeting, President Obama and Mr. Cameron papered over the fundamental economic disagreements that separate both governments.

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Pick an Agency, Any Agency: BTS

July 26th, 2010 10:22 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Constitution, government spending, Liberty  |  Comments Off

As fiscal conservatives continue to seek avenues through which to derail the federal gravy train, it helps from time to time to take a look at the mind-numbingly long list of federal departments and agencies that are on board. Of course, this list is hardly exhaustive – just one that is publicly available – but it can certainly give us some concrete ideas on how and where to cut the spending.

Today: The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)

About: “The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) was established by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. As the newest operating administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the BTS mission is to compile, analyze, and make accessible information about the nation’s transportation systems; collect information on intermodal transportation and other areas as needed; enhance the quality and effectiveness of the Department’s programs through research and the development of guidelines; promote improvements in data acquisition and use.”
FY 2010 Budget: $28 million (Source)

Any time you see a department, agency, or bureau that we’ve only “needed” for the past 20 years, we probably never needed it in the first place. While the $28 million budget is a drop in the bucket, even when compared to the dubious $742.5 million spent by the entire Department of Transportation, let’s take a look at the functions of the BTS at length.

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The Great Foreign Policy Debate within the GOP

July 24th, 2010 3:17 am  |  by  |  Published in Activism, campaign for liberty, Civil Liberties, Commentary, Constitution, Foreign Policy, Liberty, Maven Commentary, Neo-con, terrorism, torture, War  |  Comments Off

Last week the Campaign For Liberty sponsored a a foreign policy debate between Bruce Fein and conservative radio talk show host Jeff Kuhner. Fein has recently released a book published by the Campaign for Liberty called “American Empire: Before the Fall“.

Please take some time to watch video of the debate embedded below. It truly demonstrates the dividing line between non-intervention and intervention. Both Fein and Kuhner provide excellent arguments, however I feel that Fein missed an opportunity to point out a serious flaw in Kuhner’s interventionist logic.

First, Kuhner does not dispute and therefore admits Fein’s assertion that the war on terror is a perpetual war. Later, Kuhner cites putting the Japanese in interment camps during WWII was a necessary and temporary evil. He argues that during times of war we must be willing to sacrifice some of our liberties so that we can be more free down the road once the fighting is over.

Fein could have jumped on this point by asking Kuhner the following question:

If we are in a perpetual war aren’t the civil liberties sacrifices we are making also permanent?

Equating the war on terror with WWII is like saying Coca-cola and orange soda taste the same. I bet Kuhner and his interventionist peers would be unhappy if they ordered a Coke and were brought orange soda instead.

httpvp://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=60EDBA3CAFE9867F

A Precious Metals Bubble?

July 23rd, 2010 1:50 pm  |  by  |  Published in Economics, gold, inflation, Liberty, Money, precious metals, silver, Taxes  |  Comments Off

by John Browne, Senior Market Strategist, Euro Pacific Capital

In the first few days of July, the prices of gold and silver appeared to break a five-month upward trend by drawing back about five per cent from the record June peaks. Despite many similar corrections that have occurred frequently during the long bull market in precious metals, pundits nevertheless looked to draw bold and significant conclusions from the drop. But just as investors were getting comfortable with the leading explanation – that a looming double dip recession will prevent inflation and thereby dampen demand for precious metals – the markets for both metals stabilized.

Most investors still credit the accepted orthodoxy that metals will only gain if inflation is widespread or a financial crisis encourages investors to seek safe havens. The failure of both metals to break below their upward trend lines, despite the lack of news on both fronts, should lay to rest these canards. Unfortunately, nothing appears more resilient than the belief in a gold bubble.

In my opinion, the current rise of precious metals is the direct result of the evident profligacy of governments the world over. Spendthrift politicians in Washington, London, and Tokyo, have caused people to lose faith in paper currencies. Investors, as well as an increasing number of lay citizens, understand that debts cannot be accumulated forever and that the most tempting solution will be to simply print more currency. The only alternative is an unpalatable tax hike that will only serve to reduce long-term revenue, as explained by the famed Laffer Curve.

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Why Not Another World War?

July 19th, 2010 6:45 pm  |  by  |  Published in Economics, government spending, jobs, Liberty, Peter Schiff, Politics, unemployment  |  Comments Off

by Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital and author of the new bestselling economic fable, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes

There is overwhelming agreement among economists that the Second World War was responsible for decisively ending the Great Depression. When asked why the wars in Iran and Afghanistan are failing to make the same impact today, they often claim that the current conflicts are simply too small to be economically significant.

There is, of course, much irony here. No one argues that World War II, with its genocide, tens of millions of combatant casualties, and wholesale destruction of cities and regions, was good for humanity. But the improved American economy of the late 1940s seems to illustrate the benefits of large-scale government stimulus. This conundrum may be causing some to wonder how we could capture the good without the bad.
If one believes that government spending can create economic growth, then the answer should be simple: let’s have a huge pretend war that rivals the Second World War in size. However, this time, let’s not kill anyone.
Most economists believe that massive federal government spending on tanks, uniforms, bullets, and battleships used in World War II, as well the jobs created to actually wage the War, finally put to an end the paralyzing “deflationary trap” that had existed since the Crash of 1929. Many further argue that war spending succeeded where the much smaller New Deal programs of the 1930s had fallen short.
The numbers were indeed staggering. From 1940 to 1944, federal spending shot up more than six times from just $9.5 billion to $72 billion. This increase led to a corresponding $75 billion expansion of US nominal GDP, from $101 billion in 1940 to $175 billion by 1944. In other words, the war effort caused US GDP to increase close to 75% in just four years!

Competing currency being accepted across Mid-Michigan

July 19th, 2010 1:41 am  |  by  |  Published in Free Market, gold, Liberty, Money, Politics, precious metals, silver  |  5 Responses

Ron Paul has often come out in support of abolishing legal tender laws and the idea of having other currencies compete with the dollar.  Well, in Michigan the legal tender laws may still be in place but many businesses now accept alternative currency such as gold, silver, and copper coins when doing business:

New types of money are popping up across Mid-Michigan and supporters say, it’s not counterfeit, but rather a competing currency.

Right now, you can buy a meal or visit a chiropractor without using actual U.S. legal tender.

They sound like real money and look like real money. But you can’t take them to the bank because they’re not made at a government mint. They’re made at private mints.

“I sell three or four every single day and then I get one or two back a week,” said Dave Gillie, owner of Gillies Coney Island Restaurant in Genesee Township.

Gillie also accepts silver, gold, copper and other precious metals to pay for food.

Read the rest of the story and watch a short news clip on this topic.