Wednesday, July 27, 2011


by James Craig Green

As you can see from my favorite website links here, Russell Randall is one of my favorite economists, joining my friends and DEMAND WIZARDS Paul Prentice and Penn Pfiffner on this blog as another Colorado economist who has dedicated his career to the study of markets, economics and liberty.

Russell Randall is the creator of AUSTRIAN ENGINOMICS, whose website begins with a video entitled, What is the Real Tax? It is the first thing you will see when entering it. It is one of several educational programs by Russell, which will better prepare you for the main subject of this blog post (economic collapse).

In his short video presentation What is the Real Tax? Russell makes the point that even if all present taxes were repealed, but government spending continued, other, currently-hidden taxation woud occur from government's commanding labor and resources to the government's purpose, which adversely impacts the economy right now, not just in the future. This is completely consistent with Federal Revenue Chart 5 in my June blog postHERITAGE on GOVERNMENT SPENDING and REVENUE, which showed that even when the maximum income tax, for example, was higher than 90 percent, tax revenue remained between about 15 and 20 percent of GDP, averaging 18 percent. The remaining government spending, whether funded by public debt or monetary inflation, still causes a current reduction in the economy due to the commanding of labor and resources away from more productive purposes. As I stated in June's CONTRASTING GOVERNMENT AND MARKET INCENTIVES, limited government resources considered to be essential (courts, police, national defense) would be seen as a direct cost, and not a boost to the economy. All government is a drag on society, the polar opposite of markets, which are the true cornucopia of wealth.


Quoting Russell's email message to me today, A debt ceiling increase with a token gesture towards closing the budget deficit only kicks the can down the road by a year or two. We are not addressing the ROOT CAUSE!

Russell's approach here is focused on understanding the confluence of several historically-significant asset bubbles. He says: The root cause of the extraordinary trade and budget deficits, and financial asset bubbles and imbalances we suffer today has everything to do with with an unsound monetary system. When President Nixon terminated any semblance of a currency tie to gold in 1971 it scripted a financial collapse one or two generations later. Never in recorded history has a fiat money system stood the test of time beyond a few decades.

Russell explains that The serial bubble blowing exercises have nearly run their course. The final and most dangerous bubble to pop is the bond market. In his email message, he introduces this link to his new four-page article about the inevitability of an unprecedented economic collapse:


Further describing the possible popularity of his article, Russell's email asks: Is it possible for the principle of sound money (i.e. not fiat) to become popularly demanded in an advanced democracy where the opposition includes the elite bankers who control fiat money and credit, and their puppet pollsters who test and control the politician sound bites? ...Or, do we have a critical mass of freedom lovers who can articulate a vision of a return to the principles of liberty?

If you like the article or Russell's website, I hope you will give them wide distribution to kindred spirits and others who may consider his arguments and projections.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


by James Craig Green

While Republicans and Democrats point fingers at each other like immature children in the playground debating whether and under what conditions to raise the nation's debt limit, Congressman Ron Paul offers an elegantly simple solution. Since the Treasury owes money to the Federal Reserve (i.e., right-hand Peter owes left-hand Paul), simply cancel this obligation by the amount of the current deficit.

While explaining his solution in a speech to Congress on July 19th, Dr. Paul also explained why the current debt is unsustainable and why adding more debt will only make the current problem worse; not better. As always, Congress is likely to ignore Dr. Paul, because his solution would make the essence of the problem obvious for all to see. This undercuts the culture of deception upon which the American political process is based. Arguably, if Americans understood the simple facts of the debt crisis and the consequences of adding more debt to the nation's future obligations, it might become more obvious that no one in Congress but Dr. Paul, and perhaps a handful of others, really understand the problem and actually want to solve it.


Of course, no one expects Congress or the President to suddenly gain a lifetime's understanding of market economics, or to admit that government, each and every year, makes the economy worse, not better. By creating money out of thin air to bail out major banks who used it to enhance their balance sheets, both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with their Treasury Secretaries Paulson and Geithner (former heads of Goldman Sachs and New York Fed), set a new low in government intervention in the economy (you didn't believe them when they said this would create new loans, did you?). Their bailouts of the very banks that made risky loans and re-packaged worthless (toxic) assets into new securities and defrauded investors throughout the world made sure that these priveleged big consumers of public funds didn't have to pay for their stupidity, negligence and fraud.

Both Presidents Bush and Obama and their Treasury Secretaries implemented the most corrupt and inconceivable "No Bank Left Behind" plan, except for Lehman Brothers, who apparently didn't have any insiders within either administration.

As Dr. Paul points out in the video, the actual current debt is not only this year's 1.6 TRILLION DOLLAR spending increase, but also borrowing from Social Security, Highway and other trust funds, raising it to TWO TRILLION DOLLARS. Furthermore, if this year's additions to entitlement programs (hard-wired into budgets without congressional oversight) were included, it would total FIVE TRILLION DOLLARS.

Dr. Paul clearly explains that only by continuing the Fed's 100-year-old process of inflating the currency, reducing everyone's dollars, can the Administration and Congress hope to get out of this mess with their skins, and reputations, intact. A naive belief to be sure, but heck, it worked for every other administration and congress in our lifetimes, so why not just kick the can down the road and get re-elected? By the time the piper has to be paid, most of these dedicated "public servants" will be retired on government pensions.

Next time, I will present a new paper by economist Russell Randall, who makes a good case for the inevitability of an economic depression worse than anything we or our grandparents have ever seen.

Friday, July 15, 2011


by James Craig Green

As I approach the best years of my life (almost 66), I contemplate things I didn't think to write down before. One of these is the characteristics I have grown to admire in others, especially those I think inadequate in myself. This provides incentive for self-improvement.

I list only four characteristics here, so as not to dilute what I think is the superior importance of these few.


I place courage first, because it is the one thing more than anything else I wish I had more of. From what I know of others, I suspect this is an almost universal failing in people, though some may not recognize or strive for it as I do.

I split courage into two categories.

Physical courage is like that of a soldier who wins a medal, or more commonly, from ordinary people caught up in a tragedy who suddenly discover courage they didn't know they had. One example was Roger Olian, a passerby who dove into the icy water of the Potomac River in 1982 after a plane went down shortly after takeoff from Washington D.C. He jumped into the icy cold water then, assisted by several off duty military personnel, attempting to rescue a survivor. Only five out of 79 people on the plane survived. This kind of thing happens more than I can recall, to people who didn't know they had it in them.

My late uncle Eugene Austin, a marine in the South Pacific during World War II, spent a year in Veteran's Administration (VA) hospitals after the war, having won the Silver Star and multiple purple hearts. I once asked my cousin Spencer Austin, his son, why he performed the incredibly courageous act that won him the Silver Star. Spencer said, "He got really mad." That was a shocker to me, but I wonder how often such things happen because someone just lost emotional control. Perhaps nine times out of ten, someone in that frame of mind would get killed, but my uncle Gene survived. Since this has never happened to me, I don't really know.

For lack of a better term, I call the other kind of courage Social Courage. This means the courage to go against the crowd, especially when you choose principle over expediency. I think this kind of courage is very rare, though we do hear of such cases: whistleblowers who lose their jobs doing the right thing, the rare, rare, rare politician who follows his conscience despite its negative impact on his/her re-election (almost all such claims are false), and even the simple ability to tell the truth when a lie would be easier. This is the kind of courage I strive for, and often fail to acheive, because swimming upstream is so difficult. Unlike the soldier or spontaneous hero who reacts emotionally, this almost always involves a known negative cost, like the loss of a job or friends as the cost of one's courage.

My all-time favorite hero for this second kind of courage is Muhammed Ali, Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the world, when he refused to be drafted during the Viet Nam war. In 1967, Ali was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for draft evasion. He literally gave up everything -- his income, titles, security, the admiration of untold millions and the terrible scorn, even hatred of others -- all with the knowledge he would likely go to prison. I can't imagine anyone giving up so much for principle, but he did. As you probably know, the U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturned his conviction, and he didn't have to go to prison. But his title was lost, so he had to invent the Rope a Dope strategy against the awesome power of George Foreman in his historic 1974 comeback. In my estimation, not one man in a million has this kind of courage, especially when the stakes were so high and the deck was stacked against him.

I believe in courage enough to have a tattoo of the Chinese character for it on my arm, to remind me to break out of a natural human tendency - conformity. One of the scariest things I ever did was to call a girl and ask for a date when I was a 14 year-old in Junior High School (it wasn't called middle school then). I remember beginning the call several times, but hanging up before anyone answered before I finally got it done. I have managed to develop social courage in some areas since, but I hope I never have to find out whether I have the other kind, physical courage. The closest I ever came was riding a motorcycle on the race track, which was probably a combination of adrenalin and emotion. It was the most fun thing I ever did, lasting almost a decade ending in 2009.


Trustworthiness is essential to be a good friend, neighbor, partner, customer or service provider. The lack of it is at the root of today's multiple worldwide financial crises. Although so many people today are indoctrinated by government schools and movies to think businessmen and women are evil and do so much harm to the environment and society, in my opinion the opposite is most often true. This requires an explanation, since it seems to be such a minority viewpoint.

If you' ve read any of my other posts, you know I have a free market bias. I believe that most of the damage business does today, especially the most egregious and destructive examples, is a direct result of government subsidies, government regulations, unfunded mandates on business and other political favoritism which I called CRONY CAPITALISM in an earlier blog post. A good example of this was a prior Congress' limiting future oil spill damages to $75 million after the Exxon-Valdez disaster in Alaska in the seventies, which was a small fraction of the actual damages in the more recent case in the Gulf of Mexico. Although one could reasonably argue that President Obama did right when he stepped in to demand more from British Petroleum (BP), this would not have been necessary without the earlier, disastrous, political action to artificially reduce oil companies' risk of lawsuits from insurance companies and other affected parties.

Without turning this into another essay... government subsidies (and limited liability legislation) encourage business' dependence on government, just like heroin, at the same time making them less responsible for damage they may cause. One reason for this is the suspension of property rights and their enforcement, like bailing out Wall Street banks with taxpayers' money. Of course government, forever naive and hopelessly stupid, assumed, but did not require, that the banks would make new loans with it. Instead, they just improved their balanced sheets. It is the height of arrogance, ignorance and denial to think that free markets caused any part of this. See also CRONY CAPITALISM, scrolling to What Free Market?

Some companies petition government to pass further restrictions on their competitors, which was the origin of the wave of antitrust legislation in the 1890's and since. This anti-market activity is a another kind of government subsidy for some businesses, and cronyism adversely affecting others. This has created one of the most counterproductive, destructive, arbitrary and capricious bodies of law any government ever imposed on its citizens. Always sold as the panacea for some problem (i.e., monopoly), it almost always makes the problem worse, creating unintended consequences no government bureaucrat or agent can predict. It is no accident, for example, that giving the Federal Reserve (a private banking cartel) a monopoly over the nation's money and credit did not solve the problem of "banking monopolies" promised at its creation in 1913. Instead, it has destroyed more than 95% the value of the dollar. See THE COURAGEOUS WISDOM OF RON PAUL.

Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes its laws -- Mayer Amschel Rothschield

Concerning personal trustworthiness, think about which friends, family member and associates you treasure the most. Most likely, they are the ones who give you positive values in exchange for the values you give them, in a win-win relationship where both parties benefit. In the unsubsidized business world, trustworthiness is the most important aspect of contract law, developed privately by merchants in ancient times. Only when nation-states came along in recent centuries, did government take over and attempt to monopolize this innovative development.


Like any good thing, honesty can be carried too far, or applied in a situation where it does more harm than good. For example, telling someone that a friend or family member they have known and trusted all their life is a crook, or did some dispicable thing. If necessary to prevent further harm, this may be a good thing, but if only to set the record straight on a loved one's deathbed, it may further no purpose but pain and emotional suffering. I have Dr. Laura Slessinger, the famous talk show host, to thank for this practical wisdom.

Honesty is particularly important in government, where it is found the least. Since government is a legal monopoly of force against innocents, it most effectively separates personal responsibility from individual action (See CRAIG'S SEVEN PREMISES - Numbers 4-6). This is one important reason why government has easily outstripped its protective function and instead became a bloated monster whose primary purpose today seems to be to separate people from their rights instead of protecting them. Of course, the whole idea of "rights" has been turned on its head since the New Deal, as I discuss in CONFUSION ABOUT RIGHTS.

It should be obvious that a person's proven honesty in contractual and other dealings is one of; perhaps the most important, aspect of trustworthiness. But, you don't have an obligation to tell a thief where the money is hidden.


I include compassion here not because so many people lack it, but because so many think government produces or encourages it, which is completely false. Let me begin by defining what I mean by compassion.

Compassion is the voluntary choice to assist someone in need.

However, once government gets involved, the voluntary part goes out the window. As I explain in my blog post MARKETS WORK - GOVERNMENTS DON'T, government funding always comes from legalized theft, fraud and extortion. This includes increasing public debt and "printing" dollars (future pain) as well as more obvious and immediate taxation and expanding government spending without wealth to back it (current pain).

Furthermore, once people have come to expect the government to take care of disaster victims, feed the poor, help budding entrepreneurs start businesses and create safety nets, private charities are diminished, not only in their primary goal to help people, but in the lack of honesty inherent in political, rather than voluntary, resource allocation. As I pointed out in ADAM SMITH'S DISMAL SCIENCE, governments at all levels turned away truckloads of food, water, clothing and other useful items after Hurricane Katrina that were sent by churches, private charities, businesses and spontaneous groups of Americans, the most compassionate people on Earth.

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of government pretending (always failing) to achieve compassion is forcing people to give to causes they do not support. This diminishes the genuine compassion so many people exhibit during natural and other disasters. It is no accident that Americans have been the most compassionate people on Earth, originating so many international organizations designed to do one thing -- to help people in need. This compassion came not from government, which inhibits it, but from ordinary people left mostly free to pursue their own lives instead of being told what to do with them from cradle to grave. The decline in American compassion over the last half century is a direct result of government involvement.


I wish I could say I always uphold these characteristics, but I too often lack the courage to do so. For me, courage is most important because it makes the others easier to find. As one of my favorite philosophers, Epictetus, (Roman Slave and leader of the Stoic movement) said, do not worry about things over which you have no control. The past cannot be undone, and as another mentor of mine said, "Perfect is the enemy of good enough."