"Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision."
How do the Austrians propose dealing with money market funds?
I mean, it has always been a peculiarity of that school of thought that it praises markets and opposes government intervention — but that at the same time it demands that the government step in to prevent the free market from providing a certain kind of financial service. As I understand it, the intellectual trick here is to convince oneself that fractional reserve banking, in which banks don’t keep 100 percent of deposits in a vault, is somehow an artificial creation of the government. This is historically wrong, but maybe the actual history of banking is deep enough in the past for that wrongness to get missed.
But consider a more recent innovation: money market funds. Such funds are just a particular type of mutual fund — and surely the Austrians don’t want to ban financial intermediation (or do they?). Yet shares in a MMF are very clearly a form of money — you can even write checks on them — created out of thin air by financial institutions, with very few pieces of green paper behind them…
[T]here are a whole range of financial arrangements that in economic terms act a lot like fractional reserve banking. So would a Ron Paul regulatory regime have teams of “honest money” inquisitors fanning across the landscape, chasing and closing down anyone illegitimately creating claims that might compete with gold and silver? How is this supposed to work?
OK, I don’t expect a serious answer. But it’s scary that this has become the more or less official doctrine of the GOP."
In the dating world, an infatuation with Ayn Rand is a red flag. You might not see it right away: Your date is probably conventionally attractive, decidedly wealthy, and doesn’t really talk politics. But then you get back to his apartment, set your bag down on his glass-topped coffee table, give his bookshelf the once-over — and find it lined with Ayn Rand.
You think back to your conversation at the bar: He treated flirtation like a conquest, a rationally self-interested sexual manifest destiny. He had some dumb pickup-artist questions and maybe a questionable accessory (a cravat? a fedora? a weird pinky ring?) but you overlooked these things, because he was quite charming.
But that dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged tells you everything you need to know. He sees himself as an objective iconoclast. He’s unapologetically selfish, because it’s only rational, he says. Sure, he grew up with money but he worked to get where he is today. He’s all about individual responsibility but he just isn’t, metaphorically, into wearing protection.
This is the part where you collect your shoes and bag and GTFO."
So there’s been a group of people running around the United States for 30 years or so who call themselves Constitutionalists, among other things. They have — shall we say —quirky ideas about the rule of the law, the nature of the US constitution and of citizens’ rights within it.
My personal favorite of their claims is that — in their claiming, not mine — that I (meaning Politicalprof and people like me) are “sovereign citizens.” What this means in practice is that since people like me — white, male and property owning — were legally entitled to be citizens of the US before the US Constitution was created, we are “sovereign” — e.g., superior — to the Constitution. This means that I — meaning Politicalprof and people like me — have the personal right to reject or nullify laws that seem to us to intrude on our freedom since, obviously, we would never have consented to such laws in 1787. I am sovereign over the federal government, which cannot take away my rights as I define them.
Now, many of my sharp and sophisticated readers will be have their brows in a knot, going, “but, Politicalprof, what if you’re NOT a white male property owner? What if you’re a woman? Or a minority? Or an immigrant?” No worries: you are what is known as a “14th Amendment citizen.” That is, you are a citizen, but not a sovereign citizen. (Again, this is their argument, not mine.) Rather, you were granted citizenship by the 14th Amendment.
The distinction here is important: I was a citizen (allegedly) who could have made the Constitution, so my rights and liberties exist independent of the Constitution. Everyone else is a citizen as a result of the Constitution, and is bound therefore by its rules and limitations. In addition, we can take your citizenship and rights away through Constitutional changes, but we can never take mine away — as I define them — because people like me defined them in 1787.
Simple, huh? In any case, such persons are on the loose again. The anti-government fervor of the last years, mixed with the rise of a legalistic strain of libertarianism, has combined to make nonsense sound like Constitutional reasoning.
To wit, the post below. A group calling itself the “Republic for the united States of America” (the lowercase “u” matters) has decided that the United States you and I think of is not the real united States. More, they’ve decided they’ve recreated the real the united States. I am posting their words in full, cause hey: you need the full crazy.
The year 1776 marked America’s victory in the war for independence. The lawful right to re-inhabit is inherent in The Declaration of Independence circa 1776. The Declaration, one of our founding documents, declares our right to change, alter or abolish any system of government that we believe is contrary to the safety and security of the American people.
In concern for all of humanity, “We the People” re-inhabited our lawful de jure (meaning “by right of legal establishment”) government on March 30, 2010, by serving notice on the de facto corporation, known as the “UNITED STATES”. (USC 28 Section 3002, No. 15(a) “United States” means a Federal Corporation.) The United States was incorporated February 21, 1871 (16 Stat. 419, Chap. 62, 41st Congress, 3rd Session), the purpose being “an Act to provide a Government for the District of Columbia, reorganized June 8th, 1878, (20 Stat. 102, Chapter 180, 45th Congress, 2nd Session) as “an Act providing a permanent form of government for the District of Columbia” aka US Inc. Uniform Commercial Code, UCC9-307 (h) states “Location of United States. The United States is located in the District of Columbia. A lawful grand jury in each of the fifty republics created a new Declaration of Independence that was lawfully served on the corporate UNITED STATES informing them that the original de jure government was restored. We have claimed our right to exist as a free and independent people on our land, thus exercising our God-given unalienable rights as defined in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
On July 21, 2010 “We the People” of the de jure government proclaimed worldwide and made our “Declaration of Sovereignty for the Republic for the united States of America” to The Hague (a.k.a. the International Court of Justice), the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the United Nations (UN). On September 23, 2010, the first session of congress was convened by the united free Republics of the re-inhabited united States of America. The seating of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the Republic government were successfully established. This was completed by more than the required two-thirds majority vote of “We the People” on the land of the independent Republics. Delegates from more than 42 free Republics (States) attended, and officers for all three branches of our government have been officially sworn into office, lawfully electing interim President James Timothy Turner and interim Vice President Charles Eugene Wright, along with other established cabinet members with a presiding majority vote of 94% approval. Thus, the Republic government is officially re-inhabited and staffed for the first time since 1868 by the will of “We the People”.
The de facto UNITED STATES CORPORATION was unlawfully established by the forty-first congress in 1871 by deceptive means and without proper consent from “We the People”. The American people were placed under involuntary servitude by a “Legal” system of laws that have continually violated the “Constitution for the united States of America”, “Bill of Rights” and the “Declaration of Independence”. The corporate constitution was changed from the original form, wherein Amendments were unlawfully added and removed without the people’s consent. Since 1871, the abuses of this corporation upon both the international community as well as the American people are inestimable and unconscionable. De facto Congress has repeatedly violated their Oaths of Office, fiduciary responsibilities, and in many cases, committed treasonous acts against “We the People” of the united States of America and the world.
We humbly come forward apologizing for the numerous atrocities we have unknowingly allowed the U.S. CORPORATION to carry out upon the international community. It is our mission to establish the American image of truth, honesty, integrity and honor around the world. Our plan is to rebuild our economy and support other economies around the world, fulfilling humanitarian needs. We will allow our military to withdraw from unnecessary conflicts around the world and promote world peace and prosperity. We intend to follow God the Creator’s command to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick, irrespective of creed, religion or race. There is no law against these things.
We are calling on the support of all Nations around the world to help us end the tyranny that has been perpetrated by the unlawful actions of the UNITED STATES corporate government. We shall achieve this goal PEACEFULLY AND LAWFULLY, with boldness, integrity and truth, so help us God.
"[A]s sophisticated economists, lawyers, and others have always understood, markets are the products of law, which defines and enforces the ownership and exchanges that set the market in motion. A laissez-faire market arises from one kind of law, a more social-democratic market from another. There are things to say for and against both kinds of markets, and any real-life economy has complex blends of both elements—for instance, minimum-wage laws, bans on racial discrimination and prostitution, speed and weight limits for long-haul truckers, and so forth are all straightforward limits on laissez-faire market freedom. It is obscurantist to suggest that some version of the laissez-faire market is a natural baseline, and anything that departs from it needs special justification. That is the spirit of the [cases being decided via judicial activism by the Roberts Court]… Taken to their limit, they would set aside the intellectual and political gains of decades of struggle in the twentieth century: the New Deal recognition that the country must take responsibility for shaping its own economy, and the decision to remove the old American romance with economic libertarianism from constitutional judging."
As a recent piece in the “Counter Punch” newsletter succinctly pointed out, Cato is a corporate-funded front that fabricates faux intellectual rationales for turning America into a government-free, plutocratic utopia run by the corporate elite.
“In a free society,” wrote one Catonian, “there should be no minimum wage law.” Another opined that “Collective bargaining violates workers’ civil liberties.” Also, in the brave new world of Cato-Think there would be no national efforts to assure adequate nutrition for poverty-stricken children, because such problems “are properly local and private functions.”
And let’s not forget that Cato is the ideological home of the “Privatize Social Security” crusade. Thirty years ago, the Cato Journal called for a longterm PR campaign to discredit our successful public pension program and to “construct a coalition” againsts social security among “the banks, insurance companies, and other institutions” that would profit from privatizing it.
Saving Cato from the Koch brothers is one thing, but it’s more important to save America from Cato."
"Paul’s current statements calling for the repeal of the Voters Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and all hate crimes legislation are in line with his 1992 statements and demonstrate an ideological consistency over the years. Ron Paul is downright fundamentalist in his opposition to human rights legislation and in his support of corporations and the super rich. His radicalism knows no bounds, with Paul willing to give corporations everything they want—the environment and society, and in turn humanity, be damned. Ron Paul hopes not just to erase the social reforms of the 20th century but to undo the humanistic evolution of society."
Libertarians who believe that “statism” is ok if comes from state of California but not the US government are not only living in the early 19th century, they are basically saying that their only real beef is if the government abridging individual freedom is the federal government. Tyranny on a smaller scale isn’t their concern. And that isn’t liberal or libertarian. It’s just plain old antebellum era American politics — which is what Ron Paul truly believes when you see his positions on issue after issue. And perhaps that explains those notorious newsletters better than anything else. The antebellum south is where his philosophy really comes from —- and where it leads. (And by the way, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the other famous congressional goldbug of the last quarter century was Jesse Helms. Birds of a feather…)
I have no beef with Ron Paul running. He has every right and a legitimate following who deserve to be heard in our politics. He’s giving the conservatives heartburn because as much as they love his Antebellum politics when it comes to domestic issues, they’re completely at odds with the right’s jingoistic national chauvinism —- something that cuts to the heart of American conservatism. (And truthfully, in that as in so much else, Paul works against the tribal lines. Pre-civil war Southern culture was nothing if not martial. And it still is.)
But he cuts equally to the heart of progressive politics with his rigid dismissal of egalitarianism. You simply cannot find a worse candidate for the current era of gilded age inequality. He has absolutely no answers for the most pressing problem our country faces beyond telling us to basically dissolve the union. Somehow, I suspect that isn’t going to get the job done.