Well, I've been absent from this blog for way too long and I've had a couple of major news items sitting in my inbox that I haven't written about. It's about time.
For most of a year now, since last April, the precious metals markets and the financial industry have just been sort of quiet. The media would have us believe that the storm of 2008 is over and we're experiencing a 'recession'.
What really surprises me is the general shock that many have over the discovering of U.S. Secret Service agents frequenting prostitutes in Columbia prior to the U.S. president's arrival. First of all, I'm not entirely sure how this could be that surprising to anyone. If one is asked what groups are those most likely to frequent prostitutes, high on the list of responses would be, "Why, those in the armed forces, of course!" While the Secret Service might not be what people think of when they make that response, many in the Service are likely to have had military experience, as well as being in an occupation that would probably fit in the definition of an "armed force." Read more about What Did You Think Was Going on with the Secret Service?
It has been claimed among news sources, and parroted in letters-to-the-editor pages, that the Trayvon Martin shooting demonstrates how dangerous "Stand Your Ground" laws are. However, those proclaiming this most likely don't understand what such laws state because if those laws apply in this case, Martin couldn't have just been minding his own business as some accounts of the case claim (I have read conflicting accounts and was not present at the shooting so I have no knowledge of what happened). Read more about Trayvon Martin, "Stand Your Ground" Laws, and the Mainstream Media
As I'm sure you've already heard, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is building a giant fortress in Bluffdale, UT that will store huge swaths of information including 'all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter,"' according to this Wired magazine article. Read more about The Utah Data Center
Those of you following websites with a similar perspective might be familiar with the story of the boiling frog. It is assumed that if a frog is placed in boiling water it will jump out. However, if it is placed in cold water, and the heat slowly increased, so it gradually reaches the boiling point, the frog doesn't notice anything and slowly dies.
It seems quite strange to me that even some of those more libertarian-minded can be in support of compulsory national service. Even the likes of Milton Friedman believed that compulsory military service could be defended on libertarian ground in Capitalism and Freedom. What seems to have become popular today is the idea of requiring some kind of community service, such as working in a nursing home. Problems abound with this idea, including unintended consequences. First and foremost is that no man has the right to force another to work, unless as recompense for harm done to person or property (including the breaking of contractual agreements) and, for whatever it's worth, the 13th Amendment outlaws slavery (but what else could one call the 16th Amendment?). Read more about Compulsory Service
On March 6 I had the displeasure of attending a Republican Presidential Caucus. It happened to be the largest one in the state, was very poorly organized, and took hours longer than necessary. Instead of being able to vote right away, attendees had to endure the speeches of representatives for each of the candidates. Read more about Ignorance Is No Excuse
Some signs of the largess or influence of a nation include religion, language, technology, media and money. Looking at the rise and fall of Empires over the last few centuries, there has been one consistent rise among many smaller collapses. Before the British Empire there were many smaller Empires. The British Empire collapsed only to morph into the American Empire, which seems to be turning into the United Nations Empire. Today is the West or the Anglo-American Empire, as the Daily Bell likes to call it and it is the largest Empire or power structure on Record.
No doubt you have heard of the proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress called SOPA and PIPA and of the protests of various websites against them. These measures are ostensibly intended to fight against copyright infringement and piracy on the web. Most of the protesting websites did not express disagreement with the enforcement of intellectual property (IP) laws, but that there would be privacy issues and regulation of websites by the feds. For this reason, I wanted to offer a different perspective on IP, which argues that it is neither necessary nor just. Read more about An Unconventional Perspective on Intellectual Property
Reading through the current list of predictions from analysts outside of the mainsteam media, it looks like the outlook for 2012 isn't very different, just more of the same. If anything things look a bit worse, because we haven't managed to air any of last year's laundry. We'll probably see more of that return to normal, where paper is worth nothing and real assets are considered wealth again. In other words, paper continues to depreciate and real assets continue to appreciate.