By Dr. Mercola
There are two primary varieties of beets consumed in the US – sugar beets, which are mostly used to make table sugar, and table beets, which are the type you’re probably used to seeing at your farmer’s market or grocery store.
While table beets are high in sugar (they have more sugar than any other vegetable), they’re also packed with valuable nutrients and antioxidants. Most people can safely eat table beets a few times a week (and their greens in unlimited quantities), enjoying not only their sweet, earthy flavor but also their powerhouse nutrients that may improve your health.
Although table beets have been cultivated for thousands of years (both for the root and the greens), they are not widely grown in the US compared to other crops. Table beets generally account for 10,000 acres or less of US farmland (close to half of which is in Wisconsin).1
The vast majority of table beets produced in the US are processed. If you’ve only tried jarred or canned beets in the past, pick up a fresh bunch the next time you see them.
You’ll be in for a pleasant surprise, as not only are beets easy to prepare (they can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed, roasted, baked, or pickled), they’re incredibly delicious when eaten fresh.Beet Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese
If you’re looking for a recipe to compliment the flavor of your fresh beets, try the Food Network’s take on beet salad below. The beets are combined with creamy goat cheese and arugula, then dressed with a red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing. Walnuts, another nutrition powerhouse, are added in for some crunch.
The recipe makes four servings – enough to feed your family for dinner or save for a quick lunch for the week.
Beet Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese2
- 2 bunches medium beets, (about 1 ½ pounds) tops trimmed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 bunch arugula, trimmed and torn
- ½ medium head escarole, torn
- 4 ounces goat cheese, (preferably aged goat cheese) crumbled
- Put the beets in a saucepan with water to cover and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them--the skins should slide right off with a bit of pressure from your fingers. If they don't, use a paring knife to scrape off any bits that stick. Cut each beet into bite-sized wedges.
- Whisk the vinegar with salt and pepper, to taste, in a large bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow steady stream to make a dressing. Toss the cut beets in the dressing; set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and oven-toast, stirring once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Cool.
- Toss the arugula and escarole with the beets and divide among 4 plates. Scatter the walnuts and goat cheese on top. Serve.
Copyright 2005 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved. Beets Fight Chronic Disease, Including Inflammation
When inflammation runs rampant you are vulnerable to a plethora of chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other illnesses that are appearing at alarmingly high rates today.
Your diet plays a key role in either fighting or promoting inflammation, and this is one area where beets shine. Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress.
It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.3 As reported by the World’s Healthiest Foods:4
“[Betaine’s] …presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha.
As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems.”
The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may even help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.5
The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow, and lowering blood pressure.Beets Provide Valuable Fiber and Detoxification Support
If you eat a largely processed food diet, your body will be lacking in fiber and other nutrients it needs to function optimally. Beets, on the other hand, are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas).
Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects. The betalin pigments in beets also support your body’s phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.Interesting Factoid: Beet Hemoglobin Might One Day Be Used as a Blood Substitute
Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. While you might assume this is a uniquely human protein, it’s actually found in plants, too, including sugar beets.
While complete blood is ultimately needed for blood transfusions, hemoglobin can be given in the first five hours following an accident to help oxygen circulate throughout the body.7
The beet hemoglobin is, surprisingly, nearly identical to human hemoglobin, except for a small “surface detail” that Nélida Leiva, a doctoral student of applied biochemistry at Lund University, said extends the lifespan of the beet hemoglobin.
There are multiple types of hemoglobin in your body, including that in your blood as well as in your brain and testicles in men. The beet hemoglobin shares the most similarities with the brain hemoglobin.
More research is planned to determine if the sugar beet hemoglobin could one day be used as a blood substitute, but at least one expert is skeptical. Raúl Arredondo-Peter, who has studied the evolution of plant hemoglobins, believes the idea “is conceivable but far off because they do not carry and release oxygen at the same rates as human hemoglobins.”8Does Your Urine Turn Red When You Eat Beets?
Up to 15 percent of US adults experience a reddening of their urine (known as beeturia) after consuming beets. Although this might be disconcerting to see, it’s not intrinsically harmful. It might, however, signify an underlying health condition. People with iron deficiency, iron excess, or problems with iron metabolism are significantly more likely to experience beeturia.
If you’ve experienced beeturia after consuming beets, it might be a good idea to get checked out by a health care practitioner to rule out any potential problems related to your iron status.9How to Choose the Best Beets
Look for beets that are small in size with a smooth skin and deep color. You can cut off the majority of the green prior to storing them (in a plastic bag in your refrigerator), however leave about two to four inches of stems attached. Save the beet greens for later, they’re full of nutrition, too. By leaving several inches of stem attached, it will help prevent the beets from “bleeding.” After they’re cooked (you can try steaming them for 15 minutes or baking them, wrapped in foil, for about an hour), use a paper towel to rub off the skin.
If you choose small enough beets, you might not need to worry about peeling them at all. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when handling beets, as they can easily stain your fingers purple.10 One of the best ways to eat beets, however, is raw. Simply grate them over a salad, soup, casserole, or side dish to add both intense flavor and color.Visit Our Food Facts Library for Empowering Nutrition Information
If you want to learn even more about what's in the food you're eating, visit our Food Facts library. Most people are not aware of the wealth of nutrients available in healthful foods, particularly organic fruits and vegetables. By getting to know your food, you can make informed decisions about how to eat healthier and thereby boost your brain function, lower your risk of chronic disease, lose weight, and much more.
Food Facts is a directory of the most highly recommended health foods to add to your wholesome diet. Its purpose is to provide you with valuable information about various types of foods including recipes to help you maximize these benefits. You'll learn about nutrition facts, scientific studies, and even interesting trivia about each food in the Food Facts library. Remember, knowing what's in your food is the first step to choosing and preparing nutritious meals each and every day. So visit Mercola Food Facts today to get started.
By Dr. Mercola
You can choose to ignore reality, but you can't ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. Most of us rely heavily on the media for information, not realizing that 90 percent of it is controlled by a mere six media giants.
Sharyl Attkisson, a five-time Emmy Award winning investigative journalist whose television career spans more than three decades is one of my personal heroes. She was the reporter who, in 2009, blew the lid off the swine flu media hype, showing the hysteria was completely unfounded and manufactured.
She recently left CBS to pursue other avenues of investigative journalism, and has authored a highly praised book, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, which exposes what goes on behind the scenes in the media that gives you the information you come to think of as real and true.
"I left CBS about a year ago when it seemed I had met with so many dead ends in trying to continue the original investigative reporting that I've done for so many years there," Sharyl says.
"My producer and I just kept hitting brick walls in the last two years or so in trying to get this reporting on television. We certainly weren't alone. Reporters are complaining about this across the board at many print organizations and broadcast outlets...
The watchdog reporting that the government values so much is simply not desired for a variety of reasons as much as it once was at the national level. I think also this is a problem in local news...
There was no point [in staying]. I was never in a position to turn up better stories; I have more information, more sources, more whistleblowers, and more I felt might produce terrific stories than ever before after 20 years in CBS News, and yet, utterly lacked the ability to get any of it on television.
I could've stayed and done weather stories and stories of the day but that's just not where my interest was."What Led to the Downfall of Watchdog Reporting?
Unfortunately, the trend of diluting the depth and scope of investigative journalism can even be seen in high-quality programs like CBS' 60 Minutes, which has been a favorite show of mine since its inception over four decades ago.
As noted by Sharyl, the reasons for the decline of investigative journalism are complicated. But a big part of it is due to commercial concerns; basically, commercial and corporate influences came into play, and media outlets grew to accept commercialization as part of the news process.
"I call it soft censorship," Sharyl says. "When you know you have a sponsor and you know it's important to the corporation, are you really going to offend the sponsor by going after stories that they don't like?
But I do think it's more overt than that sometimes. The sponsors explicitly complain and argue at the corporate level that certain stories and topics shouldn't be done.
We know this is true based on one anecdote I put in the book, but there are other anecdotes and experiences that reporters have had, where they've been told that this is the case.
Additionally, there are political factors. There were managers at CBS in those last two years that inserted their ideology into the reporting of producers and reporters, who by and large were very fair. That can change the whole tone of the reporting."
One of the examples in Sharyl's book that really hit home for me was when Hillary Clinton ran against Obama for president, and while on the campaign trail told reporters she had dodged sniper fire on a trip as First Lady, 12 years prior, when she visited Bosnia.
It seems like a silly thing to lie about, but lie she did. Sharyl and other journalists had been on that trip, and they all knew no one had dodged sniper fire, least of all the First Lady. Fortunately, Sharyl had archived videos of the event to prove it.
"It couldn't be farther from the truth, the idea that we had been shot up by sniper fire," Sharyl says. "There are a couple of choices – just being untruthful for her own benefit, or was she delusional, which is a little frightening. But I think the public got past that because they accepted her as the Secretary of State."
Another point Sharyl makes very effectively in her book is that there's this collaboration within the media, such that if one agency picks up a story, they all run the same story. You can watch the nightly news on every channel, and the story will be presented in virtually the same way, sometimes more or less verbatim.
"Too often, I think they don't want to cover a major controversy unless others have already covered it, like the New York Times or the Washington Post; then it's safe.
They don't want to cover certain stories for ideological reasons. They don't want to cover certain stories against corporate partners that might harm corporate relationships."Intimidation and Harassment of Journalists
True investigative journalists, such as Sharyl, have also become targets of intimidation and harassment. For example, at one point her computer and phone lines were hacked to find out what she was working on.
"I assume there are a handful of journalists who do that sort of critical reporting on the government, and on this administration in particular, that they wanted to watch.
They never dreamed I would luck upon the resources to have the computer examined by experts that could find the software they deposited in my computer.
This software was proprietary to a government agency, either the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)...
They had my keystroke data... They could look at all my files. They used Skype audio – I didn't know this was possible – but they could turn it on invisibly, without you knowing it, to listen into conversations. They could also remove files using Skype... We were able to confirm these highly sophisticated long-term, remote intrusions."
Another interesting book for anyone interested or concerned about matters such as these is Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable, and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman. The book discusses in great detail how this type of hacking can occur, and more importantly, what simple measures we can do to protect ourselves. It's a reality. And if they're doing it to top-notch investigative reporters, certainly everyone is a candidate.On Astroturfing...
"Astroturf" is the effort on the part of special interests, whether corporate or political, to surreptitiously sway public opinion and make it appear as though it's a grassroots effort for or against a particular agenda, when in reality such a groundswell of public opinion might not exist. Sharyl explains:
"They turn to things like social media – Facebook and Twitter – using pseudonyms and multiple accounts to spread things around. They use their partners who blog for them, write things, and pick up on one another's work until sometimes it's been picked up in the mainstream media as if it's a fact.
It's all intended to make you feel as though if you hold a certain opinion that they don't want you to have, you're the outlier. Everybody else agrees with 'X' except you, and that may not be the truth. This is a huge business... There are actually PR firms that specialize in these sorts of tactics.
Astroturfing is now more important, I am told by lobbyists and PR firms, to many clients than the direct lobbying of Congress because it's so effective to reach out to the public. They may have someone write a letter to the editor and you don't know that person is being paid by a special interest to advance a certain opinion.
They may start as a nonprofit without saying out front that they're behind the nonprofit. The nonprofit may then look like a charity that's advancing a certain opinion, which is actually acting on behalf of the corporate interest or the special interest. Again, it's very widespread..."
Hallmark signs of astroturfing include using key language—words such as crank, crack, nutty, pseudo, conspiracy, and other language that's effective with the public to try to make you dismiss an argument they don't like. Another hallmark of an Astroturf campaign is attacking those who are questioning authority, such as reporters who are exposing the truth, whistleblowers who dare to step forward, and people asking tough questions.
It's important to be aware of these kinds of concerted efforts to distort the truth, and to understand how they're done, because these "faux concern" campaigns can have a profound influence on your perception of reality.Astroturfing in Action
A perfect example of astroturfing just occurred when a GMO front group attacked Dr. Oz after he reported on the now scientifically established hazards of glyphosate, and the media swallowed and regurgitated the propaganda without any critical thought whatsoever. Slate magazine publicized the attack with the headline “Letter from Prominent Doctors Implies Columbia Should Fire Dr. Oz for Being a Quack.”
The letter accuses Dr. Oz of repeatedly showing “disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops.”
The letter was signed by Dr. Henry I. Miller and nine other “distinguished physicians.” What the media has failed to address is that Dr. Henry Miller is hardly a concerned physician. He’s actually a now well-known shill for the GMO industry.
In his capacity as its front man, he was caught misrepresenting himself during the Anti-Prop.37 campaign in 2012, pretending to be a Stanford professor opposing GMO labeling, when in fact he is not a professor at Stanford. The TV ad had to be pulled off the air because of this misrepresentation.
Aside from that, he has a long and sordid history1 of defending toxic chemicals such as DDT, in addition to defending Big Tobacco. Some of the other nine physicians are also less than distinguished. As noted by US Right to Know:2
“One was stripped of his medical license in New York and sent to federal prison camp for Medicaid fraud. Yet Dr. Gilbert Ross plays up his M.D. credentials in his role as acting president of the American Council for Science and Health (ACSH). Ross was joined on the Columbia letter by ACSH board member Dr. Jack Fisher.
So what is ACSH? Though some reporters treat it as an independent science source, the group has been heavily funded by oil, chemical, and tobacco companies, and has a long history of making inaccurate statements about science that directly benefit those industries – for example claiming that secondhand smoke isn’t linked to heart attacks, fracking doesn’t pollute water...
These facts are relevant in stories about scientific integrity. The scientific accuracy and motivations of the accusers matter when they are publicly challenging the scientific accuracy and motivations of somebody they are trying to get fired. We urge reporters and editors to take a closer look at the sources selling them story ideas, and to act as better watchdogs for the public interest”.Dr. Henry Miller and American Council for Science and Health Are False Fronts for the GMO Industry
Indeed, Henry Miller and ACSH are false fronts for the GMO industry, plain and simple. They are part of a PR hack strategy of astroturfing, and the mainstream media are too inept to look behind the curtain to see what’s really there. The fact of the matter is that this attack on Dr. Oz is orchestrated not by concerned physicians or scientists but rather by industry shills whose job it is to attack anyone who embraces a more natural approach to health and/or raise damning questions that might hurt the industry’s bottom-line.Why Conventional Media So Rarely Tells You the Truth About Health
One industry that wields a great deal of power within the media today is the pharmaceutical industry. It's rare to sit through an evening of television without viewing several drug ads. They also advertise heavily in print and online media. The advertising dollars they spend not only generates sales, it also gives them the power to influence what's being reported in the news. Here's just one example:
"There's a story in my book about former executive producer of mine who got a phone call from the sales division, which was very inappropriate. He said the sales person from CBS was kind of screaming at him because we'd been doing a lot of stories looking at side effects and problems with the very popular and billion-dollar-selling cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins.
The advertisers didn't like that. Therefore, someone from the CBS corporate apparently didn't like that, and called down and said something like, 'If you keep doing these stories, it's going to be really, really bad for CBS...'
I think that happens more often than we know explicitly. But this time, it was followed by what I see as all of the media backing down on pharmaceutical-related stories. We were doing very aggressive coverage of problems within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – not just me, but all the networks and a lot of print publications – about vaccines side effects, and about other medical issues. That all has virtually stopped. You can almost point to a time period when it seems someone made a phone call and said, 'That's it fellas. There are advertisers.'
And you won't see these stories now even when there's a multi-billion-dollar criminal settlement against drug companies for mismarketing drugs that are commonly used. That's a huge story that should be leading the news in my opinion. But most people probably never heard of it because those are things that offend the sensibilities of advertisers, who now control to some degree the editorial content of networks, publications, and print publications that are advertising.
And, as you know, they have several lobbyists for every member of Congress on Capitol Hill so they can make sure certain hearings don't happen. As recently as last year, they were able to stop a planned vaccine-related hearing. The control is almost total in my view. That's just one example of a corporate influence."What Are Some 'Big' Stories Not Being Reported Right Now?
According to Sharyl, if journalists would simply cover the news with facts and fairness, topics like vaccine side effects would receive far greater coverage. The reason it doesn't is because that topic has been deemed "untouchable." Other emerging health issues that you don't hear about in the news include the emergence of enterovirus EV-D68. It's a polio-like virus, but it's not polio.
Thousands of people were stricken with it last year, and the virus appears to be linked to cases of paralysis. At least a dozen children also died from it, yet you didn't hear about this on the news because it was not, unlike the measles vaccine, something the government was interested in promoting.
"Too often reporters wait for the government to tell them what's a story and what's not a story. They won't do the digging on their own, which I think is a very bad trend. But I tried to find out about this [enterovirus] and asked the CDC some questions, to which they replied they didn't gather certain data. I searched the web and found that the CDC had published a paper with the data that I've asked for! So it was completely false what they told me..."
Sharyl's book exposes many of the inside strategies that go on to suppress this type of information. Since leaving CBS News and finishing her book, she's been writing freelance, publishing a number of stories she would have had a hard time telling before, such as the story of how a government experiment on premature babies misled parents with an unethical consent form to enroll their premature babies in the program.
This study was conducted at prestigious research institutions by the government across the country. After some of the babies died, the study was stopped. Even the government's own ethics body concluded that the consent form was unethical because it didn't actually inform the parents that their babies were being entered into a study.
They were just told that this treatment would be good for their baby. In reality, the babies were randomly placed into high-oxygen or low-oxygen groups—not what was best for them individually. The parents were unaware that their child was being given treatment based on the flip of a coin. The parents also didn't know that their child was placed in an oxygen machine that had been disabled to give false readings.
"That story was published in Daily Signal,3 which is a heritage foundation news organization that started last year. They've done some excellent reporting and haven't tampered with my stories," Sharyl says.What the Media Isn't Telling You about 'ObamaCare'
Another story Sharyl believes has been underreported is that of HealthCare.gov. "The US government is still hiding public documents that have been under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for a long time," she claims. And the media simply reports whatever the government says, even though the government has been caught providing false information, including providing false statements under oath to Congress. There are still details of this health care program that we don't know anything about, and why is that?
"For millions of Americans, I think, this law is turning out to be disastrous and too expensive," she says. "There's now a new class of uninsured people who had insurance, but who've been bumped off or have gone off because they can't afford it now. The insurance isn't covering what people need.
Certainly, there are people who have benefitted, people who couldn't get insurance before. There's no doubt about that. That's going to be reported on, but what's not reported is that many people are suffering severe consequences..."
In her book she also exposes the debacle of how HealthCare.gov was developed, so if you're interested in learning more about that, please pick up a copy of Stonewalled. Sharyl has donated proceeds from Stonewalled to the University of Florida to put on a Freedom of Information forum for students and professionals, in which they brainstormed to come up with ideas for making the government more responsive to public information request; how to fix the freedom of information process, "which is entirely pointless and useless now," as Sharyl says.
So, when you buy her book, part of the proceeds are going towards ongoing efforts to help influence a more open and honest government, which is clearly something that needs work.
Following a a planned demonstration over how police handled the arrest of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who suffered a spinal injury at some point after he was detained by police on April 12 and died a week later; hundreds of protesters confronted lines of police. Objects were thrown, stores pillaged, and at least five police cars have been damaged. The Mayor of Baltimore has asked fans to remain inside the ballpark "due to ongoing public safety concerns." Ferguson 2.0?
— Reid Kellam (@SouljaBoyKellam) April 26, 2015
Live Feed 1...
Live Feed 2....
Earlier, demonstrators had marched through the streets until they arrived at City Hall. Along the way, whenever it appeared the protest might get out of control, organizers reined the marchers back in.
The event ended after speeches at Baltimore City Hall on Saturday evening, but many protesters continued to vent their anger by marching down to Inner Harbor.
When demonstrators got to the stadium, tensions escalated and some people threw what appeared to be water bottles and other objects at the cops, who wore helmets and stood behind metal barricades.
Fans who were arriving to watching the hometown Orioles play the Boston Red Sox were having trouble finding ways to the entrance gates. The game started on time.
Throughout the day protesters yelled, "No justice, no peace" and "All night, all day; we're gonna fight for Freddie Gray."
* * *
The scenes are all too reminiscent of the terrible events in Ferguson...
— Cole Phelps (@ColePhelps_1247) April 26, 2015
— Chels? (@BEautifully_C) April 26, 2015
— FOX 5 DC (@fox5newsdc) April 26, 2015
— will kill 4 spring (@onekade) April 26, 2015
— Kevin Rector (@RectorSun) April 26, 2015
— Moses (@iBChrisMoses) April 26, 2015
What does it mean to be an effective advocate of liberty? It means to love what you do and adopt sustainable patterns of thinking and living that contribute to making the world a freer place.
Sustainability is key. Most of today’s attacks on freedom lovers include a dismissal that libertarianism is an ideology for idealistic (or maybe deluded) kids, not one for adults. Sure, you can feel enraptured by the writings of Bastiat or Rand or Rothbard when you are in high school or college. But once you get into the real world, they say, you mature and give up the illusions of a freer world.
I don’t believe this. Within the domain of liberty, we find the path to prosperity, social peace, and human flourishing. Every limitation on the freedom of thought, action, and ownership robs the world of creativity, wealth, and progress.
And yet, freedom is not baked into a world where various forms of despotism are always threatening. It must be won anew in every generation. Indeed, it’s the ones who fancy themselves as grown-ups — able to make big decisions for the rest of humanity — who become the next generation of despots. It is the very foundation of intellectual and moral maturity to resist this level of hubris and to acknowledge the truth of our limitations.
Surely maturity shows us the limits of power. Surely the cause of liberty is worth our lifelong efforts.
But there is a superficial plausibility to the critics’ claims because there is a tendency for libertarians to give up hope. I’ve known many who lost their enthusiasm for liberty for a number of reasons, none of them strictly intellectual. People can begin to feel demoralized on discovering how little they can do to change the world. The gap between dreams and reality grows too large. Idealism fades when you sense you are hitting your head against a brick wall.
What can be done to sustain the passion for liberty throughout a lifetime? Here are my suggestions for seven habits to foster a lifelong attachment to liberty and to live a life that makes the best possible contribution to human well-being.
1. Oppose oppression but love liberty even more.
The dawning of the libertarian consciousness often takes place in two steps.
First, you realize that there is such a thing as a state that is distinct from society at large, a fact that massive swaths of the social sciences (not to mention mainstream media) try to cover up. Second, there is the new awareness that the state is distinct from every other institution in society because it uses aggressive force to achieve its aims. Further, the state actually does not achieve the aims it promises. Rather, it violates rights, undermines economic achievement, fosters dependency, and serves a ruling class rather than the public at large.
At this point in your intellectual journey, you realize that the mainstream alternatives of left and right leave a lot to be desired; neither is a wholly consistent application of a principled opposition to power.
A new consciousness dawns. It can give rise to righteous anger. You see for the first time the difference between how the world is (which can often look dark and gloomy) and what could be. It can be tempting to focus on the negative: wars, police abuse, corruption, looting of the productive, graft in politics, and so on.
This anger is why so many liberty-minded news feeds consist of terrible news. But how much bad news can one person possibly handle? We have no means to directly right wrongs, to change the world for the better in one fell swoop. To see evil that we cannot change can only lead to despair: a trap that too many libertarians fall into.
It is crucial not only to think about the problem but also to see the solutions being lived out all around us. We need to learn to observe the marvelous businesses starting and succeeding every day, the beauty of spontaneous human interaction, the order and prosperity that emerge from the exercise of human choice. We should thrill in the many ways that people go about their lives in casual defiance of the central plan. We can glory in the creations all around us that were never mapped out or approved by politicians, or by the experts in their pay.
In other words, focusing on the solutions rather than solely on the problems can brighten your day and give rise to creativity in the service of the good. Liberty is not just the absence of oppression; it is the presence of well-lived lives and institutions that emerge despite every attempt to stop them. In this sense, freedom is blossoming all over the world. If we can focus on making that positive change, rather than dwelling on what’s wrong with the world, our task becomes more delightful and a dedication to liberty becomes more sustainable.
2. Read broadly and be confident in your ideas.
Political debates can be fun, but they can also be shrill and unproductive, with two sides battling it out and making no intellectual progress. They bring more heat than light. If you are going to change that pattern, you must have the confidence to listen carefully to other ideas and not be threatened by them. With intellectual confidence, you can respond in a way that is sure-footed rather than belligerent. You can be thoughtful rather than reactive.
Think of the difference between the way a street thug behaves and how a martial arts expert carries himself in combat. One is angry, threatening, and reckless. The other is calm, clever, and effective. In a hand-to-hand match between the two, the latter is going to win. Why? Because the martial arts expert has actual skill, whereas the bully only has attitude and emotion. Libertarians should be like skilled experts and exhibit the confidence that comes with that discipline. But becoming a black belt in liberty takes time and learning; it doesn’t happen overnight.
We should also know our opponents’ arguments better than they do and be prepared to respond to them fairly and without caricature, crafting our own arguments in ways that are actually persuasive rather than just forceful or loud. This requires that we spend some time reading and studying other traditions of thought. Our libraries ought to be broad and sample all disciplines and viewpoints.
We should never shy away from ideas that are different from our own. Sometimes our intellectual opponents — even when they are completely wrong — are our most valued benefactors. They help us think through issues, sharpen our skills, and inspire us to research and read more. This is the way we improve. Then we can approach debates with no fear.
This approach will make us far more effective over the long term. Bombast and bromides can shut down opponents, but do they win hearts and minds? Not likely. As Ludwig von Mises emphasized in his great 1927 book Liberalism, it is reason, good arguments, and thoughtfulness — combined with a genuine desire for a better world — that will carry the day.
We don’t want to shut down our opponents, causing them to retreat to their comfortable and familiar way of thinking. We want our opponents to keep asking questions of us, to keep challenging our ideas as we continue to engage them. We want them to keep talking with us and others. The ongoing discussion is a sign of curiosity and openness that we should welcome.
3. Look beyond politics.
For most libertarians, politics is the initial draw. There is nothing wrong with this. It is typical of American culture that it takes campaigns to get people interested in big questions like the role of human freedom, the place of the state, whether war is necessary, and so on.
But it only takes one or two campaigns before people realize that politics is a not a very effective way for changing the world for the better. Our votes matter very little, if at all. We are mostly only voting for people, not policies. And people in politics tend to betray principles. If we put too much stock in politicians — even the best of whom confront a system much larger than they can control — we will feel frustrated and powerless. Plus, there is no nastier business on the planet. Calumnies and deceptions define the political world.
Working in campaigns as a consumption good is fine, if that’s the sort of thing you like. Some people enjoy it. But let’s be realistic. As a production good — a means of producing good outcomes — it is mostly an illusion. Politics tends to be a lagging rather than leading indicator of social change. The first steps toward change are cultural and not political. Politics is reactive, not proactive. If we can make a contribution to changing minds and fostering a culture of liberty, the rest will take care of itself.
There are many other ways to make a difference outside of politics. Think of the way the economy of mobile apps is challenging the status quo in nearly every area of commerce. Municipal taxi monopolies are reeling from the competition from ride-sharing applications. Peer-to-peer housing solutions are making a mess of zoning laws. Cryptocurrency is challenging nationalized money and old-fashioned payment systems. Homeschooling and online education are busting up the state’s education system. These efforts have already accomplished more than any top-down reform.
Indeed, every start-up enterprise is a kind of revolutionary act against the status quo that the state’s regulations and plunderings have conspired to prevent. Their existence is proof that you can’t stop human creativity with any amount of control. At the end of day, we’ll look back to see that start-ups have made a mightier contribution to liberty than all the political campaigns combined. Libertarians have long understood that bottom-up solutions to social problems work better than top-down approaches. It’s the same with building a free society.
4. See everyone as an ideological friend.
Do you know anyone who actually opposes human freedom? I don’t. It’s just that we all have different ways of understanding that idea and different levels of tolerance for its inconsistent application. We should see everyone as a potential ally in the great cause, regardless of sex, race, religion, or station in life.
Modern democratic politics divides people by interest-group affiliation. According to the prevailing ethos, women should prefer one set of politics and men another. Blacks want things one way, whites another — and Hispanics want yet another. Young and old are each opposed to the other, just as are the rich and the poor. In this way, as Frédéric Bastiat never tired of pointing out, politics divides people, creating a war of all against all.
But the classical liberals always emphasized that freedom means a harmony of interests between all groups. Only true liberals favor the common good of all, because they want to remove the major source of division in society. They favor allowing all groups and individuals to cooperate, associate, exchange, and produce to their mutual betterment. Society can manage itself better than any central planner can.
To see this today, in a time of cold war between groups, requires some high-minded thinking. Often, it requires acknowledging the justice of victim-group complaints and drawing attention to how the state has created the problem in the first place. This pertains to a huge range of problems in society, from unemployment to institutionalized racism to persistent poverty, exploitation, and war. It is not the case that we all have different goals; it’s that we disagree on the means to achieve those goals.
Start all discussions with the presumption that the other person is a potential lover of liberty. When someone says something right and true, seize on it and draw it out. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t gain a convert immediately. As with all exchanges of ideas, the goal should be to plant seeds, not harvest a crop. It is through such subtle but persistent efforts that we win over hearts and minds to the cause of liberty.
5. Don’t have all the answers.
It is typical of nonlibertarians that they demand full and complete answers to all human problems that are currently tackled by statist means. Who will care for the poor? How will education work? How will people get health insurance? What is to be done about the problems of racism, misogyny, and religious intolerance? Above all else, who will build the roads? (Never mind that roads are all built by private companies on contract with the state today.)
It is tempting to try to give complete answers. And history can provide some important hints and guides along the way to giving us a vision of what might be. There is a point to drawing attention to the way government intervention has displaced a whole range of private industries: schools, roads, mutual aid, title companies, courts, and more. At the same time, we must resist the temptation to construct a different central plan for freedom. If we take the bait, we set ourselves up for failure.
We do not have all the answers. In freedom, we discover answers through an ongoing process of trial and error. An open society exists to leave the maximum amount of room for innovation and discovery.
F.A. Hayek was correct in his amazing essay “The Case for Freedom”:
Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom. If we knew how freedom would be used, the case for it would largely disappear.… Our faith in freedom does not rest on the foreseeable results in particular circumstances but on the belief that it will, on balance, release more forces for the good than for the bad.… It is because we do not know how individuals will use their freedom that it is so important.
As Leonard Read used to say, the single most notable feature of freedom is its humility. It defers to the results of human action and does not attempt to design them in advance. Freedom does not mean rule by smart libertarians who know better than anyone else. It means the removal of institutionalized sources of power that rule with the arrogant presumption that there is only one way to manage society, and that society can and should be managed.
There is nothing wrong with responding to critics of freedom, “I don’t know the answers, but neither do politicians and bureaucrats, which is why they aren’t in a position to impose their ideas on the rest of us. We need freedom to work out social problems for ourselves. If you see a challenge to be met, it’s guaranteed that others see the same problem. Let’s work together to find the answers. Freedom is a necessary condition for finding the best solutions.”
6. Hack your life.
Once you realize that we are living under a central plan for your life and property, you can start to get creative about finding alternatives. You can use technologies to find a new approach to education. You can find better paths toward personal success. You can better manage your finances without the personal debt encouraged by the policies of the Federal Reserve. You can hack your appliances in ways that make them operate better than the regulations allow.
One way that statist lobbying groups have increased the power of government has been to find ways to apply their principles in public life. The greens have become masters of this approach. They have constructed a whole liturgy for our lives whereby we recycle, bike, ration garbage, take short showers, and so on — never mind that these things do next to nothing for the environment. The point is to personalize the political (the opposite of the left’s principle of politicizing the personal).
We libertarians can personalize the political by finding ways around the central plan. These steps are hugely important because they make liberty real in our lives. It is not just an abstraction we hold in our minds, a vague hope of some world that may or may not dawn in the future. The opportunities to live out freedom are all around us. We only need eyes to see and the courage to act.
Before Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, she knew that it was not enough to write a novel solely about a decaying social order under the iron hand of a corrupt government. She needed characters who felt empowered to do something about it. She ended up with an epic story about a whole generation of entrepreneurs who moved to Galt’s Gulch to build a better world. Their plan of action, as presented in this book, has influenced libertarians for half a century.
No, that doesn’t mean that we must all bail out and move to New Hampshire. It does mean that we must all look for ways to live and innovate without permission from the ruling class, embracing freedom whether our political masters like it or not.
7. Be joyful.
Factionalism is a major joy killer. There is a temptation to become overly embedded in a small circle of opinion, to look for differences (however minute), and to argue tempestuously. When debates are civil and fair, they can lead to intellectual growth. When they become personal and lead to claims that so-and-so is not a real libertarian, they can lead to broken friendships and general acrimony.
No one wins in such joyless struggles. They cause people to lose focus on the critical goal, which is the rise of liberty and the fall of everything that stands in its way. Social media is a wonderful thing, but sometimes technology can exacerbate squabbles rather than build real community. Remember that it takes two to fight, and you can always walk away. That takes discipline and humility, but it preserves relationships. For our own well-being, we need to focus on building a community of ideas, not on purges based on the false hope of purifying the movement.
There is something seriously wrong if the dawning of libertarian consciousness leads to a dour and dreary attitude toward the world and all its works. It should be easy to adopt a joyful view of the world, especially in our times.
We are seeing the failure of 20th-century statist measures in every area of life. All the statists’ fiscal, monetary, and regulatory plans have all failed. Their programs are unraveling. Governments and their leaders have never been more unpopular. Commerce is making an end-run around their schemes every day.
These should be causes of great joy. Libertarians are on the right side of history. We celebrate and seek to defend human rights against all who would take them away. This is a happy pursuit, one that gives our lives added meaning and significance.
Murray Rothbard used to say that fighting the state should be a joyful occupation. In the end, tyranny cannot work. There is just something wonderful about realizing that and seeing how it plays itself out in the real world. Having such joy was effortless for Rothbard because it was part of his personality. For the rest of us, it takes some practice. We should smile at the inevitable failures of the state, feel happy about the liberty all around us, and take comfort in the hope for a future of liberty that is realizable, partly through our own efforts.
Let us remember that when we are talking about human liberty, we are talking about the whole of what makes life itself beautiful. That is a gigantic subject. There are many pathways into the ideas of liberty and many ways of living the ideas, too. That is a beautiful truth, one worthy of lifelong attention and commitment. To make it effective, we should never forget that liberty is about real life, not merely an intellectual abstraction.
Imagine a small group of people going out into the world armed with these seven habits. Soon, that infectious optimism helps grow the group, as more and more people are drawn to its light. Those who doubt, criticize, and clamber for power will come to be seen not as progressive and forward thinking, but rather as stuck in old ways that don’t work. And the group of networked changemakers will prove their value one experiment at a time. People will turn not to the politicians and the paid experts, but to the geeks, volunteers, and entrepreneurs — to those with a vision of a beautiful future. That’s what freedom looks like. And that’s how you change the world with it
When a specially-designed robot dies within 3 hours of being exposed to Fukushima's radiation, it is clear something is not quite as propagandized in Japan; and today, as SCMP reports, extremely high levels of radiation have been discovered in a children's playground in Tokyo. While two hours of exposure to a child would be equivalent to the maximum does allowable in a year, Japanese officials say they do not think it is connected to the disaster at Fukushima. We are not sure whether that is supposed to reassure or terrorize locals?
Soil underneath a slide at the children's playground in the northwest of the Japanese capital showed radiation readings of up to 480 microsieverts per hour, the local administrative office said.
The radiation level is over 2,000 times that at which the national government requires soil cleaning in areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where reactors melted down after the March 2011 tsunami.
Anyone directly exposed to this level would absorb in two hours the maximum dose of radiation Japan recommends in a year.
"Many children play in the park daily, so the ward office should explain the situation," Kyodo News quoted a 62-year-old local woman as saying.
Officials were made aware of the contamination after a local resident reported it on Monday and say they do not think it is connected to the disaster at Fukushima. "Because the area in which we detect radioactivity is very limited, and readings in surrounding parts are normal, we suspect radioactive materials of some kind are buried there," local mayor Yukio Takano said in a statement.
The park was built in 2013, two years after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, a local official said, on what was previously a parking lot for Tokyo's sanitation department. Top soil at the lot was replaced before the land was turned into a park, said the Toshima official.
Many families in eastern Japan continue to survey the levels of radioactive contamination around their houses, distrustful of government assurances that most places had not been affected by the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
Such efforts have led some people to discover radioactive materials that had been dumped in their neighbourhoods.
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Coming days after a radioactive drone was discovered atop PM Abe's office building, one has to wonder just what the people are trying to tell everyone... that the government is suppressing so strictly.
In what appears to be an effort to ensure that James Franco and Seth Rogen are never again sabotaged by evil North Korean hackers, the Pentagon is out with a new plan that explains when it may be necessary to take the cyber fight to the “aggressors” in order to “mitigate potential cyberrisk to the US homeland.”
Unsurprisingly, the list of cyber adversaries is indistinguishable from what might fairly be called Washington’s “usual suspects.” The villains are: Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea. In fact, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the Pentagon was recently the target of a Russian “cyber intrusion” which he claims was quickly detected by a government “crack team.” Carter’s comments, which came during a speech at Stanford, also indicated that the US could use cyber attacks as an offensive weapon should circumstances warrant it. Here’s more via NY Times:
The Pentagon on Thursday took a major step designed to instill a measure of fear in potential cyberadversaries, releasing a new strategy that for the first time explicitly discusses the circumstances under which cyberweapons could be used against an attacker, and naming the countries it says present the greatest threat: China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
But President Obama’s decision to publicly name North Korea’s leaders for ordering the largest destructive attack on an American target, the announcement of new sanctions against state-sponsored and criminal hackers, and the indictment of five members of the People’s Liberation Army for attacking American corporate targets all reflect a sea change in administration policy.
American officials have fumed for years that cyberattacks were largely cost-free. Now, much as Presidents Truman and Eisenhower struggled to define circumstances that could prompt a nuclear response from the United States, Mr. Obama and his aides are beginning to lay out conditions under which the nation would employ cyberattacks — either in retaliation for a strike, as an offensive weapon for conflict or in covert action. They have made no mention of the central role the United States played in the large cyberstrike against Iran’s nuclear program.
In his speech at Stanford, Mr. Carter revealed that — like the White House and the State Department — the Pentagon found itself the victim of a cyberintrusion months ago.
“The sensors that guard DoD’s unclassified networks detected Russian hackers accessing one of our networks,” he said, saying the attack exploited “an old vulnerability in one of our legacy networks that hadn’t been patched.” He said that a “crack team of incident responders” had “quickly kicked them off the network.”
“As a matter of principle, the United States will seek to exhaust all network defense and law enforcement options to mitigate any potential cyberrisk to the U.S. homeland or U.S. interests before conducting a cyberspace operation,” the strategy says.
But it adds that “there may be times when the president or the secretary of defense may determine that it would be appropriate for the U.S. military to conduct cyber operations to disrupt an adversary’s military related networks or infrastructure so that the U.S. military can protect U.S. interests in an area of operations. For example, the United States military might use cyber operations to terminate an ongoing conflict on U.S. terms, or to disrupt an adversary’s military systems to prevent the use of force against U.S. interests.” That last phrase seemed to leave open the door for pre-emptive cyber attacks.
Amusingly (and as hinted at above), the Pentagon wants cyber enemies to know that the US is prepared to take the same stance on cyber attacks as it does on nuclear deterrence. Namely that America is building up its capabilities for defensive purposes only but will not hesitate to keep its offensive “options” open. Here’s the Department of Defense:
“Still,” Carter said, “adversaries should know that our preference for deterrence and our defensive posture don’t diminish our willingness to use cyber options if necessary.”
And more from The Times:
“Deterrence is partially a function of perception,” the new strategy says. “It works by convincing a potential adversary that it will suffer unacceptable costs if it conducts an attack on the United States."
So in other words: the best defense is a good offense.
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Here’s the official fact sheet from DoD:
8:30p ET Saturday, April 25, 2015
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
Gold investors, USAGold's Mike Kosares writes tonight, possess "a healthy skepticism, insight, belief, and courage," and with them they will be rewarded, while "those who believe that the authorities are in full control of the situation and that all will end well" may be left asking, as Queen Elizabeth II did a few years ago, why nobody saw disaster coming. Kosares' commentary is headlined "2001 -- A Gold Odyssey" and it's posted at USAGold here:
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
Direct Ownership and Storage of Precious Metals
Outside the Banking System in Zurich and Singapore
Goldbroker.com is a precious metals investment company that enables investors to own and store gold directly in their own name (no mutualized ownership) in Zurich and Singapore.
Goldbroker's clients are not exposed to any counterparty risks. They own gold and silver in their own names (the ownership certificate cites the name of the investor and serial number of his bars) and they have storage accounts opened in their own name as well. So Goldbroker.com's storage partner knows the exact identity of each investor. Goldbroker.com doesn't store in the name of its clients; rather, Goldbroker's clients store personally. All investors have direct access to their gold and silver bars.
Goldbroker.com was launched in 2011 so that investors would avoid any counterparty risk when investing in physical gold and silver.
Goldbroker.com is listed among GATA's recommended monetary metals dealers. (http://www.gata.org/node/173)
To invest or learn more, please visit:
Support GATA by purchasing recordings of the proceedings of the 2014 New Orleans Investment Conference:
Or by purchasing DVDs of GATA's London conference in August 2011 or GATA's Dawson City conference in August 2006:
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It’s safe to say that the EU, the US, and quite a few other jurisdictions are nearing currency crashes, and in all likelihood, the euro will go before the dollar. So, unless the EU has already prearranged a new euro, the US dollar might well be chosen as an immediate solution to the problem, as the US dollar is presently recognised and traded throughout Europe. Therefore, a relatively painless transfer could be made.Then, the Dollar Crash
However, the dollar, which is presently praised as being a sound currency, is really only sound in relation to the euro (and some other lesser currencies). Once its less stable brother, the euro, collapses, the dollar will be exposed.
As the US dollar is a fiat currency and is on the ropes, the US (and any other country that is using the dollar as its primary currency when the time comes) will experience a currency emergency at the street level that will be unprecedented.
The big question that is generally not being discussed is: The day after the crash (and thereafter), what will be the currency that is used to buy a bag of groceries, a tank of petrol, a meal at a restaurant? Certainly, the need will be immediate and will be on a national level in each impacted country, affecting everyone.And Then…
I have discussed for some time that the US will be prepared ahead of time with a new, electronic currency. This will serve three purposes:
- It will allow the US government to blame paper currencies for the crash, in order to distract the public from recognising that the government itself is the culprit.
- It will allow the US government to create a currency system that disallows the holding of tradable currency by the population—that is, a debit card would be created by banks through which all transactions must pass, assuring that all transactions are processed by (and thereby subject to the control of) a bank.
- It will allow the US government to have knowledge of every penny earned and spent by any individual or organization, allowing for direct-debit income taxation.
If the US does institute such a system, US citizens will then become the most economically controlled people in the world, overnight.
It’s likely that a black-market system would spontaneously be created by US citizens in order to bypass the new government system. A portion of daily trade would occur under the table. It would unquestionably be made illegal, and we can only speculate as to how prevalent it would become: 10% of all transactions? 30%? Anyone’s guess. Certainly, the government would crack down, and penalties might become severe.
Elsewhere in the world, there would be greater freedom, but what would their currencies be? There are many countries that presently use the US dollar as one of their official currencies. After a crash, the greater the link to the US dollar, the greater the loss of economic freedom, although, in most such countries, the government is likely to be less efficient than in the US, which would work in favour of the individual.
Such countries would also have the option of switching from the dollar to another dominant currency. With the euro and dollar gone, that currency might be the Chinese yuan. The difficulty with this possibility is that, presently, the yuan is not in common use on the street.
Adoption of a currency such as the yuan would require a sudden switch in monetary policy, complete with teething problems. However, recent developments amongst the BRICS and others indicate that many countries are already seeing the writing on the wall and are readying themselves for the use of the yuan as an alternate.A Return to Precious Metals as Currency?
A further possibility is taking place in Mexico today. Mexico is remonetising silver. A one-ounce pure silver Libertad coin will function in parallel to (and be interchangeable with) the existing paper peso. Banks will value the Libertad daily, based upon the silver price. Thus, Mexico will create a legal way for its citizens to protect themselves against devaluation of the peso, whilst creating an internal protection against currency crashes in other countries.
If the Mexican government remains consistent in its plan, it will do more than simply help stabilise Mexico economically; it will serve as an example to other countries that when the Goliaths of the euro and US dollar fall, there is a very sound alternative.
Further, the more countries that follow this policy, the more silver (and for that matter, gold) would become an international currency. It would matter little to a petrol station owner in Canada, Australia, or Chile whether his till was filled with coins marked, “Mexico,” or whether they said “Iceland,” “New Zealand,” or “South Africa.” After all, an ounce of silver is an ounce of silver, no matter what the issuing country is.
As the Great Unravelling proceeds, we would be wise to monitor what happens with the Libertad in Mexico and watch for a similar return to precious metals in other jurisdictions. As this development progresses, we might wish to consider that, whatever jurisdictions are the most forceful in demanding the continued use of doomed paper currencies (or, worse, transferring into electronic currencies), we may choose to store our wealth, no matter how great or small, in a safer jurisdiction. Further, we may choose to reside in a jurisdiction where a currency crisis will be less likely to occur; to live under a government that does not seek to monitor and tax our every economic transaction.
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