Category Archives: Blogs

A Migrant Caravan and U.S. Crossroads

As a “migrant caravan” of 5,000 – 7,000 souls approaches the U.S. border, rhetoric reaches fever pitch. Depending on political bent, they are invaders, illegals, immigrants, migrants, or asylum seekers. To the folks who are into conspiracy theories, they are provocateurs bankrolled by Soros, or surplus people who the corrupt administrators of their country of origin think better gone. So, why not add to the rhetoric with this article?

First, a Glossary of Terms

Invaders enter by force with the intention to do damage or to take possession. Illegals (short for illegal alien) enter usually peacefully but without permission. Immigrants, migrants, and asylum seekers all need permission to enter before they can be referred by those names.

Immigrants are people who intend to live and work in a country of their choice. Migrants enter a country to work, but not necessarily to stay permanently. Asylum seekers, according to U.S. and international law must fall into very specific categories: they must prove to authorities in the receiving country that they need protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

It would seem difficult to state that all 5,000 – 7,000 members of the caravan could be describe by any one of the above terms.

Some Statistics

* There were 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2015 … Six states account for 59% of unauthorized immigrants: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois.

*  There were 303,916 apprehensions in the Southwest border of persons attempting to cross into the U.S. without permission during fiscal year 2017 (October 1 – September 30), and 408,870 in FY 2016.

*  Border Patrol estimates “just under 100,000” aliens crossed into the U.S. between ports of entry each year since 2006.

Here is a random thought for rumination only: 303,916 plus 100,000 divided by 52 equals 7,768. That’s at least 7,768 persons that attempt to cross into the U.S. without permission each week. The current caravan is estimated at 5,000 – 7,000.

So Is There a Crisis?

Are President Trump’s concerns justified? Is Congress acting irresponsibly by ignoring the caravan? Here are some thoughts to ponder:

* The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 25% of unauthorized immigrants have achieved a high school diploma or GED [vs. 87% U.S. population as a whole], and 44% speak English not well or not at all. These numbers can often place unauthorized immigrants below the U.S. poverty line.

* The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for overseeing the nation’s legal immigration system, which includes adjudicating asylum claims. USCIS says that as of January 2018, the agency faces “a crisis-level backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases.”

* On a typical day in 2017, agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection processed the following: 1,088,300 passengers and pedestrians, 340,444 incoming international air passengers and crew, 55,709 passengers and crew on arriving ship/boat, 691,549 incoming land travelers, 283,664 incoming privately owned vehicles, 78,137 truck, rail, and sea containers, $6.5 billion worth of imported products, 90,959 entries of merchandise at our air, land, and sea ports of entry, $120.5 million in duties, taxes and other fees.

* The volume of commercial and private legal traffic listed above generates considerable income for the U.S. Disruptions, apprehensions and interdiction do not.

A Nation of Immigrants

Advocates for a lenient and compassionate immigration system often express the sentiment that the U.S. is a “nation of immigrants.” Indeed it is. Settlers arrived in the 17th century before this was a nation. Slaves were forcefully brought to America against their will during the 17th through the 19th centuries. In the 19th and early 20th centuries great waves of immigrants mostly from European countries arrived at various ports of entry in the U.S., the most famous of which was New York.

Ellis Island

For the immigrants who came through New York harbor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Statue of Liberty no doubt dazzled their senses, but Ellis Island determined their fate. Opened on Jan. 1, 1892, Ellis Island’s vast inspection center served as the entry point for more than 10 million men, women and children, mostly European Catholics and Jews. In the busiest years, between 1898 and 1915, its overburdened staff processed 5,000 people a day with cold, stunning efficiency.  The New York Times, When Ellis Island Was the Only Port, August 2000

Those deemed medically suspect, politically subversive, or unlikely to find a job were weeded out. But at least they were given a chance. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 gave Chinese laborers no chance at all by prohibiting their entry into the U.S.

Is the U.S. at a Crossroads?

Indeed this is a nation of immigrants. However, is there a comparison between, say, those that arrived at Ellis Island, and members of the migrant caravan apparently demanding – not seeking – asylum in the U.S.? If the answer is yes, then the U.S. has chosen the humane share-and-share-alike policy of open borders. If the answer is no, then the choice is that of national sovereignty and adherence to U.S. law.

caravan

It is irrelevant whether the caravan is one of Soros’ ploys to destabilize the U.S., or a result of bad choices that ruined the caravan’s countries of origin, or proof that inhabitants can be left without the ability to affect their countries’ destiny. What matters is that the world is watching to see what the U.S. – that is, its residents through their elected representatives – chooses to do.

How the U.S. Debt Affects You

$20 Gold Coin
Real Money: 1907 $20 gold coin

Fiat money, that is money without intrinsic value, is a fascinating topic. Only money backed by a commodity that has intrinsic value, such as gold and silver, can be said to be of value. Such money is redeemable in gold or silver, and its quantity in circulation is limited by the amount of gold of silver available.

The money we use today has only government’s say so that it is of “value.” It is not redeemable in anything. Its quantity is at the will of the Federal Reserve, who has control of the money supply via its power to create credit with interest rates and reserve requirements.

Pictured above on the left is a $20 United States Bank Note, which was redeemable in gold until 1971; that can be considered real money.  On the right is a $20 Federal Reserve Note, backed by the “full faith and credit” of the federal government.  Good luck hoping it will maintain any “value.”

An associate of the Just Vote No Blog editor considers the topic of fiat money the most important one of our day, and provided some insights used by JVN in this article.

Money 101

The U.S. Constitution has two authorities on “money” (Article 1, Section 8):

* To coin money and regulate the value thereof.

During Colonial days gold and silver were considered “money”.  Money was a commodity. “Setting the value thereof” is like making sure a pound is a pound so people can buy the same pound of coffee, for example. A dollar is a dollar is a dollar. This is not the case today. As Consumer Price Index fluctuations show, a dollar today may not buy the same amount of goods as a dollar tomorrow.

* To borrow money on the credit of the United States.

This is the arrangement under which we operate today. There is no actual “money” with intrinsic value in circulation. We are operating under a credit/debit system which is a system of accounts. Under this system, money and debt can be created at will to finance government operations, provide for public assistance, maintain the armed forces, and pay for any other function government decides to undertake. Near-zero interest rates allow for servicing the debt.

Outcomes

All actions, including implementation of government policies, have outcomes or consequences – good and bad. The U.S. monetary/financial model characterized by liberal use of borrowing and the existence of a central bank (the Federal Reserve Bank) is no different. Let’s pick some outcomes at random:

* The Federal Reserve System through debt-issued currency, manipulation of interest rates and steady inflation allows our wealth to be eroded without us even realizing. When government increases money in circulation, consumers will likely use it to purchase additional items they would not have normally bought. Often the supply of goods does not keep up with the increased demand, resulting in a rise in prices. So, if you needed $20 to buy your lunch, now you need $25 or $30. If you were confident your bank savings would help you through a financial setback, you might not be now.

* A central bank’s control of interest rates and bank reserve requirements allow for manipulation of people’s behavior. Near-zero interest rates form the habit of living on credit – why worry about saving or having any cash to pay one’s living expenses or obligations? Cash is anonymous, but credit is not. When you buy with credit, businesses inventory and catalog you, not only so they can stay in touch and collect the debt, but also so that they can try to sell you even more stuff.

* The current U.S. debt was about $21 trillion in March 2018 — the largest sovereign debt in the world for a single country. Debt is necessary to run a country when revenues such as taxes and fees are not sufficient to cover expenses. As debt approaches unsustainable limits, it is logical for government to ensure that every citizen pays his/her “fair share” of taxes. That includes encouraging traceable payments systems. So, it is not only businesses that want you to move towards a “cashless society” so you can be watched. 

The Fading Free Society

We cannot preserve our liberty if we cannot maintain our purchasing power and stay solvent as people, as a state and as a nation. We need to focus on the issue of fiat money, and the associated issues of central planning and debt. The Founding Fathers were forced to do so when faced with enormous war debts and worthless currency. Their solution was to include in the U.S. Constitution Article I Section 10, which prevents states from making “any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” But the U.S. Congress was granted power the “to borrow money on credit.” We the People need to be more mindful of that credit card.

Poverty in the Land of Plenty

The U.S. is a rich country judging by its massive economy as measured by GDP, standard of living and availability of goods and services. Yet, the U.S. has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. Among OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) member countries, mostly developed countries, the U.S. ranks third highest in poverty.

Poverty is not evenly distributed among the U.S.’s 50 states, but is concentrated in a few, with California leading the way as having the highest poverty rate in the nation and contributing the most to the U.S.’s lamentable rank among developed countries. Even more disturbing is the fact that California’s GDP in current U.S. dollars ranks No. 1 among all other states.   Read More

Supplemental Poverty Measure

 

 

Pick one: Tyler Durden or Paul Krugman

The news media is having its problems these days. If the media is not being called fake news, it’s being called conspiratorial. Fact checkers have sprouted like crabgrass, and legislators – state, federal, you name it – have rushed to protect consumers from being stripped of all their personal information or being exposed to deviations from the status quo.

So what to do? The macro approach suggests that you read a variety of news sources – established, alternative, left-leaning, right-leaning, and even libertarian if you are really brave. The micro approach is to pick your favorite echo chamber and stick with it. The latter approach might be advisable if you need/want to do things other than look at the news. If you really need/want to narrow your choices even further, pick either Paul Krugman or Tyler Durden. Why those two? Why not.

Helping You to Pick

Fifht Club - CopyAs everybody knows, Paul Krugman is the Nobel Prize winning economist that explains our present and predicts our future on the New York Times. Tyler Durden is a fictional character in the book and movie The Fight Club, but he also lends his name to the writers and editors of the political/financial/life-experience website Zero Hedge. Although Professor Krugman is predictably and consistently left-leaning, “Tyler Durden” of Zero Hedge is, according to reviewers, alt-right, anarchical, doom and gloom, and “extremely influential in the New York, London and global hedge fund community.”  (Pictured:  Tyler Durden, i.e. Brad Pitt, in The Fight Club)

Their track record? Let’s pick what each said on November 9, 2016.

* Paul Krugman on November 9, 2016, regarding the U.S. stock market:

I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in, eight years after the great financial crisis.

Now comes the mother of all adverse effects — and what it brings with it is a regime that will be ignorant of economic policy and hostile to any effort to make it work. Effective fiscal support for the Fed? Not a chance. In fact, you can bet that the Fed will lose its independence, and be bullied by cranks.

…So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.

* Tyler Durden on November 9, 2016, regarding the U.S. stock market:

Just like with Brexit, the so-called Wall Street experts scrambled to paint a picture of doom and gloom, warning traders, and markets, that the end of the world is imminent should Trump win, and that stocks could drop by 5%, 10% or more should Donald Trump get elected president. And again, just like in the case of Brexit, they convinced the algos and the momentum chasing traders. Briefly. Because after futures hit the 5% down limit shortly after the market realized it was dead wrong about the presidential election, they have since soared nearly 80 points of the overnight lows and are well above the Friday, pre-Comey close, level.

How come?

Simple: as we have repeatedly said, a Trump victory, coupled with lower taxes, a spike in infrastructure spending, and a surge in debt is precisely what the economy – and a normalized market, one not manipulated daily by central banks – wanted and needed, as it not only will prompt yields to rise, but it will assure even more QE in the near future as foreign buyers of US debt disappear (assuming Trump does not do away with the Fed entirely, which for a man running a real estate empire, he won’t do as he ultimately needs lower rate.)

It’s the Fundamentals

RationalWiki describes Zero Hedge colorfully, and as several other reviewers mentions that ZH follows the Austrian School of Economics — you, know, the non-Keynesian guys.

Zero Hedge is a batshit insane Austrian school finance blog run by two pseudonymous founders who post articles under the name “Tyler Durden..”

Bill Clinton’s rousing campaign slogan “It’s the economy, stupid,” was instrumental in his winning the presidency against incumbent George H.W. Bush. Tyler Durden should adopt a similar slogan about the stock market, “It’s the fundamentals, stupid.”

However, there are plenty of people who prefer ideology over fundamentals, so Just Vote No suggests Paul Krugman.

The Great Social Media Purge of 2018!

Vulture 8Media users that do not follow today’s prescribed line of thinking are feeling the pain. Outliers big and small are squawking loudly and persistently about curtailed “reach” of posts, invisible tweets, and shadow banning. Seems that The Powers that Be have devised a most effective way to help silence any differing views.

The Decline of America

Such media efforts are only the latest developments aiding in the nation’s covert decline – a decline evidenced by a gargantuan and growing national debt, decimation of our manufacturing base, rise of the 1% accompanied by decline of the middle class and explosive growth of the dependent class.

Why would this media tantrum rank right up there with the biggies, such as the tax-and-spend mentality that led to the gargantuan debt, that led to the need for near-zero interest rates to enable debt payments, that led to easy borrowing, that led to breezy acquisitions on borrowed money, that led to monopolies.

The reason is that the media tantrum is 1) the result of powerful monopolies, and 2) monopolies demand obedience.

Obedience creates an echo chamber into which we plebeians must fit. Inhabitants of echo chambers do not think; they regurgitate. They do not create; they copy. They do not question; they accept. They are good at following orders.

Rise of the Monopolists

Conversely, monopolists do not follow, but lead. Take for example, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook. There is no question that Mr. Thiel’s innovations in several industrial and financial sectors have greatly benefited people. Most of us have made good use of PayPal or aspire to own an electric car, and businesses benefit from the data integration provided by Palantir. However, in spite of his obvious intellect, Mr. Thiel’s view of monopolies seems self serving. Here is an excerpt from an article discussing Peter Thiel’s book Three Cheers for Creative Monopolies.

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel advocates the benefits of creative monopoly. That’s a company that is “so good at what it does that no other firm can offer a close substitute.” They give customers more choices “by adding entirely new categories of abundance to the world.

He goes on to say, “All happy companies are different: Each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: They failed to escape competition.” He suggests entrepreneurs focus on “What valuable company is nobody building?”  The Balance, May 2018

A monopoly is a monopoly, creative or not, since causes and effects are the same no matter what one calls a monopoly. Today, the cause is barrels full of cash generated by cheap borrowing that enable vertical and horizontal acquisitions. The effect is concentration of products and services in a few gigantic companies, regulated or unregulated.

Sure the giants in their field offer consumers “choices,” as Peter Thiel says. But to what extent? You don’t like the way Facebook is treating you? Go to the competition! Oh wait, there isn’t any.

There Once Was the Model T

Ford Model T 2 - CopyOne might say that when Henry Ford perfected the assembly lines that produced the Model T, a car that dominated the market for its relative affordability and simplicity, his company earned the distinction of being so good that no other firm offered a close substitute. With the mass-produced Model T, the company also added an entirely new category of abundance to the world.

However, like today’s media giants, the Ford Motor Company had a strange way of offering consumer choices. Henry Ford famously said,

Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.

So, General Motors, who up until then catered to the moneyed class, started to make affordable cars that were not black, and had bells and whistles that the utilitarian Model T eschewed.

Good lesson on how to thwart a company’s dominance in a market!

It’s Their House

Private companies, including those that provide media services, should be free to run their businesses as they see fit. It’s their house.

It is up to consumers to do their due diligence so they understand what they are purchasing and how they are paying in one form or another for the products and services they buy. The cost might be a tacit agreement to tow the prescribed line of thinking. Or the cost might be sharing all your needs, wants, preferences, and ideals so you can be efficiently placed in the appropriate marketing and cultural category.

It is also up to consumers, as well as voters, to make choices. Some consumers now suffering from the whims of media might be tempted to clamor for government regulation, thereby exchanging one master for another.

Miracles do happen, and perhaps once enough consumers of media, especially social media, complain about their dissenting opinions being scrubbed from view, media companies will see the error of their ways and be inclusive (a favorite term of progressives). But if that miracle does not happen….

Be Creative!

Must you settle for being dependent on media, especially social media? How about creating your own mailing lists, reaching out to like-minded people and groups, supporting the endeavors of like-minded people in exchange for their support?

Might participating in the rise of creative alternative means of communication be a better choice than continuing to send out invisible tweets and posts?

One Republican in a Sea of Democrats

Although the Just Vote No Blog is non-partisan, it is definitely political, and definitely liberty-leaning!

Thus the reason for this post on John Dennis, a Republican who is running for City Supervisor in a town without one single Republican elected official. The only Republican to hold elected office in San Francisco in the recent past was James Fang, who was unseated from his Bay Area Rapid Transit Board seat by Nick Josefowitz, a Democrat whose campaign made a point of suggesting that a Republican had no place in San Francisco.  Now Josefowitz is also running for Supervisor in the same district as John Dennis.

The Uncharacteristic Candidate

A peculiarity of this Supervisorial campaign is that John Dennis is a peculiar Republican. One would not discern that from his current campaign website, since the office of San Francisco City Supervisor (what other towns might call council member) is non-partisan and nowadays pretty much focused of homelessness, the housing shortage, and dirty streets.

However, Dennis conducted three most lively campaigns, against totally entrenched Democrat Representative of Congressional District 12, Nancy Pelosi (2010, 2012, 2014). In those campaigns Dennis made news as an uncharacteristic Republican. As sample, here are excerpt from a 2014 Los Angeles Times article.

He differs with social conservatives on same-sex marriage, believing such wedlock is none of the federal government’s business, and also on legalized abortion, saying he is “not comfortable using the force of the state” to outlaw the procedure. He breaks with the chest-thumpers in the GOP who offer American exceptionalism as a rationale for an expansive and assertive foreign policy.

The L.A. Times article mentions U.S. Congressman, now retired, Ron Paul, the uncompromising supporter of individual liberty (readers can safely ignore the article’s reference to Paul’s “neo-isolationism,” since there is a difference between isolationism and imperialism). Paul ran for President three times, 1988, 2008, and 2012.

Paul, of course, came nowhere close to winning the GOP presidential nomination, due in no small part to his provocative neo-isolationism. He did, though, build a national following of like-minded Ayn Rand acolytes who shared his fiercely anti-Washington, small-government, keep-your-mitts-off-me-and-my-property philosophy. Dennis, 51, was one of them.

Could this Republican Win?

Does this Republican have a chance to win the Supervisor’s race in San Francisco’s District 2, when the town is solid Democrat?  He could!  The San Francisco Examiner carried a recent article stating that a random survey “placed Dennis second behind the incumbent, Supervisor Catherine Stefani.”  One might add the survey placed Dennis ahead of Nick Josephowitz, the aforementioned BART Board director, and Schuyler Hudak, a media startup founder also in the race.

Speaking of Ron Paul

Finally, speaking of Ron Paul, here is an old picture of Ron Paul and John Dennis that a lot of liberty-leaning folks still like to post.

RonPaulandJohnDennis

In Defense of Chaos

Ohio Governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich’s interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on September 5th should make one wonder whether he is apprehensive about Donald Trump’s governing style, or he is a sore loser.  Perhaps the Governor’s droning on about the chaos in the White House that, in the Governor’s view, is preventing things from “getting done” might be an indication of the latter – how could Trump, of reality TV, win the presidency over an established long-time politician?

One could point that maybe some in the electorate are seeing through established long-time politicians, and one could point to the uncontrollably agitated behavior of the anti-Trump resistance as an indication that a lot is getting done – none of which desired by The Establishment.  Also, one could point that the challenges not being solved that the Governor ascribes to Trump’s chaotic style have been around for decades, unsolved by previous Presidents.

By the way, never mind Governor Kasich’s statement in the Cuomo interview that Senator John McCain was “put to death,” since we have no idea what he meant by that.

Trump 2Now for the Subject at Hand:  Chaos

Governor Kasich and many other Establishment folk excoriate Trump’s chaotic governing style.  Do such critics understand the nature of the word “chaos?”  Here are two examples of this complex and interesting word as it could relate to President Donald Trump’s governing style.

*  Mythology

Chaos was – most Greek cosmologies tell us – the very first of all, the origin of everything, the empty, unfathomable space at the beginning of time … Chaos was the primal feature of the universe, a shadowy realm of mass and energy from which much of what is powerful (and mostly negative and dark) in the world would stem forth in later genealogies.  Chaos, Greek Mythology

The scenario in 2016 featured a $19.57 trillion national debt, a moribund manufacturing sector that wiped out the earnings potential of a vast portion of U.S. workers, 21.3% of the U.S. population in some form of public assistance, and a gargantuan bureaucracy supported by more taxes than taxpayers would like.

To fix such scenario, one would need a clean slate, dismantling much of the entrenched status quo.  What better way to accomplish such an objective than through chaos – the origin of everything, negative and dark to any opposing force.

*  Business Structures

Organizations are focused on structure and design. Charts are drawn to illustrate who is accountable to whom or who plays what role and when … They build models of organizational practice and policy with hope that this atomizing yields better information on how to improve the organization’s functioning. However, chaos theory implies that this is unnecessary, even harmful.

As the global economy and technology continue to change the way business is conducted on a daily basis, evidence of chaos is clearly visible. While businesses could once succeed as “non-adaptive,” controlling institutions with permanently-installed hierarchical structures, modern corporations must be able to restructure as markets expand and technology evolves.  Chaos Theory

In other words, the order and structure cherished by today’s Establishment is useless in today’s chaotic world, unless the uselessness is beneficial in perpetration of The Establishment.

Results

The bottom line of any undertaking are results.  Are policies promised during Trump’s campaign being accomplished?  Most unbiased observers — as well as CNN interviewer Chris Cuomo, who spoke with Governor Kasich — would say “yes.”  Unfortunately, such results are most worrisome to the Trump opposition. And thus, the misinterpretation of the word “chaos.”

Chaos is the non-linear way to restructure the status quo, available to any political persuasion.  Remember, for example, the chaos generated by anti Vietnam War demonstrators, or by civil rights workers?  Chaos was the most effective way of making their vision of the world a reality.