Circus Politics: Will Our Freedoms Survive Another Presidential Election?

Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.” ? Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Adding yet another layer of farce to an already comical spectacle, the 2016 presidential election has been given its own reality show. Presented by Showtime, The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth will follow the various presidential candidates from now until Election Day.

As if we need any more proof that politics in America has been reduced to a three-ring circus complete with carnival barkers, acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, lion tamers, animal trainers, tight rope walkers, freaks, strong men, magicians, snake charmers, fire eaters, sword swallowers, knife throwers, ringmasters and clowns.

Truly, who needs bread and circuses when you have the assortment of clowns and contortionists that are running for the White House?

No matter who wins the presidential election come November, it’s a sure bet that the losers will be the American people.

Despite what is taught in school and the propaganda that is peddled by the media, the 2016 presidential election is not a populist election for a representative. Rather, it’s a gathering of shareholders to select the next CEO, a fact reinforced by the nation’s archaic electoral college system.

Anyone who believes that this election will bring about any real change in how the American government does business is either incredibly naïve, woefully out-of-touch, or oblivious to the fact that as an in-depth Princeton University study shows, we now live in an oligarchy that is “of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.”

When a country spends close to $5 billion to select what is, for all intents and purposes, a glorified homecoming king or queen to occupy the White House, while 46 million of its people live in poverty, nearly 300,000 Americans are out of work, and more than 500,000 Americans are homeless, that’s a country whose priorities are out of step with the needs of its people.

As author Noam Chomsky rightly observed, “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.”

In other words, we’re being sold a carefully crafted product by a monied elite who are masters in the art of making the public believe that they need exactly what is being sold to them, whether it’s the latest high-tech gadget, the hottest toy, or the most charismatic politician.

As political science professor Gene Sharp notes in starker terms, “Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones.”

To put it another way, the Establishment—the shadow government and its corporate partners that really run the show, pull the strings and dictate the policies, no matter who occupies the Oval Office—are not going to allow anyone to take office who will unravel their power structures. Those who have attempted to do so in the past have been effectively put out of commission.

So what is the solution to this blatant display of imperial elitism disguising itself as a populist exercise in representative government?

Stop playing the game. Stop supporting the system. Stop defending the insanity. Just stop.

Washington thrives on money, so stop giving them your money. Stop throwing your hard-earned dollars away on politicians and Super PACs who view you as nothing more than a means to an end. There are countless worthy grassroots organizations and nonprofits working in your community to address real needs like injustice, poverty, homelessness, etc. Support them and you’ll see change you really can believe in in your own backyard.

Politicians depend on votes, so stop giving them your vote unless they have a proven track record of listening to their constituents, abiding by their wishes and working hard to earn and keep their trust.

Stop buying into the lie that your vote matters. Your vote doesn’t elect a president. Despite the fact that there are 218 million eligible voters in this country (only half of whom actually vote), it is the electoral college, made up of 538 individuals handpicked by the candidates’ respective parties, that actually selects the next president.

The only thing you’re accomplishing by taking part in the “reassurance ritual” of voting is sustaining the illusion that we have a democratic republic. What we have is a dictatorship, or as political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page more accurately term it, we are suffering from an “economic élite domination.”

Of course, we’ve done it to ourselves.

The American people have a history of choosing bread-and-circus distractions over the tedious work involved in self-government.

As a result, we have created an environment in which the economic elite (lobbyists, corporations, monied special interest groups) could dominate, rather than insisting that the views and opinions of the masses—“we the people”—dictate national policy. As the Princeton University oligarchy study indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen. As such, the citizenry has little if any impact on the policies of government.

We allowed our so-called representatives to distance themselves from us, so much so that we are prohibited from approaching them in public, all the while they enjoy intimate relationships with those who can pay for access—primarily the Wall Street financiers. There are 131 lobbyists to every Senator, reinforcing concerns that the government represents the corporate elite rather than the citizenry.

We said nothing while our elections were turned into popularity contests populated by individuals better suited to be talk-show hosts rather than intelligent, reasoned debates on issues of domestic and foreign policy by individuals with solid experience, proven track records and tested integrity.

We turned our backs on things like wisdom, sound judgment, morality and truth, shrugging them off as old-fashioned, only to find ourselves saddled with lying politicians incapable of making fair and impartial decisions.

We let ourselves be persuaded that those yokels in Washington could do a better job of running this country than we could. It’s not a new problem. As former Senator Joseph S. Clark Jr. acknowledged in a 1955 article titled, “Wanted: Better Politicians”: “[W]e have too much mediocrity in the business of running the government of the country, and it troubles me that this should be so at a time of such complexity and crisis… Government by amateurs, semi-pros, and minor-leaguers will not meet the challenge of our times. We must realize that it takes great competence to run a country which, in spite of itself, has succeeded to world leadership in a time of deadly peril.”

We indulged our craving for entertainment news at the expense of our need for balanced reporting by a news media committed to asking the hard questions of government officials. The result, as former congressman Jim Leach points out, leaves us at a grave disadvantage: “At a time when in-depth analysis of the issues of the day has never been more important, quality journalism has been jeopardized by financial considerations and undercut by purveyors of ideology who facilely design news, like clothes, to appeal to a market segment.”

We bought into the fairytale that politicians are saviors, capable of fixing what’s wrong with our communities and our lives, when in fact, most politicians lead such sheltered lives that they have no clue about what their constituents must do to make ends meet. As political scientists Morris Fiorina and Samuel Abrams conclude, “In America today, there is a disconnect between an unrepresentative political class and the citizenry it purports to represent. The political process today not only is less representative than it was a generation ago and less supported by the citizenry, but the outcomes of that process are at a minimum no better.”

We let ourselves be saddled with a two-party system and fooled into believing that there’s a difference between the Republicans and Democrats, when in fact, the two parties are exactly the same. As one commentator noted, both parties support endless war, engage in out-of-control spending, ignore the citizenry’s basic rights, have no respect for the rule of law, are bought and paid for by Big Business, care most about their own power, and have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty.

Then, when faced with the prospect of voting for the lesser of two evils, many simply compromise their principles and overlook the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

Perhaps worst of all, we allowed the cynicism of our age and the cronyism and corruption of Beltway politics to discourage us from believing that there was any hope for the American experiment in liberty.

Granted, it’s easy to become discouraged about the state of our nation. We’re drowning under the weight of too much debt, too many wars, too much power in the hands of a centralized government, too many militarized police, too many laws, too many lobbyists, and generally too much bad news.

It’s harder to believe that change is possible, that the system can be reformed, that politicians can be principled, that courts can be just, that good can overcome evil, and that freedom will prevail.

So where does that leave us?

Benjamin Franklin provided the answer. As the delegates to the Constitutional Convention trudged out of Independence Hall on September 17, 1787, an anxious woman in the crowd waiting at the entrance inquired of Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” Franklin replied, “if you can keep it.”

What Franklin meant, of course, is that when all is said and done, we get the government we deserve.

A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to stay involved, whether that means forgoing Monday night football in order to attend a city council meeting or risking arrest by picketing in front of a politician’s office.

Most of all, it takes a citizenry willing to do more than grouse and complain.

We must act—and act responsibly—keeping in mind that the duties of citizenship extend beyond the act of voting.

The powers-that-be want us to believe that our job as citizens begins and ends on Election Day. They want us to believe that we have no right to complain about the state of the nation unless we’ve cast our vote one way or the other. They want us to remain divided over politics, hostile to those with whom we disagree politically, and intolerant of anyone or anything whose solutions to what ails this country differ from our own.

What they don’t want us talking about is the fact that the government is corrupt, the system is rigged, the politicians don’t represent us, the electoral college is a joke, most of the candidates are frauds, and, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we as a nation are repeating the mistakes of history—namely, allowing a totalitarian state to reign over us.

Former concentration camp inmate Hannah Arendt warned against this when she wrote, “No matter what the specifically national tradition or the particular spiritual source of its ideology, totalitarian government always transformed classes into masses, supplanted the party system, not by one-party dictatorships, but by mass movement, shifted the center of power from the army to the police, and established a foreign policy openly directed toward world domination.”

Clearly, “we the people” have a decision to make.

Do we simply participate in the collapse of the American republic as it degenerates toward a totalitarian regime, or do we take a stand at this moment in history and reject the pathetic excuse for government that is being fobbed off on us?

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

These Stunning Images Depict The Destruction Of Homs, Syria’s Third Largest City

Last week we brought you drone footage from Homs, Syria’s third-largest city.

The clip was just the latest bit of evidence to support the contention that when the US and its allies seek to bring about regime change in the Mid-East, the results are very often far worse than whatever the political “problem” was in the first place.

What began a decade ago as a covert effort to usurp the Alawite government by playing on the sectarian divide, mushroomed over the years into an overt effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Now, much like Libya, Syria is a lawless wasteland. Its infrastructure is destroyed. Its people have fled (the ones who are still alive). Its resources have been commandeered by extremists. Its cultural heritage lays in ruin.

And it’s not over yet.

With the stakes now higher than ever as the US inserts SpecOps and Russia continues to bombard rebel positions, we wonder if they’ll be anything left of the country by the end of the year. Underscoring the extent of the destruction are the following images, also from Homs.

Somehow we doubt the city would bear any resemblance to these indelible visuals were it not for Washington’s support of the “peaceful, democratic resistance.”

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Germany Has Repatriated Over 366 Tonnes Of Gold From New York And Paris

Submitted by Ronan Manly of BullionStar

Update on Bundesbank Gold Repatriation 2015

Deutsche Bundesbank has just released a progress report on its gold bar repatriation programme for 2015 – “Frankfurt becomes Bundesbank’s largest gold storage location“.

During the calendar year to December 2015, the Bundesbank claims to
have transported 210 tonnes of gold back to Frankfurt, moving circa 110
tonnes from Paris to Frankfurt, and just under 100 tonnes from New York
to Frankfurt.

As a reminder, the Bundesbank is engaged in an unusual multi-year
repatriation programme to transport 300 tonnes of gold back to Frankfurt
from the vaults of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY), and
simultaneously to bring back 374 tonnes of gold back to Frankfurt from
the vaults of the Banque de France in Paris. This programme began in
2013 and is scheduled to complete by 2020. I use the word ‘unusual’
because the Bundesbank could technically transport all 674 tonnes of
this gold back to Frankfurt in a few weeks or less if it really wanted
to, so there are undoubtedly some unpublished limitations as to why the
German central bank has not yet done so.

Given the latest update from the German central bank today, the
geographic distribution of the Bundesbank gold reserves is now as
follows, with the largest share of the German gold now being stored

  • 1,347.4 tonnes, or 39.9%, stored in New York;
  • 196.4 tonnes, or 5.8%, stored in Paris;
  • 434.7 tonnes or 12.9% stored at the Bank of England vaults in London;
  • 1402.5 tonnes, or 41.5% now stored domestically by the Bundesbank at its storage vaults in Frankfurt, Germany

In January 2013, prior to the commencement of the programme, the
geographical distribution of the Bundesbank gold reserves was 1,536
tonnes or 45% at the FRBNY, 374 tonnes or 11%, at the Banque de France,
445 tonnes or 13% at the Bank of England, and 1036 tonnes or 31% in

The latest moves now mean that over 3 years from January 2013 to
December 2015, the Bundesbank has retrieved 366 tonnes of gold back to
home soil (189 tonnes from New York (5 tonnes in 2013, 85 tonnes in
2014, and between 99-100 tonnes in 2015), as well as 177 tonnes from
Paris (32 tonnes in 2013, 35 tonnes in 2014, and 110 tonnes in 2015).
The latest transfers still leave 110 tonnes of gold to shift out of New
York in the future and 196.4 tonnes to move the short distance from
Paris to Frankfurt.

In the first year of operation of the repatriation scheme during
2013, the Bundesbank transferred a meagre 37 tonnes of gold in total to
Frankfurt, of which a tiny 5 tonnes came from the FRBNY and only 32
tonnes from Paris. Whatever those excessive limitations were in 2013,
they don’t appear to be so constraining now. In 2014, 85 tonnes were let
out of the FRBNY and 35 tonnes made the trip from Paris. See Koos
Jansen’s January 2015 blog titled “Germany Repatriated 120 Tonnes Of Gold In 2014” for more details on the 2014 repatriation.

Those who track the “Federal Reserve Board Foreign Official Assets Held at Federal Reserve Banks” foreign earmarked gold table
may notice that between January 2015 and November 2015 , circa 4
million ounces, or 124 tonnes of gold, were withdrawn from FRB gold
vaults. Given that the Bundesbank claims to have moved 110 tonnes from
New York during 2015, this implies that there were also other
non-Bundesbank withdrawals from the FRB during 2015. Unless of course
other gold was withdrawn from the FRB, shipped to Paris, and then became
part of the Paris withdrawals for the account of the Bundesbank. The
FRB will again update its foreign earmarked gold holdings table this
week with December 2015 withdrawals (if any) which may show an even
larger non-Bundesbank gold delta for year-end 2015.

Notably, the latest press release today does not mention whether any
of the gold withdrawn from the FRBNY was melted down / recast into Good
Delivery bars. Some readers will recall that the Bundesbank’s updates
for 2013 and 2014 did refer to such remelting/recasting events.

Today’s press release does however include some ‘assurances’ from the
Bundesbank about the authenticity and quality of the returned bars:

“The Bundesbank assures the identity
and authenticity of German gold reserves throughout the transfer process
– from when they are removed from the storage locations abroad until
they are stored in Frankfurt am Main. Once they arrive in Frankfurt am
Main, all the transferred gold bars are thoroughly and exhaustively
inspected and verified by the Bundesbank. When all the inspections of
transfers to date had been concluded, no irregularities came to light
with regard to the authenticity, fineness and weight of the bars.”

But why the need to for such a general comment on the quality of the
bars while not providing any real details of the bars transferred, their
serial numbers, their refiner brands, or their years of manufacture?
Perhaps remelting/recasting of bars was undertaken during 2015 and the
Bundesbank is now opting for the cautious approach after getting some
awkward questions last year about these topics – i.e. the Bundesbank’s
approach may well be “don’t mention recasting / remelting and maybe no
one will ask”.


Source: BundesbankSource: Bundesbank

Limited Hangout

This bring us to an important point. Beyond the Bundesbank’s
hype, its important to note that the repatriation information in all of
the press releases and updates from the Bundesbank since 2013  has
excluded most of the critical information about the actual gold bars
being moved. So, for example, in this latest update concerning the 2015
transport operations, there is no complete bar list (weight list) of the
bars repatriated, no explanation of the quality of gold transferred and
whether bars of various purities were involved, no comment on whether
any bars had to be re-melted and recast, no indication of which
refineries, if any, were used, and no explanation of why it takes a
projected 7 years to bring back 300 tonnes of gold that could be flown
from New York to Frankfurt in a week using a few C-130 US transporter

There is also no explanation from the Bundesbank as to why these 100
tonnes of gold were available from New York in 2015 but not available
during 2014 or 2013, nor why 110 tonnes of gold somehow became available
in Paris during 2015 when these bars were not available in 2014 or

The crucial questions to ask in my view are where the repatriated
gold that has so far been supplied to the Bundesbank from New York and
Paris has been sourced from, what were the refiner brands and years of
manufacture for the bars, what was the quality (fineness) of the gold,
and are these bars the same bars that the Bundesbank purchased when it
accumulated its large stock of gold bars during the 1950s and especially
the 1960s.

In essence, all of these updates from Frankfurt could be termed
‘limited hangouts’, a term used in the intelligence community, whereby
the real behind the scenes details are left unmentioned, and questions
about the real information is invariably left unasked by the mainstream
media. Overall,  it’s important to realise that the Bundesbank’s
repatriation updates, press releases, and interviews since 2013 are
carefully stage-managed, and that the German central bank continually
dodges genuine but simple questions about its gold reserves and the
physical gold that is being transported back to Frankfurt.

For example, in October 2015, the Bundesbank released a partial
inventory bar list/weight list of it gold holdings. At that time, on 8
October 2015, I asked the Bundesbank:

Hello Bundesbank Press Office, 

Regarding the gold bar list published by the Bundesbank yesterday (07 October, could
the Bundesbank clarify why the published bar list does not include,for
each bar, the refiner brand, the bar refinery serial number, and the
year of manufacture, as per the normal convention for gold bar weight
lists, and as per the requirements of London Good Delivery (LGD) gold

Bundesbank bar list: 

From the London Good Delivery Rules, the following attributes are required on LGD bars


Serial number (see additional comments in section 7 of the GDL Rules)    

Assay stamp of refiner    

Fineness (to four significant figures)    

Year of manufacture (see additional comments in section 7 of the GDL Rules)”

 “The marks should include
the stamp of the refiner (which, if necessary for clear identification,
should include its location), the assay mark (where used), the fineness,
the serial number
(which must not comprise of more than eleven
digits or characters) and the year of manufacture as a four digit
number unless incorporated as the first four digits in the bar number.
If bar numbers are to be reused each year, then it is strongly
recommended that the year of production is shown as the first four
digits of the bar number although a separate four digit year stamp may
be used in addition. If bar numbers are not to be recycled each year
then the year of production must be shown as a separate four digit number.”

Best Regards, Ronan Manly


The Bundesbank actually sent back two similar replies t the above email:

Answer 1:

“Dear Mr Manly, 

Thank you for your query. Information
on the refiner and year of production are not relevant for storage or
accounting purposes, which require the weight data, the fineness and a
unique number identifying each bar or melt. The Bundesbank has all of this information for each of its gold bars. By contrast, particulars relating to the refiner and year of production merely provide supplementary information. They tell us part of the gold bar’s history but do not describe its entire ‘life cycle’.”

Yours sincerely,



Answer 2:

“Dear Mr Manly,

The crucial data for storage and
accounting purposes are the weight, the fineness and a unique number
identifying each bar or melt. The Bundesbank has all of this information
for each of its gold bars, which it records electronically and also
makes available to the public. In addition to the data on weight and
fineness, the Bundesbank, the Bank of England and the Banque de France
identify gold bars exclusively on the basis of internally assigned
inventory numbers and not using the serial numbers provided by the
refiners. These custodians do not classify the bar numbers stamped onto
the gold bars by the refiner as individual inventory criteria. They do
not use the refiner’s bar numbers as these are not based on a unique
numbering system that can be used for identification purposes. Stating
the refiner and the year of production is not required for storage or
accounting purposes.”

Yours sincerely, 



Even the large gold ETFs produce detailed weight lists of their bar
holdings, so you can see from the above answers that the Bundesbank is
resorting to flimsy excuses in its inability to explain why it is not
following standard practice across the gold industry.

For additional Bundesbank’s prevarications on its gold bars, please see my blog “The Keys to the Gold Vaults at the New York Fed – Part 3: ‘Coin Bars’, ‘Melts’ and the Bundesbank” in a section titled “The Curious Case of the German Bundesbank”.

Finally, see BullionStar guest post from 8 October 2015 by Peter Boehringer, founder of the ‘Repatriate our Gold’ campaign –Guest Post: 47 years after 1968, Bundesbank STILL fails to deliver a gold bar number list“.
This guest post adeptly takes apart the Deutsche Bundesbank’s
stage-managed communication strategy in and around its gold repatriation
exercise, and asks the serious questions that the mainstream media fear
to ask.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Ammon Bundy Admits Defeat, Calls On Remaining Oregon Occupiers To “Stand Down, Go Home”

The story of Ammon Bundy and his not so merry band of Federal Wildlife Refuge occupiers is about to come to its end.

Following the overnight arrest of the Oregon militia leader and six of his associates by the FBI, as well as deadly shooting during a confrontation with federal authorities of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, spokesperson for the militiamen occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, moments ago Portland’s KATU reported that Ammon Bundy, through his attorney, asked the remaining armed occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to stand down and go home.

Bundy and the others were taken to Portland and booked into the Multnomah County Jail and made their first appearance in federal court on felony charges.

It was here that Bundy decided to stand down.

“I’m asking the federal government to allow the people at the refuge to go home without being prosecuted,” Bundy said through his attorney Mike Arnold, who stood outside court to read Bundy’s statement. “To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”

Earlier, the handful of remaining armed occupiers tried to convince more people to join them via a YouTube livestream and told any would-be occupiers that if the federal authorities “stop you from getting here, KILL THEM!”

The occupiers took over the refuge Jan. 2.

In addition to Bundy, those arrested were Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan W. Payne. They were taken into custody during a traffic stop. Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy and online talk-show radio host Peter Santilli were arrested in Burns. Jon Ritzheimer was arrested after surrendering to authorities in his home state of Arizona.

Top row from left are Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier and Shawna Cox. Bottom row from left are Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, Jon Eric Ritzheimer and Peter Santilli. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office/Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

KATU adds that a federal judge ordered the seven defendants in Portland to stay in federal custody. The judge ruled there’s a risk they wouldn’t show up in court, and those under arrest pose a danger to the community because the occupation at the wildlife refuge continues.

Defense attorneys argued that none of those under arrest have significant criminal records, but the judge agreed with prosecutors that all should remain in custody until a detention hearing scheduled for Friday.

None of the seven defendants entered any plea on the charge of impeding federal wildlife officers from doing their job, although the outcome of the legal process at this point is virtually assured: prison, of the Federal kind.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

China Injects Another $50 Billion Liquidity As Mysterious Panic Buyer Reappears In Offshore Yuan

The PBOC FX intervention team continue to be busy in offshore Yuan this week as for the 4th time in 3 days, a mysterious panic-buyer lifted CNH between 5 and 10 handles higher for no good reason other than to show George Soros (and Bill Ackman) who is boss (i.e. drive away the shorts). In keeping with the recent “stability” the Yuan fix was flat but another 340bn Yuan was injected – except China CDS pushes to Aug 2015 wides indicating severe stress and suggesting devaluation looms.


Offshore Yuan in all its manipulated glory…It would appear 6.61 is the number to bet against!!


Stability… or is it artificial (as CDS signals anything but)

But more liquidity…


We look forward to the post China New Year unwind of all that liquidity.

You can only hold the big balloon under water for so long…


Charts: Bloomberg

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

The Empire Has No Clothes


Hans Christian Andersen told the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” as part of his  Fairy Tales Told for Children collection. The tale is almost two hundred years old. Most know how a little boy was the first to announce that the emperor had no clothes. Andersen’s tale is being re-written today and should be entitled “The Empire Has No Clothes.” This story is one occurring around the world.

Governments are in disrepair and disrepute everywhere. They are increasingly viewed as exploitive, ineffective and catering to privilege. Public interest, the idealistic goal of government, never was real in the sense that it overrode the private needs and wants of officeholders. “Public servants” were never better stewards of public interest than private citizens pursuing their own self-interest. Indeed, once the returns to power increased, self-selection made most politicians inferior in morality and public interest than the typical citizen.

The discomfort and turn against government occurs not because any of its behavior is new. Government has always been dishonest and a scam. What changed over time is the magnitude of government and its burden on citizens. The pain of tolerating it has apparently reached that threshold where people are no longer willing to ignore it.

Governments around the world have become leviathans, meddling in the most minute and personal decisions of its citizens. Supporting government in its infancy required no taxation. Today the average citizen pays more than 40% of his production as tribute and support to the empire. Few believe they get much of value in return.

Even with such confiscatory theft, governments are spending themselves and their citizens into bankruptcy. Capital that entrepreneurs need to start and grow businesses is now consumed by government vote-buying schemes and stupidity. As a result, economic growth cannot occur, jobs are lost and the standard of living declines.

The current political contest in the United States reflects the attitude of citizens against government. Outsiders are either winning or gaining popularity in the primaries. The public is fed up with government as shown by polls such as this one. The political establishment still has not grasped the real reasons for their unpopularity.

The Empire


The phrase “limited government” is used to differentiate a so-called government “of, by and for the people” from government that is not limited or “of, by and for the people.” Arguably Abraham Lincoln’s description was the best piece of Statist propaganda ever delivered to the public. It was not true when he said it and it is implausible to even utter such a sentiment today without being ridiculed.

“Limited government” is a clever phrase that is both untrue and impossible. It is akin to describing cancer as “limited cancer.” Left alone, cancer grows and kills. So too does government. A more accurate but less flattering description of government is “limited tyranny.” Limited government is merely a euphemism for limited tyranny. Unfortunately neither government nor tyranny can be limited.


Power is like cancer. It grows and eventually destroys whatever it preys upon. The only way to constrain power is with greater power. But therein lays the insoluble problem. Government was an attempt to provide order to society. It was granted power over others to keep order. But granting such power and controlling it was not possible. Who was to constrain the power? No entity with power willingly limits its power. Setting up another layer of government or power to do so only worsens the situation. Ultimately all power succumbs to Lord Acton’s undeniable truth:

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Power granted is always limited yet it always grows and is abused. Power, even in small doses, qualifies as tyranny. Idealists may not recognize it as such until it becomes so great that the tyranny can no longer be denied or ignored. The notion of limited government is fantastical. It is the belief in unicorns, tooth fairies and Santa Claus! Only the young or naive believe in such things.

History provides no examples of government staying within the bounds granted. All governments grow and become increasingly oppressive. The passage of time and human nature ensure such outcomes.

Is Civilization At An Inflection Point?

The current disgust with government is palpable. It is the reason why a braggart like Donald Trump can challenge for and likely win the Republican nomination for president. It is also the reason why a septuagenarian Socialist can challenge an anointed Democrat candidate. Both political contests reflect  hatred toward the political class. The voters are saying STOP! They turn to outsiders out of desperation.

Is this merely a political phase that can be remedied? Is it merely a normal ebb and flow of the political process? It is easy to answer in the affirmative to both of these questions. History shows few exceptions and the few are usually bloody and violent. It is easy to be influenced by a form of confirmation bias when assessing such conditions. However, my personal judgment is that this dissatisfaction is not something temporary that will self-repair.

Regardless of who is nominated and elected in the next presidential race, it is my opinion that this outcome is meaningless. This country and likely other so-called advanced democracies seem to be at an inflection or turning point. History is typically not useful in identifying such times.

If my guess is correct, none of us alive today will see its occurrence. The process will likely be lengthy and contested. It will take decades before a final determination can be made.

Donald Trump is not a politician although he is likely to be elected. Voting for Donald Trump (or Bernie Sanders) is a protest vote against government. It is the nation’s Howard Beale moment:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter.




Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore.


We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

It will be the first shot fired against the Empire. It will be ineffective but will be the first signal that the process of citizens taking back their country has begun.

Donald Trump (or Bernie) is a sign of how frustrated the electorate has become. Voters don’t know how to stop what is happening to them and their country but they are mad as hell and are not going to take this anymore. The upcoming election will change nothing. The best that the public can hope for is to elect a wrecking ball that will dent or damage some of the government apparatus. That is probably a foolish hope, almost certainly one that will not be fulfilled.

The ballot box will be ineffective in satisfying the public. Other means will be tried. The Empire will not stand idly by while its power is threatened. It will strike back at any attempt to slow its growth or rate of plunder. It will become truly vicious, not unlike a wounded and cornered animal. Power is never relinquished willingly.

Government, more properly called The State, has always been dependent on a myth. That myth is that society cannot be orderly without government and that all perceived ills can be solved by it. The reality is that society preceded government and that the State is little more than an Al Capone with better PR and no Eliot Ness.


Our founders did their best with The Constitution. Few believed it could be preserved easily. Thomas Jefferson knew as much when he stated:

Every generation needs a new revolution.

I suspect he thinks less of us for not honoring his solution — yet!

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

DeVry Plunges As FTC Says School Lied About How Many Of Its Students Become Waiters And Bartenders

“The real question now is whether continued pressure on for-profit colleges will result in further closures and more petitions from hundreds of thousands of students with tens of billions of loans they now know can be legally discharged.”

That’s what we said last May when disgruntled students from the now defunct Corinthian Colleges began to press the Department of Education for debt relief after the government accused the for-profit institution of using fraudulent recruiting practices.

Long story short, students are entitled to have their debt expunged if they can prove that they’ve been defrauded. When the government forces a school to close its doors, it’s obviously quite difficult to deny students’ claims, which means that if Congress is serious about going after the for-profit college space, they’re effectively setting the stage for a massive taxpayer bailout of the schools’ students.

At issue are claims the schools make about things like graduation rates and job placements. As WSJ wrote last week, “thousands” of students are now “flooding the government” with appeals to have their loans discharged on the grounds they’ve been the victims of fraud.

The problem for the government is that the obscure law which allows students to apply for loan relief is short on specifics. That is, it doesn’t spell out what qualifies as “fraud” which means that while there are some clear-cut cases, there’s also quite a bit of ambiguity – especially when it comes to the for-profits.

They promised us to get jobs in the field, and most of us ended up at Office Depot,” one former Art Institutes student told the Journal, describing his less than satisfactory experience at the school, where he studied to be a video game designer.

“In short, it’s just a matter of time before the ‘thousands’ of appeals flooding the Department of Education turn into tens and hundreds of thousands as recent graduates suddenly discover the harsh realities of America’s waiter and bartender economy,” we said.

Well you can add DeVry students to the list of those who will very shortly be sending the Education Department a mountain of discharge requests because the FTC has now accused the school of deceiving prospective students about the employment success of graduates.

The Federal Trade Commission—one of several federal agencies investigating the for-profit school industry—took aim at DeVry advertisements claiming 90% of its graduates who sought jobs found them in their field of study within six months of graduation,WSJ reports. “In a suit filed in a California federal court, the FTC is asking a judge to provide monetary remedies to allegedly deceived students, including refunds and restitution.”

Needless to say, shares of DeVry had a rough session:

For its part, the school says the FTC has no legal basis to file the complaint. “DeVry Education Group intends to vigorously contest a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, challenging the employment and earnings outcomes of DeVry University graduates,” a statement from the company reads.

But again, someone will end up having to pay these students restitution (i.e. their debt will be expunged one way or the other whether it’s through a refund from DeVry or federal debt relief). As a reminder, most students at for-profit schools receive federal aid, which means that if DeVry ends up successfully contesting the idea that it’s responsible for refunding students’ tuition, the students can just appeal to the government for debt relief. After all, it’s not exactly like the Department of Education could refuse after the FTC sued the school for fraud. 

But the reall punchline is this, again from WSJ: “[The FTC] accuses the school of including workers in low-paying retail jobs as finding work in their field of study, such as a business administration major working as a restaurant server.

And there you have it America. The “waiter and bartender recovery” is confirmed … by none other than the US government.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

A Whole New Level Of Moral Hazard: China Will Use Public Funds To Cover Any Venture Capital Firms’ Losses

It should surprise nobody that when it comes to perpetuating the global central bank “put”, China – which is at daily danger of having its house of trillions in non-performing loan card collapse at any moment – has perfected moral hazard better than any western central banker. However, even the staunchest cynics will be stunned by the latest development out of the Shanghai government where starting next month, venture capital firms which invested in high-tech startups since the beginning of 2015 can apply for government compensation if their investment loses money.

In other words, while until now the government had bailed out corporate bond and bank loan investors, and was actively micromanaging the burst stock bubble (unsuccessfully), it will now enter the venture capital and private equity arena in what may be the grossest misallocation of capital unleashed by China to date.

The policy is laid out in a regulation dated December 29 that the city’s Science and Technology Commission put on its website on January 21. Under the regulation, if the sale of a VC’s stake in a startup fails to cover its original investment, it can ask the government for a payout amounting to 30 or 60 percent of the shortfall depending on the size and revenue of the firm it backed

The most any VC firm can receive in one year is 6 million yuan. The limit on individual investment projects is 3 million yuan although we are confident both these limitations will be breached grossly and repeatedly.

Shanghai is not the first Chinese city to implement this lunacy: an investor with a financial institution in Shanghai said the city did not invent the idea of subsidizing high-risk private financial investment. Other local governments in China have implemented similar rules but none of them offer quite as much compensation, he said.

With other local governments it was more of an ad hoc arrangement, he said. “You go to the government’s public finance bureau, asking for money, and they will tell you to wait as they go over their budget. Usually they’ll return and say there are no funds left, so you’ll have to wait until the next year and see.”

According to Caixin, the payout offer is intended to encourage private VC investment to support innovation and the development of Shanghai as a global high-tech center, the document says. The policy is to last for two years. 

Of course, what it will encourage instead is another round of massive fraud, and investing in idiotic projects that have zero hope of recovery let alone return, because when one is spending with a full government backstop – like during episodes of QE – the last thing one cares about is trivial concepts like “risk.” There is only the guarantee of return and as Allan Meltzer put it best, “Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”

What it does do is assure that an even greater bust will take place once this particular bubble bursts, however in the process billions in taxpayer funds will be “allocated” to a handful of individuals who will promptly abuse China’s capital controls and end up purchasing luxury apartments in Manhattan.

Surprisingly, instead of keeping their mouth shut and just accepting the government’s risk-free money, some have dared to speak out against this idea which can only be classified as sheer idiocy:

The idea will have a “disastrous” impact on the principles of the capital market, said Andrew Y. Yan, managing partner of private equity investment firm SAIF Partners.


“A fundamental principle of the market economy is the match between risk and return,” he said. “VC investments are extremely risky and limited to only a very few people and institutions. The negative consequences of using public money to compensate investment losses will be unimaginable.”


Xie Zuoqiang, vice president of the PE firm Prosperity Investment, said the new policy provides no clear standards and procedures on calculating losses, leaving loopholes that can be abused to cheat tax payers’ money. He also said the two-year life of the regulation creates uncertainties because VC investments often last longer than that. “The policy may be well-intentioned,” he said, “but supporting an industry is a long-term initiative.”

Actually the policy is beyond idiotic, however it is clearly designed to enrich a handful of “venture capitalists” who like U.S. bankers have purchased local government puppets to do their bidding for them.

That said, there may be a silver lining: very soon the infamous “zero-corn” Theranos may liquidate in the US only to be reconsistuted in Shanghai, where its fraud will guarantee massive taxpayer funds are spent to boost the bank accounts of every criminal involved.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Brazil’s Easy-Money Problem

Submitted by Lukas Vez via The Mises Institute,

Brazil is undergoing what is considered its worst economic crisis in seventy years, and there is usually no agreement when it comes to the causes of this situation. President Rousseff and the Labor Party say that it was the corollary of the “International Crisis,” a ghost of the 2008 depression created in their minds. The reality, however, is different. Since ex-president Lula Da Silva of the Labor Party entered office in 2003, the government has clung to the typical Keynesian project of growth-by-government-spending. Interest rates were lowered constantly, the amount of loans grew to an unprecedented level, savings per capita dropped, and government spending continued to grow.

For the advocates of government intervention, the country’s economy was heaven on earth. It should be of no surprise that Paul Krugman, the defender of America’s Quantitative Easing, said that Brazil was not a vulnerable country. However, those policies so strongly defended by some economists and by bureaucrats led the country toward the terrible situation in which it is now.

From the Brazilian government’s point of view, it could hardly get any worse: the country is facing an economic depression that is likely to last at least two more years, the country’s rating was downgraded to junk by Standard & Poor’s, and a corruption scandal may lead to the impeachment of the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff. We must recognize, however, that even though this was the result of the government’s action, it simply put in practice the most prevalent ideologies of the country, which is a mixture of Marxism in politics and in the universities with Keynesianism in economics. This national ideology praises, in general, a complete dependence of the people on the government. The fact that “Brazil’s tax burden already amounts to 36 per cent of GDP” is held with pride by professors and economists throughout the country, who spread the word that public policies will create jobs and contribute to people’s welfare.

Brazil and the Austrian Business Cycle Theory

In order to grasp what is happening to Brazil, and to understand why some economists have long ago predicted the current disaster, it is crucial to understand Austrian business cycle theory, since it yields a concrete critique of government’s involvement with currency and credit expansion — two factors that the Brazilian government used as tools for economic growth — and its misuse is what generated the crisis.

As Mises pointed out, “the cyclical fluctuations of business are not an occurrence originating in the sphere of the unhampered market, but a product of government interference with business.”

Indeed, those “boom-bust” cycles, as the one that happened in Brazil, are generated by monetary intervention in the market in the form of bank credit expansion. Thus, they are an outcome of central planning and government intervention, the very opposite of a free market.

It is, however, important to make the distinction between bank credit expansion in the form of loans to business and other forms of credit expansion. The former is usually a method that government uses to boost the economy of the country, lowering the interest rates “below the height at which the free market would have fixed it,” and this is why it is so important in our analysis.

On the graph below we can see the absurd rise in the amount of loans (given in millions of reais, the Brazilian currency) made to businesses, especially since 2006 (and reinforced from 2008 on, as a way to “fight” the international crisis) when the government tried to generate an unsustainable boom. (The red line represents the loans given by public banks and the blue line the loans given by private banks.)

Figure 1. Amount of Credit Lent to Business in Brazil Over Time

Figure 1. Amount of Credit Lent to Business in Brazil Over Time

This new type of credit that would not be available without the interference of the government generating the so-called “boom.” This boom caused businessmen to, as described by Rothbard in America’s Great Depression, “take their newly acquired funds and bid up the prices of capital and other producers’ goods, and this stimulate[d] a shift of investment from the ‘lower’ (near the consumer) to the ‘higher’ orders of production (furthest from the consumer) — from consumer goods to capital goods industries.”

This shift of investment from consumer to capital goods is a characteristic mark of the boom and explains, as opposed to other theories, why capital goods’ industries are affected first in the beginning of the depression. We can see on the next graph how those industries were affected in the Brazilian scenario. The green line represents the capital goods industries, and the slump that we see happened during the very early stages of the depression, in the end of 2013.

Figure 2. Index of Industrial Production and Key Components

Figure 2. Index of Industrial Production and Key Components

It is also worth noticing that this slump happened right after the government started to raise the interest rates again, which occurred after a period of an all-time low in the interest rates of the country. As we can see below the Brazilian government lowered the interest rates to an unprecedented low level, and when the government tried to raise interest rates to curb the inflation generated by its “easy money” policies, the boom came to an end. 

Figure 3. Brazil’s Interest Rates Over Time

Figure 3. Brazil’s Interest Rates Over Time (Source: Financial Times.)

As Murray Rothbard observed (again from America’s Great Depression),

businessmen were misled by bank credit inflation to invest too much in higher-order capital goods, which could only be prosperously sustained through lower time preferences and greater savings and investment; as soon as the inflation permeates to the mass of the people, the old consumption — investment proportion is reestablished, and business investments in the higher orders are seen to have been wasteful. Businessmen were led to this error by the credit expansion and its tampering with the free-market rate of interest.

As observed by Mises in his essay “Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism,” we must pay attention to the fact that “the attempts to lower interest rates by credit expansion generate, it is true, a period of booming business,” which in Brazil’s case occurred mostly between 2006 and 2013. “But the prosperity thus created is only an artificial hot-house product and must inexorably lead to the slump and to the depression. People must pay heavily for the easy-money orgy of a few years of credit expansion and inflation.” The depression that is currently happening in the country is, therefore, not an evil that should be fought against with more and more government policies. The depression is the cure.

As we have seen, most of what the Austrian business cycle theory described can be well applied to Brazil. It is important to admit that other factors also played important roles, such as the price of the dollar relative to the real and the slowdown of China’s demand on Brazilian commodities, but most of them were usually, and to some extent, only a consequence of the policies that we have already analyzed. The bottom line is that the country went through a major credit and money supply expansion, together with years of low interest rates. It is crucial to note that, contrary to other explanations, “Mises’s theory of the trade cycle … meshes closely with a general theory of the economic system. The Mises theory is, in fact, the economic analysis of the necessary consequences of intervention in the free market by bank credit expansion.”

Consequently, we can see how Brazil’s current crisis is nothing but an outcome of government’s meddling with the market. The scenario of the country’s economy is indeed scary, but we have reason to believe that Brazil’s intellectual situation is going through a new and promising change. It may be true, as Lord Keynes said, that “in the long run we are all dead,” but if we are to get out of this terrible crisis, to prosper and to enjoy a constant improvement in our standard of living, “it is high time to transform the country’s state capitalism into a free market system.”

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

China Says Soros “Hasn’t Done His Homework,” May Be “Partially Blind”

On Tuesday, the People’s Daily laughed at George Soros.


On the heels of comments Soros made in Davos last week about China’s “hard landing,” the Party mouthpiece ran an “op-ed” that carried the title “Declaring War On China’s Currency? Ha, Ha.”

It’s not clear that George Soros intends to “declare war” on the RMB. However, he did say he was betting against Asian currencies and because his reputation precedes him when it comes to breaking central banks, the Chinese apparently wanted to get out ahead of what the PBoC assumes will be an attack on the yuan. “Given how people know Soros and what he did in 1992 and during the 1997-1998 Asian crisis, he’s too important to ignore, so China felt that they had to counter any negative comments,” Tommy Xie, a Singapore-based economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking told Bloomberg.“They have to reassure local savers and show them a willingness that the government is looking after them and their savings.”

“Soros’s war on the renminbi and the Hong Kong dollar cannot possibly succeed — about this there can be no doubt,” the People’s Daily continued, before calling the aging billionaire a “crocodile” and a “predator.”

As we noted yesterday, “China won’t be able to arrest Soros and beat a confession out of him like Beijing is fond of doing to others suspected of launching ‘malicious’ short attacks, but the brash commentary does indicate that Chinese authorities are becoming increasingly sensitive to suggestions that a steeper RMB devaluation is a foregone conclusion.”

Of course a steeper RMB depreciation is a foregone conclusion because as we’ve outlined on several occasions, the days of China sitting idly by while the dollar peg saps the country’s export competitiveness are long gone and Beijing now seems determined not only to participate in the ongoing global currency wars, but in fact to win.

But China is keen on orchestrating a controlled depreciation (despite the fact that getting it over with at once might be the better option if Beijing wants to limit capital flight) which means keeping hold of the narrative and using the captive Chinese media to fight back against those who, like the “crocodile” Soros, would seek to employ “malicious” tactics to spark a panic.

Against this backdrop we get another hilarious “commentary” piece out of the Politburo on Wednesday, this time via Xinhua. The piece, presented in its entirety below, explains why Soros and the ubiquitous “short-sellers” “make claims that run counter to reality.”

*  *  *

From Xinhua

China has ample reasons to stay confident in face of speculators. Far from some speculators’ claims, China is not a source of trouble but an important engine of global economic growth with its growing demand and investment.

Here are the numbers. China registered a growth rate of 6.9 percent last year amid a sluggish global economy, contributing more than 25 percent of global economic growth.

Chinese tourists spent 1.2 trillion yuan (182.4 billion U.S. dollars) overseas, while the country’s investors pumped 735 billion yuan (111.7 billion dollars) into other economies.

Speculators claimed they see a hard landing for China. It is true that the growth of the world’s second largest economy is experiencing a relative slowdown compared with the blistering growth of the past decade. But as we know, decision makers have now opted for a slower pace in order to make the country’s growth more sustainable in the future.

Moreover, a growth rate of 6.9 percent is the envy of most other economies. China’s added economic output last year was more than the GDP of Sweden or Argentina.

George Soros, who recently claimed he saw a hard landing for China at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has made the same prediction several times in the past.

It’s an exaggeration to say that China increases global deflationary risks. Imagine the world without the demand and growth from China, global economic growth would have been much worse, possibly at higher risk of deflation.

The world economy is having trouble because of the sluggish growth and slow recovery of many economies. International investor Jim Rogers said recently that the monetary policies of the U.S. Federal Reserve and the expansion of government debt are the original sources of the problems.

Meanwhile, China’s economic transformation is currently underway.

Figures show that foreign investment in China’s service sector saw robust growth in 2016, and the country attracted 136 billion U.S. dollars of foreign direct investment.

Thanks to government policies encouraging innovation and the streamlining of procedures, entrepreneurship is flourishing and bringing fundamental change to Chinese society. In the first half of 2015, the number of newly registered businesses exceeded 10,000 on a daily basis.

Employment creation is strong too, which, coupled with a sound growth rate and strong capital formation and innovation, means that the world’s second largest economy is unlikely to experience a hard landing.

So why do speculators make claims that run counter to reality? Analysts said it is because either the short-sellers haven’t done their homework or that they are intentionally trying to create panic to snap profits.

*  *  *

Yes, “analysts” say Soros hasn’t done his “homework” and just wants to “create panic” on the way to “snapping profits.” Xinhua also says Soros’ views may indicate he’s “partially” blind.

Unfortunately for the Chinese, Soros probably has “done his homework” and his claims do not “run counter to reality.” The “reality” here is that China’s economy is decelerating and in all likelihood, the yuan will continue to move lower as the currency shoulders the burden of the hard landing.

This won’t be the first time Soros squares off against Asian officials over flagging currencies. As Bloomberg also points out, former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad (known as the founding father of modern Malaysia) once called the billionaire a “moron” for helping to trigger the ringgit’s collapse.

So strap in, because the PBoC is in for a bumpy ride in 2016 as everyone from domestic depositors to nefarious, predatory, “speculators” bets on continued yuan weakness. 

We close with a quote from Michael Every, head of financial markets research at Rabobank in Hong Kong:  

“They can write as many op-eds as they want, but two plus two doesn’t make five.”

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden