Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had an interesting morning over in Capitol Hill, facing the ire of Ron Paul and receiving Democratic praise from Barney Frank. Bernanke was testifying before the Committee on Financial Services, where he said the economic recovery continues but remains frail, but was put on the spot by Ron Paul who pulled out a silver eagle and accused him of debasing the currency and destroying America’s wealth.
Ron Paul was in full campaign mode. So was Barney Frank. Bernanke was caught in the middle.
In what was supposed to be a Q&A session, the Fed chief essentially sat down and listened to one side bash him and the other love him. Barney Frank took the floor after some softballs by Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus, praising Bernanke’s tenure as Fed Chairman and pointing to continuing job growth.
It was Ron Paul, though, who took the day. In what is usually the most heated and interesting exchange of Bernanke’s excursions to Congress, the Fed Chairman was forced to sit down and listen as Ron Paul scolded him for “debasing” the currency and “destroying” the wealth of millions of Americans.
Ron Paul first asked Bernanke if he did his own grocery shopping, to which the Fed Chairman responded with a “yes.” Paul immediately cut him off and said “no one believes the 2% inflation rate,” claiming it was actually closer to 9%. “Someone is stealing wealth,” said Ron Paul, in full campaign mode.
Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.
The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.
Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.
Under current law, White House trespassers are prosecuted under a local ordinance, a Washington, DC legislation that can bring misdemeanor charges for anyone trying to get close to the president without authorization. Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America.
The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a government function with a federal offense if Secret Service is on the scene, but the law stretches to include not just the president’s palatial Pennsylvania Avenue home. Under the law, any building or grounds where the president is visiting — even temporarily — is covered, as is any building or grounds “restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.”
Russia gave Israel codes for breaking Iran’s missile defense system in return for codes of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) Israel sold to Georgia, WikiLeaks claims.
The information was among 5 million emails released this week by WikiLeaks, which said it worked in cooperation with the Anonymous hacker group. The leaked information focused on the U.S.-based Stratfor global intelligence company.
A source identified as “A” was quoted in an e-mail from a Stratfor employee as having heard from a “former Mexican cop” and military analysts that “the Georgians are frantically looking for a replacement for the Israeli UAVs that were compromised.”
The Israeli-based Elbit company had sold UAVs to Georgia since 2007, and earlier this month Georgia said it is replacing the Hermes UAVs.
Despite his big-government record as a governor, Mitt Romney has run for president as a conservative who would allow the free market to work. To bolster his credibility, he points to his success as CEO of Bain Capital. Romney led that company to become one of the largest and most successful private equity investment firms in the nation.
Many of his supporters have been able to look past the fact that he consistently raised taxes and pioneered Obamacare in Massachusetts because of this private sector success. They echo Romney’s argument that “the government should be run like a business” and believe that only a proven, successful businessman can do the job.
There are two problems here. The first is that history has already shown that successful businessmen are terrible for the free market whenever they get anywhere near government power. The second is that government cannot ever be run like a business. Its very nature makes that utterly impossible.
Regarding the first problem, one need only study the 19th century. If you don’t like the progressive movement, you can thank the 19th century Republican Party for creating the conditions that led to its birth.
The entire period is a record of big business getting together with government to intervene into the free market. Always under the pretense of protecting consumers, the true purpose of these interventions was limiting or eliminating competition for connected companies.
For example, Republicans wrote and passed the Sherman Anti—Trust Act. Standard Oil’s competitors were unable to deliver similar quality oil at the same price, so they went to the government for help. They successfully broke up a company that at the time the Act was passed had over 300 competitors and had lowered its prices for decades. Why? So that they could survive selling their oil at higher prices.