Yesterday, we went over the top 10 news stories from 2011, which were mainly about news and issues that made headlines this past year. This morning, we’re recapping our most read stories from 2011.
Being a libertarian-leaning blog, we touch on a variety of issues. From those of you that aren’t familiar with libertarianism, it is a philosophy grounded in individual liberty. We believe the individual is sovereign and has a right to pursue whatever lifestyle he chooses, provided that he doesn’t harm or disparage the rights of other sovereigns in the process. The belief in individual sovereign also extends to economic liberty and a belief in free markets.
With that said, our top posts from 2011 range from civil liberties issues, including the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Fourth Amendment, to defending free markets and fighting cronyism and corporatism in Washington and on Wall Street to covering Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and having an open discussing the libertarian philosophy.
We offer no additional commentary on these posts. If you would like to read them, just click on the title. Again, have a safe and happy new year.
We’re winding down on another year. Much like recent years, 2011 represented challenges for liberty and the Constitution. These hurdles came from all sides, including the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress, and we are ending the year a little less free than in 2010.
Below is a recap of some of bigger stories of the year that were covered here at United Liberty (though a couple are thrown in for fun). Thanks for reading in what was a record breaking year for this blog. We appreciate the readership and hope you’ll keep coming back in 2012
Happy New Year!
— The Death of Osama bin Laden (Jason Pye): On Sunday, May 1st, word broke that the White House had called notified the press of a major announcement. You could tell that it was a significant event since the president was making such a statement late on a Sunday evening.As you probably remember, wild speculation started almost immediately as many people said that it could have only meant a couple of things, either we were going to war or Osama bin Laden had finally been captured.
Around 11pm, President Barack Obama told Americans that, after nearly 10 years after murdering nearly 3,000 innocent people, Osama bin Laden was dead. Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist group, al-Qaeda, was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan by a group of Navy SEALS at a compound that he had lived in for five years.
With the economy in a sustained recession, unemployment at or above nine percent for approaching three years, and tens of millions of Americans struggling just to put food on their table, perhaps few people or organizations have been showered with such hostility and ill-repute as have “corporations.” Yet, of all of the root causes of our current economic malaise, such contempt may nowhere be more misplaced.
Obama, after the shellacking his party took in the 2010 elections and with no end in sight to the economic downturn, has turned to finding a scapegoat or two to deflect blame for the anger and frustration America feels. His two favorite targets are Republican “obstructionism” and those evil, faceless corporations that steal from the poor to sate their insatiable greed.
Maybe he has a point though. After all, we all know that Steve Jobs became one of the richest men in the world as the head of Apple by hiring legions on thugs to go out across America to households and college campuses, brandishing guns and clubs and threatening violence if the poor masses did not give these brutes their money in exchange for little pieces of molded plastic and silicon and copper which Jobs called “Macs” and “iPods”, “iPhones” and “iPads”. His reign of terror was so complete that every time Jobs released a new version of these little pieces of plastic, hundreds and thousands of people would camp out overnight at one of his stores to give up their money in exchange for these gadgets, in the hope that by voluntarily doing so his thugs would not show up at their homes, schools and places of businesses and threaten them there.
I need to offer an apology. For the last couple of months I’ve been highly critical of the Occupy Wall Street movement, accusing them of being violent, misbehaved, clueless social malcontents. However, in light of recent events, I’ve concluded I was wrong, and we should embrace the philosophy of government enforced equality for all. No more disparities in anything we do or have, just an equal distribution of everything to everyone.
I had this epiphany a few days ago while watching ESPN and coverage of the NBA lockout, now nearing its 150th day. What it boils down to is multi-millionaire owners and multi-millionaire players arguing over who gets the biggest piece of a multi-billion dollar league revenue pie. I realized that all of this bickering could be resolved by implementing the demands of equality espoused by the Occupy Wall Street protestors.
So here’s the deal…since President Obama wants to increase taxes on “the rich” who need to “pay their fair share” so that we can “spread the wealth”, we simply set the maximum NBA player salary at the level Obama defines as “rich”, which is $200,000 for an individual. That is $50,000 more per year that what it takes to be in the Top 5% of income earners in this country (a threshold which starts at just under $160,000). In fact, that will be the salary for EVERY NBA player, because it is immoral to discriminate simply on the basis of talent, productivity or some other performance-based metric. Just because one player was not born with the natural talent of another player, or refused to succumb to the oppressive dictates of some evil corporation (after all, the NBA is basically a big corporation) with its constant demands to maintain physical fitness and practice all the time, doesn’t mean they should be punished.
As a voracious consumer of news regarding current events and politics, it occurred to me this week that to a person of sanity and sound reason, listening to and reading the coverage of what is going on in our nation and world today is so far removed from reality, historical experience and logic as to be the product of a journalist reporting live from the bottom of that rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. We regularly hear from people considered leaders by many, uttering the most incredibly nonsensical things with a straight face, fully expecting the rest of us to believe them. Indeed, often these things are uttered with such seemingly powerful sincerity that even the sane begin to question themselves.
So, here are a few random thoughts from the passing week…
Judging by recent stories from California, the nickname for that state should be changed from the “Golden State” to the “Granola State”, because it is positively the land of fruits and nuts. California, with a debt rating of A- (the lowest of any state), annual deficits of billions of dollars, and long-term debt obligations to public employee unions that amount to hundreds of billions of dollars, nevertheless recently decided to double down on lunacy by passing the “California Dream Act”, a state version of the federal law that would give in-state tuition and more lavish taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal aliens and their children. This is a magnet for more illegal immigration, and in the end the state will continue its rapid descent into bankruptcy.
Occupy Wall Street became part of the political discussion at the end of 2011. They railed against what they saw as corporate greed and capitalism. However, what they really had a problem with was corporatism, not capitalism, as Daniel Hannan has so eloquently explained.
And while they complained about government being part of the problem, Occupy Wall Street’s answer was, ironically, more government. But Occupy was conundrum, not just because of the answers they offered, but all because they, despite their “we are the 99%” chant, are part of the 1% of the world’s income earners. They not only live in a country where they have a right to protest their grievances, but also happens to be one of the most prosperous countries in the world with a high standard of living.
But with their protests and complaints about income inequality and, at times, racism, a recently released study from the City University of New York found that Occupy Wall Street was not only disproportionately white, but also rich:
The Occupy movement is back in the headlines, but not because of a new protest by the largely “ecclectic” protest movement. No, these headlines come courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who apparently classified the group as domestic terrorists.
From the Huffington Post:
According to internal documents newly released by the FBI, the agency spearheaded a nationwide law enforcement effort to investigate and monitor the Occupy Wall Street movement. In certain documents, divisions of the FBI refer to the Occupy Wall Street protests as a “criminal activity” or even “domestic terrorism.”
The internal papers were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice fund via a Freedom of Information Act Request. The fund, a legal nonprofit that focuses on civil rights, says it believes the 112 pages of documents, available for public viewing on its website, are only “the tip of the iceberg.”
“This production … is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” wrote Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the fund’s executive director, in a press release Saturday.
And folks have called me paranoid for being concerned about laws like the NDAA and the Patriot Act and how they could be used against regular Americans. After all, they’ve argued, it’s only for use against terrorists. I have countered that, saying that it wouldn’t be all that hard for law enforcement to argue that movements like the Tea Party or Occupy were “domestic terrorists”.
They laughed. Probably not so much now.
This morning Citizen Journalist blogged (with video) about a Bay-Area meeting of Occupy types billed as “Hoodies and Hijabs.” Although commenters at this site and others attempt to distance themselves from any calls for destroying capitalism that come from these gatherings - stating that no one is a “leader” of Occupy and it’s a gathering of autonomous individuals - the message coming from these rallies, gatherings, protests (whatever you want to call them) - is remarkably cohesive.
- “Joyful violence against the state is the sanity to the everyday misery.” (Occupy Oakland)
- “An organization has to be built which can bring down capitalism.” (Occupy DC)
- “We need a revolution to overthrow capitalism and take society into a socialist direction.” (March on the RNC)
- “Fight Genocide, Destroy what is civilized.” (Occupy Oakland)
It is becoming ever more clear that the Occupy movement is cohesive and with a single goal of overthrowing capitalilsm.
Since 2008, Americans have heard a lot about “income inequality” and “fairness.” This rhetoric was amplified thanks to Occupy Wall Street, which triggered populist encampments in many cities across the country where the “we are the 99%” became a frequently heard slogan.
While they may have eventually drifted into the background, parts of their message are still being put forward by President Barack Obama, who is seeking to raise taxes on individuals earning $200,000 or more and families bringing in $250,000.
But are the ranks of the so-called “1%” really a measure of income inequality? Not according to a new working paper from the Cato Institute.
Using data from the last 20 years, Alan Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, explains that there has been “little or no sustained increase in the inequality of disposable income for the U.S. population as a whole.” Some other points raise in the paper:
It has become commonplace to use top 1 percent shares of market income as a shorthand measure of inequality, and as an argument for greater taxes on higher incomes and/or larger transfer payments to the bottom 90 percent. This paper finds the data inappropriate for such purposes for several reasons:
Joe Biden made the hilarious comment that the past four years have absolutely “buried” the middle class. While a gaffe for the Democratic Vice President, his party, and his boss, it is also a chance to examine what can be done for the middle class—and Americans in general. David Frum lamented that the GOP isn’t doing more to help the middle class, and in fact has no real strategy there.
On top of all of this, comes an interesting story from the Wall Street Journal, via the Lehrman Institute, the DC think tank that is the gold standard on the gold standard. The piece, written by Sean Fieler, is titled “Easy Money is Punishing the Middle Class.” He writes:
With the Republican Party committed to a gold commission and the Federal Reserve committed to easy money, a substantive debate about the principles underpinning our monetary system is finally in the offing. For sound money to carry the day, Republicans will need to do more than point out the still-hypothetical risks of easy money. The GOP will have to detail the harm that the middle class has already suffered as a result of a policy of low but persistent levels of inflation.