"Most of us tend not to regard taxation as theft, yet, by definition, that’s exactly what it is."  ~Jeff Thoms

Curmudgeon's   Archive.

Who Supports Whom?
One Foot in the Grave
Magical Money  

Posterity's Debt To Me
The Battle for Honest Money
From Riches to Rags
Fiddler's Broken Wrist
Jack-lantern Wealth
Chance of Gold Confiscation

Poobahs of Positivism

Blood In the Streets
America Descending
Just Plain Stealing  ?
A thing to fear
Heavenly Sex
What Fools, We Mortals
Unvarnished Truth
Hucksterism Gone Wild
Religious Violence


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June 19,  2018
    Once again we find ourselves out of step with the media-driven obsession with detained illegal foreigners being separated from their children after entering the US.  The Administration shrugs and says "Geez.  It's the LAW. We're only enforcing the law that's on the books."

    The other side says, "Yuh - but it's terrible to split up families over it.  Unconsionable!  Immoral!" 

     Our personal view - it's another Catch 22.  Enforce the law, which is based on the notion that a foreigner must apply for and recieve permission to reside in the United States under accepted immigration rules, or make an exception for adults who can cross the border unlawfully with babes in arms, or a troop of toddlers claimed as close relatives.  On this question it's easy for the heart and brain to go their separate ways. 

      So, while that issue rages among news media, we turn to a question that affects all of us, either directly or indirectly. TAXES.

       Jeff Thomas writes, "
Governments pass tax laws and set tax rates without any consultation with the citizenry. Further, no final approval is sought by the citizenry that they consent to the tax or the rates. It is simply imposed."  Taxation = Theft

"Voluntary"  sales taxes may be an exception.  Imposing  or raising them  is usually put to a vote.   Local and state sales taxes in our neck of the woods can run to as much as 10 cents on the dollar.  Voters are usually persuaded to approve the sales tax increase on the grounds th revenue goes to good purposes, such as schools, public recreation, public transportation, and such.


   "Questions?" asked the speaker.

   A hand shot up in the audience followed by a shouted inquiry.  "Why is it gold is so much more valuable than silver?  They've both served as money for ages."

    "You're right," said the speaker.  "And don't forget bronze and copper which had a long run as minor coinage. The answer on the gold and silver price ratio is rarity. Period. Nature made lots more silver than it did gold. If the tables had been turned you would be paying $1,300 an ounce for silver and less than $20 an ounce for gold." 

    This exchange makes a good point. Only rarity gives various natural substances value. What circulates as "money" today is not nearly as rare as it used to be when it represented a solemn promise to redeem in precious metals. Today a dollar is not redeemable. It is, as the late banker John Exter was fond of saying, an "I owe you nothing."  Luckily, you can buy a 5¢ candy bar with a dollar at some stores...if they're running a sale.

    Bottom line: If government could create gold as cheaply as it does debt-based currency the value of gold as a store of wealth would all but disappear. 

Boozing it up on the radio.
NPR plugs the hard stuff.

    We admit we were a tad startled to hear National Public Radio air a brief commercial plug for VODKA Saturday morning. 
There's nothing illegal about NPR touting vodka, although some listeners may bristle and email complaints about it.

  At least they weren't pushing <gasp> cigarettes! (Also a legal product but socially frowned on in most quarters.)

  Having worked in radio broadcasting in part of its Golden Era we were familiar with cigarette and wine commercials as a source of revenue. Roma Wine sponsored some of old radio's most memborable mystery shows. And Lucky Strike, Chesterfield, Phillip Morris and several other major brands of cigarettes spent huge sums sponsoring major comedy and variety shows.

   Then came the general realization that smoking might not be good for the human anatomy. Smoking ads remained for a while on billboards and in print media, but self-censoring broadcasters put on the brakes.

   Oldtimers will remember when the federal government ordered smoking material packages to carry health warnings. S.C. Senator Strom Thurmond pushed through similar warnings for packaged alcohol containers from beer and wine to distilled liquors.

   We'll watch and listen with interest to see if hard liquor distillers make their presence known more widely known via radio and TV. They may be required to add disclaimers; "Warning - Drink too much of this stuff and you're asking for trouble."?

Where's the Melody in Music?
   We recently realized that one can walk considerable distances among throngs of pedestrians and never hear anyone whistling one of the popular songs of the day.

   Hmmm...is it because today's popular music has little melody to it, or is it the anxiety of the times that prevents people from whistling in public?

    We don't think it's anxiety.  People were extemely anxious in the Great Depression of the 1930s and we clearly remember lots of people, men mostly, whistling catchy tunes of the day.  We later learned that females can whistle beautifully, but in that day and age it was not considered "ladylike" to so perform in public.

     So if an anxious society whistles or hums popular melodies of the day, why don't we hear it now?

      One could argue that society has not yet reached a high enough level of anxiety.  But we think popular  music has sunk to generally tuneless structures with lyrics that are almost unintelligible via over-modulated microphones accompanied by electronic  guitars, drums, and other noisemakers.  How can a listener extract a whistleable melody from such a racket?

       All older pop music was not necessarily good.  Who can still remember the words to "Mairzy Doats"? Nor is all current pop music terrible.  Our point is - most of the current stuff can't be easily sung, hummed, or whistled.  It's a pity the public is shortchanged.

The Texas Gold Stash
     Three years ago the governor of Texas said "...…the Texas Bullion Depository will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.”

    His forecast came true!  The Texas Gold Bullion Depository opened for business a weel ago. 

     Why should an individual state bother to establish its own gold bullion facility?  Why not let the U.S. Treasury Department,  the Federal Reserve System, and private depositories store gold?

      Peter Schiff describes the Texas mechanism:  "[The depository is] a secure place for individuals, business, cities, counties, government agencies and even other countries to store gold and other precious metals, the law also creates a mechanism to facilitate the everyday use of gold and silver in transactions."  DEPOSITORY 

        Skeptics will argue this is only a trick for the state to bring precious metals into its new government run warehouse and then refuse to give it back.  Although we have not seen the official documents creating this warehouse (depository) we'd bet a Krugerrand the concept will be adopted by other states and people will feel safer stowing their bullion in the state vault rasther than in backyard gardens or in their mattresses.  (We're talking bullion here, not rare collectible coins.)

Suicide is so...unbecoming.
  "Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death among American adults. In addition to Alzheimer’s and drug overdoses, it is one of only three causes of death that is on the upswing. Close to 45,000 Americans over age 10 took their own lives last year. The country had more than twice as many suicides than homicides."

   Is this one of those "fake" news reports? 

   No. It's based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and it's something society ought to notice and deal with. 
   Jim Goad examines what's making suicide so trendy these days. THE SUICIDE TREND

   WARNING: Mr. Goad gave the subject a good going over but concluded "
I won’t pretend to know the answer, but I do have a hunch. I sense that bad times are coming. REALLY BAD times are coming. So does everyone I know."

   We disagree. We know plenty of people who worry about an economic storm heading this way, but we don't see any of them doing themselves in because of despair over the prospect.

An old codger gripes about pupil behavior in public schools.
82 year old Walter Williams sounds off on the subject.
    "Behavior that is accepted from today's young people was not accepted yesteryear. For those of us who are 65 or older, assaults on teachers were not routine as they are in some cities. For example, in Baltimore, an average of four teachers and staff members were assaulted each school day in 2010, and more than 300 school staff members filed workers' compensation claims in a year because of injuries received through assaults or altercations on the job. In Philadelphia, 690 teachers were assaulted in 2010, and in a five-year period, 4,000 were. In that city's schools, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, "on an average day 25 students, teachers, or other staff members were beaten, robbed, sexually assaulted, or victims of other violent crimes. That doesn't even include thousands more who are extorted, threatened, or bullied in a school year."

      The primary point of his article is the question of "gun control."  He recalls the time people could send through the mail for a rifle or pistol.  Men often gave their sons guns for 12th or 13th birthdays.  And no one could comprehend the need for hiring armed guards for cduty in public schools.  THE PAST vs.PRESENT

People don't save?
    Why should they?  With inflation eating away each year at the U.S. dollar there's little point, beyond the old-fashioned notion of thrift, to hoard dollars in a savings account.  Price inflation in 2017 rose at 2.1 percent.  That means that anyone getting interest of only 1 percent or less for a bank deposit was falling behind at the rate of one cent or more on every dollar!

     Congress and the banking system have been pulling the inflation trick on us for generations.  Constant imbalanced budgets lead to a condition of debt monetization, and the long-running fractional reserve operations of lenders pump plenty of extra dollars into the economy at a rate faster than the production of goods and services can absorb them. 

      Periodically the advance in prices puts pressure on incomes.  That's when teachers and others take to the streets demanding more money.  Salary adjustments are made in private and public employment to "meet the rising cost of living."  Once again the steady increase in price inflation manifests itself to an anxious

       As the Wall Street Journal put it in its June 12th paper, "The question is whether inflation is around the corner.  Getting it wrong could cripple the economy." 

The fact is, we have had "low  inflation" all along.  Since the early 1940s we have had only two years in which negative Consumer Price Indexes were recorded.  (Price deflation.)  So, it's really not a question of "whether inflation is around the corner."  It's a question of whether MUCH HIGHER PRICE INFLATION is going to upset the economic apple cart. 

         The inflation phenomenon is stoppable. But the government would have to operate within its means to make it happen.  There's no desire for that...yet. 

   * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    We have spent considerable time in our advancing years trying to figure out who is happiest...the person  with adequate material goods owned free and clear or "the big spender" loaded with mortgages and other debt, plus more "stuff" than he or she can manage.

  "Happiness" is probably too elusive a word to define.  Contentment may be the better goal. The world is well populated with millionaires and billionaires, but if the gossip and news reports are any indication wealth does not necessarily generate stable, happy lives.

  On the other hand, there are many people of modest means who resist the temptation to go into debt to acquire things they may not need and enjoy the sense of contentment that comes from not owing anybody and possibly building up a little capital to help through the twilight years.

   As Adam Smith put it,
"What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?"

           John Mauldin has penned an interesting piece on the topic. It is, of course, a plug for subscriptions to his weekly newsletter. This doesn't automatically make his premise wrong.  Ticking Clock  Swiss reject sound money plan.   

   "It's a fundamental law of nature that one must have the means of feeding and clothing oneself
OR live off the effort of someone else." ~Potiphar Gride

   Our staff curmudgeon has long believed that third or fourth graders would have no trouble absorbing the above fact - if only their instructors would offer it. Which they won't. Examining such a fact, even for one hour, could cost a pulic school teacher his or her job. Teachers are, after all, minions of the State and their chief job is to instill the curricula designed and approved by the State. Questioning government management of the population is not on the approval list.

  Gride's comments on the issue were last published in the summer of 2017, inspired by the book Der Staat by the late Franz Oppenheimer at the turn of the 20th century. His troublesome observations have been generally ignored for well over a century. This has led us to the awkward circumstances of  an unsustainable welfare state. Out of step, as usual, Gride asks WHO SUPPORTS WHOM?

   Dr. Thomas Sowell reminds us of scuttlebutt we have heard about the popularity of Socialism among American youth.  The young are not the only citizens who have been attracted by the system because it promises a good life without struggle.  The idea of the "free lunch" is widely appealing.  Why wouldn't the notion of "free college" attract a crowd?  Sen. Bernie Sanders wowed many audiences with the idea during his campaign for the Democrat Party nomination for president in 2016. 

   As Sowell notes, Socialism has "always sounded great."  Why wouldn't it?  It promises a well ordered society in which the governing class smooths out the bumps of life and manages social details so that the wealth of a nation does not pile up in the pockets of a few.  The non-productive among us may live quite comfortably out of the pockets of the productive.  What's not to like about that?

   The catch is - Socialism doesn't work well.  The U.S. has been following Socialist catechism since the early 1930s only to discover it has created an unaffordable welfare state.  Pulling the Socialist rug out from under the millions of people who depend on it is unthinkable.  That means aspiring to a government that runs  balanced budgets and restablishes a monetary system based on actual money, instead of debt-based currency, is not possible.  Looks very much like a classic Catch-22!

   This seems like a subject overdue for debate, but the national discussion centers on the "tweets" of Roseanne Barr and insulting expletives of Samantha Bee.  (Media are also fond of reporting on the frequent "tweets" of President Trump, who is a champion twitterer.)

    The U.S. launched its entanglement with Socialism (American style) 86 years ago.  It's getting long in the tooth and running out of steam money.