Friday, October 18, 2013

When government tries to stabilize the money supply

The Federal Reserve was created in 1913, with a goal of stabilizing the U.S. money supply.  I've posted charts of what happened afterward dozens of times (the blue line below). 

Since 1913, the money supply - and  therefore, prices - have slowly gone through the roof. 

I've never seen the previous hundred years contrasted with the century of 1813 to 1913 (the red line below). 

The disastrous blue line was the unintended consequence of some Washington D.C. blowhards trying to smooth out the little blips in the red line.   Truly amazing. 

Go to Zero Hedge to see more documentation. 


Schadenfreude - Fun Quotes On A Miserable Failure

Here are a few of Politico's best quotes on the ObamaCare website.  Go here for the complete collection.  (And BTW, I love the "snipping tool" for photos that comes with the Windows 7 package.)

And here's my favorite, and I don't know where I found it. 
They no longer have the "countdown to deadline" feature on the site, do they?  LOL. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Shameful Episode

I was driving around one of the sleazier parts of Fort Worth yesterday, and saw a bunch of cop cars and a massive limo in my rearview mirror.  The vehicles were totally out of place in that neighborhood. 

I couldn't believe it!  It was Barack Obama in "The Beast" presidential limousine. 

That's something you don't see every day.  So I let them pass me and then I got in line behind all the cop cars. 

Next thing you know, I was surrounded by limousines.  It was a freakin' Congressional motorcade, driving down East Lancaster.  Where were they going?  What the hell were they doing?  Was this a fact-finding mission to investigate poverty?  A junket to research the lifestyles of crack whores?  Or maybe they wanted some really good BBQ? 

You're not gonna believe where they went. 

Barack's limo pulled up in front of the sleaziest Payday Loan facility I've ever seen.  The President Of The United States got out of his car, walked up to the storefront, and held open the door.  He looked downright giddy. 

(In case you don't know what a Payday Loan joint is, these are places where you can get a short-term loan by using your next paycheck as collateral.  The default rates are staggering.) 

Obama held the door open for at least 30 minutes while most of the Congress of the USA went inside.  (Jeff Flake, the senator from Arizona with formerly decent libertarian credentials, was hardest to recognize.  He was wearing a trenchcoat and dark glasses, and kept his arm over his face so he couldn't be photographed.)

I got out of my truck and asked one of the Secret Service guys what was going on.  "They're raising the debt ceiling again," he said.  They've been doing it for years." 

And then it got weird.....

More cops and military personnel showed up, and they had kids with them.  Cars and trucks loaded with them. 

"What the hell?" I couldn't believe it.  "What's up with all the children?"

My new Secret Service buddy grinned at me.  "Dude, you are such a Boy Scout!  You don't think this generation of swine is going to pay for anything, do you?  Nobody with any street smarts would loan these clowns a dime.  So Congress brings in all these kids to co-sign for their loans." 

"I don't get it," I said.

"Ok, take the stimulus package," said the officer.  "The economy was hurting, and your baby boom generation was slightly inconvenienced.  So these guys borrowed a bunch of money and spread it around.  These kids are the ones who will have to pay it all back." 

One of the kids made a break for it, and ran toward Canada.  The cops knocked the living shit out of him, and after that the other kids were much more sedate and well-behaved.

I was shocked, but the Secret Service agent was unfazed.  "That's the beauty of Keynesian economics," he said.  "It gives us a fig leaf for taking and spending what we want immediately.  Nobody even notices.  Every time a Bush or Obama or Pelosi talks about 'investing' in some boondoggle, these kids go further into debt."

And one by one, the children were taken into the loan facility, forced to sign away years of their lives, fingerprinted, and sent back out on the streets. 

"See you again in March!" said the business owner.  "We're pushing for another war, plus Social Security and Medicare are about to go broke." 

A few minutes later, and it was all done.  The adults were able to continue spending like drunk cowboys, the kids would have to pay for it, and business as usual was restored in Washington, D.C.

A couple of hours later, Barack Obama was on television.  "Hopefully next time, it won't be in the 11th hour," Obama said. "We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis....  I'm eager to work with anybody.. on any idea that will grow our economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle class and get our fiscal house in order for the long term.  I've never believed that Democrats have a monopoly on good ideas.. I'm convinced that Democrats and Republicans can work together to make progress for America."

You heard what the man said.  That's how Democrats and Republicans work together to make progress for America. 
Don't thank returning veterans for their service. 
Thank your kids. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The most destructive company in America is about to go bankrupt !!

Busybodies in the USA have spent the last 20 years weeping, wailing, and rending their garments because of the destructive impact of Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart supposedly kills downtown areas, they don't pay people "enough", and they purchase their merchandise from people of the wrong racial makeup. 
Progressive city councils pass legislation almost every day, trying to force Wal-Mart (and no other company) to pay higher wages, build smaller stores, and basically, stay away. 
They almost always fail. 

(Full Disclosure: I work for a company that makes display fixtures for grocery stores.  All grocery stores, not just Wal-Mart.  I've shipped more fruitstands to more grocery stores than anyone who has ever lived.  Hell, somebody had to do it.) 

But if you think Wal-Mart is destructive, you shoulda seen Safeway.  Back in the day,   Safeway built massive (6,000 square feet in some cases) stores, stores that carried EVERYTHING you could ever want to eat.  Some of their stores even had their own parking lots!!  They didn't offer sales on credit to their customers!!  Safeway was a threat to the American way of life !!  The Mom 'n' Pop stores didn't stand a chance!! 

And before Safeway was A&P, a company that few people under 40 have ever heard of.  A&P's destructive tendencies gave it the reputation of "the most controversial company in the nation". 

Marc Levinson of the Wall Street Journal has written a great piece on the A&P controversy, and I'm scraping and posting it here before it disappears behind a paywall.  I've long known about the evolution of the grocery industry, and how government has fought progress every step of the way, but I've never seen this much online about what A&P went through. 

Every day that you don't have to make your own soap, mix your own toothpaste, or stop at four different places for meat, tomatoes, diapers and razors, you owe that unimaginable luxury to the visionary pioneers at The Great A&P Tea Company, Safeway, and Wal-Mart. 

Here's Mr. Levinson:


A prosecutor in Franklin Roosevelt's administration called it a "giant blood sucker." A federal judge in Woodrow Wilson's day deemed it a "monopolist," and another, during Harry Truman's presidency, convicted it of violating antitrust law. The federal government investigated it almost continuously for a quarter-century, and more than half the states tried to tax it out of business. For its strategy of selling groceries cheaply, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company paid a very heavy price.

Now, more than a century and a half after its birth near the docks of lower Manhattan, the Great A&P is reaching the end. The company, with holdings that include East Coast grocery chains such as Food Emporium and Pathmark, filed for bankruptcy in December 2010 and emerged from Chapter 11 status as a private company. Over the summer, news emerged that A&P had hired Credit Suisse to review its options, with a sale—to either to another grocery company like Kroger Co., or an investment firm like Cerberus Capital Management—a strong likelihood.

So far, no deep-pocketed shopper has plucked A&P off the shelf. The watching and waiting continues. When the company with the familiar name finally fades from the American scene, few will recall what A&P once was: the most controversial company in the country, the center of a struggle over the very nature of American capitalism.
© Underwood & Underwood/Corbis
Price-cutting A&P stores like this one in 1934 angered competitors—and Washington.
A&P was Wal-Mart long before there was Wal-Mart. Founded around the start of the Civil War, it upset the tradition-encrusted tea trade by selling teas at discount prices by mail and developing the first brand-name tea. A few years later, its tea shops began to stock spices, baking powder and canned goods, making A&P one of the first chain grocers.

Then, in 1912, John A. Hartford, one of the two brothers who had taken over the company from their father, had one of those inspirations that change the course of business. He proposed that the company test a bare-bones format at a tiny store in Jersey City, offering short hours, limited selection and no home delivery, and that it use the cost savings to lower prices. The A&P Economy Store was an instant success. The Great A&P was soon opening one and then two and then three stores per day. By 1920, it had become the largest retailer in the world.

John Hartford and his brother, George, the firm's financial wizard, didn't stop there. In the 1920s, they integrated vertically. They opened a produce brokerage to supply their stores with fruits and vegetables, which many grocery chains didn't carry at the time. They acquired bakeries, canneries and bottling plants—and leveraged their ability to make everything from ketchup to chocolate bars to strike tougher bargains with suppliers. They refused to buy through wholesalers and demanded that suppliers pay A&P the standard wholesale commission. And they plowed A&P's cost savings back into lower prices, fueling relentless growth. In 1929, A&P became the first retailer ever to sell $1 billion of merchandise in a single year.

While shoppers flocked to A&P's 16,000 stores, small grocers and grocery wholesalers didn't share their enthusiasm. The anti-chain-store movement dates back at least to 1913, when the American Fair-Trade League pushed for laws against retail price-cutting. It grew through the 1920s, as groups such as the aptly named Association Opposed to Branch Stores in Missouri demanded action against the chains.

The U.S. Supreme Court lent its support to the movement in 1931, approving taxes based on the number of stores a retailer owned. No company suffered more than A&P, which operated several times more stores than any other retailer.

Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal piled on. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, the centerpiece of Roosevelt's economic recovery program, tried to bolster profits by subjecting entire industries to "codes of conduct" created by industry committees. The code for food retailing imposed minimum price markups on almost every product, blocking more efficient retailers from offering lower prices than less efficient competitors. The business sector, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cheered such measures, as did many Republican politicians. When the head of a major trade organization complained that business was "being crucified on the cross of competition," no one thought it strange.

After the Supreme Court struck down Roosevelt's codes in 1935, Wright Patman, a populist congressman from Texas, took up the cause of the country's 600,000 or so mom-and-pop grocers. Restricting chains, Patman declared, would keep "Hitler's methods of government and business in Europe." The Robinson-Patman Act, passed in 1936, kept suppliers from selling more cheaply to large customers than to small ones, stripping A&P of its cost advantage. The law forced up grocery prices and devastated A&P's profits. Six years later, the Justice Department brought one of the most bizarre antitrust cases of all time, accusing A&P and its executives of illegally restraining trade by demanding lower prices from suppliers—and winning.

Thanks in good part to the Hartfords' tenacity, the restraints on discount retailing began to fade away in the 1950s. Chain-store taxes were gradually repealed, and state laws limiting price competition to protect mom and pop were taken off the books. By 1962, when Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, and other modern discount formats were born, the pendulum had swung in consumers' favor.

By then, John and George Hartford were dead, and their company, after passing into the hands of less competent managers and going public, had entered a death spiral that appears to be in its final stages. A&P, once the country's best-known brand, is by now so tarnished it probably has negative value, and any buyer will likely retire it. But even if the Great Atlantic & Pacific doesn't live on in name, it will leave an important legacy: the idea that capitalism can benefit consumers, if only capitalists will allow it to do so.


The luxuries that A&P brought us are now so commonplace that our miraculous abundance now seems almost normal. 

And somewhere this morning, working in the back room of a Wal-Mart, a stockboy (or girl) has come up with the idea that will destroy Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart won't stand a chance
Progressives and other busybodies will try to stop him, and call him "a giant blood sucker", a vulture, or just a greedy bastard. 
He will be accused of cutthroat competition, monopolistic behavior, and being un-American, all for trying to improve on Wal-Mart's methods.
I wish I could figure out who he is, and start buying stock early. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Mother should I trust the government?

During the past few years, the Tarrant County Libertarian Party has:

1) Participated in an anti-Federal Reserve protest at the Dallas Fed.

2) Snagged some great speaking gigs at DFW NORML meetings. (National Organization For The Reform Of Marijuana Laws.)

3) Sponsored 2nd Amendment/Gun Rights debates, hosted NRA activist meetups, staffed tables at gun shows, and participated in “Open Carry” events.

4) Participated in Gay/Lesbian pride parades in Dallas and Fort Worth. (And won twice!)

5) Staffed literature/recruiting tables during at least 3 Tea Party rallies

6) Participated in 9/12 marches and had speakers at 9/12 meetings

7) We would’ve participated in Peace Marches, but the Peace Movement doesn’t really exist during Democrat administrations, and we don’t have the numbers to shut down the streets by ourselves.

8) Supported anti-Eminent Domain candidates for our regional Water Board.  And won!!

Stuff like that makes for a diverse group off allies.  But those groups have something in common....

Economic conservatives generally fear the Fed the government.
Pot smokers fear the police the government.
Gun owners fear the anti-2nd amendment lobby the government.
Gays and Lesbians fear the influence of religious conservatives the government.
Tea Party activists, supposedly neutral on social issues, fear the national debt the government.
The 9-12 groups, as best I can tell, fear socialists the government.
The Peace Movement fears the military-industrial complex the government.
Eminent Domain opponents fear thieves the government.

Most members of these sub-groups will tell you that they oppose Democrats. Or Republicans. This is like declaring your loyalty to The Crips because if you stop supporting The Crips, then The Bloods will take over.  Republicans and Democrats might go at each other like cats and dogs, but at the end of the day, neither group is going to endanger the oppressive system that makes their leadership (and their leaches) very, very wealthy and very, very powerful.   

Our challenge, as Libertarians, is to convince those who fear the government to merely oppose the government in all its unholy acts, instead of trying to kill off Dr. Jekyll while saving Mr. Hyde.  On almost every issue, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi are different in degree, not in kind.  And I'm struggling to think of any issues (maybe guns?) where Bush/Obama differ by a significant degree.    (No, I take that back.  They don't even differ on guns.  Barack approves of giving guns to Syrian rebels, and to Mexican Drug Lords via Operation Fast And Furious.) 

When government gets big enough, it prints money, oppresses non-conformists, confiscates citizen weaponry, determines who can and can’t marry, racks up a lot of debt, nationalizes industries, starts wars, and confiscates property. That's all part of the package.

Any government big enough to abuse the group you dislike is big enough to abuse all the rest.

Let’s stop talking about Red vs. Blue. Let’s reframe the debate as Free vs. Slave.