First Small Modular Reactor Gets Certification From Nuclear Regulatory Commission thumbnail

First Small Modular Reactor Gets Certification From Nuclear Regulatory Commission

By Jeremy Beaman

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the first-ever certification Friday of a small modular reactor design, a big step in the process of developing a new generation of new and more flexible nuclear reactors.

The NRC approved the reactor design from NuScale Power, making it the first SMR design to be certified by the regulator and only the seventh reactor design cleared for use in the United States.

“SMRs are no longer an abstract concept,” said Kathryn Huff, assistant secretary for nuclear energy at the Department of Energy. “They are real, and they are ready for deployment thanks to the hard work of NuScale, the university community, our national labs, industry partners, and the NRC.”

NuScale is one among many nuclear energy companies working to re-imagine the legacy nuclear reactor technologies developed in the 20th century by scaling them down, with one leading motivation being to make the construction of nuclear power plants more cost-effective.

The company, which was awarded a contract to build an SMR power plant on-site at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory, celebrated certification of the design Friday of its advanced light-water reactor. The reactor uses power modules that each can generate 50 megawatts of electricity.

By comparison, the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia are each rated at 1,250 megawatts.

The Biden administration has prioritized the advancement of new nuclear technologies, as well as the preservation of existing and operating power plants.

The Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats’ new green energy and healthcare spending law, offers a mix of tax incentives to nuclear power generators and funding to produce the uranium necessary to fuel advanced reactors…..

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Continue reading this article at Washington Examiner.

The Unseen Cost of Government Largesse thumbnail

The Unseen Cost of Government Largesse

By Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)

The U.S. government recently hit its $31.5 trillion debt limit after years of careening baseline spending on entitlements combined with emergency COVID-19 spending in the last few years to produce record-busting deficits. The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives, elected largely on economic concerns like inflation and runaway spending, now faces an obstinate Senate and White House. A showdown appears likely as does the ritual brow-beating of all those who object to simply raising the debt limit “without conditions,” as President Biden demands.

To those who will inevitably cry, “Don’t use the debt ceiling as a negotiating tool!” over the coming weeks and months, it should be pointed out that it is the only tool that has been even remotely effective at taming Congress’s appetite for spending. In the same way that an intervention is only possible when a drug addict is in crisis, debt limit negotiations are the only context in which Uncle Sam has accepted even modest constraints on government spending in recent decades.

Conservatives and libertarians rightly decry the rapidly-expanding national debt as an embarrassment, a threat to the nation, a root cause of inflation (as the Federal Reserve must expand its balance sheet to purchase the Treasuries that finance these huge deficits, as happened most clearly in the pandemic’s peak), and a promise of higher future taxes. While all these are accurate observations, one effect of massive government spending and deficits is often overlooked in the standard conservative critique: the forgone private investment of capital and therefore forgone economic growth, often termed the “crowding out effect.”

The basic idea is that there exists a total sum of money, or financial capital, that individual and institutional investors are willing to loan out or invest. Most economists call this the “loanable funds market.” The supply of loans, as with any supply curve, slopes upward and to the right. In other words, as the interest rate (the price of a loan) rises, more people will be eager to supply loans. In contrast, the demand for loanable funds slopes, like a normal demand curve, downward and to the right. That is, as the interest rate goes down, more people are interested in borrowing money. Just think of any normal supply-demand graph, but with the good in question being a loan rather than a physical good or a service, and the vertical axis labeled “interest rate” rather than “price,” as in other markets.

The demand for loanable funds is a function of how much capital investment businesses need (which is itself a function of how profitable those capital investments are), what quantity of money consumers need for purchases like homes and new vehicles, and how much money the government needs to borrow. In a game where the total supply of loanable funds per year is set, say at $5 trillion, every $1 trillion the government runs up in deficits is $1 trillion less available for private investment in the innovations that improve quality of life, bring us new medicines, and create new jobs.

Increased government deficits shift the demand for loanable funds to the right. As any student of elementary economics knows, this increases the price, or in this case, the nominal interest rate. Many private sector projects that make sense at 4 percent interest are no longer acted upon if the government runs such a large deficit that the interest rate must increase to 7 percent for investors to shell out the cash necessary to finance that deficit. Increasing the supply of loanable funds through monetary expansion, as happened in the COVID pandemic with breathtaking speed, can temporarily hide this effect. However, this spurs inflation that reduces real returns and hampers economic growth (the stock market’s dismal returns since runaway inflation started in late 2021 is one example of this result).

In contrast to the Keynesian “money multiplier” theory, which insists that government spending stimulates the economy by circulating money via transfer payments that otherwise would have remained in savings and uncirculated, savings in nearly all developed countries are not locked away gathering moths and rust, but invested. Of every dollar put in the bank, more than 90 percent is invested in loans for commercial enterprises, in home loans, and in bonds, and this doesn’t account for the fact that a larger and larger share of surplus savings in the United States are not in the traditional banking system, but in brokerage accounts, 401(k)s, and elsewhere.

Government spending does not multiply the economic power of money, it diminishes it. If the opposite were true, Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela would be among the wealthiest nations on the planet, since nearly all economic activity is facilitated through government spending in those nations. That they are not, but that nations with relatively free markets such as the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Japan punch above their weight economically suggests that private investment in the innovations and technologies of tomorrow everywhere and always beats government transfer payments in facilitating economic growth.

Every dollar the government must borrow is a dollar not available for private businesses or individuals to borrow, and that reduces future economic growth and job creation. With America’s debt now hovering near 125 percent of GDP (before netting for debt held by government entities) and deficits topping $1 trillion yearly as far as the eye can see, we can no longer ignore this drag on the American economy.

AUTHOR

Nathan J. Richendollar

Nathan Richendollar is a summa cum laude economics and politics graduate of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. He lives in Southwest Missouri and works in the financial sector.

RELATED ARTICLE: Why Do Wages Rise? Not Because of Minimum Wage Laws, New Data Show

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The IRS has Taxpayers Subsidize the ‘Iran Lobby’ thumbnail

The IRS has Taxpayers Subsidize the ‘Iran Lobby’

By Jihad Watch

And the double standard on pro-Israel and pro-Iran groups.


During the freedom protests in Iran, #NIACLobbies4Mullahs trended on Twitter.

It’s not the first time that Iranian refugees, dissidents and activists have denounced the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and accused it of acting as the ‘Iran Lobby’. But the over 300,000 tweets demonstrated the forceful opposition of Iranians to the regime and to the ‘Iran Lobby’. So did the marchers in Washington D.C. chanting, “NIAC is not our voice!”

“Iranians expect @TheJusticeDept to look into this hashtag: #NIACLobbies4Mullahs,” Arash Sobhani, a prominent Iranian-American musician and dissident, tweeted.

A Justice Department investigation of NIAC for violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) is long overdue and has been urged by Senator Tom Cotton and other legislators.

But the pro-Iran group has also maintained a tax-exempt status with the IRS for over 20 years and that’s all the more remarkable considering the very different treatment of pro-Israel groups.

The New York Times has spent over a decade urging the IRS to investigate pro-Israel non-profits. In 2021, antisemitic congressmembers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Andre Carson, who met with Louis Farrakhan, signed a letter urging the Biden administration to crack down on the tax-exempt status of pro-Israel groups.

Treasury Secretary Yellen “must act to enforce US law and end these organizations 501(c)(3) status,” Rep. Tlaib tweeted.

If the Biden administration uses the IRS to go after pro-Israel groups, it will be following up on the work of the Obama administration which launched an unprecedented effort to shut down pro-Israel groups who were critical of its foreign policy including its empowerment of Iran.

In 2009, Z Street founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus applied for tax exempt status for the pro-Israel group. When the IRS refused to move forward, she was told that it “has to give special scrutiny to organizations connected to Israel.”

NIAC was never given this special level of scrutiny. Nor was the American Iranian Council, whose founder had run for the presidency of Iran and at whose events Biden had appeared.

In 2009, Eli Lake, then of the Washington Timeswarned that communications between NIAC founder Trita Paris and Iran’s UN ambassador “offer evidence that the group has operated as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws.”

IFMAT, an Iranian dissident site, alleged that, “according to NIAC’s own documents released during the lawsuit, the organization used to ‘defraud IRS [and] did not report lobbying.’”

The IRS however appeared to show little interest in NIAC and instead went after pro-Israel groups. While pro-Israel groups were asked to “explain their religious beliefs about the Land of Israel”, there’s no sign that NIAC has been asked to explain Shiite religious beliefs about Iran.

Before founding NIAC, Trita Parsi had created, “Iranians for International Cooperation” which admitted that it existed to “safeguard Iran’s and Iranian interests”. The same IRS, which had asked of a pro-Israel group, “does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?” did not seem especially interested in whether NIAC supported an Islamic terror state.

Parsi then moved on to the American Iranian Council before founding NIAC allegedly in coordination with Hamyaran which had been created by the Iranian government.

The IRS however decided to go after pro-Israel groups instead. Five of these groups were audited at the same time even as revelations about NIAC were emerging. “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism,’” an IRS manager argued.

Israel had a higher risk of terrorism because Iran was targeting it with a terror campaign. But instead of scrutinizing the terrorists, the IRS decided that the victims of Islamic terrorism were the ones who really needed investigating.

In 2018, the case by Z Street was finally settled after eight years of litigation.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus told Front Page Magazine that, “One of the excuses given to Z Street by an IRS official was that the IRS had to make sure we were not ‘engaged in terrorism’ because we mentioned ‘terror’ in our mission statement. The part of Z Street’s mission that mentioned terror? ‘We will not engage with, negotiate with or appease terrorists.’ Yet Z Street’s application for 501(c)(3) status was sidelined for seven years while Z Street litigated the IRS’s unconstitutional application of Viewpoint Discrimination against us.”

The IRS demonstrated that when it came to Z Street and other pro-Israel groups, it was willing and able to scrutinize, investigate and harass them. It has demonstrated the same thing with conservative groups. It is not however willing to apply that same standard to the ‘Iran Lobby’.

And the reasons may be obvious.

NIAC Action, its sister PAC, endorsed Biden and declared, “our long, national nightmare is almost over. AP has called the race for Joe Biden.”

Jamal Abdi, the executive director of NIAC Action, was one of Biden’s bundlers and claimed that its members had dominated phone banks and donated $385,000 to Biden.

NIAC Action had gushed that, “our long, national nightmare is almost over. AP has called the race for Joe Biden”.

“It’s an obscene joke that NIAC was given and retains the U.S. government’s permission to provide its donors with the ability to write off their tax donations to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s U.S. cheerleading squad, NIAC,” Marcus, the founder of Z Street, told Front Page Magazine.

In Iran, protesters are putting their lives on the line for freedom. And some of them are calling for a long overdue investigation of the ‘Iran Lobby’ and its influence over American politics.

NIAC Action’s recent endorsements include Rep. Katie Porter, who now aspires to the Senate, Rep. Ro Khanna, who is seen as the successor for the Bernie Sanders camp and a possible presidential candidate, and antisemitic figures like Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

After over two decades of neglect by the IRS, NIAC has gained unprecedented influence.

NIAC’s nonprofit status is evidence of a glaring double standard by the IRS and a national security crisis.

AUTHOR

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Poll: Americans Say Economy is in Trouble thumbnail

Poll: Americans Say Economy is in Trouble

By Casey Harper

Americans think the U.S. economy is in trouble, according to a new poll.

Released by CBS News and YouGov, the poll found that 64% of those surveyed said the national economy is doing “fairly bad” or “very bad.”

The survey found 56% disapprove of the job Joe Biden is doing as president. Those two figures are likely intertwined. Inflation has soared since Biden took office. Gas prices hit record highs last summer and are expected to rise again this year. Food prices have soared as well and show little sign of returning to their previous level.

Notably, 49% of those surveyed say they feel “scared” about the fate of the U.S. in the next year.

The poll also found 65% of Americans said things in the U.S. are going “very badly” or “somewhat badly.” That pessimism is similar to the sentiment found in a recent Gallup poll that found that that about 80% of those surveyed expect a higher deficit, higher taxes, and a worse economy in 2023.

“More than six in 10 think prices will rise at a high rate and the stock market will fall in the year ahead, both of which happened in 2022,” Gallup reports. “In addition, just over half of Americans predict that unemployment will increase in 2023, an economic problem the U.S. was spared in 2022.”

But it’s not just the economy. Americans are also worried about crime with Gallup reporting that 72% of surveyed Americans predict crime rates will increase, not decrease, this year.

*****
This article was published by The Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

Study Shows Government’s Family Leave Mandates Have Thwarted Women’s Wage Gains thumbnail

Study Shows Government’s Family Leave Mandates Have Thwarted Women’s Wage Gains

By Rachel Greszler

Men and women alike should be able to take time off from work for family and medical needs without the risk of losing their jobs. Unfortunately, when policymakers turn something that should be voluntarily offered by employers into a rigid legal mandate, unintended consequences ensue.

In the case of family and medical leave laws in the U.S., a recent economic study found that those laws have led to lower relative wages for women and thwarted the convergence of women’s wages relative to men’s.

In the decade prior to the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act in 1993—a federal law that guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected family or medical leave to workers in companies with 50 or more employees—white women’s wages had been converging relative to white men’s at a rate of 0.70 percentage points per year.

In the decade after passage of the FMLA, the rate of convergence fell to 0.03 percentage points. The rate of convergence for black women to white men fell from 0.30 percentage points per year prior to passage of the FMLA to 0.05 percentage points after.

It’s important to note that the raw, so-called gender wage gap—which claims that women made only 82 cents on the dollar compared to men in 2021—is not a scientific metric because it simply compares the wages of all full-time women to all full-time men. After factoring in observable characteristics like occupation, experience, and education, the so-called gap shrinks considerably.

After accounting for changes in such observable characteristics, however, the study authors found that “the introduction of [family leave laws] can explain 94% of the reduction in the rate of gender wage convergence that is unaccounted for after controlling for changes in observable characteristics of workers.”

The authors estimated that “if gender wage convergence had continued at the pre-family leave rate, wage parity between white women and white men would have been achieved as early as 2017.”

These findings were based not only on the introduction of the federal FMLA, but more precisely by comparing wage convergences in 12 states that enacted family leave laws prior to the federal FMLA to convergences in states that did not enact such laws.

This study confirms the basic economic principle that there is no such thing as a free lunch, meaning that with any supposed government-created benefit, there are trade-offs. And it demonstrates the impossibility of providing flexibility to employees and their employers via one-size-fits-all government mandates.

That’s an important lesson for policymakers who, understandably, want to help more Americans benefit from access to paid family and medical leave. If laws that mandate access for some workers to unpaid family and medical leave end up hurting women’s wages, how many more unintended consequences could ensue from laws that impose paid leave mandates or create new government entitlements?

Fortunately, inertia—more aptly, the free market working as it should to reflect workers’ desires—is on our side. Between 2016 and 2021, the percentage of private sector workers who have access to paid family and medical leave increased 77%.

That figure will undoubtedly continue to grow, but government mandates could thwart its rise and cause many other unintended consequences.

Employer-provided paid family leave programs can always be more flexible and responsive to the needs of employees than one-size-fits-all government programs that must establish strict rules, rigid eligibility criteria, and immovable benefits.

And while the vast majority of employers know the value their workers contribute and see them as fellow humans who need time off for personal family and medical reasons, government programs managed by bureaucrats can only know applicants as claimant numbers with leave requests expressed through leave codes.

Additionally, state government-run paid family leave programs—which impose taxes on workers and/or employers to fund government benefits—also crowd out more flexible employer-provided programs because employers who may otherwise have implemented a program are unlikely to add one if they or their workers are already forced to pay into a government plan.

Further, as has already happened in states that have government paid-leave programs, employers that do provide their own programs will typically require their workers to first jump through hoops to get what they can from the government program before they can receive their employer’s benefits.

That could include waiting weeks or months to find out if a worker is eligible to take leave, requiring employees to submit loads of paperwork and receive doctors’ sign-offs, not allowing employees to take unexpected leave, and workers having to pay back government benefits they received if they answer an email or respond to a pressing work need while on leave.

Despite their intent, government-paid family leave programs are regressive. They tax everyone but predominantly benefit middle- and upper-income families. In California, for example, fewer than 4% of claims went to workers in the lowest-income bracket while nearly 21% went to workers in the highest-income bracket.

And government programs are costly. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of Democrats’ proposed Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act found that it would create yet another unfunded entitlement program, with costs exploding to 240% of the program’s revenues within just six years and necessitating about $700 a year in new taxes for the median household. And that’s for a program that would cover only 42% of workers’ paid family leave needs.

Paid family leave is something Americans want, but not with the costs and consequences that federal programs and mandates entail.

Instead, policymakers should help expand access to paid family leave through policies that make it easier and more economically feasible for private employers to offer their own programs. They can do that by passing legislation such as the Working Families Flexibility Act, by enacting Universal Savings Accounts, and by removing costly and unnecessary regulations so that employers have more resources to provide paid family leave that’s better tailored to their businesses and to their employees’ needs.

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This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

The Corporate Cancel Club: How 1,000+ Companies Stack Up on Anti-Conservative Bias thumbnail

The Corporate Cancel Club: How 1,000+ Companies Stack Up on Anti-Conservative Bias

By Family Research Council

If you’ve been in the conservative movement long enough, getting canceled is almost inevitable. At some point, your beliefs about faith, the climate, marriage, abortion, or transgenderism will put you crosswise with America’s woke CEOs, and a notice will arrive in your inbox: You’ve been dropped. For some, that’s a badge of honor. For others, it’s a monumental headache. Either way, finding a vendor who won’t take their radical politics out on clients has never been harder. Fortunately for today’s counter-culturists, there’s help.

For everyone who’s felt like choosing a business partner, merchant, or bank is like walking through a minefield blind, the 1792 Exchange is about to make life easier. The group’s new database, released Tuesday, scores more than 1,000 companies on how likely they are to cut ties with consumers over their beliefs. In their Spotlight Report: Corporate Bias Ratings, each business is graded on the low, medium, or high likelihood that conservatives will be canceled, denied service, or pressured to compromise based on their “political and religious views.”

It should be a powerful weapon in the hands of conservatives and faith-based groups, who’ve not only started doing battle with corporate activism on the state and shareholder levels but who are also desperately in need of safe, neutral spaces in today’s marketplace. “We want Americans to understand where they are truly free to conduct business,” the exchange’s president and movement veteran Paul Fitzpatrick said in a statement. This project, he explained, is the “result of countless hours investigating ‘woke’ corporate bias against religious expression, freedom of speech, and free enterprise.”

Fitzpatrick insists the goal is two-fold. First, “to help Americans understand the risks present with certain corporations and give them a voice when they encounter this type of discrimination.” But just as importantly (and maybe more so), the desired outcome is “for the ‘high risk’ companies, especially public ones, to take notice, change their behavior, and serve all customers — regardless of ideology.”

Finding these Fortune 500 pressure points has become a more urgent priority for conservatives, who finally found a champion in corporate giant-killers like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R). Now, what was once a lonely crusade for a handful of activists has turned into a full-blown grassroots effort to force Big Business to abandon its hyper-politicized agenda.

For longtime targets of the Left, like Family Research Council, the 1792 Exchange’s report came as welcome news. In the last couple of years, FRC has been dropped or had its contracts revoked by MobileCause (September 2020), Soundcloud (Fall 2020), Sprout Social (Fall 2020), Buffer (September 2021), and ContentCal (October 2021) — all either implicitly or explicitly for holding biblical views. Now, as more companies lean into radical ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investing, faith-based organizations are even more at risk.

“When corporations are politicized,” Fitzpatrick told The Washington Stand, “it harms shareholders, America’s retirement savings, makes energy and food more expensive and more scarce, and makes our nation less safe. We want to help U.S. corporations be more profitable and push back against activists trying to leverage them. To do so, they must treat their customers, employees, vendors, and communities with respect.”

Progressives have tried to capture the last conservative institution — corporations — to “change our culture and economy in ways they couldn’t achieve through Congress or the courts,” Fitzpatrick insisted. But those scales may finally be tipping, thanks to a Republican Party no longer willing to fund the Left’s war on their values. This latest development puts businesses’ virtue signalers on notice: Americans won’t rest until all viewpoints have a seat at the table.

Until then, “we want to equip you to protect yourself,” Fitzpatrick says, “whether you’re running a small business, nonprofit, or your family.”

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

MMT Is Dead. It Must Now Be Buried for Good thumbnail

MMT Is Dead. It Must Now Be Buried for Good

By David Sukoff

In the late 1960s Milton Friedman clarified his famous quip by stating that “In one sense, we are all Keynesians now; in another, nobody is any longer a Keynesian.”

In the first part, we are all Keynesians because the government’s out of control spending has forced us to be. In the latter sense, we are not Keynesians because that spending has decimated our financial well-being. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is essentially an offshoot of Keynesianism in that government can spend ad nauseam and commensurately print money without any ill effect. With the historic inflation we are now experiencing, MMT has been thoroughly repudiated. MMT is dead–it must now be buried.

In his basic economic textbooks, Professor Paul Krugman preaches Keynesianism. He teaches students about a government spending multiplier. In his fairy tale, the government spends a dollar and the economy grows by more than a dollar. The student’s first question should be: Where does that dollar of spending come from? The student’s next question should be: If this mystical multiplier were in fact real, then why not spend and spend and spend? The answers are straightforward and form the basis of the repudiation of MMT. A dollar of government spending must come from a dollar of taxation, at some point. On the second, the federal Government believed in both Krugman’s myth as well as MMT, and spent as much as they possibly could. Eventually, the inevitable ending came, and it was not a fairy tale.

If there were no discernible consequence to government spending, then the incentive for any government would be to spray money in every direction. Keynesianism, Krugman’s multiplier, and MMT all attempted to provide cover, and enable government to spend. It is simply impossible, and not in dispute, that at some point, that dollar of spending must come from a dollar of taxation. If there is a budget deficit, the government borrows dollars to make up the shortfall. The government mostly borrows dollars by issuing government bonds. To sustain its insatiable desire to spend money, and to not raise current taxes to unappealing levels, the government issues substantial debt.

In recent years, the debt to GDP ratio has crossed the 100 percent level and is now at a historic high. This creates numerous problems, not least of which is rising interest rates. If the government adds to the supply of bonds, the price should go down, and the yield (interest return) would go up. With that gargantuan debt, rising yields would force the government to spend even more on interest payments, resulting in all kinds of other negative effects on the overall economy.

Enter the magic of Quantitative Easing (QE) and MMT. The Government wants to spend, but not raise taxes too much. It then must issue debt, but not cause interest rates to rise. Well, the Federal Reserve can just step in and buy bonds! Sounds perfect – certainly to government officials who want to spend, and claim they are stimulating the economy. Even better, there is no real limit to how many dollars-worth of bonds the Fed can buy. Trillions upon trillions are possible. The Fed balance sheet rose by approximately $8 trillion over the past 20 years, with more than $4 trillion of that in the last two years alone. There is a crucial problem, and this is where MMT is used to obfuscate: When the Fed buys bonds, it is printing money.

It is a rather straightforward printing press. The Federal Reserve purchases a bond from a seller. The seller delivers the bond to the Fed, and the Fed hits a button to deposit money into the seller’s account. That money is created with a keystroke. The sound of this printing press is Enter-Enter-Enter, click-click-click. And just like that, in the last two years, the Fed “printed” $4 trillion new dollars. The Fed is also by far the largest holder of United States Treasury bonds – with a current balance sheet of more than $8 trillion. But MMT said this is not a problem, and for years and years it seemed to be correct as the Fed was growing its balance sheet with no discernible sign of inflation.

But there was inflation. It simply manifested itself in other places besides consumer prices. Inflation is a monetary phenomenon. It is basic math. If new dollars are added to the total supply of dollars, then the price of everything a dollar can be exchanged for must go up. That is just a mathematical fact – not an economic theory like a multiplier, or printing and spending ad nauseam. Dollars are added, prices in dollars go up. While the Fed was performing QE by adding to its balance sheet and printing dollars, the price of financial assets was shooting to the moon. We witnessed one of the greatest transfers of wealth imaginable to holders of financial assets, from the public at large. Ironically, many who promoted Keynesianism and MMT are the same who grouse the loudest about the wealth inequality that their policies directly caused. Bubbles are inflated with dollars. And since the implementation of QE was the cornerstone of Fed policy, that bubble was not in danger of bursting, because the Fed would simply buy more bonds, and print more money. MMT said it was okay.

Like water, though, money eventually finds its way and breaks the dam. With stocks and crypto and real estate headed to the moon, it was only a matter of time before all that money found its way to consumer goods. Inflation, as we commonly understand it, had arrived. It was mathematically pre-ordained, and yet still somehow unexpected. Historically high. We’re talking 1970s high. Family budget-busting high. Economic growth-crushing high. And all because of the failure to loudly ask and understand those two very basic questions: Where does the money come from, and if the theory actually worked, shouldn’t the government just spend infinite money?

Perhaps those in government simply did not want to ask or understand those questions. It was fun, for some, while it lasted. But it’s over now. Those questions need to be asked, over and over again. Because the answers are obvious, and clear, and indisputable. Sadly, so is the painful solution to our current inflation crisis. The government needs to dramatically reduce spending, and the Fed needs to unwind its balance sheet.

Weaning the government and the Fed off spending and printing will be a lengthy and agonizing process. And entirely necessary. Nobody should be a Keynesian anymore. Certainly not if the goal is to reduce inflation and have a growing, robust, and free economy.

Keynesianism, Krugman’s multiplier, and MMT have all been empirically, logically, mathematically, and thoroughly repudiated.

*****
This article was published by FEE and is reproduced with permission.

Insider Trading Bill Returns To Congress Under New Title ‘PELOSI Act’ thumbnail

Insider Trading Bill Returns To Congress Under New Title ‘PELOSI Act’

By The Geller Report

Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments (PELOSI) Act. Brilliant.

Pelosi got obscenely wealthy trading on  insider government intel. She’s not the only one.

Sen. Hawley’s Insider Trading Bill Returns To Congress Under New Title ‘PELOSI Act’

By Brandon Drey • Daily Wire • Jan 24, 2023 •

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) reintroduced his 2022 insider trading bill Tuesday that would ban lawmakers and their spouses from holding and trading individual stocks and force political figures to return profits to American citizens under a new title dubbed the “PELOSI Act.”

The Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments (PELOSI) Act comes just over a year after Hawley introduced the original bill, in which he accuses politicians of somehow outperforming the stock market every year they hold office.

This time around, the senator’s updated version takes a jab at California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who many Republican lawmakers had slammed after her husband, Paul Pelosi, sold up to $5 million worth of shares in Nvidia, a California company that produces semiconductors, just before the House voted on a bill surrounding the domestic chip manufacturing industry.

“For too long, politicians in Washington have taken advantage of the economic system they write the rules for, turning profits for themselves at the expense of the American people,” Hawley said in a news release.

In addition to prohibiting members of Congress from taking advantage of the market and wielding their power and privilege over American citizens, The PELOSI Act would also ban said politicians from holding diversified mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or exempt U.S. Treasury bonds.

Six months upon assuming office, the bill would require new congressional members to divest or place prohibited holdings in a blind trust — to remain there while they are serving the American people.

Spouses of American politicians in Congress would also have to forfeit any investment profits back to the American people through the U.S. Treasury…

Keep reading.

AUTHOR

Pamela Geller

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BREAKING🚨:

The DOJ has officially opened up a lawsuit against Google to break up its Ad Technology Monopoly

Pelosi sold $3 Million dollars worth of Google just four weeks ago

Wild.

— Nancy Pelosi Stock Tracker ♟ (@PelosiTracker_) January 25, 2023

RELATED ARTICLE: Pelosi Sells $3 Million of Google Stock Before DOJ Opens Lawsuit Against Google to Break It Up

EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Our National Debt Crisis – Let’s Begin by Throwing  Big Bird Off The Cliff thumbnail

Our National Debt Crisis – Let’s Begin by Throwing Big Bird Off The Cliff

By Neland Nobel

The initial sparring and positioning over the debt limit have begun and not surprisingly, the Democrats are pulling out their past winning arguments that have kept any of the huge entitlement programs off limit to any kind of reform. The past arguments can be summarized as “pushing Granny off the cliff”, a theme derived from the famous TV commercial where a Paul Ryan lookalike kills his grandmother. It was one of the most deceptive, yet effective political TV ads ever.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGnE83A1Z4U&t=2s

Voters will be told that any kind of proposed cut is equivalent to ruining Social Security and Medicare. This effectively ties the attempt to cut spending to cutting off the elderly who have been given government promises, around which they have planned their retirement.

The counterargument would be to tie cuts in spending to egregious programs which only help rich liberals.

At one time, Republicans had a slogan of “defund the Left.” It basically was designed to cut programs where progressives have mobilized tax dollars to use on their side of the political fight. This can range from NPR and PBS, and government agencies funding nonprofits for “voter registration”, to funding UNESCO and other UN left-wing initiatives. How about cutting funding for research so Chinese scientists cannot make new plagues to harm mankind? Is there not a dollar of waste in the defense budget? How about cutting all funds for Critical Race Theory in the Pentagon? I mean, talk about a target-rich environment!

It is also possible to roll back any program not associated with Social Security and Medicare, such as ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion. That could include a modest cut in so-called discretionary spending (spending other than entitlements, defense, and interest payments.)

In truth though, the long-term deficit problem cannot be addressed without eventually getting around to these two demographically flawed programs as they are growing at such speed and consume so much of the budget already that they are becoming the blob that will eat the entire budget.

Looking at the chart above, it really is amazing how little is spent on law enforcement, for example, a primary function of government, and how much is spent on income transfer programs.  Today, the government has largely become a mechanism not to protect safety and liberty but to move money from one taxpayer to another and move money from one generation to another.

But for the time being, baby steps are necessary.

America has not exercised its budget-cutting muscles in a long time. They are so completely atrophied, that success should first be realized with more modest steps. We need to show the political parties, the populace, and the markets; that actual cuts, however modest they may be, can be accomplished. Right now cynicism dominates because previous attempts have led to political disaster for those daring to cut any kind of government spending.

We suspect Republicans will learn from past mistakes and will use the debt ceiling to effectively cut wasteful, politically motivated spending. If we are reading the political tea leaves correctly, it appears that McConnell understands the newly elected House has the power in the negotiations to be had and that in turn, a hard core of conservatives holds excessive power because of the very narrow victory. Let’s hope they use that power wisely and in a politically savvy way.

What could be the argument to maintain NPR and PBS? Not only is its biased coverage lavishly funded by tax-free foundations and the public donations, but its fundamental purpose was also designed in the era of three dominant TV networks. But today, there are so many channels, podcasts, streaming services, and networks that have educational and nature-inspired programming, news programming, and cultural programming, it is redundant and outmoded.

Before we even attempt to reform Social Security, let’s throw Big Bird off the cliff first.

Op-Ed: Social Security’s impending bankruptcy doesn’t resonate with voters, yet thumbnail

Op-Ed: Social Security’s impending bankruptcy doesn’t resonate with voters, yet

By Brenton Smith

I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I see nearly zero chance that funding Social Security out of the general fund would be allowed for any significant length of time. It is at best a fool’s errand to hold out hope that Congress will be able to float the program’s imbalances out of the general fund.

This thought comes to mind because of the 2022 midterms and the inherent contradiction between the importance of Social Security and the weight that voters have placed on the program on Election Day despite two decades of continuous financial decline.

No group should be more interested in the prospects of the program than women who are over 50 years old. Yet, an AARP poll revealed that Social Security placed a distant fifth in voting priority in the 2022 midterm elections among people in this segment of the population.

At this point, a woman turning 77 today expects on average to outlive the system’s ability to pay scheduled benefits. If that voter doesn’t care, no one does.

The only explanation for the indifference to the program’s ability to keep its promises that I can imagine is voters have reached the conclusion that Congress will simply never allow Social Security to fall into crisis.

Apparently, Americans have faith in politicians that would make the Pope covet.

To provide an example, one of my readers wrote to me, “And, as I pointed out, the general fund is already going to be on the hook for the SS shortfall, one way or the other.” The reader reasons that no matter what happens, he will get paid. Hence, he has nearly zero interest in the prospects of the system.

It is a misplaced faith. The general fund is not on the hook, and likely never will be. Funding Social Security from the general fund would likely be deemed unconstitutional in court.

Yes, Social Security was determined to be constitutional in 1935 in Helvering v. Davis. That doesn’t mean that a legislative change in the way that the program is financed would be exempt from judicial review.

Just because the law is called the Social Security Act does not grant the pieces and parts of the law a special status.

The Supreme Court is not interested in the wisdom of how the power is exercised. Rather it deals with deciding whether that power is granted by the Constitution to Congress. In the Helvering case, the Supreme Court held that “Congress may spend money in aid of the ‘general welfare.’” Further, the Court held that the “concept of welfare is shaped by Congress, not the states.”

The Court added a caveat that earns your attention: “The (definition of welfare) belongs to Congress, unless the choice is clearly wrong, a display of arbitrary power is not an exercise of judgment.”

Here is the problem. Social Security is not universal nor equal. The highest payment goes to the man or woman who had the best job over the longest period. It is very difficult to explain taking money from the working poor to provide a stipend to the wealthy retiree particularly when many of our poorest seniors are not even eligible for benefits.

When the money for benefits comes from the general fund, someone is going to ask whether giving money to the idle rich is a sound way to aid the general welfare of the nation. The benefits formula works when the money comes from workers who are contributing to a plan that pays them a future benefit. It is very different when we take money that could be spent on other priorities.

Back in 1935, the Court indicated that it wasn’t terribly interested in the wisdom of the benefits arrangement. According to the Court, the law was a well-researched solution to a well-established problem. In its decision, the Court cited congressional studies, presidential commissions, advisory councils, and extensive public hearings.

The Court ruled, “A great mass of evidence was brought together supporting the policy which finds expression in the act. “

Imagine if this standard were applied to an annual subsidy from the general fund. Funding would require a similar exercise of judgment demonstrating that Congress thoughtfully valued this expense against every other expense that money might have served. That is every year, where the reasoning is we are spending the money today because the politicians of the past didn’t do their job. In the coming years, it would behoove voters of all ages to take this issue more seriously.

In 1935, the Supreme Court allowed Congress the power to provide a legislative solution to a well-documented problem that threatened a growing number of Americans. Today, the Court would be tasked with considering whether Congress should be given the power to deal with a very different problem: voters have not paid attention.

*****
This article was published by The Center Square – Opinion and is reproduced with permission.

Biden Administration Sues Google Over Allegedly Anticompetitive Ad Practices thumbnail

Biden Administration Sues Google Over Allegedly Anticompetitive Ad Practices

By The Daily Caller

The Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Google, alleging that the tech titan’s dominance in digital advertising was the result of anticompetitive practices.

Eight states — Virginia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee — joined the DOJ in the lawsuit, alleging that Google utilized a “simple but effective” plan to successfully establish “durable, industry-wide dominance.” First, Google would buy out “actual or potential” competitors, and secondly, it would simultaneously use its position of dominance to disrupt competitors and ensure that publishers and advertisers used Google products, the complaint alleges.

Google is beset with “pervasive conflicts of interest,” the complaint further alleges. Google owns the technology to offer advertisements space, tools to make better ads and an ad exchange to match publishers with advertisers, and the combination of these powers enables Google to inflate the barrier to entry in digital advertising to “artificially high levels.”

One unnamed Google advertising executive reportedly asked if there was a “deeper issue with us owning the platform, the exchange and a huge network?” according to the complaint. “The analogy would be if Goldman or Citibank owned the [New York Stock Exchange].”

Google said that the lawsuit was “flawed,” and repeated arguments made in an ongoing lawsuit by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation

“Today’s lawsuit from the DOJ attempts to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive advertising technology sector,” a Google spokesperson told the DCNF. “It largely duplicates an unfounded lawsuit by the Texas Attorney General, much of which was recently dismissed by a federal court. DOJ is doubling down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, raise advertising fees, and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow”

The move comes just days after Google cut 12,000 employees as a cost-saving measure in anticipation of a difficult economic year. Like other Big Tech firms, ad revenue fell for Google in 2022, leading its video-sharing and streaming platform YouTube to post its first decline in revenue in the third quarter of last year since Google began publicly tracking the stat in 2020.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a DCNF request for comment.

This story has been updated with comment from Google.

AUTHOR

JOHN HUGH DEMASTRI

Contributor.

RELATED ARTICLE: Regulator Fines Tech Giant Millions For Showing Targeted Ads Based On User Activity

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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New House Majority Attempts Debt-Defying Feat

By Family Research Council

Will Rogers used to joke, “Alexander Hamilton started the Treasury Department with nothing — and sometimes I think that’s the closest we’ve been to breaking even.”

Not many people saw the humor in that Thursday when the U.S. bumped its head on the debt ceiling, setting the stage for a titanic showdown over America’s spending. While Uncle Sam has maxed out his credit cards for years, the government has never owed anything close to $31 trillion — a failure the new conservative House majority has zero intention of repeating.

If anyone doubts whether the GOP means business, one look at the speaker’s race ought to tell the skeptics all they need to know. The group forged by five days of adversity over Nancy Pelosi’s successor is a hardened and united front now, determined to declare war on the reckless habits that got our country into this mess. Many believe one of the biggest victories the conservative holdouts won was the promise not to raise the debt ceiling until serious budget reforms are made.

Not surprisingly, Democrats are demanding that Congress raise the borrowing limit — no strings attached. Joe Biden, who called Republicans “fiscally demented” for trying to steer America away from the cliff, is insisting that conservatives who want new spending limits can pound sand. Of course, his refusal to negotiate with the GOP is rich considering that he’s added more to the national debt ($3.8 trillion) in two years than our country did in 61 years (1929-1990).

Biden’s pigheadedness is putting the two parties on a collision course for a knock-down, drag-out fight — the likes of which Washington hasn’t seen since 2011 and 1995 when other House majorities tried to put Congress on the spending straight and narrow. Meanwhile, the prospects of Congress coming to blows over America’s ballooning debt is making the media downright hysterical. The New York Times wrung its hands, writing that “breaching the debt limit would lead to a first-ever default for the United States, creating financial chaos in the global economy.” Other Chicken Littles panicked that Republicans will pull the plug on Social Security and Medicare.

The reality is, America has never defaulted on its loans (despite coming dangerously close under Barack Obama). Even now, the House GOP is working on an emergency plan to keep the government afloat while the two sides hammer out an agreement. Conservatives have said that non-Defense spending will be first on the chopping block, but that doesn’t mean, as Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) joked with me on “Washington Watch,” that “nasty Republicans are going to push grandma off a cliff.” “We’re going to start with non-Medicare, non-Social Security spending,” he insisted. But frankly, Harris said, we should ultimately have “a bipartisan agreement on how to control all our federal spending.”

And yet the media would have you believe that any Republican who wants to leverage the moment to help America sober up after decades of a spending binge is reckless. “Crazy even,” National Review’s Veronique De Rugy writes. The fact of the matter is, our fiscal house is a disaster “and Congress is to blame for it. … These people are upset about the symptom of the disease, not the disease itself.”

Ironically, these same media outlets didn’t seem the slightest bit concerned when it was Biden and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) opposing multiple debt ceiling hikes. Back in 2006 and 2004, the two men could’ve been mistaken for Ronald Reagan, saying such things as “This massive accumulation of debt … was the result of willful and reckless disregard for the warnings that were given and for the fundamentals of economic management.” That was then-Senator Joe Biden before voting against increasing the debt limit. Schumer was so against the idea that he ran ads about it.

Apparently, the press is messaging this debate the same way they did the speaker’s race: demanding Republicans stop whining and fall in line. Conservatives who didn’t earlier this month, who made demands of their next leader in exchange for their support, were “terrorists.” Today, when Republicans ask for everyone to come to the table, Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) lashes out, “There is no table.”

In other words, Congress should just roll over and rubber-stamp more borrowing to fund the Left’s agenda. If that’s the House’s perfunctory duty, as the critics say, why even vote? Or, could it be that this is a neglected accountability tool for lawmakers to keep spending in check?

I know some Americans will yawn at the country’s predicament. We’ve become numb to the big numbers. Living within our means seems to be an ideal long lost in this age of excess and instant gratification. But as everyone eventually learns, borrowing of this magnitude is ultimately unsustainable — and it’s immoral for us to leave it to our children and grandchildren to pay Washington’s piper. This is a fight that needs to be had, and we need to have it now.

When Ronald Reagan took office, the government’s debt was $650 billion. By 2010, it had skyrocketed to $10 trillion. Now, we’re approaching three times that number. And it’s not because Republicans have been spending angels, and Democrats have been devils. Both parties have been irresponsible. But we can’t keep swimming in red ink as a country and hope to survive. We have to address it.

Some of the ideas floating through the conservative caucus are completely reasonable solutions like “no budget, no pay,” which withhold lawmakers’ pay when they don’t pass budgets. For years, they’ve been kicking the can of appropriations down the road, which has resulted in gigantic, unread, multi-trillion-dollar boondoggles like we saw in the December omnibus. No more, House conservatives said in the speaker’s fight. It’s time to send these 13 budgets through regular order — holding hearings, conducting mark-ups, and giving members time to digest and amend the bills.

In return for a debt ceiling increase, Republicans will almost certainly demand across-the-board cuts and savings. There are calls to balance the budget in 10 years and scale back on glutted entitlements.

“The bottom line is we can’t just keep raising the debt ceiling year after year and just whistling past the graveyard on this,” Harris warned. “[O]ur debt exceeds our entire output of our economy. We are beyond the point where Greece was about 10 years ago when they essentially went bankrupt, so it’s completely unreasonable for the president to not want to negotiate some spending control.”

He compared it to a teenager maxing out his credit cards and telling his parents, “Look, just raise my limit. Don’t talk to me about controlling my spending.” “It’s crazy,” Harris shook his head. “We will discuss it, and the president will have to negotiate … because the debt ceiling is not going to be increased by the House without some spending control.”

At the end of the day, the new majority may not be able to take the credit cards away, but they can put a serious dent in Congress’s allowance. True leadership means “the bucks stop here.” It’s time for Republicans to take charge — and not the plastic kind!

AUTHOR

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council and executive editor of The Washington Stand.

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There’s A Way Out Of The Federal Government’s Debt Pit

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EDITORS NOTE: This The Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

The Long Odds of Solving the Budget Crisis thumbnail

The Long Odds of Solving the Budget Crisis

By Neland Nobel

The budgetary crisis in the US has reached a critical phase. The debt ceiling fight about to unfold will simply be the latest phase.

Experts say it is irresponsible to “play a game of chicken” with the debt ceiling. In the past, this means, Congress should increase the debt limit without resistance.

The Democrat Congress has played a game of chicken with a blowout budget and now we will be told the only reasonable thing to do is fund it. But the debt ceiling can be used as a lever to get spending concessions. To use it in this way is considered by Democrats as more dangerous than excessive spending. Is it really worse than a giant omnibus bill passed in the dead of night? A bill, hardly anyone even read? Are all previous spending decisions forever untouchable? Under pressure, can’t Congress go back and cut some spending? If Congress was balancing the budget we would not have to raise the debt ceiling in the first place. Let that last point sink in.

Is not raising the debt ceiling like facilitating a “spendaholic” and giving him the booze for another bender? Unlike the failed attempt to stop the spending done last session, the new Republican House majority will not be frozen out of the process.

It is too bad it comes down to this but every previous attempt to restrain spending has failed so why not use this tool for leverage to get some budgetary sanity? It is only because of a lack of alternatives that we find ourselves where we are in this process.

Yes, it runs the risk of destabilizing markets and politics but so does national bankruptcy. It is only a question of when we get destabilized.

As we recently pointed out,  we now have a series of positive, self-feeding feedback loops operating simultaneously and largely outside of normal political control. Any one of these trends such as the increase in interest costs or the demographic crisis hitting Social Security would be sufficient cause for alarm. But to have so many negative trends operating at the same time is really quite unique and dangerous.

The political machine in the US certainly has tried on occasion to restrain itself but deficit spending has been the norm since the mid-1960s with the adoption of the Great Society. Much of the expansion of government is simply an extension of that original idea. And the Great Society itself was an addition to FDR’s New Deal.

Some may fondly remember the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which briefly gave us a short interlude of balanced budgets because Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich had some maneuvering room after the end of the Cold War. Then there was Pay Go, a Congressional rule that any party suggesting an increase had to show from whence they would get the money. And remember the spending caps? Congress has broken free of all of these attempts to restrain them.

Nothing tried previously has worked, in part because America decided that they desired a very large and very expensive government. After a few budget surplus years in the late 1990s, we got back to the long-term deficit spending trend which has now reached the parabolic stage. That is why the debt ceiling fight is now so important. There may not really be an alternative to having this fight right now.

Conservatives and Libertarians see government playing a diminished role in the personal life of Americans, greater freedom, greater personal responsibility, and a smaller and less expensive government. Except for funds to defend the homeland and run the courts and the like, they see a small  Federal Government. The bulk of the social safety net should be on a state level because states must balance their budgets because they don’t have the power to print and borrow as does the Federal government. Further, if states become too oppressive, citizens can move.

As attractive as we think that vision is, it has not been embraced by the American people for a long time. Pitting self-responsibility against free stuff from the government has been hard to sell.

Some say it is because we have done a poor job of explaining our vision and the consequences of progressivism. It is true we have been shut out of institutions such as schools, the clergy, and the mainstream press.  It does not alter the outcome. We are losing.

We think it goes deeper than even that.Our voice is being heard, maybe not to the extent we think it should.  But the sad fact is the public is not buying what we have been selling. Americans have not wanted a small government and self-responsibility. They want a welfare state. They want to be taken care of and they don’t want to pay for it.

Progressives and Liberals want an almost total government with a government providing welfare, healthcare, education, child subsidies, a huge military for international intrigue, changing the climate of the earth, reformulating families and sexual relationships, a national security state, and a censorship state, a reparations state, a union with both labor and capital in a fascist like structure. Government should play a role in every aspect of life and individuals are to be cared for by the state.

This by its nature, requires a huge and expensive government. Democrats remain convinced it can be funded by taxing the rich, without negative consequences to productivity and incentives. They also maintain the fiction that all this can be achieved without compulsion.

Rolling debt out to the future plays into the Progressives’ hands. They get to promise the benefit and the cost is pushed mysteriously onto everyone through inflation and the debt onto future generations No wonder the American people think a welfare state can be a free lunch.

The Progressive view has largely prevailed, and the conservative forces have put up ineffectual rear guard action.  We have not convinced people this financial shell game will end in ruin.

Democrats have their own internal divisions but they are much less consequential. Democrats largely move lockstep with one another and centrist elements have largely been purged from the party.

So-called nonpartisan organizations such as the Concord Coalition, The National Taxpayers Union, and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget crank out very interesting commentary and statistics but they too have also been ineffectual at stopping the spending and the piling up of debt.  

In the end, the American people are largely at fault for desiring the warm embrace of government payments without the real desire to pay for it. They wish to borrow production from the future for the benefit of today, largely forgetting what burden they leave on future generations.

Sadly, it seems no amount of argument seems able to innoculate us from the very real human foible of wanting things for free. Get what you can for yourself, as long as someone else is paying for it. It never dawns on many who that someone else would likely be.

We are sorry to reach such a dour conclusion but even if we are wrong, we are likely now too far along in the process to stop it before serious consequences hit.

The hope is the coming financial crisis itself will awaken many of the problems and the crisis itself will be the catalyst to finally get reforms that put America back on a sound financial path. However, the pain of such a crisis is no guarantee the political ball will bounce our way. Often such crises simply make the government even bigger and more draconian because the crisis will require self-responsibility from a population that has forgotten what that is.

Educating the public is the best way to ensure the political ball bounces into the possession of those wanting freedom and limited government and that it does not bounce into the hands of those that want total government intervention.

In that regard, the Concord Coalition put together a list of lessons after observing years of budget battles that the American people need to understand.

VIDEO: Billions of Dollars for Lost Wages During Pandemic Went to Improper Payments thumbnail

VIDEO: Billions of Dollars for Lost Wages During Pandemic Went to Improper Payments

By Open The Books

WASHINGTON, D.C. , The National Desk — Billions of taxpayer dollars for the COVID-19 Lost Wages Assistance program went to improper payments that the Federal Emergency Management Agency failed to control.

Open the Books founder Adam Andrzejewski joined The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat Friday morning to discuss the money.

“The president, by August of 2020, authorized FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to provide extra unemployment payments to people who had real needs,” he said. “It was up to $44 billion worth of extra payments. And eventually, very quickly, within 11 days, about $37 billion was allocated from the Federal Emergency Management System into the state’s unemployment aid system to provide additional dollars … There was $3.7 billion basically stolen from the program on these improper payments.”

It’s yet another case of economic fallout from pandemic-related programs.

Andrzejewski says it comes down to a “lack of control” that led to so much cash getting into the hands of the wrong people.

“Through the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they piggyback off the state unemployment aid programs. And those add a complete lack of accounting control and fraud,” he said. “This is the greatest public fraud in the history of the country that came out of our unemployment state programs … Congress had allocated $800 billion to the Unemployment Aid Program, again to serve people who had real needs. And now we know that up to half of it, $400 billion, was stolen by criminals, cons artists and crime syndicates around the world.”

Andrzejewski says it’s a prime issue for the new Republican majority in the House to investigate within their fraud committees.

RELATED: Map: Congressional Earmarks in 2023

EDITORS NOTE: This Open The Books expose is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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Orwellian Spy Tools Alert: The ‘Convenience’ Is a Trap

By MERCOLA Take Control of Your Health

Big Data, Transhumanism and Why the Singularity May Be Faked.

I recently interviewed investigative journalist Whitney Webb about her two-volume book series, “One Nation Under Blackmail.” She’s been on tour, promoting the books in dozens of interviews.

Here, we discuss some of her experiences since the release of her books, and delve deeper into the disturbing merger of the intelligence state, Silicon Valley and medicine, and how transhumanism — eugenics rebranded — is being rolled out under the guise of health care.

We also talk about censorship and other tactics used to mold public perception, and how artificial intelligence may be overhyped to give technocrats and eugenicists carte blanche to do whatever they want without having any accountability.

The Encroaching Surveillance State

Her book tour brought her back to the U.S. for the first time in eight years. When asked about her first impressions after being gone for such a long time, she expresses surprise at how willing Americans have become to embrace spy tools like Ring cameras on their front doors.

“This is actually troubling,” she says, “because a lot of those tech companies, Google included, are contractors for the military and for intelligence. I think it would be naive to assume they don’t have backdoor access to those devices, knowing when you’re home and when you’re not and all of that.

I think it’s interesting, the willingness of so many people, so many households, to invite that type of technology into their homes. I didn’t see inside people’s homes much, but a lot of people, as I understand it, have things like Amazon’s Alexa. Numerous stories have come out that they’re recording you without your consent, even though they say they’re not.

But people still continue to use the product, and I really wish people would wise up about inviting that type of technology into your house. So much of what we’re being sold today is being marketed as convenience, but really a lot of it is really just the building blocks for the infrastructure of a very dangerous and Orwellian system of control.”

How the Transhumanist System Is Being Pushed Forward

As a former contributor to Mint Print Press News, which provides a lot of great coverage on the encroaching surveillance state, Webb knows a thing or two about Orwellian systems of control. Much of her work there focused on the intersection of intelligence agencies and Silicon Valley.

“Even after I left and started to do my own thing, I maintained a lot of that focus,” she says. “I guess a theme of my work would be the structure of power and how it really works. If you’re looking at Silicon Valley today, it’s very clear that it’s essentially fused with the national security state …

One thing we’ve seen happen, specifically during the COVID era, is that Big Pharma is now getting in this mix. There’s a lot of merging happening between Big Pharma and Silicon Valley. You’re seeing this with a lot of joint ventures into the health care space of Silicon Valley companies. A lot of it’s through wearables and these efforts to normalize technology like CRISPR or nanotechnology injectables.

You’re seeing them all come together, and a lot of these joint ventures or companies in this particular space that’s spanning big pharma in Silicon Valley tend to have a lot of funding from groups like In-Q-Tel, which is the CIA’s venture capital arm.

I think we’re seeing, in the effort to push through this technocratic transhumanist system, a lot more overlap between the power structure of the national security state in Silicon Valley with Big Pharma. And that’s very, very bad. I don’t know how else to put that.

It’s awful. I think more people should be paying a lot more attention to that specifically … [There’s] an effort to frame transhumanism — which is really the new eugenics — as health care, and that’s what a lot of this is about.”

The Coming Food Coup

Food and agriculture are also being tossed into the mix. In early December 2022, I wrote about how John Rockefeller eliminated food from medicine 112 years ago and how, now, The Rockefeller Foundation is working with the White House to bring nutrition back in. While it sounds like a great idea, the real purpose is the same now as it was a century ago. It’s all about controlling the population. As noted by Webb:

“If these people take over the food supply, they’ll be framing it as a return to ‘food is medicine,’ but it’s not. Well, it’s not exactly food as medicine as people would think of it when someone like you talks about that concept …

This idea, for example, of putting vaccines in your food, like in tomatoes. Eating one of these GMO tomatoes is the equivalent of taking a vaccine and stuff like that … It’s taking this age-old adage and twisting it to fit their purposes. Food as medicine is only convenient to them when it’s not something that actually heals you, but [rather] something that keeps you in this new system they’re creating.”

Predictions for 2023

As we record this in late November 2022, we seem to be in a bit of a lull, in terms of tyrannical overreaches. It’s a bit like being in the eye of a hurricane. You know the storm will be upon you yet, again, it’s only a matter of time. The question is, what comes next?

“I think there’s a couple things to watch really closely in the next year,” Webb says. “One is how this World Health Organization Pandemic Treaty, which tries to [supersede] the Constitution, not just of the U.S. but pretty much every country that signs it.

That’s definitely something to pay close attention to, because if that does get passed, I think it’s likely we’ll see an effort to repeat a lot of what we saw during COVID 19 from these particular groups. And if it’s not signed, I think they’re going to wait …

They’re waiting to get that type of new authority so they don’t have to deal with so much dissent, whether it’s from nation states or from particular domestic populations that have had enough and are unlikely to believe all of this a second time.

I think they’re really counting on having that WHO super-national authority in order to go forward with the biosecurity agenda, in terms of a repeat of what we saw in recent years.

The other thing I think is really important is the central bank digital currency (CBDC) agenda. Almost every country in the world at this point — there are exceptions, but I think it’s a majority — have some sort of CBDC pilot program going on right now. In the U.S., they’ve even announced they’re doing pilots of [CBDCs] with commercial banks like JP Morgan and some of the big financial giants of Wall Street.

I would say that either 2023 or 2024 is likely to be the year of the CBDC. In countries where they’ve already launched a CBDC, or have a very advanced pilot program, it’s framed first as voluntary, and then of course, once enough people start using it, it becomes the only form of legal tender in use. At least that’s the end game for CBDCs in any particular country.”

Programmable CBDCs Mean Someone Else Controls Your Money

As explained by Webb, CBDCs are programmable money. The Central Bank will decide when, where and on what you’re allowed to spend your money. You also cannot save when and however much you want, because some of the CBDCs have expiration dates. Use it or lose it. You don’t get to decide when you spend your money, the state does.

CBDCs can also be programmed to only work for certain types of items, including certain types of food. If your health records indicate you have a health problem, your CBDCs can be programmed such that you cannot buy foods deemed unhealthy for you. Purchases can also be blocked based on your carbon footprint score, and they can be blocked based on geofencing parameters.

“If they declare a lockdown, for example, and you’re not allowed to go five miles beyond your home, your money won’t work five miles beyond your home. That’s basically why CBDCs are attractive to the powers that be. But they’re going to frame it as voluntary first, before it moves into involuntary.

We’re going to see it pop up in a lot more countries over the next two years. And obviously, that is the phase to mass reject CBDCs in any way you can … I’ll go back to COVID for a second to explain where I’m trying to go here.

I understand and have empathy for people that didn’t want to lose their jobs and were worried about being thrown into a position of poverty, so they took the vaccine because of the mandates. But the more steps you take down that path of, ‘It’s convenient,’ the harder it will be to go on the alternative path later on.

For people that were in that situation with COVID 19, that should have been a huge wake up call to start doing something different and think about how to get off that path …

… if you went down that path, and then go down the CBDC path just because it’s more convenient for now, there’s going to come a point where, if you make enough compromises, it’s going to be almost impossible, if not entirely impossible, to redirect and go towards a different outcome.

These are things that are very important for people to pay attention to right now, in terms of developments, and plan how to keep your family independent of these types of systems and resilient in the face of all the shocks to the system that we already see coming.”

The Poor Will Be Squeezed First

As noted by Webb, those who will feel the squeeze of tyranny first are the poor and lower-middle class. We’re already seeing how they’re planning to encourage mass adoption of CBDCs through various assistance programs such as food stamps.

As food and energy prices continue to soar, more and more people will qualify for government assistance and be forced into those systems. Webb also suspects that any future stimulus checks, if there are additional long-term lockdowns, may be paid out only in CBDCs.

“It’s a very insidious plan,” Webb says. “They’re trying to reduce the standard of living of people, and then in order for them to maintain their standard of living, they’re forcing them to adopt a control system disguised as a monetary system …

They’re going to frame it as voluntary before it becomes involuntary. That stage where it’s voluntary is when it’s critical for people to act [and reject it] … I don’t think we can prevent them from implementing it, but you can prevent yourself, your family and your community from adopting that system, and use a parallel economic system [instead].”

While some have speculated that decentralized digital currencies such as Bitcoin might work as a parallel economic system, the problem with that idea is that government could easily make it illegal. They’ve already promised to implement new regulations of that space.

The safest alternatives are those that government cannot regulate or make illegal (at least not easily). This includes trading and bartering of goods and services, without any type of currency, with the exception perhaps of physical gold and silver.

“So, so we have to think about these sorts of things when countering the CBDC agenda,” Webb says. “That voluntary stage is the time to make those plans so you don’t get swept up when it moves from voluntary to involuntary, which they are definitely going to do, or attempt to do.

But it will only be successful if there’s mass adoption. The more people who opt out and do some sort of parallel system for their economic activity at the neighborhood or community level, the less successful that agenda will be.”

People Are Waking Up to the Social Media Manipulation

While it seems we’re headed into a dystopian future that cannot be avoided, and with no clear means of escape, Webb feels there is still reason to be optimistic. Importantly, more people than ever before are now getting wise to the globalists’ agenda, and are hungry for explanations about what’s really going on.

People who want the truth are more likely to search for it, and are ready to take it in. They’re less likely to stick their head in the sand and write everything off as a baseless conspiracy theory.

“I think a lot of people on a visceral level know something is really wrong. And I think that’s why there are so many efforts to censor that type of information. I also think there is a major investment by the state in efforts to make us think we are a minority when we are not.

More than anything else, what social media is used for by the powers that be is to make us think certain ideas are more popular than they really are. [Take] the bot situation on Twitter … a lot of those bots serve to promote ideas that many people don’t necessarily have, or make certain figures or ideas look more popular than they are …

When you combine that with the censorship, removing ideas that otherwise would be popular with real authentic accounts … you’re manipulating people’s perception of how the rest of the country feels … A lot of what’s going on right now on social media is to completely change how we perceive a particular situation or agenda, in the hopes that change in perception will cause a change in behavior.

If you’re censoring an idea, you’re trying to take it out of the public mind and have it just not be part of the discourse anymore. That obviously causes a change in perception, because you’re only having one idea, or a very small spectrum of opinion about a particular idea, out there.

That’s all people are going to engage with if you censor all the other takes. The idea is to completely wipe out dissent so that everyone has a rather homogenous perception of events, people, ideas and agendas, and then from there, behavior will be molded to the benefit of these particular powers.”

Is Elon Musk Pulling the Wool Over Our Eyes?

When it comes to Twitter, with Elon Musk now at the helm many are hoping it will become a bastion of free-speech. Webb, however, is skeptical. She suspects Musk is promoting free speech and reinstating banned accounts because he wants to turn Twitter into a U.S. version of WeChat, an “everything app” that’s connected to digital ID, CBDCs and the social credit system. The more users he has, the more people will be lured into the digital prison system.

“We’re in this paradigm shift, where we’re going from an oil-based economy to a data-based economy. Data is the new oil, and whoever owns the ‘everything app’ in this new system is going to be the king of the castle of the new economy. They’re going to be the Rockefellers of the data age,” she says.

“There’s nothing good about that. I think what we’re seeing right now is an effort to coax people back Twitter, and there might be some benefits to that. But ultimately, what Elon Musk is interested in is the data and getting more people on Twitter than before, with the goal of turning it into WeChat, which is a segue to this ‘everything app.’

And it’s worth pointing out that the company behind WeChat, Tencent, is one of the most active advisors to Tesla and a major shareholder in Tesla. There is a relationship there.”

Artificial Intelligence and the Rise of ‘Smart Dictatorship’

Webb and I also discuss the growing role of artificial intelligence (AI), and the role of social media in feeding AI with data for programs relating to pandemic outbreak detection and pre-crime. But while AI and its successor, artificial general intelligence (AGI), has impressive capabilities, Webb believes there’s a lot of false hype, and that this hype will be used to shield human powerbrokers from accountability.

“A lot has been said about the role of AI in our lives once it reaches a particular point referred to as the singularity, which is where AI intelligence allegedly outpaces human intelligence so extensively and so rapidly that it’ll basically take over. If you ask me, based on everything I’ve seen, I don’t think the singularity is actually possible. Or if it is possible, I think it’s very far away.

But if you are the people behind … this agenda — people like Eric Schmidt and Henry Kissinger who just put out their ‘New Age of AI’ book, which has a lot about AI and its role in government, basically having AI become the government — all you really need to do is convince people … that the singularity is here and … that it’s so far superior to human intelligence that we should outsource all our decision-making to it.

Then, there’s a Wizard of Oz type guy … behind the curtain who makes the decisions. If you look at what Schmidt and Kissinger and these guys say about AI and government, they say it’s going to be so far above our intelligence that there’s no way for the AI to explain its decision-making. It’ll just be ‘The computer says this.’

And if you’re basically organized crime, running the government, which I would argue is the situation today, and you don’t want to have to explain the reasons for your policy because it’s a horrible reason that no one would agree with, what a great curtain, what a great facade to have for your smart dictatorship.

They just have to say that it was the AI’s decision. They have plausible deniability about everything, don’t they? And a lot of the stuff they say in that context is very unsettling. Stuff like, AI may decide to sacrifice hundreds of thousands, if not millions of their own population to win.

If the goal given is winning, then AI is willing to make all sorts of sacrifices that humans wouldn’t make. But if you look at people like Kissinger and Eric Schmidt, they’d be very happy to kill a bunch of people and then blame it on AI for the decision.

They don’t care about killing millions of people. They care about expanding their money and power infinitely. How do you have plausible deniability about that and get away with mass murder, eugenics programs and population control? You say ‘There’s this new super intelligence thing that’s going to take over government because it’s so superior. It’s going to churn out policies and we’re just going to follow them.’

It’s the new god basically. It’s superior to us and it can’t explain how it got to this conclusion because it thinks so differently from us. So, we just have to follow what it says, but we’re not responsible for what it says at the same time …

People like Ray Kurzweil said the singularity was going to happen a long time ago and it didn’t happen. And if you look at programs like Welcome Leap … where they’re trying to map baby brains and child brains by forcing kids to use very invasive, biometric technology … because they think that will create the singularity — that, to me, says they are grasping at straws.

They have no way of producing something equivalent to the human brain. They can mimic stuff very successfully with AI and they have done so, but in terms of creating consciousness? These are the most unconscious people on the entire planet trying to recreate consciousness in their image. Good luck … I think they’re going to try and fake it.

And, here’s the other thing. This whole inevitability of AI narrative is a major marketing narrative necessary to get transhumanist technologies widely adopted … The super intelligent singularity stuff is most likely a PSYOP to get you into the transhumanist box that you’re not going to get out of. Once you get a brain chip, there’s no going back.”

What You Can Do to Prepare

Clearly, we all face enormous challenges in the years ahead, regardless of where we live, as this is a global takeover. So, what can you do to prepare? Here are some of Webb’s recommendations:

  • Build community and local parallel economies.
  • Build your knowledgebase on how to grow and raise food, even if you’re not in a position to grow food right now. There are many free videos online that you can peruse. Ideally, download them so you can watch them offline, even if the internet goes down. Books on homesteading and basic survival skills are also a valuable investment. “Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills” is one option. As a general rule going forward, you’ll want hard copies or copies on external hard drives of any information that you want to have access to in the future, as the internet is becoming increasingly scrubbed of important information. If using an external hard drive, make sure you store it in a faraday bag to protect the information from electromagnetic weapons.
  • Stock up on backup supplies such as food and energy generators. Also have a plan for how to secure potable water. Since the economy is collapsing and inflation skyrocketing, your money is not doing you much good in the bank. You’re losing purchasing power with each passing month, and a bank bail-in could wipe you out completely. So, if you need survival items, buying them now might be one of the better investment strategies out there.
  • Do everything you can to avoid entering the CBDC system when it rolls out.
  • Go back to using more cash if you don’t do that already. Also, consider cutting back on your online usage, social media in particular. “If things get really bad and the war on domestic terror gets underway and there’s all this profiling going on, I would stay as far away from the online world as you can,” Webb says.

More Information

In closing, Webb is now investigating the FTX scandal. Could we end up seeing a Volume 3 in her “One Nation Under Blackmail” series? Perhaps, but she’s not making any promises. She’s also working on an investigative series with Ian Davis about the United Nations sustainable development goals, showing point by point “the agenda under the hood.”

To stay abreast of Webb’s work, sign up for her newsletter at Unlimited Hangout. There you will also get the best price for her two-volume series “One Nation Under Blackmail.” I couldn’t recommend her site more strongly. She’s a world-class investigator, and is willing to take deep dives into crucial topics few others dare to touch.

EDITORS NOTE: This MERCOLA column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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The Great Reset and Its Critics: The Technocrats

By Michael Watson

In mid-2020, after COVID-19 and lockdown policies to (unsuccessfully) stop it had spread across the world, the World Economic Forum (WEF) leader Klaus Schwab, along with the man now known as King Charles III of the United Kingdom, announced the Forum’s “Great Reset Initiative” to guide a state-managed, environmentalist, and corporate-aligned reconstruction of the world economy. Schwab built on the initiative with a book co-authored with French economist Thierry Malleret titled COVID-19: The Great Reset. In their book, they made predictions about how the pandemic and ruling regime it ushered in would “reset” society to the benefit of environmentalism and management of the economy by a concert of state and “stakeholder.” The sequel, The Great Narrative, proposed an approach to selling the WEF’s reset agenda based on Schwab and Malleret’s discussions with 50 mostly left-wing, mostly academic thinkfluencers; It calls for more global governance. The radicalism of the “reset”—it’s right there in the name—and the influence of Schwab and the WEF, have elicited firm opposition.

Few quotes stick in the conservative or libertarian craw. quite like the infamous musing of incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to President Barack Obama, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” For Emanuel, the Obama administration, and Democrats’ generational-scale majorities in both houses of Congress, that meant enacting the fiscal stimulus, a then-outrageous $787 billion boondoggle of building projects; regulatory legislation like the Dodd-Frank banking act; and Obamacare, the statist restructuring of health care finance.

The Technocrats

But the quote sticks because the impulse is far from Emanuel’s alone. Nothing in the COVID-19 pandemic period so vividly demonstrated the impulse “to do things that you think you could not do before” as the name given to a project launched at a 2020 virtual conference of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the think tank and business league based in Europe best known for hosting the annual Davos meetings at which international politicians and corporate bigwigs lay out their visions for the world.

That name was “The Great Reset.” Demonstrating the WEF’s influence over a European metropolitan left-leaning sort, the project was launched by Klaus Schwab, the German academic who has led the WEF and been a leading opponent of shareholder primacy in corporate governance since 1971, and then-Prince of Wales, now King Charles III of the United Kingdom. The project, in the words of International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva, aspires to frame the emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic in the creation of “a greener, smarter, fairer world.”

Later in 2020, Schwab and French economist Thierry Malleret published COVID-19: The Great Reset­, a book-length examination of the changes in society the authors presumed were likely to happen and perhaps desirable as a result of the pandemic. Increased power of the state and left-wing activism were presumed certain; rapid adoption of environmentalist-aligned, “stakeholder”-influenced corporate practices was presumed to be a necessity.

Schwab has opposed “shareholder primacy,” the view that corporate management owes shareholders the greatest profits that can be obtained in obedience to law and custom, since the 1970s. Like the financial crisis of 2008 did for Emanuel’s American Democrats, the crisis created by the COVID pandemic and the unprecedented-in-modern-times attempts to suppress it offers Schwab and the WEF the opportunity to press home their environmentalist and statist goals.

But can central planners remake a world that they cannot accurately predict? From the perspective at the turn of 2023, many of Schwab and Malleret’s predictions of the world that COVID would bring into being have not come to pass, perhaps none more crucially than one on page 70: “At this current juncture [mid-2020], it is hard to imagine how inflation could pick up anytime soon.”

Schwab and Malleret’s sequel to COVID-19: The Great Reset, titled The Great Narrative, does little to diminish such suspicions. The “narrative” is essentially a repackaging of the same warmed-over environmentalist tropes all have heard before with little connection to the actual production of things, which makes sense given that the book is based on discussions with 50 global thinkfluencers or government officials, not with industrialists or even manufacturing-trades labor unionists. The result is a mix of technocratic gibberish and Greenpeace-in-a-suit environmentalism with the solutions for “a better future” having little to offer the Western middle and working classes beyond handwaving about a “just transition” and promises that weather-dependent energy technologies are much more stable and productive than traditional fuels. (Just ask Europeans trying to heat their homes amid an energy crisis how well that claim has aged.)

The authors’ barely veiled desire to exploit the COVID crisis to pursue left-wing ends has provoked alarm and responses, at least two of book length. ClimateDepot.com publisher and longtime critic of environmentalism Marc Marono released The Great Reset: Global Elites and the Permanent Lockdown while Michael Walsh released a compilation of essays tiled Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order. Both focus less on Schwab’s “reset” itself than the broader agenda of ski-chalet environmentalism and chardonnay socialism popular with the professional-managerial technocratic class that is overrepresented at World Economic Forum gatherings and among the speakers at TED Talks. The right-leaning opponents’ fears are summarized in a line from a pre-COVID-era WEF video on predictions for the world in 2030: “You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy.”

The WEF is adamant that it does not advocate this; the line is derived from an op-ed by a Danish Social Democratic politician published by the WEF that is headlined, “I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better.” Many would still respectfully dissent from such a vision.

*****
This article was published by Capital Research Center and is reproduced with permission.

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What Is Behind the Soaring Price of Eggs?

By Neland Nobel

Price is largely determined by the interaction of supply and demand and the cost of the factors of production.  In the case of eggs, it is primarily a drop in the supply of eggs, while demand has been fairly constant.  However, there also has been a rise in the cost of the factors of production as well.

It is more than just a price problem.  In some stores, eggs are simply not available or they are available at certain times and then disappear.

The primary cause for the near tripling of the price of eggs is the Avian Flu, which has reportedly killed about 60 million egg-laying hens. That egg-laying hens have been the focal point of the flu explains why the shortage of chickens has not caused a commensurate increase in the cost of chickens we eat for meat.  To be sure that cost is up as well, but not as much. And since it takes a while for a chick to grow into a mature hen, the new egg supply will likely take until summer before we should see substantial improvement.

The rise in the cost of eggs of course directly influences the cost of breakfast for many.  But eggs are also used extensively in baked goods, mayonnaise, and processed foods.

However, there are other factors making things worse.  About 10 states have passed rules, either through legislation or initiative, that require chickens to be provided more space by law.  While well-intentioned, this can substantially increase the cost of having chickens as a commercial endeavor.  Much of the initiative for this movement is coming from the Humane Society.

Many farmers provide both cage-free eggs and eggs free of antibiotics to those consumers who prefer them.  Those concerned about the treatment of chickens and/or concerned about health issues have choices. Eggs meeting this criterion usually carry a premium price in the market, but we think that is fair.  It also is an important signal telling farmers there is rising demand for cage-free eggs, encouraging them to produce more eggs in the desired manner.

We have nothing negative to say about people who are willing to pay more of their own money to get eggs from a source they consider more humane or healthy. However, they do not have a right to impose their views by force (that is what a law is) and make everyone else subsidize their opinions.

Many of the states that have passed such legislation or initiatives are left-of-center states such as Michigan, California, Oregon, and Nevada.  But Arizona is the 10th state to do so.  This movement raises an interesting question: why should space requirements be limited to chickens and who decides the optimum space that can be defined as humane?  Should some voters impose costs and viewpoints on others by force when the marketplace already provides people with voluntary choices?

Some people think making animals subservient to people (as in food, zoos, and rodeos) is wrong and they become vegans.  That is their prerogative. However, they have no right to impose those views on others.  And once again, the free market allows for voluntary choice.  If a person wants to eat fake meat grown in a laboratory, they are free to do so.  However, once again we see the environmental movement opposed to beef because belching and farting cows supposedly add to global warming. However, substituting beans as a form of protein may well lead to the same alleged problem for the environment.

The history of such movements is it starts with hectoring, leads to subsidization and regulation, and ends in compulsion.

There just are no areas of life left where Left Wing do-gooders do not feel they have a right to impose themselves on others.

Environmental and ESG requirements have additionally starved traditional hydrocarbon energy sources of capital, causing the price of oil and natural gas to rise.  Increased fuel costs cause overall farming costs to rise.  Tractors don’t run on solar panels.  Thus, grains that make up a substantial part of the cost of feeding chickens, have risen substantially.  Natural gas, from which fertilizer is produced, has also gone up in cost, also adding to the cost of raising feed in the first place.

Everything about moving and producing food requires energy.

All increasing input costs have to passed along to the consumer by the farmer, the distributor, and finally the retail store.

Rising costs for labor also increase the cost of eggs in every stage of production, aggravating the situation.

Speaking personally, I am willing to pay extra for free-range eggs and those free of antibiotics.  However, I do not feel I have the right to impose that view on others and force them to bear the cost.

Meanwhile, the government could help by rejecting extreme environmentalism, turning loose America’s energy production, balancing the budget to slow down money printing, and reducing the costs of regulation.

As for the bird flu, it will just have to run its course and the hen population will need to recover.

The answer to high prices is more production, that is if the government and coercive do-gooders don’t get in the way.

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Our Smart but Stupid Economic Masters

By Craig J. Cantoni

A review of The Lords of Easy Money:  How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy, by Christopher Leonard, Paperback Edition, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2023, 373 pages.

Your neighbors might object to you reading The Lords of Easy Money.  That’s because it’s a book that will make you want to go outside and howl at the moon, given its brilliant but damning description of the economic havoc wreaked on America’s plebeians by the patricians at the Federal Reserve, at Wall Street banks, at hedge funds, and at government agencies, especially the US Treasury.

The havoc took place and is continuing to take place, while elected Members of Congress were fiddling and continue to fiddle.

It may not have been the intent, but the book shows that both capitalism and democracy are broken.  And they were broken by men and women with advanced degrees, mostly from Ivy League universities.

Author Christopher Leonard is masterful in explaining in layman’s terms the inner workings of the Federal Reserve and how it creates money, controls interest rates, works hand-in-glove with Wall Street, and, in recent decades, developed such monetary “innovations” as quantitative easing (QE), zero-interest-rate policy (ZIRP), and purchases of long-term debt (Operation Twist).

He goes on to describe with a reporter’s skill what these innovations wrought:  the enrichment of Wall Street, inflated asset prices, bubbles in stocks and housing, mountains of debt, and the shifting of capital from productive uses to stock buybacks, financial engineering, and corporate buyouts, which in turn hollowed out companies, closed factories, and threw working stiffs on the street.

Admittedly, I found the voyeuristic parts of the book to be particularly interesting.  The organizational politics, social norms, and even décor within the Federal Reserve’s Eccles building in Washington are described.  Also described are the personalities, communication styles, and monetary philosophies of some of the key players, including past and present Fed chairpersons, governors, and regional presidents.

Reading like a novel, the book features a protagonist by the name of Thomas Hoenig.  The former President of the Kansas City Fed, Hoenig would go on to be vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC.

Hoenig is a Midwesterner and not a coastal elite.  And with a PhD in economics from Iowa State, he’s not an Ivy Leaguer and doesn’t come across as an egghead, unlike Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen.

While at the Fed, Hoenig consistently warned about the folly of quantitative easing and was often the lone dissenting vote at the regular meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC.

Among other anecdotes, the book describes a speech he gave in 2006 to bankers at a resort in Tucson, Arizona, where he warned the audience that their embrace of easy money would end badly for them and the country.  No one applauded at the end.  The Great Recession and the bursting of the housing bubble followed two years later.

Years after that, while at the FDIC, Hoenig gave speeches and lobbied Congress on the need to break up big banks into smaller ones and to increase banks’ capitalization.  These actions would be much better fixes for what ails the banking system, he said, than the tens of thousands of pages of Dodd-Frank regulations and the Basil III accords.  Naturally, the political power of the big banks kept that from happening.

The chapters on current Fed Chairman Jay Powell can give the reader an urge to rail about white privilege and become a socialist.   Powell grew up in Chevy Chase, one of the wealthiest towns in America and a suburb of Washington.  He attended the exclusive Georgetown Prep, and his family belonged to the hoity-toity Chevy Chase Club, as well as to an exclusive dining club.

In the spirit of honesty, I have to admit that I also grew up with country-club experience.  You see, I worked as a teen at an exclusive country club in St. Louis, Missouri—a club where Jews, blacks, and Italians weren’t welcome as members in those long-ago years.  I was the only non-black on an otherwise all-black janitorial, kitchen, and wait staff in the clubhouse.

Maybe I have a case of class envy.  If so, the rest of Powell’s background makes it worse.

Powell would graduate from Princeton and then earn a law degree from Georgetown University.  After a stint as a legislative aid, he went into investment banking. Eventually, he ended up at the Carlyle Group, one of the richest and most prestigious private-equity firms at the time, a firm that was headquartered in D.C., unlike most private-equity firms, because that gave it a competitive advantage, due to specializing in the buying and selling of businesses that relied on government spending.

Carlyle was an example of the revolving door between the government and the financial industry.  It was co-founded in 1987 by David Rubenstein, a former staffer to Jimmy Carter.  The book names other bigwigs:

Partners included James Baker III, a former Treasury secretary, and Frank Carlucci, a former defense secretary.  President Emeritus George H. W. Bush was an advisor to the firm.  In 2001, Carlyle hired the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and the former chief investment officer of the World Bank.  These people helped steer deals to Carlyle, and Carlyle helped these people monetize their granular knowledge and personal connections in the industries they once regulated.

The book goes on to detail how Powell took the lead in Carlyle’s leveraged buyout of Rexnord, an industrial conglomerate headquartered in Milwaukee that made high-precision equipment used in heavy industry, such as specialty ball bearings and conveyor belts.  He and Carlyle loaded the company with unsustainable debt and made millions from the deal.

At the time of the buyout, Rexnord’s headquarters was in a bare-boned, modest building near a company factory in an industrial area.  After Powell became a member of the company’s board of directors and helped manage the company, the management team began holding meetings at hotels and country clubs instead of the headquarters building.  In 2014, he made the class separation complete between company minions and fat cats.  As companies across the land have done, the executives moved into a renovated downtown office building.

It was in one of those up-and-coming areas where once-empty storefronts were being repopulated with wine bars, microbreweries, and Mexican takeout joints.  During Lunch breaks, the Rexnord executives could stroll along the winding pedestrian path across the street, overlooking the Menomonee River, which snakes through downtown [Milwaukee].  The new offices were a self-contained environment, elevated above the middle layers of management and the thousands of employees who worked at Rexnord’s global network of factories.

Such downtowns are a modern version of a Potemkin village.  They hide the economic distress in working-class neighborhoods and the hinterlands.

Tellingly, a new Rexnord chief executive was hired with a background in finance and not in engineering or manufacturing.  Financial engineering was key to Carlyle’s strategy for the company.  “The management team’s biggest maneuvers had to do with leveraged loans and rising stock prices, rather than conveyor belts or ball bearings.”

Carlisle later sold the company to another private equity firm for more than twice what it had paid for the company four years earlier.

As has become a common tragedy in America, Rexnord workers were fired, factories were closed, and operations were offshored.  The book tells the story of a machine operator who lost his job when a factory in Indiana was transplanted to Mexico.  He was offered a severance bonus if he would train his Mexican replacement.  He refused.  The book did not say if he later voted for Donald Trump.

All of this destructive financial engineering was facilitated by the easy money and cheap debt created by the Federal Reserve, where, ironically, Jay Powell would become chairman.

Powell was nominated by Donald Trump in 2018 to replace Janet Yellen.  To Powell’s credit, he began normalizing the Fed’s monetary policy by winding down quantitative easing and raising interest rates.  But the financial system had become so fragile that the stock market fell and economic conditions became precarious.  In typical fashion, Trump contradicted himself on his earlier position on monetary policy and began attacking Powell on Twitter and in the news media.

Powell retreated from the normalization.  He retreated further when the repo crisis hit, and then further still when the pandemic hit.  (The author does a great job in explaining what the repo market is, how it works, and how the Fed’s actions led to the crisis.)

Author Christopher Leonard is better than most authors at being nonpartisan in laying blame, but he’s not a perfect 50-50.  He’s about 53% left and 47% right.  A sure giveaway is when he uses the adjective “far-right” in describing conservatives who railed against the Fed but doesn’t use “far-left” in describing liberals.  This is in keeping with the convention of media and academia in using “right-wing” far more often than “left-wing.” 

Leonard also unfairly criticizes the Tea Party for keeping Congress from addressing the nation’s problems,  because of the other party’s focus on cutting taxes. That’s a curious criticism in a book that exposes the economic carnage from the Fed’s easy money, a regimen that enabled the government to live beyond its means.  Tea Party members may not have known how all the gears of government work, but at least they knew that the gear shift is not in the hands of middle- and working-class Americans.

But these are minor flaws in an otherwise excellent book.

My conclusion is that Congress has delegated too much economic policymaking to the unelected Fed, as well as to humongous federal agencies.  At the same time, 70% or so of the federal budget is for non-discretionary spending and thus on automatic pilot and politically untouchable.  But these failures haven’t kept metro Washington from being one of the top three richest metro areas in the nation.

Incidentally, Chevy Chase, the boyhood home of Jay Powell, has a median household income of $207,971 and a poverty rate of 1.7%.  No doubt, residents don’t have to worry about their jobs being exported to Mexico, and few undocumented migrants from Latin America live in the town.  By contrast, here in my adopted hometown of Tucson, close to the southern border, the median household income in the city is $48,058, and the poverty rate is 19.8%.

There I go again with my class envy.

Signing off now.  Heading outside to howl at the moon.

World Economic Forum: UN Chief Urges Ignoring Voters thumbnail

World Economic Forum: UN Chief Urges Ignoring Voters

By The Geller Report

There it is. Them against us.

World Economic Forum: UN chief urges ignoring voters

By: American Military News, January 19, 2023:

The top leader of the United Nations urged politicians to make unpopular decisions that may benefit their people in the long run after making a “special address” at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres criticized politicians around the world for caring more about “polls, future elections, [and] political power struggles” than “effectively solving problems.” He called for them to ignore polls reflecting their people’s will and instead do what they think is best for the long-term future.
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“Politicians need to understand — and sometimes we are faced with these kinds of challenges — it is better to take today decisions that will eventually be not popular, but that will be essential to be able to shape the public opinion itself,” Guterres said.

WEF | Davos Agenda 2023
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres wants politicians around the world to shape public opinion themselves based on making decisions that will eventually be ‘not popluar’:

“Politicians need to understand sometimes we are faced with these pic.twitter.com/CWllpcFppo

— Aprajita Choudhary 🦋 (@aprajitanefes) January 19, 2023

He made the remark about 20 minutes and 15 seconds into the presentation, which is viewable on the WEF website. It was preceded by a 15 minute “special address” where he said the battle against climate change “is being lost” and the people of the world must “end our self-defeating war on nature.”

He was responding to a question from WEF President Børge Brende, who asked why leaders don’t follow the “common sense” that dictates they must work now to stem off a future “climate disaster.”

Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, went on to speak from his own experience.
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“When I was following the polls, I would have problems in the short term,” he said. “When I was able to show leadership and … take the decisions that were necessary to ensure the future of my country at the time, that in the end would pay.

“My appeal to decision makers in the public and private sector is: Don’t look about what’s going to happen to you tomorrow. Look into what’s going to happen to all of us in the future.”

More than 2,700 world leaders, including 11 members of Congress, are spending this week at the Davos meeting, where they’re discussing ways to manage the global system. This year’s event involves speeches and panel discussions on issues like recession fears, the Ukraine war and climate change.

Keep reading.

AUTHOR

Pamela Geller

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EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Smoke Grinder Government: How Gridlock Can Be Good thumbnail

The Smoke Grinder Government: How Gridlock Can Be Good

By Family Research Council

Back in the ’80s, I used to watch a quirky PBS show with my dad on woodworking called “The Woodwright’s Shop.” In one episode, host Roy Underhill introduced an old wooden folk toy called a “smoke grinder,” or “do-nothing-machine.” It consisted of a block of wood with dovetails cut into the top, with a handle attached that would spin along the grooves in an elliptical pattern. Just for fun, my dad built one, and it did exactly what its name implied: nothing.

Like the wooden toy before it, the 118th Congress all but threatens to be a smoke grinder government. The 2022 midterm elections missed the anticipated “red wave,” but, the GOP did gain control of the House of Representatives, ending two years of Democrat control of all three branches of government. And with control of the people’s house, comes the return of a term all-too-familiar to the nation’s capital: gridlock. Any controversial legislation passed by a Republican-majority House likely won’t make it past the Senate’s Democratic majority, much less have any chances of being signed by a Democrat president. Likewise, any controversial Democrat-led legislation will go nowhere. Forget being off to the races, major change in Washington won’t leave the treadmill for the next two years.

But what if this was a good thing? Don’t get me wrong, dysfunction — especially in the essential functions of government — is rarely helpful. But what if instead of dysfunction, the gridlock imposed by a two-party system was a function for good? As the conservative magazine National Review launched, its founder, William F. Buckley, Jr. famously wrote that its mission was to, “stand athwart history, yelling Stop.” Indeed, it is good to bring traffic to a halt when the bridge up ahead is out. Motion doesn’t necessarily drive morality. And for governments, there are quite often times when their inaction serves their people better than action. At the very least, an inactive government can be far less expensive to the people who fund it.

But bringing government to a halt is not the only thing that happens in a gridlock situation. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives has wasted no time introducing legislation that is doomed to fail. For example, the House just passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, which requires legal protection for babies born alive during an abortion, by a vote of 220-210. The bill will go nowhere in a Democrat majority Senate. And even if somehow it miraculously broke through a Senate filibuster and made it to the desk of the pro-abortion President Biden, there’s little mystery as to what he would do with it. All this raises the question, why bother?

For starters, 210 elected representatives of the people are now publicly on record as voting against providing life-saving protection to newborns. The significance of this one vote cannot be understated. It underscores for the nation just how polarized America is on this issue. What once may have masqueraded as middle ground has given way to a giant sink hole. The curtain on an issue once framed by abortion supporters in terms of a woman’s “choice” has been pulled back to reveal its ugly fruits, and those fruits are oozing with the fermented rot of evil.

In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul wrote, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). This is a must for Christ’s church, and it wouldn’t hurt for Congress to follow this directive as well. The right thing to do isn’t the right thing because it’s effective. The right thing to do is the right thing because it is right. Daniel’s service in Babylon didn’t revolutionize pagan Babylonian society, but it did preserve a legacy of doing the right thing in the eyes of the Lord.

After all is said and done in the 118th “smoke grinder” Congress, we may not get the fruit we desire. Much of the fruit may be ugly, stunted, and underdeveloped. But we can help the fruit that we end up with to grow in the long run. If wrongs can be thwarted, let them be thwarted. And if right can be attempted, let it be attempted. And if darkness can be exposed, let it be exposed and allow that exposure to someday break the smoke grinder and deliver the unity we need.

AUTHOR

Jared Bridges

Jared Bridges is editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This The Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.