You don't need third parties to find a ride, a room, pay money, organize movements, share information, etc. Today's peer-to-peer technology eliminatesYou don't need third parties to find a ride, a room, pay money, organize movements, share information, etc. Today's peer-to-peer technology eliminates those parties who tend to make transactions costly and sometimes unnecessarily illegal. You, as an individual who gets to determine how you live your life, can bypass so much of the nonsense governments and companies impose on you. It's such a cool concept!
One motif in this book that I found striking is that nearly all commerce is done out of a sense of love - not romantic, but a desire to see another person better off because you're exchanging something you value less, but they value more. The optimism throughout this book is something I needed....more
Just read a few of the opening lines to the Declaration of Independence:
"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to di
Just read a few of the opening lines to the Declaration of Independence:
"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
You'll see that individual men and women are the sole sovereign powers in this world. Government can only find legitimacy in the sovereign's consent. Where consent is absent, government can have no authority.
What an amazing principle--that all humans are created equal with rights that can never be taken away.
Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (not the perfect, holy document some would have you believe, but pretty darn good for its time) have ushered in an era of freedom never before seen in recorded history. May we live worthy of that freedom!...more
I hopped on the Zuckerberg bandwagon and decided to read this book. It took me a long time to finish because although the concept is engaging (like, yI hopped on the Zuckerberg bandwagon and decided to read this book. It took me a long time to finish because although the concept is engaging (like, you mean the END of power?) the writing is not so much.
Chapter 4 (about the More, Mobility, and Mentality Revolutions) and chapters 5 through 9 (examples of decay in different contexts) were the most enjoyable. Naím makes a good case that power, indeed, is decaying in business, the military, politics, and elsewhere.
Where he lost me was in chapters 10 and 11 where he laments the decline in the political and corporate elite's ability to get what they want. And his solutions (strengthening political parties?, putting trust in politicians?) are laughable. And his warnings about the decay of state power are overblown. His "inverted-U" graph measuring power on one axis and "political stability and economic vitality" on the other is presented without an iota of evidence that the only way to enjoy maximum stability and prosperity is to have some kind of magical balance of power that isn't too tyrannical yet not "anarchy" all at once.
His final paragraphs talk about a surge of political innovations. That part I agree with. Those innovations are coming, but not in the way Naím thinks. Power will become more and more decentralized, and it's gonna be confusing and disorderly while we figure out how to fill that vacuum. But as more and more people take responsibility for themselves, they'll collaborate outside of traditional state frameworks to solve the problems we face.
I gave the book three stars instead of two because I enjoyed the middle section more than I didn't like the last two chapters. ...more
This is a brief work about the State, its nature, and its aims. The greatest indictment against the State in this book is how every attempt to limit SThis is a brief work about the State, its nature, and its aims. The greatest indictment against the State in this book is how every attempt to limit State power is eventually turned into a means to legitimize the State. The most significant tool the State uses is "judicial review," which was originally intended to keep the State in check. Because judges are political appointees (as much as we want to delude ourselves into thinking otherwise), the State cannot police itself....more
TL;DR: This book was written by a hypocrite who made a lot of money before calling it quits. The book is aimed at bleeding hearts who think corporatioTL;DR: This book was written by a hypocrite who made a lot of money before calling it quits. The book is aimed at bleeding hearts who think corporations are the devil's spawn and that everything America does overseas is pure evil.
John Perkins should have titled his book "Confessions of an Economic Hypocrite" since he had no qualms benefitting from the corporatocracy while claiming a conflicted conscience. He spent decades making money doing things he felt were wrong, and he finally came clean, I guess, once his retirement account was big enough. If he wanted to lend any credibility to his experiences, he would have divested himself of all the money he made as an economic hit man and private energy investor and gone back to working for the Peace Corps. Instead, he comes across as a total hypocrite.
The funny thing is, I agreed with some of what Perkins claims. I think U.S. businesses receive way too much corporate welfare (including Perkins' energy company that got a congressional tax break -- hypocrite!), and I think the U.S. government relies way too much on the threat of economic and military force to achieve its aims. We can trade peacefully with other nations instead of pressuring them to assume debt and acquiesce to American demands. Are the United States working towards a global economic empire? Perhaps. Does America stick its nose where it doesn't belong? Absolutely. Unfortunately, Perkins is incapable of making me care because he's such a tool. In fact, if anything, because of him I feel like driving a car with an eight-cylinder engine and spending all of my money at places that employ third-world workers.
I hated his holier-than-thou attitude (everybody downsize and don't shop at Walmart because I spent decades making insane amounts of money and now I can tell everyone what to do) and his ridiculous chip on the shoulder crybaby grudge (I was never accepted at the hoity toity prep school I attended and spent my life resenting my parents and all along I knew better than everyone else around me blah blah blah). Yes, this is an ad hominem attack. I should be focusing on the actual arguments in the book and not the author. But when the author so undermines the ethos behind his attempt to persuade you to believe in his cause, I can't help but go after him.
I gave this book 5/5 stars not for the writing, but for the book's concept: a state's ability to declare an unconstitutional federal law null and voidI gave this book 5/5 stars not for the writing, but for the book's concept: a state's ability to declare an unconstitutional federal law null and void.
Anyway, with that stage set, Woods expounds upon the Compact Theory of the Constitution. The United States was created by an agreement of the States, not the general population living in the Colonies. This is an important concept because when the Federal Government passes a law or claims authority and power not granted by the Constitution, who can judge?
Most of us would say the Supreme Court, but how can a branch of the Federal Government objectively rule on actions of the Federal Government? The Supreme Court is comprised of men and women hand-picked by the very people who create and execute the legislation of this country. No matter how much the Supreme Court may claim to be an objective arbiter in such matters, no one can deny that the Federal Government, aided by the Supreme Court, has overstepped its constitutional bounds.
That's where the States come in. Whenever an objective judge cannot be found to decide on matters regarding an agreement (or compact) the decision is left to the compact's original parties. In this case, the States, as the parties who agreed to form a Federal Government and grant it certain, limited powers, are the entities who have the authority to decide whether their creation, the Federal Government, has exceeded its constitutional authority. This is a no-brainer.
Woods does a great job explaining these concepts and answers critics. Read this book to get a better idea of how our Founding Fathers intended our government to work, and why the State Legislatures should redouble their efforts to resist Federal encroachment on powers reserved to the States and to the American people by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments....more
And to clear up any misconceptions, the crisis wasn't caused by a failed "free market" in need of more oversight and regulation. For starters, the Federal Reserve's manipulation of interest rates and its ability to create of money out of thin air, along with the countless laws and alphabet soup of regulatory agencies, the market is far from free. The Fed, especially, sent all the wrong signals to investors, speculators, and potential homebuyers with an artificially low interest rate for much of the 2000s. And the answer to failed regulators who were supposed to have averted the housing bubble, ponzi schemes, and wild speculation about all kinds of financial instruments is NOT more regulators.
A part of the book I particularly enjoyed was the way Woods debunked myths about the Great Depression. Woods explains just how Hoover's and FDR's massive government works projects did more to prolong the Depression than restore the economy to sound footing. Woods also draws interesting parallels to how the Obama administration is repeating history, and the outlook isn't too bright.
Chapter 6 focuses on money and how the Fed has devalued the dollar by inflating the supply of money (without anything to back its creation). Because of inflation, Americans have no incentive to save because over the years, their currency erodes in value. Woods also makes repeated reference to the Austrian School, an economic philosophy devoted to liberty, sound money, and limited government developed in large part by Ludwig von Mises and Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek. (Two great websites where you can learn more about the Austrian School are The Mises Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education.)
Not only does Woods reveal the sources of the crisis, but he also offers solutions for the future. He says letting foolish companies go bankrupt is a good thing. The assets they mismanaged can be liquidated and better managed my wiser companies. Another solution is to get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored entities that have way too much power to meddle in the real estate market. The bailouts need to end. Where's the incentive to act prudently if you know the government is going to step in when you screw up? If I were a corporate executive, I'd make my company as big as I could, hoping I'd be "too big to fail". That way, I can pocket all the profits during a boom, and I can rely on the taxpayer to bail me out during the bust. The Fed's power to manipulate money must be abolished, and legal tender laws must be reformed to allow Americans an alternative to the ever-decreasing dollar.
The book, my friends, is a great, great read, and I plan on visiting it again and again to remind myself how we got where we are now and what we must do to avoid a similar crisis in the future....more
Ron Paul's "End the Fed" is the clarion call for Americans to awake and realize how the federal government is destroying wealth and future prosperityRon Paul's "End the Fed" is the clarion call for Americans to awake and realize how the federal government is destroying wealth and future prosperity through the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve System.
Paul explains the history of America's central bank, how it was created to serve a select few in the banking sector, and how its power has constantly expanded to meddle with and manipulate the value of the dollar. Paul reveals that the Fed's monetary policy of simply printing money is an insidious tax on Americans that funds wars and bailouts and stimulus boondoggles.
Paul also bases his argument to abolish the Federal Reserve on three cases: the philosophical case (inflation is morally wrong because artificially devaluing the dollar is the same as theft), the constitutional case (the only legal tender was to be based on gold and silver - Article I, Section 10), and the economic case (central planning a la Fed leads to malinvestment, crushing consumer debt, and many other ills).
Reading this book has convinced me that ending the Fed is a no-brainer. We don't need a lender of last resort for foolish banks that deserve to go bankrupt. We don't need a central bank that prints as much money as it wants, with practically no accountability. We don't need to have our hard-earned money, and with it our purchasing power, lose value. We don't need the Fed....more
No matter what you think about the "War on Drugs", I urge you to read this book.
Judge James Gray's position is that the U.S. is not just losing the waNo matter what you think about the "War on Drugs", I urge you to read this book.
Judge James Gray's position is that the U.S. is not just losing the war, it's creating thousands of casualties at the same time.
Despite relying a little too heavily, for my taste, on anecdotal evidence here and there, Judge Gray explains why this country's drug policy is so pathetically abysmal. He alludes to the racist history of drug prohibition, explains how illegal drugs directly support terrorism, shows how our civil liberties are trampled by the federal government, and how futile our efforts are in stemming the flow of drugs into the US. On every measure, we are losing the war on drugs.
However bleak the outlook may be, Judge Gray uses examples, statistics and precedent to show us what we can do to solve the drug epidemic once and for all. He focuses on narcotics regulation, similar to what we use to govern alcohol and tobacco, education about the effects of drugs, addiction treatment, decriminalization and others. His reasoning is impeccable and sustains the principles of a free society. His resolutions are also humane, and they treat addiction as an illness, not a crime. Nevertheless, Judge Gray stresses the need to punish criminals who harm others in their pursuit to support their drug habit.
It's a great book; again, one I strongly encourage all who love liberty to read and contemplate....more
The Law is probably one of the most influential books I've ever read. I mean, it's helped solidify my beliefs regarding what a truly free society shouThe Law is probably one of the most influential books I've ever read. I mean, it's helped solidify my beliefs regarding what a truly free society should be and what purpose law in general should serve.
See, any time the law is used to make society into whatever the legislators want society to be, liberty vanishes. The purpose of law, which is the aggregation of an individual right to defend one's liberty and property, is to guard against injustice...NOT, I repeat NOT to make us more charitable, more equal, more moral, more religious, more or less anything. Bastiat explains why this must be so, and his logic is very, very compelling.
If you're interested in learning what the scope of law should be, what the true definition of justice is, what it truly means to live in liberty, then you need to read and study Frederic Bastiat's "The Law".
Yes, it is translated from French, and it was written in the 1800s, making the language a bit awkward to read in English, but that only serves to make you pay closer attention to all the nuggets of truth in Bastiat's essay....more