It’s None of Your Business. So You Have to Pay for It.

2015-Chevrolet-Suburban-front-viewYou have a moral obligation to buy my family a new Chevrolet Suburban. Well, not you, actually: the government is going to buy it – or make my employer buy it – so it is not going to cost you anything. Refusing to let this happen amounts to an abrogation of my family’s civil rights. If you have a problem with that statement, you are a bigot – and probably a religious nut – with flat-world conceptions about how people should live and the responsibility governments have for their people.

Government does not belong in any part of my house – not my bedroom, not my closet, not my kitchen, not my laundry room, not my bathroom, not my garage. In fact, all of these spaces constitute fundamental aspects of human life. Yes, I do live in an apartment and therefore have no garage, but the rule still applies to my reserved parking space under the aluminum canopy. My vehicular preference may be different from yours, but it is no less legitimate.

It makes sense for government to place certain limitations on vehicular transit such as by saying that the number of passengers cannot exceed the number of seats, that small children must be placed in special seats, etc., but whether my wife and I choose to have a family of three or five or seven kids is not your business, just as it would not have been your business if we had chosen to use birth control and never have any kids. And if you would suggest that birth control and transportation have nothing to do with each other, you are not living in the real world. We can pretty easily transport two or even three kids in an Aveo, but no more than that. And we plan on having more. (No, we don’t care what you think about that.) When we have more, how will we drive them to school? To ballet lessons? To the movies? To…anywhere? There is no decent public transportation where we live. Even if there were, you could not expect us to actually use it. Would you relegate us to the level of second-class citizens just because we have more kids than you? So yes, to provide for our basic needs and maintain our dignity, we need a Suburban.

You may think that you have a moral responsibility to deter me from getting my Suburban. Or, at least, you may feel the need to abstain from directly paying to provide this basic necessity of modern life that is safe and convenient transportation. Maybe you are morally opposed to what you see as runaway consumerism. (As if simply wanting to get my family from Point A to Point B without getting mugged or sunburned were “runaway consumerism”.) Maybe, like Al Gore, you feel that climate change is a moral issue, and that vehicles such as these are a big part of that moral issue because they pump so much carbon into the atmosphere. Well, as a myriad of contemporary champions for LGBTQPBPNS rights have stated, moral concerns have no place in politics. I do not care if your morals come from the Roman Catholic Church or from PETA or Greenpeace: you can think what you want, but you cannot use law to force me to live according to your morals. And if you prefer to say that you will allow me to have a new Suburban but will not pay for it, again, you are not living in the real world, because I cannot afford a new Suburban. Why do you think I drive an Aveo? Therefore, while you may stroke your self-absorbed libertarian delusions by “allowing” me to purchase a new Chevrolet Suburban, the reality is that, if I have to pay for it, I will never have one. By refusing to help me pay for it, you might as well make it against the law. In the real world, it is the same.

Some may say that there are more reasonable alternatives. For instance: “You should be able to afford it by cutting some unnecessary things from your monthly budget.” Excuse me, but I have to pay off a pretty sizable student loan debt. As for things in my budget that are “unnecessary”, who are you to decide whether or not I am spending money on “unnecessary” things? And why should I have to cut “unnecessary” things from my budget when you don’t have to? Does that seem fair to you? Could you be any more judgmental? When you have to resort to the negativity of shame tactics, that just shows how weak your position is.

Someone else might say: “Can’t you just buy another cheap car and drive two?” There are so many problems with this. First, we only have one parking space. We would have to pay for another, which would defeat the purpose. Second, our Aveo has seen better days. The air conditioner is gone, and I live in Houston. Have you ever driven around in Houston in the summer without an air conditioner? Didn’t think so. Again with the ignorant judgment. We really need a better vehicle, and it just makes more sense to get a new one instead of fixing something on this one only to have something else go bad a few weeks later. Third, even if the Aveo were new, it has been proven that little cars like these are not as safe as SUVs. Do you want to kill my family? You must want to kill my family if you want us to keep hauling a bunch of kids around Houston in an Aveo. (Granted, minivans are pretty safe too, but again, the exact type of vehicle my family needs is for me and my wife to decide, not you.) Fourth, do you realize how much of an annoyance it is to drive two cars to go anywhere as a family? Have you ever considered that? I want to be with my wife. I want to be together with my family in one vehicle like everyone else. Is that too much to ask?

And here is the most judgmental thing I have been told: “But you live in the city. You can walk most of the places you need to go.” This is the United States of America. People don’t walk here. Yes, we should be thankful for the sidewalks we have when so many other countries don’t even have them, but when the vast majority of Americans drive everywhere, you are expecting us to become second-class citizens by being pedestrians. Besides, we can’t walk everywhere.

Transportation is not a commodity, but a necessity – a social need. Without transportation, I cannot work, my kids cannot go to school, we cannot go to the store, etc. Even if transportation were not a social need, a lack of transportation would make it impossible for me and my family to receive health care, which is a social need, and not a mere commodity. This is because, without transportation, I cannot take my children to the clinic or the hospital. Yes, there are ambulances, but that would end up being even more expensive than owning a Suburban.

I am not lazy. I have a job. I contribute. The fact that I still do not make enough to provide for my family’s basic needs when it comes to transportation is evidence of our society’s failings, and not of my own. Therefore, it is the responsibility of our government to provide my family with a new Chevrolet Suburban. Whether or not you agree with the specific type of transportation we need is irrelevant, because I am talking about our transportation, not yours. Just like people without ovaries have no right to debate abortion, people with fewer than five children have no right to debate my family’s need for a Suburban. You have nothing to do with it. And that is why you have to pay for it.

 

 

 

*satire*

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Free Trade Made Simple

free-trade

Free trade is one of the most hotly debated issues in the world today. The majority of economists will tell you that free trade is good because, while it can hurt specific parties, the total benefit to society is better than when you put up all sorts of trade barriers. Put simply, this is because specialization fosters prosperity and interdependence forces peace. However, many people still argue against free trade and insist that we must limit it as much as possible. The interesting thing about opposition to free trade, though, is that people on opposite extremes of the political spectrum tend to agree on it – just for completely different reasons.

 

The Fascist Perspective

“Our country is the greatest in the world, but it is a victim. When we trade freely with other countries, we can never win. Those foreigners rob us of our identity and our sovereignty by buying up our means of production. They subject our low-level workers to unfair competition with cheap foreign labor. They subject our high-level workers to unfair competition with superior foreign products. Whatever they may buy from us, it is never enough. Whatever they may sell to us, its quality is never good enough, though our market does not seem to be able to realize that. We may go to war with them in the future, so we should stop being so reliant on them. Why should all of our hard-earned wealth flow out to everyone else? Our country is the most competitive in the world, and that is why we should never allow anyone to compete with us.”

 

The Socialist Perspective

“Even though our country is so prosperous, it is among the worst in the world. When we trade freely with other countries, it is never ‘free’, because it always means taking advantage of them and stealing their freedoms. Our massive corporations choke out small enterprises in emerging markets. Our massive factories pollute sensitive ecological areas. Whatever we may pay foreign workers, as long as it is less than what they would make here, it is never enough – no matter how happy they may be to get it. We do not want them to hate us or develop misunderstandings about us, so we should stop investing in their countries and stop buying from them. We should stop enslaving them, because that could cause us to go to war with them in the future. No country can compete with us on a level playing field. Why should the economy of a country that values freedom be built on the backs of slaves? We will always have an unfair advantage. So, for the sake of the world, we should not enter into such imbalanced trade agreements, no matter how much poor countries may want us to.”

 

Reality

“Corporations sometimes pollute and take advantage of people!” Regulate. “Cheap foreign labor puts our low-level workers out of jobs!” Retrain. “The market changes!” Adapt. “Our old industries will die!” Build new ones. “Competition raises the bar!” Compete.

If you consider yourself a patriot, you should believe in your country’s ability to compete and contribute in an important way.

If you value international cooperation, you should not constantly try to erect barriers. Nothing fosters communication and cultural interchange like simple commerce.

If you think that everyone has something of value to contribute, let them do it.

If you believe in peace and communication, one of the best ways of making countries maintain peace even when they do not want to is by allowing them to become codependent through free trade.

If foreigners are buying means of production, that means wealth is coming into the country. (Why are both American jingoists and Chinese jingoists against Chinese investors buying real estate in the U.S.?) It probably also means that those means of production are going to be updated and expanded.

If you are against free trade because of the corruption that you see, consider what will happen when that corruption is no longer subject to international scrutiny.

If people rejoice at the opportunity to earn $3 per hour and you deny them that opportunity, how have you helped them?

If you believe in freedom, you should believe in economic freedom.

Some people lose in situations of open international competition. This will happen. A nation cannot try to completely shield all of its citizens from competition and then expect to remain competitive as a whole. The proper role of government in a market is not to stifle competition, but to help citizens adapt to competition by offering unemployment benefits, funds for education and training, etc.

It makes little sense for Republicans to argue against free trade on the grounds that it is unfair to us when Democrats argue against free trade on the grounds that it is unfair to everyone else. The truth is that it both helps and hurts all countries involved. The net effect, however, tends to be very positive, as long as corruption is minimal. Free trade certainly can sometimes enrich specific parties at the expense of the general population – particularly when corruption is rampant – but trade barriers tend to do so even more. Even with all of the problems we have in the world market today, free trade in the modern era has given rise to one of the most remarkable achievements in human history – the lifting of billions of people out of poverty – and we should stop ignoring this fact. The era in which we now live is both an American era and a global era, and neither of these things is bad.

About Those Stupid White People…

I would begin my response to this tumblr post about the “stupid white people” of the Occupy Wall Street movement with the words “stupid black person,” but that would make me racist, and everyone knows that a white man’s opinion is especially unimportant when he is a racist. So let’s just move beyond that to my other thoughts.

  1. Use apostrophes. People who don’t use apostrophes are kind of like racists: their opinions don’t matter.
  2. It’s interesting that you list Asians among the downtrodden people in this capitalist, consumerist, reality-television-watching society of ours, since they actually make MORE MONEY THAN WHITE PEOPLE DO (on average). Of course, it’s not fair to compare, because unlike the downtrodden minorities of Los Angeles and Chicago, many of these folks were born into first-rate economic circumstances in places such as China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia.
  3. I’m sorry you couldn’t afford to go to college or didn’t think to amass the huge student loan debts that the stupid white people you are complaining about have. Get a job at Whataburger, do your job well, and in ten years or so, you will be able to be a manager and make $50,000+. Yes, I know it’s a hard road to walk, and I know lots of privileged white people have it a lot easier. So if you’re not willing, I’m sure many millions of black people in Africa – and white people in Eastern Europe – would be happy to trade with you. Median annual income worldwide: $1,700. Welcome to the 1%.

Corporate Income Tax Does Not Exist

The following is a repost from my Facebook account that went mostly unread.

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In response to continuing complaints about how corporations are not taxed enough – punctuated by a certain news item about GE in the recent past – I feel prompted to say that, despite common opinions, corporate taxes do not even exist. I will explain. Here’s how our current income tax system works:

  • LLCs, sole proprietorships, and the like do not pay income tax on the company level.
  • Corporations have “double-taxed” income, meaning that the corporation itself pays a certain percent of its income in tax, and then shareholders pay personal income tax on what they receive from the company after that.

When we force corporations to pay higher taxes on the company level, what happens? Do we lessen the amount of money that the “fat cats” take home?

No. Absolutely not.

Instead, they raise their prices and pass the burden of that corporate tax on to, yes, you.

A similar thing can be seen in payroll taxes. Politicians pass tax code changes that result in Social Security taking a lower percentage out of your wages and a higher requirement for payroll taxes from your employer. They do this to show you that they are fighting for the “little man” and sticking it to those bad employers. And yet, the truth of the matter is that employers are willing to pay what they are willing to pay for your work: whether the money goes to you or to the government is irrelevant to them. Thus, the higher tax on their end just gets passed on to you because now you aren’t getting a raise.

Corporate taxes do not exist. Everything ends up being a tax on consumption in the end – or a tax on consumers. It’s just that our current system gives us this convoluted structure for the sake of appeasing the “little man” and tricking him into thinking that the government is looking out for him – a structure that wastes untold amounts of tax dollars in useless bureaucracy and administration.

When Mitt Romney said that corporations have rights because they “are people too,” it created a firestorm among liberals, who were incensed at such a ridiculous idea. And yet, liberals want to levy income tax on corporations because they “are people too.” No double standards, please.

Even if liberals do not believe or pay attention to anything else I have written, here is something they should pay attention to: When you levy a corporate income tax, you effectively tax the dividends of all shareholders of that company at the same rate, whether those shareholders are billionaires or average joes with just a few shares. Since liberals almost always advocate a graduated tax on income, this fact alone should be reason enough to abolish the corporate income tax.

Immigration: Contradictions, Conundrums…and a Solution

The issue of illegal immigration has become one of the biggest talking points in U.S. politics of late. It is a complicated and serious problem, and most of the people who get all worked up about it ignore key aspects of the debate while contradicting themselves. This is true for members of all major political parties. Let’s break things down into a basic representation of current conceptions:

  • The left view: This is the United States of America – a nation built by immigrants. We cannot, in good conscience, construct walls and turn people away.
  • The right view: This nation is in constant danger from terrorist attack. We have a huge border with Mexico that we are doing a poor job at securing; enemies can enter the United States from Mexico at any moment. Also, among the millions of workers who (illegally) cross the border simply to search for jobs, many cross the border specifically for the purpose of committing crimes.

Obviously, these views I have constructed are not representative of every single politician in office according to party, but pretty close. That said, let’s look at the two major parties’ avowed economic sympathies:

  • Democrats claim to be the champions of American industry. They frequently support tariffs, import limitations, and other such measures to protect domestic companies from foreign competition. They also strive to help “the little man” by fighting for higher wages and benefits for low-level earners.
  • Republicans claim to be the champions of free enterprise. They tend to support an easing of trade limitations and the free flow of goods and services over borders. They argue that artificial ceilings or floors for prices or wages kill economic growth and cause shortages.

The problem here is that these general economic sympathies fundamentally contradict the economic philosophies to which they tend to be attached. For instance:

  • Democrats frequently rant and rave about how Republicans outsource U.S. jobs to China. However, why is it evil to give U.S. jobs to Chinese but good to give U.S. jobs to Mexicans? If they really cared about protecting U.S. jobs, the first thing they would do would be to end the employment of illegal immigrants once and for all.
  • Democrats claim to champion the interests of the poor and downtrodden – regardless of nationality. They often back this up by supporting efforts to send aid to ailing economies. But why is it good to give other countries free money and bad to engage in free trade with those countries? Both result in better foreign relations, but only one delivers a direct payback (in the form of lower prices for goods).
  • Democrats want to maintain high minimum wage levels and high government benefits, but if we simply open the gates and let anyone come here who wants to, the low-level workers already here will face massive competition for the existing jobs, and it will become impossible to continue our current government benefit programs. (For instance, $600 per month from SSI may not sound like much to you, but that would sound glorious for millions of people in other countries.)
  • Republicans claim to support the free market, but if they do not promote free international trade, they do not support the free market. Mexicans (and folks from other countries) are coming here by the millions – some of them risking their lives – for the opportunity to earn $8.00 per hour. Do you think there just might be an unmet demand for low-level labor in the U.S.? This is true even when unemployment rates are high. Farmers in the U.S. frequently make listings looking for workers and find that U.S. citizens just do not want to bend over all day in the sun – even for more than minimum wage. Mexicans and Nicaraguans, however, will. If they want the jobs we don’t want, let them have those jobs!
  • Republicans claim to champion the American Dream and the idea of working hard to earn an honest living and move up in the world. Well, that is exactly what these people want to do. They want it more than most of the people already living here. Let them come.

In case you have not guessed it, here is the basic type of system that I am in favor of:

  • Easy entry and registration for any non-criminal (or non-suspect) who wants to come here and work.
  • A gradual, reasonable pathway to citizenship conditional upon proof of economic responsibility.
  • An effective system of identification on the federal level, incorporating a picture ID card tied to an electronic database of fingerprints.
  • A system of fines for employing unregistered workers and rewards for reporting such violations.

I know that a lot of conservatives and libertarians would be outraged at the idea of having a federally mandated ID. However, the reality is that we will not solve the immigration problem so long as we rely on a piece of cardboard with a number on it. It’s time to get into the 21st century, deal with this problem, and stop harboring ideological contradictions. Giving you the ability to prove that you are who you say you are and minimizing criminals’ ability to steal your identity is exactly the kind of thing the government is there for. (Such an ID system would also minimize voter fraud and put us on the level of more technological nations like Brazil.)

No, Ron Paul: The Gold Standard Is NOT the Answer

A number of people in the United States with libertarian tendencies follow the example of Ron Paul in proclaiming a gospel of gold. Like the Populists of old with their silver (not ruby) slippers, these folks believe that fundamentally changing U.S. monetary policy is an essential aspect of reversing the problems in this country and in the world, and that departing from the gold standard was one of the worst mistakes in U.S. history. They also argue that the current system of fiat money places way too much power in the hands of the government. For those who do not understand the difference between the gold standard and fiat money, here is a brief explanation:

  • Commodity money is a type of currency that has an intrinsic value in and of itself. For instance, in many prisons, cigarettes have become a form of commodity money because they represent a generally accepted medium of economic exchange and denominate the prices of products and services within that microcosm. The value of such money is independent of any central governing authority. While the U.S. dollar was still just a piece of paper under the gold standard, it was backed by a specific amount of gold, so its value was directly tied to the market value of gold.
  • Fiat money is a type of currency that is only valuable because people agree that it is valuable. While paper-form commodity money is backed by the value of a certain commodity – such as gold or silver – fiat money is backed by the legitimacy of the institution that issues it – such as the U.S. federal government.

After that explanation, you can see why a gold-based monetary system seems more appealing to many people. Governments can rise and fall, but humanity has almost always placed a high value on gold regardless of whose face or which country’s name is stamped on it. However, the matter is much more complex than just that. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and we need to understand a few more basic economic concepts before we can pass judgment.

Inflation vs. Deflation
In our current society, everyone knows what inflation is: it’s that annoying tendency that money has to gradually lose value over time. The price of a 32-ounce Coca-Cola continues to rise year after year, while the money our employers pay us strangely tends to resist change. To understand inflation, we have to understand exactly what money is in an economy. In any economy, money represents a certain amount of wealth. As a simple example, in an economy of $1,000,000, every dollar represents one-millionth of the total wealth of that economy, with each dollar serving as a tiny slice of the pie.

Slices of Wealth

However, if you print more money – as often happens in a fiat system – that pie is suddenly being sliced into a larger number of pieces.Post-inflation The total amount of wealth that each dollar represents is therefore less. This is inflation.

However, there is something else that happens in economies: deflation. Most people in the United States do not know what deflation is because we have not seen it in some time. Deflation is when the economy grows – thus increasing the total amount of wealth – while the amount of money in the economy stays the same. And what is the result of this? The result is a bigger pie with the same number of slices – which means that each dollar is now worth more than it was worth before.

Post-deflation

A common tendency people have is to assume that this is good. Doesn’t it sound good to watch your savings gain in value when you have not done anything at all to risk it? Well, it is actually terrible for economies – worse than inflation. The reason is that, if you know that the economy is probably going to undergo 20% deflation, you are probably not going to bother with starting that company you were thinking of starting or investing money into the stock market. Instead, you are just going to keep all of your money in the bank and watch as you become richer and richer with minimal effort or risk. The result of this scenario is that people stop spending money and all of the wealth in the economy ends up going to the people who can afford to save. Meanwhile, various industries will take a nosedive because, suddenly, no one is spending money unless absolutely necessary. Also, no one is innovating or investing in technology or new companies because, again, if you can gain wealth by risking nothing and doing nothing, why invest?

Why is all of this important when it comes to commodity vs. fiat money? It is important because having a fiat system gives a nation much more ability to control both inflation and deflation. The reason no one knows what deflation is anymore is because, due to our fiat system, we can control inflation and deflation by printing money whenever we need to. As an economy grows, the only way to ensure that price levels – and the value of the currency – stay the same is by printing more money at the same rate at which economic growth occurs. The reason inflation still occurs is because it is impossible to know exactly how much money we should print with absolute certainty. For this reason, we must choose to err either on the side of inflation or deflation. Since deflation tends to be more disruptive to an economy than inflation, we choose to err on the side of inflation, maintaining a constant inflation level of 1-5%.

While a fiat system allows the government to keep price levels relatively constant by giving it the ability to print money (and get it back by selling bonds), a commodity system does not allow the government to do this. For currency growth to occur in a system that abides by a gold standard, the government has to find more gold – on public land. Otherwise, as long as the economy continues to grow, either a trend of deflation will occur forever without limit or the government will have to pay money for the gold that it intends to use as money.

In short, the reason we have a fiat money system is because we have realized that limited inflation is way better than unlimited deflation.

Counterarguments and Misconceptions
Despite all of this, some people – such as Ron Paul – still contend that a commodity money system is better than a fiat money system. Their arguments come in various forms:

“The Federal Reserve is causing hyperinflation!”
In 2008, I was watching Glenn Beck, and I saw him talking about the Federal Reserve’s decision to print a large amount of money. He ranted and raved about how much money the Fed was printing, giving detailed illustrations to show how many crates of hundred-dollar bills it takes to account for that much money, etc. Angry and outraged, he shouted: “Stop printing so much money!” He then talked about how we would soon need a wheelbarrow full of money to buy bread at the 7-Eleven. Well, guess what! That hyperinflation he was warning about? Yeah, it never happened. This is because the Fed was printing so much money expressly because the market was exhibiting a massive trend toward deflation. The end result was a wash and a slight bit of inflation for the year. Remember folks: Glenn Beck attended college for a single semester, and he certainly never studied economics to any depth.

“The federal government should not have so much power.”
Those who advocate a return to the gold standard do so largely because they think that the Federal Reserve is an evil institution bent on the destruction of the United States as we know it. They talk about how the Federal Reserve, in one fell swoop, could suddenly print so much money that whatever money we hold will suddenly become virtually worthless, and this move will somehow pave the way for a New World Order takeover. However, let me point out that the federal government is and always will be in charge of the U.S. Armed Forces. In a totalitarian takeover scenario, compared to the power held by our military, the power of the Federal Reserve is trivial. Many would argue that “Commanding the military is something natural for the federal government to do.” Well, maintaining price stability is also something that naturally falls within the realm of government. It is intrinsically impossible for the private sector to do so – especially when operating on the gold standard.

“The Federal Reserve is as ‘federal’ as Federal Express!”
This is actually the strongest argument that these folks have: that the Federal Reserve is an institution with huge power that is not led by elected officials. The logic behind the fact that Federal Reserve officers are appointed rather than elected is the same as the logic behind why Supreme Court justices are appointed rather than elected. I would be open to the idea of requiring the Chairman of the Federal Reserve to be elected. However, we need to realize that this would make monetary policy as susceptible to political vacillations as our fiscal policy is. Also remember that we could have elected leaders in charge of the Fed without going to the gold standard. These are two separate issues.

“Our currency is backed by the federal government. If the federal government collapses, my money will be worth nothing.”
Those who make this argument do not realize the potential gravity of a total collapse of the U.S. federal government. If the federal government collapses, your car, computer, iPhone, stocks, and bonds will all equally become virtually worthless, regardless of monetary policy. Such a collapse would lead to a worldwide economic catastrophe second only to what a nuclear holocaust would cause. Pretty much your only possessions that would be of any value at that point would be your house and any food or weapons you own. Remember: gold is even less edible than paper. And even if it were edible, the gold standard would not put gold in your pocket anyway. Rather, it would put paper in your pocket and back that paper with gold somewhere far away – guarded by federal employees. With no more federal government, would those federal employees continue protecting your wealth? Um…no.

“It is ridiculous to assume that people will stop investing and starting companies just because their money is appreciating in value. The natural thing for people to do is build, create, and take risks.”
It’s very ironic that libertarians and conservatives use this argument to try to show that deflation is actually good for an economy – because Marxists make the same argument to promote Marxism. The whole problem with Marxism is that it removes the reward someone can collect from taking a risk or bringing about an innovation, thus causing people to not take risks or make innovations. Libertarians and conservatives know this and make it a point to remind Marxists of it whenever they can. However, as soon as we’re talking about monetary policy, these guys suddenly want to make economic decisions based on a general assumption of human altruism, which is fundamentally opposed to free market theory. One may say that altruism is not the assumption, as one can conceivably profit much more from starting a business than from leaving his money in the bank to appreciate in value due to deflation. However, potential return is not the only factor here: there is also the matter of risk. Faced with a choice of a 10% profit that is a sure thing or an 80% profit that comes only after much toil, headache, and risk, what would you do? Many people would take the 10%. Thus, we can see the intrinsic problem of a protracted state of deflation. The libertarian/conservative assumption that everyone will opt for the risky 80% over the safe 10% is as baseless as the Marxist assumption that we will all work as hard as we can and do as much as we can regardless of the payoff.

“The officers of the Fed use their position to influence the money market and profit from the fluctuations that they know are about to occur.”
I cannot be 100% sure that this is not happening. In fact, it may be happening. However, it cannot be happening to any high degree because, if their goal were to simply increase their personal wealth by tampering with the market, what we would be seeing would be massive fluctuations in the value of currency. That’s because the way you make money in speculation is by buying when prices are at rock-bottom and selling just before the bubble bursts. For this reason, speculators love volatility. On the contrary, the Federal Reserve does its job more effectively than virtually any other part of the federal government: it constantly keeps inflation rates at low levels and does not allow deflation to occur at all. The fluctuations in currency value that we see now are actually much less volatile than what occurred under the gold standard.

“The Founding Fathers saw fit to enact a commodity-based monetary policy, so that is what we should have.”
George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson knew virtually nothing about fiat money as we have it today. They did not weigh two options and pick the one that God told them to pick: they simply continued with a monetary policy similar to what they had experienced under the British Empire.

Science and Religion
Do not let yourself get manipulated or misled. While our fiat monetary system has its disadvantages, it is a much better system than Ron Paul and Glenn Beck would lead you to believe. Unless we can somehow find gold at a rate that exactly matches economic growth and then make gold disappear when there is an economic contraction, our fiat system is much better than the gold standard. We simply have to make sure that we elect wise politicians who would never appoint crazies to take the reins of the Federal Reserve. In discussing this issue with people who have actually studied economics, I have found that those who say we should return to the gold standard reject all economic data and base their arguments on pure ideology rather than fact because the verifiable facts undermine their position. Like Marxists, they turn economic theory into an unyielding religion rather than a continually developing science.

*Final Note: I just realized that the pie charts do not view correctly in some browsers.