Want to Understand the Inflation Problem? Look to Harvey Road, Not Pennsylvania Avenue

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

As news headlines have reported, the US economy today suffers its worst inflation in two generations. Not coincidentally, US public debt is also at its all-time high. As if on cue, opposition pundits are blaming the Biden administration, whose apologists, in turn, blame Russia and corporate greed while touting the success of Washington’s $5 trillion in recent crisis spending. This partisan and ideological bickering misses the central point.

Some economists know better than to treat today’s economic woes as a partisan problem with roots in the 2020 election. Alan Blinder of Princeton University, for example, has for several years complained that politics gets in the way of smart ideas. Professor Blinder’s “lamppost problem” suggests that we would not be here had past policies not fallen victim to the politicization of ideal economics. Moving forward, mainstream economists join Professor Blinder in saying that we now must aggressively neutralize politics, unchain the ideas of intellectual elites, and finally—hallelujah!—let smart policies rule. Never mind that these same economists have admitted fault for getting it wrong, thus vindicating the steady analyses of AIER’s Sound Money Project directed by Will Luther.

Let’s be honest. Even gifted Ivy League economists must have trouble keeping a straight face while recommending that we take politics out of the equation. This is America, after all. Aren’t we the world’s shining exemplar of political inclusion? Sure we are. Yet puzzlingly, there is a long line of thinkers who say that we should replace politics with the judgment of elites. In today’s monetary and fiscal policy, this thought goes back to at least the days of John Maynard Keynes.

On the eve of the early 1980s high inflation rates, mainline economists James Buchanan and Richard Wagner drew attention to the rising debt and inflationary risks of the time. Their 1977 book carried the evocative title, Democracy in Deficit: The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes. Buchanan and Wagner’s prose minced few words, describing the Keynesian influence as the culprit behind “continuing and increasing budget deficits, a rapidly growing governmental sector, high unemployment, apparently permanent and perhaps increasing inflation, and accompanying disenchantment with the American sociopolitical order.”

Buchanan and Wagner argue that the post-Keynesian era suffers from the “presuppositions of Harvey Road.” Harvey Road is a reference to the Keynes family home in Cambridge. A biographer of Keynes, R. F. Harrod, coined this “presuppositions” expression, and Buchanan and Wagner use it to argue that Keynes’s economic theory operates in a political vacuum where the world of monetary and fiscal policy is carried out by wise men in authority. This intellectual aristocracy could ensure conditions of prosperity, freedom, and even peace. In 2011, after President Obama’s stimulus package, many remarked that “Keynes was back.” In reality, the Keynesian influence never died, and modern macroeconomists and policymakers still suffer from the presuppositions of Harvey Road.

Following Harrod’s description, today’s politicians, Federal Reserve officials, and mainstream macroeconomists still posture as enlightened, wise people, who therefore know from their expert analysis what is the best course of action. These elites are also trusted as benevolent people, therefore, they can be trusted to choose the course of action that is best for society. Finally, they are deemed reasonable people, therefore, they will seek to persuade one another and the general public that their chosen course is the best course. Is it just us, or does this 45-year-old description seem more apropos than ever in 2022?

While the proverbial lampposts might shine more brightly along Pennsylvania Avenue than along Harvey Road, let us not fall victim to casting central blame along the former. America’s fallible and often mistaken ruling elites have fanned the flames of today’s economic dumpster fire. It may be tempting to jump to the conclusion that we should replace the “intellectual aristocracy” with democracy. Again, this is America. But when you look closely at the history behind these problems, as we have done in our recent and ongoing work, it becomes clear that unchained democracy has been part of the problem, and crisis periods have justified all of us in treating the government as a fiscal commons.

Perhaps the central point for today’s inflation problem is that we cannot remove the political dimension, but we can better insulate our fiscal and monetary house from the foul sides of politics. One part of the course forward should be to replace trust in politics and elites with acceptance, followed by restraint. This requires recognition that politicians and ruling elites are neither angels nor wizards, and that voter demand for largesse deserves moral judgment alongside corporate greed. From the standpoint of a healthy economy, it is wrong for big business to rent-seek its way to corporate welfare. It is wrong for households to demand loose money to bubble up home values and retirement plans. It is wrong for politicians to take credit for loose budgets and every economic success while bickering over blame for their failures. And it is wrong for Fed officials to invent new instruments of control that transforms their jobs into old-fashioned central planning. Taking politics out means adopting ex-ante rules that retrain all of us from treating the government like a fiscal commons. Instead of replacing smart elites with unchained democracy, we should turn to “small c” constitutional constraint and republican governance. A bipartisan generation of loose money and loose budgets has created major negative spillover effects, and today’s inflation problem is what we all have to show for it.

Taking Buchanan and Wagner’s Democracy in Deficit seriously means putting the focus on political morality and institutional rules. These rules restrain discretion in monetary policy and limit both the scope and scale of fiscal policy. AIER’s Alex Salter and others are right that we need Milton Friedman back now more than ever. But even more so, we need Buchanan and Wagner to take front and center in the political and economic discussion.

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This article was published at AIER, American Institute of Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.

Democrats’ Disastrous, Capricious Energy Policy

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Democrats have spent decades warning that the United States must stop using the most efficient and affordable energy sources or it will be consumed by heat waves, fireballs, and cataclysmic weather events.

Every flood, every hurricane—every natural event, really—is now blamed on climate change. We have burdened our children with an irrational dread over their future. Then again, many in The Cult of Malthus won’t even have children.

So, why, if we’re on the precipice of this apocalypse if saving the planet trumps every other concern, is President Joe Biden begging everyone to drill? On the days Democrats aren’t blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for rising gas prices (a cost the president not long ago argued was worth paying for “freedom”), they’re blaming oil companies for profiteering.

As the national average hit $5.01 last Wednesday (nearly $2 higher than a year earlier), Biden sent letters to refining companies threatening to once again abuse his executive powers if they do not immediately alleviate high prices—a political appeal to the imaginary “greedflation.”

Biden, who promised a 100% “clean-energy economy” with “net-zero emissions” in a couple of decades, now demands energy companies, already at utilization rates above 90%, invest tens of billions more in new drilling infrastructure, when everyone knows that tomorrow when prices recede, Democrats are going to go right back to passing laws and regulations that undercut their business.

Today, Democrats demand CEOs spend more; tomorrow, they will promise to “hold oil executives accountable” and drag them in front of congressional committees where they will be scolded by economically illiterate windbags.

That future is baked into today’s price. Because Democrats’ energy policy is a schizophrenic mess, oscillating from puerile to pernicious. You can’t spend decades working to undercut production and campaign on the promise of destroying industry and then demand it turn on a dime when it’s politically convenient.

Democrats will argue that this is a unique emergency as prices have spiked to historic highs. Guess what? Energy prices will always be at historic highs when you create shortages, which is exactly what progressives have been advocating we do for years.

Virtually every left-wing energy proposal in the past two decades, if not longer, has been designed to create false scarcity, either through fabricated marketplaces and stringent regulations or by putting caps on production. This is what they wanted.  

“No more drilling on federal lands,” Biden promised during the 2020 presidential campaign. “No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends, No. 1.”

Not No. 2. No. 1.

“No more—no new fracking,” the president also said.

Blue states across the country have either banned fracking or are in the process of banning fracking projects.

And, on the first day of his presidency, Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement—an accord he is now working hard to break—revoking permits for Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline that was going to carry approximately 800,000 barrels of oil a day into the United States (also baked into the price).

Biden signed a slew of executive orders prioritizing climate change over energy production, halting oil and natural gas leases on all public lands. When a court blocked him, the Biden administration appealed the decision, even as indications of an energy spike were clear.

Rather than threatening price controls, the president should just rescind all his executive orders.

Of course, until some new technology is devised, implementing any policy that resembles the Green New Deal—the plan Biden says is the “framework” for his own efforts on “environmental justice”—would hold approximately the same economic consequences as having coronavirus economic shutdowns for 30 years straight. That’s merely if we followed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommendations on carbon emissions.

Last year, with inflation already looming, Biden preached that it was a “moral imperative” to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and 100% by 2050. That’s a policy that will have us fondly reminiscing about $5 a gallon.

Energy policy can’t be capriciously implemented and then abandoned every time the Democrats’ poll numbers flail. This is just a little taste of the Green New Deal. There is no sentient being that could accept the notion that Democrats are the party that is in favor of abundant fossil fuels.

Hopefully, the price—even in small measure—for Democrats’ green policies is so politically severe that they will moderate. Because we all have unattainable dreams.

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

What We Saw During ‘Night of Rage’ Pro-Abortion Protest

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

As the sun set over Washington, D.C., hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators stood chanting and holding signs outside the Supreme Court.

Rally speakers called for protesters to “take to the streets” in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling Friday that overturned Roe v. Wade.

In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote: “Like the infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe was also egregiously wrong and on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided.”

The protesters outside the Supreme Court on Friday night appeared to disagree.

Below are videos and pictures from the “Night of Rage,” as it was dubbed by the pro-abortion demonstrators. Warning: Rude language ahead.

Around 8:30 p.m., a group of 30 protesters dressed in black and carrying an Antifa sign arrived at the Supreme Court and proceeded to march down Constitution Avenue toward downtown Washington.

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

Halfway There

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

On April 12, 2022, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 319, Constitutional carry, into law. Constitutional carry in Georgia goes into effect immediately. Georgia is now the 25th Constitutional carry state, and the Peach State becomes the fourth state to join that group in 2022. Half of the country now recognizes the right of a law-abiding adult who is legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm to do so without first having to obtain government permission. This ensures that citizens have the right to self-defense without government red tape or delays, or having to suffer the whims of local authorities who “shall not” have the stroke to ban you from exercising your right to self defense.

Gov. Kemp also signed House Bill 218, to grant universal recognition to concealed carry permits held by non-Georgia residents, issued by any other state. It also directs the Georgia Attorney General to enter into formal reciprocity agreements with any state that requires a formal agreement to recognize a Georgia Weapons Carry License. This reform recognizes that Georgia residents traveling to other states, and visitors to Georgia, should not be left defenseless simply by crossing a state line.

At a signing ceremony the next day, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp and two of his daughters, Governor Kemp made a few interesting comments I thought you might enjoy.

“I’m excited to be here today. SB 319 and HB 218 help build a safer, stronger Georgia. Here at Gable [Sporting Goods] is where [wife] Marty and I bought [daughter] Lucy her first firearm — a Glock 43X 9mm, which she is carrying today!

“We did that, not only because we strongly believe in the Second Amendment, but we also want Lucy and both her sisters to be able to defend themselves. As the parents of three daughters, there’s nothing Marty and I care more about than making sure Jarrett, Lucy, and Amy Porter are safe. With Jarrett a recent graduate and Lucy and Amy Porter still in college, that isn’t as easy as it used to be.

“SB 319 makes sure that law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters and your family, too, can protect themselves without having to ask permission from state government. The Constitution of the United States gives us that right — not the government. And HB 218 ensures that individuals who are licensed to carry a weapon in another state are also authorized to do so here in Georgia.”

So far this year four states — Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, and Georgia — have passed Constitutional carry or permitless-carry laws. Alabama’s (22nd) law will go into effect on January 1, 2023. Ohio’s law will go [went] into effect on June 12, 2022. Indiana’s will go into effect on July 1, 2022. Perhaps Louisiana, Florida, or Nebraska will become the 26th state to adopt Constitutional carry, and perhaps before the end of 2022.

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This article was published by Gun Tests and is reproduced with permission from the author.

Scottsdale Official Faces Board Expulsion After Arizona AG Files Suit

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

School Board member Jann-Michael Greenburg is facing potential removal from the Scottsdale Unified School District school board.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court, arguing that Greenburg should be required to step down from the board after multiple violations of public hearing requirements.

Brnovich said Monday the lawsuit’s goal is to, “…seek to have Greenburg removed, impose civil penalties on the board, and ensure no future Open Meeting Law (OML) violations occur.”

The lawsuit takes place after a series of meetings in August 2021, when Greenburg, “knowingly structuring an agenda and meeting so as to prohibit public comment about a proposed mask mandate and other subjects…” the complaint read.

Greenburg faced scrutiny by school district officials and the Scottsdale Police Department for his alleged involvement in keeping and sharing a set of online files containing personal information of parents who opposed the board’s COVID-19 mitigations, including information on some of their children. Greenburg’s father, Michael Greenburg, was allegedly the proprietor of the information. Neither organization found any reasons to pursue charges.

The school board voted to remove Greenburg from his position as president in November 2021, with some recommending he resign.

The suit stated Greenburg created content restrictions during board meetings, cutting off speakers when they strayed too far from the topic of the instructional time model. Similarly, Greenburg interrupted multiple parents, going as far as to conclude with profanity directed at the parents.

Though criticism of parents’ remarks is allowed, it must be done after the close of the open call to the public.

Creating content restrictions as well as interrupting speakers is considered a violation of the school board meeting code, thus breaking the Scottsdale Unified School District Number 48’s rule, “…to open the conduct of the business of government to the scrutiny of the public and to band decision-making in secret.”

If Brnovich wins, Greenburg could face expulsion from the Scottsdale school board. As described by the case document, “The Open Meeting Law further provides that in such a suit ‘the court may remove the public officer from office.’”

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

Weekend Read: 97.8% of Mass Shootings Are Linked to This

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Do Psychiatric Meds and War Games Lead to Mass Shootings?

  • While many have bought into the simplistic idea that the availability of firearms is the cause of mass shootings, a number of experts have pointed out a more uncomfortable truth, which is that mass shootings are far more likely the result of how we’ve been mistreating mental illness, depression and behavioral problems
  • Gun control legislation has shown that law-abiding Americans who own guns are not the problem, because the more gun control laws that have been passed, the more mass shootings have occurred
  • 97.8% of mass shootings occur in “gun-free zones,” as the perpetrators know legally armed citizens won’t be there to stop them
  • Depression per se rarely results in violence. Only after antidepressants became commonplace did mass shootings really take off, and many mass shooters have been shown to be on antidepressants
  • Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are well-known for their ability to cause suicidal and homicidal ideation and violence

While many have bought into the simplistic idea that the availability of firearms is the cause of mass shootings, a number of experts have pointed out a more uncomfortable truth, which is that mass shootings are far more likely the result of how we’ve been mistreating mental illness, depression and behavioral problems.

An article written by Molly Carter, initially published on ammo.com at an unknown date1 and subsequently republished by The Libertarian Institute in May 2019,2 and psychreg.org in late January 2021,3 noted:

“According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a mass murder occurs when at least four people are murdered, not including the shooter … during a single incident …

Seemingly every time a mass shooting occurs … the anti-gun media and politicians have a knee-jerk response — they blame the tragedy solely on the tool used, namely firearms, and focus all of their proposed ‘solutions’ on more laws, ignoring that the murderer already broke numerous laws when they committed their atrocity.

Facts matter when addressing such an emotionally charged topic, and more gun control legislation has shown that law-abiding Americans who own guns are NOT the problem. Consider the following: The more gun control laws that are passed, the more mass murders have occurred.

Whether or not this is correlation or causation is debatable. What is not debatable is that this sick phenomenon of mass murderers targeting ‘gun-free zones,’ where they know civilian carry isn’t available to law-abiding Americans, is happening.

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center,4 97.8% of public shootings occur in ‘gun-free zones’ – and ‘gun-free zones’ are the epitome of the core philosophical tenet of gun control, that laws are all the defense one needs against violence …

This debate leads them away from the elephant in the room and one of the real issues behind mass shootings — mental health and prescription drugs.

Ignoring what’s going on in the heads of these psychopaths not only allows mass shootings to continue, it leads to misguided gun control laws that violate the Second Amendment and negate the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens.

As Jeff Snyder put it in The Washington Times: ‘But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow.’”

The Elephant in the Room: Antidepressants

Thoughts, emotions, and a variety of environmental factors play into the manifestation of violence, but a mental illness by itself cannot account for the massive rise in mass murder — unless you include antidepressants in the equation. Yet even when mental health does enter the mass shooter discussion, the issue of antidepressants, specifically, is rarely mentioned.

The fact is, depression per se rarely results in violence. Only after antidepressants became commonplace did mass shootings take off, and many mass shooters have been shown to be on antidepressants.

Prozac, released in 1987, was the first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to be approved for depression and anxiety. Only two years earlier, direct-to-consumer advertising had been legalized. In the mid-1990s, the Food and Drug Administration loosened regulations, direct-to-consumer ads for SSRIs exploded and, with it, prescriptions for SSRIs.

In 1989, just two years after Prozac came to market, Joseph Wesbecker shot 20 of his coworkers, killing nine. He had been on Prozac for one month, and the survivors of the drug-induced attack sued Eli Lilly, the maker of Prozac. Since then, antidepressant use and mass shootings have both risen, more or less in tandem.

In the two decades between 1988 and 2008, antidepressant use in the U.S. rose by 400%,5, and by 2010, 11% of the U.S. population over the age of 12 were on an antidepressant prescription.6

In 1982, pre-Prozac, there was one mass shooting in the U.S.7 In 1984, there were two incidents and in 1986 — the year Prozac was released — there was one. One to three mass shootings per year remained the norm up until 1999 when it jumped to five.

How can we possibly ignore the connection between the rampant use of drugs known to directly cause violent behavior and the rise in mass shootings?

Another jump took place in 2012 when there were seven mass shootings. And while the annual count has gone up and down from year to year, there’s been a clear trend of an increased number of mass shootings post-2012. Over time, mass shootings have also gotten larger, with more people getting injured or killed per incident.8

How can we possibly ignore the connection between the rampant use of drugs known to directly cause violent behavior and the rise in mass shootings? Suicidal ideation, violence, and homicidal ideation are all known side effects of these drugs. Sometimes, the drugs disrupt brain function so dramatically the perpetrator can’t even remember what they did.

For example, in 2001, a 16-year-old high schooler was prescribed Effexor, starting off at 40 milligrams and moving up to 300 mg over the course of three weeks. On the first day of taking a 300-mg dose, the boy woke up with a headache, decided to skip school, and went back to bed.

Sometime later, he got up, took a rifle to his high school, and held 23 classmates, hostage, at gunpoint. He later claimed he had no recollection of anything that happened after he went back to bed that morning.9

The Risks Are Clear

The risks of psychiatric disturbances are so clear, ever since mid-October 2004, all antidepressants in the U.S. must include a black box warning that the drug can cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors, especially in those younger than 25, and that:10

“Anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility (aggressiveness), impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric.”

SSRIs can also cause emotional blunting and detachment, such that patients report “not feeling” or “not caring” about anything or anyone, as well as psychosis and hallucinations. All of these side effects can contribute to someone acting out an unthinkable violent crime.

In one review11,12 of 484 drugs in the FDA’s database, 31 were found to account for 78.8% of all cases of violence against others, and 11 of those drugs were antidepressants.

The researchers concluded that violence against others was a “genuine and serious adverse drug event” and that of the drugs analyzed, SSRI antidepressants and the smoking cessation medication, varenicline (Chantix), had the strongest associations. The top-five most dangerous SSRIs were:13

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac), which increased aggressive behavior 10.9 times
  • Paroxetine (Paxil), which increased violent behavior 10.3 times
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox), which increased violent behavior 8.4 times
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor), which increased violent behavior 8.3 times
  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), which increased violent behavior 7.9 times

Depression Is Vastly Overdiagnosed

In her article, Carter also reviewed the clinical determinants for a diagnosis of clinical depression warranting medication. To qualify, you must experience five or more of the following symptoms, most of the day, every day, for two weeks or more, and the symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with normal everyday functioning:14

Sadness Anxiety
Feeling hopeless Feeling worthless
Feeling helpless Feeling ’empty’
Feeling guilty Irritable
Fatigue Lack of energy
Loss of interest in hobbies Slow talking and moving
Restlessness Trouble concentrating
Abnormal sleep patterns, whether sleeping too much or not enough Abnormal weight changes, either eating too much or having no appetite
Thoughts of death or suicide

The reality is that a majority of patients who receive a depression diagnosis and subsequent prescription for an antidepressant do not, in fact, qualify. In one study,15 only 38.4% actually met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria, and among older adults, that ratio was even lower. Only 14.3% of those aged 65 and older met the diagnostic criteria. According to the authors:16

“Participants who did not meet the 12-month MDE criteria reported less distress and impairment in role functioning and used fewer services. A majority of both groups, however, were prescribed and used psychiatric medications.

Conclusion: Depression overdiagnosis and overtreatment is common in community settings in the USA. There is a need for improved targeting of diagnosis and treatments of depression and other mental disorders in these settings.”

What Role Might War Games Play?

Aside from antidepressants, another factor that gets ignored is the influence of shooting simulations, i.e., violent video games. How does the military train soldiers for war? Through simulations. With the proliferation of video games involving indiscriminate violence, should we really be surprised when this “training” is then put into practice? As reported by World Bank Blogs, young men who experience violence “often struggle to reintegrate peacefully into their communities” when hostilities end.17 While American youth typically have little experience with real-world war, simulated war games do occupy much of their time and may over time color their everyday perceptions of life. As noted by Centrical, some of the top benefits of simulations training include:18

  1. Allowing you to practice genuine real-life scenarios and responses
  2. Repetition of content, which boosts knowledge retention
  3. Personalization and diversification, so you can learn from your mistakes and evaluate your performance, thereby achieving a deeper level of learning

In short, violent mass shooter games are the perfect training platform for future mass shooters. Whereas a teenager without such exposure might not be very successful at carrying out a mass shooting due to inexperience with weapons and tactics, one who has spent many hours, years even, training in simulations could have knowledge akin to that of military personnel.

Add antidepressant side effects such as emotional blunting and loss of impulse control, and you have a perfect prescription for a mass casualty event.

On top of that, we, as a nation, also demonstrate the “righteousness” of war by engaging in them without end.19 When was the last time the U.S. was not at war someplace? It’s been ongoing for decades.

Even now, the U.S. insists on inserting itself into the dispute between Russia and Ukraine, and diplomacy isn’t the chosen conflict resolution tool. Sending weapons to Ukraine and calling for more violence against Russians are. Sen. Lindsey Graham has even called for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Showing just how serious such a suggestion is, the White House had to publicly disavow it, stating Graham’s comment “is not the position of the U.S. government.”20

Graham, meanwhile, does not appear to understand how his nonchalant call for murder might actually incite murder. In the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, he now wants to mobilize retired service members to enhance security at schools, and while that might be a good idea, how about also vowing never to call for the murder of political opponents? Don’t politicians understand that this could translate into some kid thinking it’s acceptable to murder THEIR perceived opponents?

As far as I can tell, mass shootings have far more to do with societal norms, dangerous medications, a lack of high-quality mental health services, and the normalization of violence through entertainment and in politics, than it does with gun laws per se.

There are likely many other factors as well, but these are clearly observable phenomena known to nurture violent behavior. I’m afraid Americans are in need of a far deeper and more introspective analysis of the problem than many are capable of at the moment. But those who can, should try, and make an effort to effect much-needed change locally and in their own home.

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This article was published by Dr. Rich Swier and is reproduced with permission.

 

Why Cutting the Gas Tax is a Bad Idea

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Biden says he will request a three-month reduction in the Federal gas tax and urges states to follow as well. At one time Barak Obama called this idea a gimmick. Obama was right.

Certainly, one can understand why. The increase in fuel costs is hurting everyone, including those at the bottom of the income scale the Democrats say they are concerned about.The public is howling, with about most people polled blaming Biden and the Democrats. Most do not feel it is the fault of the greedy oil companies or Putin. These energy companies that just more than a year ago provided us fuel at half the cost did not just discover profits. They pursued profits when energy was cheaper, as they should.

And, if you have been paying attention, energy costs started to rise after the election and were well on their way higher before Putin invaded Ukraine. No, high energy costs are clearly the consequence of Democrat policies that began years ago but culminated with the election of Biden. As the sticker says, he really did do that!

High fuel costs are altering, if not canceling, vacation plans. They are increasing the price of food and everything that is shipped by rail, air, ship, or truck.

Democrats are looking to “do something” to ease the pain because of the fall congressional elections. But the consequences will be found for years in higher home heating oil prices, higher food prices, higher electricity prices, and reduced industrial production. Economic growth relies on the access to competitively priced energy, where energy sources are determined by engineers and the market, not environmental departments at universities and politicians.

When the world moved from wood to coal, from coal to oil, from horses to cars, from kerosene to electricity, it was entrepreneurs operating with the voluntary forces or profit and loss that made the determination. At the turn of the century, we had electric cars, steam-powered cars, and the internal combustion engine, all competing with one another. We had Westinghouse and Tesla competing again Edison. Let that process work today.

What we have now is a top-down, centrally planned forced conversion to different energy systems based on biased research about CO2 and its role in temperature changes. It is what Biden calls a “transition.”

Republicans should not accommodate Biden for the following reasons:

As a tactical matter, do not provide your opponent help when he is hurting himself. They don’t deserve the assistance and it is politically stupid to help them.

We should replay as often as possible all the campaign promises where Democrats pledged to put the oil and gas industry out of business. We should further explain that this has been a long-standing goal of Democrats going back at least 20 years with Al Gore and his inconvenient blunders.

We should explain to the public how the  ESG movement starves energy corporations of capital and reduces supply. Ideas have consequences. The explanation of why these ideas are bad has more weight when people feel the consequences of bad political and scientific decisions. There is nothing quite like pain and fear to focus one’s attention.

This blowback from high prices needs to be unleashed not just on the politicians but the university departments, the environmental industrial complex, and environmental organizations. This has been their multi-year project and we now see the consequences.

More importantly, reducing a tax does not produce one bit of additional energy. Rather, it gives the Democrats the appearance that they care, while they impoverish us all in their Green New Deal fantasy. 

No, let the reality of what they are doing sink in. Many of the people who voted for Biden need to see reality by experiencing the consequences of destroying an industry before better alternatives are created. It is time for tough love. Democrats are reducing our standard of living deliberately to force their ideas on “climate change.” The collateral economic damage is felt by all, but especially by many who voted for Biden.

That pain is a positive thing because it will create political change.

It is the same with the release of oil from the strategic oil reserve. Such action produces no energy and further, uses what is supposed to be a “strategic reserve” intended for when the country is involved in war or confrontation with a hostile energy producer like Iran or Russia. That is a misuse of the purpose of that reserve. It is not a political piggy bank to be drawn on when Democrats are in trouble.

We could have gotten almost an equivalent amount of oil from Canada simply by completing pipelines that were already well on the way to completion.

Releasing oil from the strategic oil reserve, and cutting the gas tax, are all calculated steps to distract us all from the real problem:  the US has immense energy reserves and Democrats stand in the way of them being utilized. It is painful for us all, but we must let that reality be driven home.

There are additional problems as well. This revenue goes to the highway trust fund and is needed for vital infrastructure improvement. We should not let that trust fund be raided by politicians seeking relief from their own policies.

That money will have to be made up somewhere. Thus, the loss in revenue has to come from somewhere, higher taxes elsewhere, or increases in the deficit that adds upward pressures on inflation and interest rates.

Finally, the amount of 18 cents for gasoline, and 24 cents for diesel, is hardly enough to provide relief and it will be only temporary relief at best. We have seen the price of gas go up that much in a day or two.

I drive a mid-sized pickup that averages about 18 miles per gallon, for city and highway.  I drive about 10,000 miles a year. So, let’s do the math. At 18 miles per gallon, that is about 555 gallons per year.  Saving 18 cents per gallon would save me about $100 for a year.  The three months proposed would equal about $25 of total savings.  C’mon man.  I am not worried about the $25, I am worried about Biden’s energy policy costing me more for gas, electricity, and propane, for the rest of my life and for my children and grandchildren.

In summary, it is a political gesture with no meaningful benefit other than to help Biden.  He doesn’t deserve it.

If we really want to have a sane energy policy that keeps prices low for consumers,  the Democrats need to lose.  We should see that they do.

 

 

WHO Chief Now Says He Believes COVID Did Leak From Wuhan Lab After an Accident in 2019

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been playing the toady for the Chinese Communists since the pandemic was first loosed upon the world in Wuhan, China in December of 2019. He abandoned any pretense of impartiality and ran interference for his masters in Beijing when the first investigations into the origins of the coronavirus were conducted.

According to the Daily Mail, Tedros is also coming around to accepting that hypothesis. He confided to a senior European politician that the most likely explanation was a catastrophic accident at the Wuhan Institute where infections first spread in late 2019.

In essence, it’s now down to a process of elimination. For two years, scientists have been looking for the specific animal species that would have passed the coronavirus to humans. They’ve concentrated on bats, but other mammals have been tested — tens of thousands of them — looking for the “‘zoonotic’ spread” that researchers confidently predicted would show up and solve the mystery of the coronavirus’s origins.

There’s been no sign of the coronavirus spreading from a specific animal species to humans. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. But it’s certainly a compelling reason to try and force China to cooperate in the investigation…..

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Continue reading this article at  PJ Media.

Red Flagged Nation: Gun Confiscation Laws Put a Target on the Back of Every American

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.” — Ayn Rand

 

What we do not need is yet another pretext by which government officials can violate the Fourth Amendment at will under the guise of public health and safety.

Indeed, at a time when red flag gun laws (which authorize government officials to seize guns from individuals viewed as a danger to themselves or others) are gaining traction as a legislative means by which to allow police to remove guns from people suspected of being threats, it wouldn’t take much for police to be given the green light to enter a home without a warrant in order to seize lawfully-possessed firearms based on concerns that the guns might pose a danger.

Frankly, a person wouldn’t even need to own a gun to be subjected to such a home invasion.

SWAT teams have crashed through doors on lesser pretexts based on false information, mistaken identities and wrong addresses.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws allowing the police to remove guns from people suspected of being threats. If Congress succeeds in passing the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order, which would nationalize red flag laws, that number will grow.

As The Washington Post reports, these red flag gun laws “allow a family member, roommate, beau, law enforcement officer or any type of medical professional to file a petition [with a court] asking that a person’s home be temporarily cleared of firearms. It doesn’t require a mental-health diagnosis or an arrest.

In the wake of yet another round of mass shootings, these gun confiscation laws—extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws—may appease the fears of those who believe that fewer guns in the hands of the general populace will make our society safer.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way.

Anything—knives, vehicles, planes, pressure cookers—can become a weapon when wielded with deadly intentions.

With these red flag gun laws, the stated intention is to disarm individuals who are potential threats… to “stop dangerous people before they act.”

While in theory, it appears perfectly reasonable to want to disarm individuals who are clearly suicidal and/or pose an “immediate danger” to themselves or others, where the problem arises is when you put the power to determine who is a potential danger in the hands of government agencies, the courts and the police.

We’ve been down this road before.

Remember, this is the same government that uses the words “anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist” interchangeably.

This is the same government whose agents are spinning a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports using automated eyes and ears, social media, behavior sensing software, and citizen spies to identify potential threats.

This is the same government that has a growing list—shared with fusion centers and law enforcement agencies—of ideologies, behaviors, affiliations, and other characteristics that could flag someone as suspicious and result in their being labeled potential enemies of the state.

For instance, if you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, and demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you could be at the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.

Moreover, as a New York Times editorial warns, you may be an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) in the eyes of the police if you are afraid that the government is plotting to confiscate your firearms, if you believe the economy is about to collapse and the government will soon declare martial law, or if you display an unusual number of political and/or ideological bumper stickers on your car.

Let that sink in a moment.

Now consider the ramifications of giving police that kind of authority: to preemptively raid homes in order to neutralize a potential threat.

It’s a powder keg waiting for a lit match.

Under these red flag laws, what happened to Duncan Lemp—who was gunned down in his bedroom during an early morning, no-knock SWAT team raid on his family’s home—could very well happen to more people.

At 4:30 a.m. on March 12, 2020, in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that had most of the country under a partial lockdown and sheltering at home, a masked SWAT team—deployed to execute a “high risk” search warrant for unauthorized firearms—stormed the suburban house where 21-year-old Duncan, a software engineer and Second Amendment advocate, lived with his parents and 19-year-old brother.

The entire household, including Lemp and his girlfriend, was reportedly asleep when the SWAT team directed flash bang grenades and gunfire through Lemp’s bedroom window.

Lemp was killed and his girlfriend injured.

No one in the house that morning, including Lemp, had a criminal record.

No one in the house that morning, including Lemp, was considered an “imminent threat” to law enforcement or the public, at least not according to the search warrant.

So what was so urgent that militarized police felt compelled to employ battlefield tactics in the pre-dawn hours of a day when most people are asleep in bed, not to mention stuck at home as part of a nationwide lockdown?

According to police, they were tipped off that Lemp was in possession of “firearms.”

Thus, rather than approaching the house by the front door at a reasonable hour in order to investigate this complaint—which is what the Fourth Amendment requires—police instead strapped on their guns, loaded up their flash-bang grenades, and carried out a no-knock raid on the household.

According to the county report, the no-knock raid was justified “due to Lemp being ‘anti-government,’ ‘anti-police,’ currently in possession of body armor, and an active member of the Three Percenters,” a far-right paramilitary group that discussed government resistance.

This is what happens when you adopt red flag gun laws, painting anyone who might be in possession of a gun—legal or otherwise—as a threat that must be neutralized.

Therein lies the danger of these red flag laws, specifically, and pre-crime laws such as these generally where the burden of proof is reversed and you are guilty before you are given any chance to prove you are innocent.

Red flag gun laws merely push us that much closer towards a suspect society where everyone is potentially guilty of some crime or another and must be preemptively rendered harmless.

Where many Americans go wrong is in naively assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or harmful in order to be flagged and targeted for some form of intervention or detention.

In fact, all you need to do these days to end up on a government watch list or be subjected to heightened scrutiny is use certain trigger words (like cloud, pork and pirates), surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, limp or stutterdrive a car, stay at a hotel, attend a political rally, express yourself on social mediaappear mentally ill, serve in the militarydisagree with a law enforcement officialcall in sick to work, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious, appear confused or nervous, fidget or whistle or smell bad, be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun (such as a water nozzle or a remote control or a walking cane), stare at a police officer, question government authority, appear to be pro-gun or pro-freedom, or generally live in the United States.

Be warned: once you get on such a government watch list—whether it’s a terrorist watch list, a mental health watch list, a dissident watch list, or a red flag gun watch list—there’s no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there.

You will be flagged as a potential threat and dealt with accordingly.

You will be tracked by the government’s pre-crime, surveillance network wherever you go.

Hopefully you’re starting to understand how easy we’ve made it for the government to identify, label, target, defuse and detain anyone it views as a potential threat for a variety of reasons that run the gamut from mental illness to having a military background to challenging its authority to just being on the government’s list of persona non grata.

The government has been building its pre-crime, surveillance network in concert with fusion centers (of which there are 78 nationwide, with partners in the private sector and globally), data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s genetic makeup).

Combine red flag laws with the government’s surveillance networks and its plan to establish an agency that will take the lead in identifying and targeting “signs” of mental illness or violent inclinations among the populace by using artificial intelligence to collect data from Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home, and you’ll understand why some might view gun control legislation with trepidation.

No matter how well-meaning the politicians make these encroachments on our rights appear, in the right (or wrong) hands, benevolent plans can easily be put to malevolent purposes.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, even the most well-intentioned government law or program can be—and has been—perverted, corrupted, and used to advance illegitimate purposes once profit and power are added to the equation.

The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on illegal immigration, and the war on COVID-19: all of these programs started out as legitimate responses to pressing concerns and have since become weapons of compliance and control in the government’s hands.

No matter how well-intentioned, red flag gun laws will put a target on the back of every American whether or not they own a weapon.

*****

This article was published by The Rutherford Institute and is reproduced with permission.

The Catastrophe of 12 Million Fatherless American Boys

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editors’ Note: Although the following article is written from a Christian perspective, one need not be Christian to appreciate the role of fathers. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists, can concur as well. The Left’s attack on men in general, masculinity itself, and the specific attack on white males has created much of this problem. But men have contributed to it as well, with a casual attitude towards sex and its inevitable consequences, and women who defy biological reality and want to be as casual about sex as men. Whatever the complex factors, as a society we must push for the ideal of a long-term marriage between a man and a woman. Other arrangements such as same-sex marriages are tolerated, but they are not relationships that will produce children. For households that do produce children, there is simply no way as a society can we continue to ignore the impact of fatherless households. As heroic as many single mothers are, and as effective as many single mothers can be, the data shows that this is likely more the exception than the rule.

 

Amongst the heated public rhetoric in the aftermath of the Uvalde school massacre, one tragic detail remains stubbornly paramount: the 18-year-old male shooter came from a broken family and was estranged from his father.

While it would certainly be unfair to pin all the blame for monstrous crimes committed by young men on the failings of their parents without considering other factors, there’s no denying what is arguably the central issue facing our nation (and what the Left persistently brushes aside): the breakdown of marriage and the children that grow up fatherless as a result. The Institute for Family Studies recently summed up the situation well: “The decline of marriage and the rise of fatherlessness in America remain at the center of some of the biggest problems facing the nation: crime and violence, school failure, deaths of despair, and children in poverty.”

American boys are at the center of this crisis: they grow up to commit crimedrop out of school, and take their own lives at far higher rates than women do. From 1960 to 1996, the percentage of boys who lived without their biological father almost doubled—from 17% to 32%. Today, the Institute for Family Studies reports that “an estimated 12 million boys are growing up in families without their biological father.”

The result of this implosion of intact families has been absolutely catastrophic for society, particularly for boys. A recent study conducted by the Institute for Family Studies found stark disparities among fatherless boys compared to their peers with fathers in college graduation (14% versus 35%), idleness at ages 25-29 (defined as not working and not looking for work—19% versus 11%), and who have been incarcerated by ages 15-19 (31% versus 21%) and ages 28-34 (21% versus 10%).

Common sense tells us why this is the case. As Adam B. Coleman has astutely observed, involved fathers provide critical guidance to their sons in a host of ways. In particular, they offer:

  • “a blueprint for manhood”;
  • “a source of protection” and a “source of security” from the outside world;
  • “a builder of confidence and a teacher for how to regulate your emotions in stressful situations”; and
  • “the son’s purpose compass as he helps guide him throughout the trials of adolescence towards purposeful adulthood.”

This fatherly nurturing is especially critical during a boy’s childhood and as they approach the teen years. As Family Research Council’s senior research fellow George Barna has written, “Because a worldview is fully developed before the age of 13, young children listen to and watch their parents for clues on how to live an appropriate and successful life.”

Scripture clearly stipulates why an engaged father is so critical during childhood: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

But as common sense also tells us, more responsible fathers aren’t going to just magically appear in our society, despite the best efforts of liberal masculinity lessons. Good fathers are formed through good marriages, just as our Creator designed it (Matthew 19:4-6). As the Institute for Family Studies notes, “[W]e must … revive our most fundamental bond, marriage because it connects men to their sons in a way nothing else does.”

So how can we promote healthy marriages in order to forge the capable fathers that our country so desperately needs? It’s a project all of us must be involved in, and it can take the form of doing practical things like those of us who are fathers talking honestly about fatherhood to our bachelor friends, inviting them into our family and community life, taking an active role in mentoring young men in our circles of influence, and yes, setting up eligible bachelors with eligible bachelorettes in our social circles.

In regard to the more immediate problem of the current crop of fatherless boys in our country, we can ask our representatives to look into passing bills that strengthen fatherhood and mentorship. There are also many practical ways we can minister to the fatherless. We can start by keeping our ears to the ground in our local communities so that we are ready to provide mentorship to the boy next door who we know is living in a single-parent household. This could simply involve inviting them over to play with our kids as often as we can so they can witness healthy Christian family life. Or we may consider getting involved in more formal after-school mentorship programs or other national mentorship programs.

While there is admittedly a multitude of factors that have led to the fatherhood crisis we find ourselves in here in America, one thing is certain: nothing will change unless we are willing to help cultivate genuine, godly masculinity and fatherhood in our own families and communities.

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