The FDA/WIC Role in the Baby Formula Debacle

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

There have by now been an acute shortage of infant formula in the United States for months. Despite government claims to the contrary, it is unlikely to end anytime soon.

This turn of events was utterly predictable. Indeed, it was all but inevitable, as the government agencies responsible for providing safe, readily available infant formula have been neglecting their mission for decades.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a regulatory agency that exists for the purpose of ensuring the safety and availability of certain products. One of the products for which the FDA is responsible is infant formula.

If infant formula causes harm, both the maker of the formula and the FDA are responsible. However, if infant formula is unavailable, only the FDA is responsible. No private entity has a duty to produce or sell formula.

Along with the FDA, the other relevant agency is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Their self-described mission is “to increase food security and reduce hunger.”

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is one of the programs that the FNS administers. WIC was established almost exactly 50 years ago. Its remit is to help children under the age of 5, along with pregnant and nursing mothers, to meet their nutritional needs. Currently, over half of American infants participate in the program.

By the 1990s, pregnant women and mothers who came to WIC for help, advice, and support feeding themselves and their children were often confronted with intrusive, irrelevant questions about their personal lives and medical histories, and relentless pressure to vaccinate themselves and their children. Sometimes, access to food was directly tied to immunization status.

In December of 2000, an Executive Memorandum was issued indicating that immunization status should never be used as a condition of eligibility for WIC services, but that efforts should be focused on “increase immunization levels among children participating in WIC programs.”

Ever since WIC has shamelessly been using its position of power and trust to convince women who come seeking food that what they really need is vaccines. Why, if you go to WIC’s website, is there a “spotlight” on “COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 – 11”? No children ages 5 – 11 are served by WIC.

WIC does not seem to have devoted as much attention over the years to providing nutritional support as it did to providing vaccination support, but it did leverage its purchasing power and institutional influence to essentially grant 3 companies an oligopoly on the production of infant formula in the United States.

One of these companies is Abbott Laboratories. A 2011 report by the USDA pegged Abbott’s share of the market at over 40%.

In February, The FDA shut down Abbott’s largest plant for manufacturing infant formula. Obviously, this caused a major national formula shortage.

With an Orwellian flourish, the Biden Administration blames Abbott for the shortage, because it is not producing enough formula. But it is the Biden administration itself that is preventing Abbott from producing it.

And besides, Abbott Laboratories is a publicly held corporation that exists for the purpose of making money. WIC, on the other hand, is a government agency that exists for the purpose of feeding mothers and small children.

Furthermore, the government has not only granted an oligopoly to three companies, but has also burdened the entire industry with a myriad of gratuitous, often inscrutable regulations, and has effectively forbidden the importation of formula from abroad. A shortage was only a matter of time.

If the FDA can’t or won’t do its job, it should at the very least get out of the way and let market forces do theirs. Instead, the agency continues to prioritize maintaining its own power and influence and continues to pursue an agenda that is often at odds with its institutional mission, undernourished babies be damned.

If the FDA and WIC did what they were established to do, instead of devoting an inordinate amount of time, money, and energy to self-promotion and vaccine promotion, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many babies in America suffering from malnutrition. 

Perhaps there wouldn’t be so many small children going to bed hungry. Perhaps there wouldn’t be so many desperate mothers, crying themselves to sleep, wondering how they will feed their little one tomorrow.

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

Mom Reads Aloud Purported Assignment Given To Daughter. School Board Cuts Her Mic Because It’s Too Obscene

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

A Nevada school board temporarily cut off a mother from speaking as she read an assignment reportedly given to her 15-year-old daughter, according to video footage of a school board meeting.

“This will be horrifying for me to read to you, but that will give you perspective on how she must have felt when her teacher required her to memorize this and to act it out in front of her entire class,” the mother said.

The assignment allegedly read, “I don’t love you. It’s not you, it’s just, I don’t like your d**k. Or any d**k in that case. I cheated Joe.” The mother was immediately cut off after she read the assignment.

Board of Education member told the mother that they cut her off for the use of profanity.

Clark County School District told the Daily Caller that the mother “was given their full time for public comment.” A complete video shows the school board allowed the mother to complete her thought.(RELATED: High School Questionnaire Asks Why Straight People Are So ‘Sexually Aggressive’)

The mother claims that she met with the district with the help of a parent advocacy group. She said she is hopeful that the district will correct the situation without terminating the teacher.

Clark County School District told the Daily Caller that it is “investigating the circumstances surrounding a class assignment consisting of a student-generated writing exercise that produced content not conducive to student instruction.”

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This article was published by Daily Caller and is reprinted with permission.

Buffalo Shooter’s Personal Diary Is Pretty Clear About His Sources Of Inspiration

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron said his beliefs were inspired by websites Reddit and 4chan, which he began using during COVID-19, and listed his favorite subreddits in his personal diary.

Media outlets blamed Tucker Carlson and Republicans for inspiring the shooter, but he condemned Republicans in his diary, never mentioned Carlson, and expressed that he was politically left-leaning.

“I almost spent a year planning this attack … Oh how time flies, if I could go back maybe I’d tell myself to get the fuck off 4chan,” he wrote in one diary entry.

The 18-year-old who was charged in the Saturday shooting deaths of ten people in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket revealed in his diary that his radical beliefs originally developed in communities on 4chan and Reddit.

Before the shooting, which occurred in a predominately black neighborhood, Payton Gendron published a 106-page manifesto online describing himself as a “white supremacist” and “anti-Semite.” Gendron said explicitly in his diary that he developed his beliefs from 4chan and Reddit after the start of the pandemic.

“My current beliefs started when I first started to use 4chan a few months after covid started. Many of which I got from 4chan’s /pol/ page and links found in /nsg/ and threads like that,” he wrote in a diary entry labeled Jan. 30, referring to 4chan discussion forums.

Gendron also credited Reddit with forming his beliefs and listed several Reddit forums in which he frequently posted. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Times The Media And Democrats Openly Cheered ‘Replacement Theory,’ Which They Now Call Racist)

“Of course, many of my beliefs come from reddit too. Many subreddits I joined have been banned but they show up on r/AgainstHateSubreddits all the time,” he wrote Jan. 30. “One’s that still around includes r/greentext, r/4chan, r/PoliticalCompassMemes, r/SocialJusticeInAction, r/LoveForLandlords, and r/AntiHateCommunites, of which I am actually in their discord.”

Numerous media organizations attempted to link Gendron with the Republican Party and prominent conservatives like Tucker Carlson for inspiring Gendron while largely overlooking the shooter’s own words, in which he blamed online forums including Reddit and 4chan while condemning the Republican Party.

NBC News’ Ben Collins said Carlson is someone “directly trying to preach” to extremists like the Buffalo shooter, while a Rolling Stone commentary piece said the shooter was a “mainstream Republican,” and a Washington Post piece linked his ideology to Carlson and two other Republicans. A New York Times article also blamed Carlson for promoting “replacement theory,” the idea that elites are replacing white Americans with immigrants to gain political power, which was referenced by Gendron in his diary.

Some of these commentators speak frequently about online disinformation and the importance of stopping the spread of conspiracy theories. Collins writes about misinformation and extremism for NBC News and frequently expresses concern about the potential real-life consequences of online misinformation, tending to apply the “disinformation” and “conspiracy” labels to groups and arguments on the right side of the aisle.

“It makes no sense how democrats and republicans see themselves so differently from each other yet they have 95% of the same views,” Gendron wrote Feb. 19. “Ascend into eco fascism my brothers.”

“Same things apply with democrats vs republicans. Both are controlled by Jews,” he wrote March 7.

Gendron shared what appear to be the results of a quiz that showed his political views to be far-left and slightly authoritarian.

“I don’t think this is that inaccurate to my political beliefs. I tend to have quite a mix between conservative and progressive values though,” he wrote.

“I tend to be progressive when it comes to the development of science but conservative when it comes to culture,” he wrote in another post.

Gendron said he had used a Reddit page about mass killers to plan out his attack in a March 31 post.

“Look at what people did before tou, [sic] I’m trying to find info on other mass shooters and see what they did and what to improve on. r/masskillers is very helpful,” he wrote. “Imagine if I went in on March 15 not knowing my gun wasn’t properly lubed and I had a failure to feed on every shot I took, that would be quite embarrassing.”

At one point Gendron speculated that he could have gotten off 4chan and had a normal life.

“I almost spent a year planning this attack,” he wrote April 26. “Oh how time flies, if I could go back maybe I’d tell myself to get the fuck off 4chan and worldtruthvideos and get an actual life. Too late for that now.”

A moderator for r/SocialJusticeJusticeInAction told The Daily Caller News Foundation he was unaware of the subreddit being mentioned in the shooter’s diary prior to the inquiry and said the subreddit does not tolerate racism or bigotry.

Reddit, 4chan, and the moderators of the subreddits r/AgainstHateSubreddits, r/greentext, r/4chan, r/PoliticalCompassMemes, r/LoveForLandlords and r/masskillers did not respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comment.

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This article was published by The Daily Caller News Foundation and is reproduced with permission.

75% Of Americans Think The Country Under Biden Is Headed In The Wrong Direction

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

A large majority of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and much of their blame for the nation’s woes rests on President Joe Biden and the worsening economic crisis.

A new poll from NBC News found that 75 percent of U.S. adults think the nation is on the wrong track. That’s the highest number of unsatisfied Americans since the nation’s last notable recession in 2008. It’s also up nearly 20 percentage points since this time last year and up two percentage points from January 2021 when Biden was inaugurated.

Most of these Americans’ concerns can be traced to federal spending and lockdown-induced economic problems such as inflation, which is taking a far greater toll on Americans than what’s reflected in the 8 percent figure, and record-high gas prices, which recently reached a $4.48 per gallon national average.

Since Biden assumed office, the financial toll these crises have taken on pocketbooks has only worsened and made it difficult for hardworking Americans to keep up.

In the NBC poll, 65 percent of U.S. adults claimed their current paychecks are falling behind their rapidly rising costs of living. Only 6 percent said their family’s income is “going up faster than the cost of living.”

That’s one of the many reasons why, according to NBC, Biden’s approval among U.S. adults recently sank to 39 percent. His disapproval rose to a whopping 56 percent.

A recent Federalist and Susquehanna poll found that 56 percent of U.S. adults specifically disapproved of Biden’s handling of record-high gas prices, and 61 percent disapproved of Biden’s handling of inflation.

As the midterms quickly approach, the country’s economic state and Biden’s flailing track record are a cause for concern for Democrats who were 10 points behind Republicans in The Federalist poll’s generic ballot test. Yet despite significant evidence that the Biden administration and Democrats’ excessive spending has exacerbated inflation, the White House and legislators are still hyperfocused on passing expensive legislation to send aid to Ukraine and other causes.

All the while, Biden is refusing to take responsibility for his role in the nation’s intensifying crisis and instead repeatedly blames Russia’s Vladimir Putin for problems that started long before the Russia-Ukraine war began.

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

A Musk Inspired Anti-ESG Takeover Wave?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

It’s fun to see memes suggesting that Elon Musk should buy Alphabet, Amazon, Coca Cola, Disney, Meta, Netflix, YouTube, and so forth, but of course he cannot afford all that. But we can. By we, I mean value investors. Musk’s purchase of Twitter has validated my critiques (see hereherehere, and here) of ESG-based investment (environment, social, governance), which despite its weak financial record currently constitutes about $2.7 trillion globally. And it has demonstrated the potential power of anti-ESG funds, which I have called Friedman Funds, after Milton.

An anti-ESG Friedman Fund would, firstly, short companies overvalued due to capricious or government-dictated ESG metrics and buy companies undervalued due to said metrics, and, secondly, buy controlling interests in potentially valuable companies that are going broke, or at least earning less than they could, because they went woke, as Musk and his investors recently did.

The goal of the fund would be to earn above-average risk-adjusted returns, period.

The effect of the fund would be to increase financial market efficiency and economic productivity by punishing deviations from rational valuations and rational business decision-making processes.

The first approach is widely called value investing. Although understood in general terms by investors since at least the 18th centuryBenjamin Graham popularized and quantified the approach in the first half of the 20th century. The gist is to buy stocks when their market price falls below their rational value and to sell or short them when their market price exceeds their rational value. Value investors tend to buy and hold, ignoring daily price gyrations so long as the market price remains near rational value, the price toward which the stock will gravitate in anything approaching an efficient market.

A stock’s price might deviate somewhat from its rational value because investors like or hate the company because of what it makes, or how it makes it, or who runs it, or something its executives say or do. In other words, the shares of presumably “good” companies can gain from a “halo effect,” while shares of allegedly “bad” companies sometimes languish due to a “devil’s horn effect.” Some investors overestimate the importance of those various soft factors on other investors, causing them to value the stock higher (halo) or lower (horn) than the rational investor does.

ESG funds and ESG ratings – given regulatory teeth by the Securities and Exchange Commission directly, or indirectly through bond rating agencies – could produce significant halo/horn effects that value investors could exploit for their own gain while reducing financial system fragility in the process. Because ESG represents politicized and largely subjective concepts, ESG ratings can diverge significantly from reality. Unless checked by value investors, they could easily lead to bubbles (too much investment in certain assets, like dotcoms or mortgage-backed securities) or anti-bubbles (too little investment in certain assets, like fossil fuels). 

ESG bubbles could be particularly costly because the overinvestment might go into companies that actually hurt the environment or the downtrodden. As scholars like Ozzie Zehner, author of Green Illusions, have been arguing, and as Michael Moore tried to explain to fellow progressives in his 2019 documentary Planet of the Humans, very few “green” technologies provide net environmental benefits because they are inefficient, rely on tax subsidies, need rare earth metals to work, have major environmental side effects, and so forth. Similarly, as recently pointed out by Harvard Business Review, ESG ratings are not correlated with better environmental or labor regulatory compliance! 

Moreover, many social justice initiatives at major corporations, like many government programs, aid Democrat politicians but do little or nothing to help American Indians, blacks, Hispanics, women, or the poor. Once exposed, ESG darlings could become dogs overnight, hurting investors and potentially sparking a financial crisis.

The second approach that a Friedman Fund could take is typically frowned upon. According to the so-called Wall Street Rule, investors who do not like management decisions should sell instead of raising a stink. It’s a good rule of thumb because corporate management is usually well-entrenched. Most stockholder proposals fail because managers dominate corporate elections due to their control of the proxy mechanism and employee-owned shares.

A few simple rule changes, like cumulative voting, secret ballots, proxy mechanism reform, and larger board member and executive stock holdings, would make it easier for individual shareholders and institutional investors to pressure management to maximize long-run stockholder returns by making more rational business decisions, like not alienating their median customer to please vocal extremists.

Until then, Friedman Funds have to be willing to purchase underachieving companies like Twitter through stock market purchase of controlling stakestender offers, or proxy votes. Yes, such tactics are often derided as “corporate raiding” but the poor state of corporate governance can render such raids economically necessary. In the 1980s and 1990s, the takeover of poorly performing corporations by funds led by corporate raiders like Carl Ichan and leveraged buyout firms like Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts reinvigorated the US economy by forcing rational changes at stagnating or inefficient companies.

It was no accident that the classic film on corporate takeovers, Other People’s Money, hit theaters in 1991. Its famous climax pitted Lawrence “Larry the Liquidator” Garfield (played by Danny DeVito) of Garfield Investments against Andrew Jorgenson (played by Gregory Peck), head of the failing New England Wire and Cable Company, the biggest employer in a small Rhode Island town. At the company’s annual stockholder meeting, Jorgenson argued, like every other adherent of the “stakeholder” theory of the corporation, that “a business is worth more than the price of its stock. It’s the place where we earn our living, where we meet our friends, dream our dreams.”

After being derided by Jorgenson as a greedy, big-city corporate raider who “builds nothing” and is basically committing “murder,” Garfield retorted:

This company is dead. I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me. It was dead when I got here. It’s too late for prayers. For even if the prayers were answered, and a miracle occurred, and the yen did this, and the dollar did that, and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead. You know why? Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence. We’re dead alright. We’re just not broke. And you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure.

You know, at one time there must’ve been dozens of companies makin’ buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let’s have the intelligence, let’s have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future. …

Me. I’m not your best friend. I’m your only friend. I don’t make anything? I’m makin’ you money. And lest we forget, that’s the only reason any of you became stockholders in the first place. You wanna make money! You don’t care if they manufacture wire and cable, fried chicken, or grow tangerines! You wanna make money! I’m the only friend you’ve got. I’m makin’ you money.

Take the money. Invest it somewhere else. Maybe, maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll be used productively. And if it is, you’ll create new jobs and provide a service for the economy and, God forbid, even make a few bucks for yourselves. And if anybody asks, tell ’em ya gave at the plant.

Granted, Musk’s play on Twitter is somewhat different. Unlike buggy whips, microblogging isn’t a doomed industry yet. But clearly Twitter, despite its sizable first mover advantage, was losing market share to direct competitors like Parler, as well as newer “social media” concepts like Clubhouse and Mastodon, because it was alienating many customers with its over-the-top censorship of demonstrably true “misinformation” and opaque account shutdowns and throttling. That is what Musk meant when he told Twitter’s board that he could unlock the platform’s value in his offer letter. And it turns out that Twitter was overstating the number of its users by over a million, too!

Many other companies also appear to underperform their potential in the name of progressive politics. When executives and board members earn big salaries but own little stock, they have strong incentives to downplay the importance of share prices while catering to tiny but vociferous and even vicious progressive cabals. If incentives cannot be better aligned between management and stockholders from within, then somebody from the outside, like Larry the Liquidator, Musk the Magician, or Friedman Funds, must step in so that the economy doesn’t suffer the large costs associated with underutilized assets.

Thanks to occupational licensing rules (e.g., Series 65), sundry regulations, and other startup costs, I cannot start a Friedman Fund myself. But I can, and would, invest in an ably led one, as would many others interested in making Adam Smith proud by reducing economic irrationality by profiting from it.

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This article was published by AIER, American Institute for Economic Research and is reprinted with permission.

Arizona Gets a Win in Court Challenge to Biden COVID Funds Tax Restriction

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

A federal appellate court dealt President Joe Biden a loss Thursday, ruling that Arizona can challenge the administration’s rule prohibiting states from using COVID-19 funds to lower taxes.

Biden rallied support and passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March of last year. That law provided funding for states to fight COVID-19 and rebound from the economic consequences, among other things. However, the law included a “tax mandate” preventing states from lowering taxes if they accepted the federal funds.

As the law was enacted, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Arizona and 20 other states that the aid package forbids states from using it to reduce state tax burdens. Brnovich sued shortly after.

A lower court had ruled that the state did not have the standing to make the challenge, but the appellate court disagreed, especially since the federal government could potentially reclaim the funds handed down by the federal government because of the tax mandate violation.

“Here, Arizona alleged sufficiently concrete and particularized harms to its ability to exercise its sovereign prerogatives, intangible as those prerogatives may be,” the ruling said. “The quasi-contractual funding offer at issue here can be challenged by Arizona at the outset for offering conditions that are unconstitutionally ambiguous or coercive.”

Judge Ronald Gould said in the opinion that states have standing when an allegedly unconstitutional funding offer is made to them and don’t need to first violate a condition to have standing to challenge it.

The court did not rule on the tax mandate, or “offset provision,” which prohibited a state “from using ARPA funds to subsidize a tax cut or otherwise a reduction in state net tax revenue.” That issue has been remanded to the district court but could return to higher courts after an appeal.

“Specifically, Arizona contends that it was coerced into accepting the Offset Provision because of the size of the funds offered under ARPA and the fraught financial situation brought on by the pandemic,” the ruling said.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich celebrated the decision.

“The 9th Circuit just gave our office a huge victory in our lawsuit against the Biden administration’s unconstitutional tax mandate under the COVID-19 bill,” he wrote on Twitter. “We’re continuing to fight for Arizonans against the unprecedented overreach of the federal government.”

In its most recent budget, Arizona started gradually flattening its progressive income tax down to 2.5%. Effective in 2024, the state will boast the lowest flat income tax in the country of those with a tax on income.

“With rising inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, and continued labor shortages, Arizona small businesses would directly benefit from tax relief,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center. “Preventing states from cutting taxes, as the provision in the American Rescue Plan tries to do, is bad policy that needs to change. Small businesses across the state are applauding the Ninth Circuit’s ruling allowing Arizona to challenge the constitutionality of this harmful provision.”

The Treasury press office wasn’t immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.

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

Markets Are Yelling Mayday

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Editors’ Note: As far back as last summer, The Prickly Pear began to warn about 2022 being a “risk-off” year.  Those elements of the economy, including stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, and real estate that have been elevated by easy money, will tend to suffer when the easy money is taken away. We are now well into the process as the author explains. However, market action will be uneven, and markets rarely decline without lots of zig-zag interruptions. Recent data suggest the market are for the moment getting very oversold, pessimism is running deep, and under those conditions, a contra trend rally or bounce can be expected. If we are correct that such a rally will ensue fairly soon, this may be the last opportunity for investors to sell into strength to make whatever asset allocations adjustments they and their advisor may feel necessary for their particular circumstances. However, in the somewhat longer term, all markets will have to adjust to a higher interest rate environment, less monetary stimulation, and likely a slowing economy.

 

An aircraft pilot about to crash will repeat the distress signal “Mayday.” Throughout the “May days” of this month so far, financial markets have been sending distress signals that may indicate an imminent crash of their own. The major stock market indices have all been experiencing steep sell-offs since May 4, extending a decline that began around the end of March.

Most analysts attribute the sell-off to inflation fears. Traders aren’t worried about how inflation will directly affect the economy, but how it will influence the decisions of a handful of bureaucrats. They fear that it will lead Federal Reserve officials to tighten the money spigot that is driving the inflation in the first place.

The Fed’s money pumping has driven up prices across the board, but especially the prices of capital goods (the value of which is derived from the value of the future consumption goods they will yield) relative to present consumption goods. That ratio, as Austrian economists explain, is the basis for interest rates. By distorting it with its money pumping, the Fed has artificially lowered interest rates so as to “stimulate” the economy.

This has been the Fed’s standard operating procedure since its founding in 1913, but it has precipitously ramped it up since the advent of Covid in order to prop up an economy staggering under the burden of draconian governmental responses to the disease.

If, as traders fear, the resulting inflation prompts the Fed to ease up on the money pumping, that will allow interest rates to rise by pulling out the props holding up capital prices at artificially high levels relative to present consumption goods. This upheaval in relative prices will translate into severe losses for most businesses, revealing that, lured by the Fed’s artificial stimulus, they had overextended themselves.

This general spike in market losses is what’s known as a “crash” and “recession.”

Wall Street is right to expect it, but it would be wrong to push for policies to forestall it, as it often does. A recession is a tough time, but it’s not a bad thing. The artificially inflated bubble was the bad thing. An economic bust is a necessary and beneficial repair of the economic distortion and damage that occurred during the deceptively pleasant artificial boom. The more you delay this repair, the more distortion and damage will accumulate, and the more painful the later repair will have to be.

The bust we need will be extremely painful because the Fed has been money-pumping at ever-increasing unprecedented levels and without stint since the financial crisis of 2008. But kicking the can down the road even further will only mean an even more painful bust when the Fed finally does relent.

And that’s if we’re lucky. If the Fed never relents, its policy will eventually result in hyperinflation, which can be a civilization-killer.

The market is crying out Mayday. Let it crash. And then let it rebuild and re-ascend sustainably under its own power.

The government got us into this mess, but only the market can get us out. And, as the poets say, the only way out is through.

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This article was published by FEE, Foundation for Economic Education and is reprinted with permission.

Majority of Americans Support Restrictions on Abortion As Nation Awaits Supreme Court Ruling

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

As the nation awaits a landmark abortion ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, newly released polling data show that the majority of Americans support limits on abortion.

Convention of States Action, along with the Trafalgar group, released a new poll showing that 57.6% of Americans say “abortion should only be legal in specific circumstances.” Those limits vary based on the voters’ preferences but include limiting which trimester abortions can be performed or allowing abortions only in cases of rape or incest.

Overall, though, unfettered abortion access has very little support. The poll found that only 11.6% of those surveyed said “abortion should be legal up until the moment of birth, including partial-birth.”

“The left is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to create the perception that a majority of Americans support unrestricted abortion,” said Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Action. “But as these numbers show, American voters – including more than a third of Democrats – have paid attention to the science of fetal development, and support a variety of restrictions on abortion.”

After documents were leaked from the Supreme Court, the high court is now expected to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow individual states to determine their own abortion laws. That decision, though, has not been finalized.

The issue has become a major political football with the upcoming midterm elections. Republicans have focused on economic issues, and are expected to make big gains in November. Democrats, though, have said the abortion issue could be used to turn the tables this fall.

The poll, though, found independents favor restrictions, with 54.6% of surveyed independent voters saying abortion “should only be legal in specific circumstances.” On top of that, one out of three Democrats supports strict limits on abortion.

According to the poll, 45.3% of surveyed Democrats say “abortion should be legal in the first and second trimesters” while only 18.8% say abortion “should be legal up until the moment of birth, including partial-birth.”

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

Readiness Problem? The U.S. Military Is Sending Its Own Weapons to Ukraine

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

One day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the U.S. started sending military aid to Ukraine in waves. U.S. allies and partners followed suit, and Ukraine has been able not only to stop but push back Russian forces with Western weapons.

The American-made FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank weapons and the British-made Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) have been a hit with Ukrainian forces, enabling them to destroy thousands of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles. Lots of other weapon systems have contributed too.

Drawdown Authority 

Drawdown authority allows the Pentagon to go to its own arms stockpiles and pick weapon systems to send to Ukraine.

The U.S. Department of Defense has sent the following packages of military aid to Ukraine:

  • February 25: $350m
  • March 12: $200m
  • March 16: $800m
  • April 1: $300m
  • April 5: $100m
  • April 13: $800m
  • April 21: $800m
  • April 24: $322m
  • May 6: $100m

One very natural and expected question is whether the transfer of so many weapon systems to Ukraine is affecting U.S. military readiness.

“I can assure you that we are not at the point where our inventories of these systems have … or will imminently affect our readiness. We’re comfortable that our stocks are in keeping with our readiness needs. But we obviously know that, as these packages go on, and as the need continues inside Ukraine, we want to lead turn … We want to be ahead of the bow wave on that and not get to a point where it becomes a readiness issue,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby had said in April.

Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has played a key part in getting all of these billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine.

As of last week, the Pentagon had a mere $100 million left in drawdown authority, making the passage of the proposed massive package of aid to Ukraine necessary if the U.S. wishes to continue to support the Ukrainian military.

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Continue reading this article at Real Clear Defense.

The Democrat Playbook: How To Look Like You Are Fighting Inflation Without Really Trying

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

“Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.”  Professor Milton Friedman

 

You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.  President Joe Biden

Inflation is the relationship between the quantity of money in circulation and the supply of goods and services.

Government and central banks can create money but they can’t create oil, copper, food, housing, hip surgeries, or Tootsie Rolls.  But government can create conditions that stifle the production of these things through taxation, regulation, import restrictions, and arbitrary credit restrictions.

The basic rule in dealing with inflation, if you are a Democrat, is to blame everyone, and everything, for the price spiral.  Never look at your own insane monetary and fiscal policy.  Then, start tinkering with the economy to show that you care.

Republicans have played the game as well, with wage and price controls by Nixon and WIN buttons (Whip Inflation Now) promoted by President Ford. But Democrats are better at the game.

Being old enough to remember the inflation of the 1960-1980 period, the tried-and-true response is to blame greedy corporations. From that follows the imposition of “windfall profits” taxes. Of course, inflation was only 1 ½% under Donald Trump, so corporations must have undergone tremendous change very quickly, with greedy people taking them over, just to frustrate Biden. That includes, of course, many of the “woke” corporations run by Progressives. They raise their prices as well.

Price controls are also part of the toolbox. Democrats know what the “just” and “honest” price should be, and thus they will attempt to fix prices to what they believe is the correct level.

The problem with price-fixing is well established since attempts go back to the Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia.

They were tried by Greeks and Romans, especially under Diocletian.

The Church (allied with the government) tried price fixing based on “the just” price during the Middle Ages.

Almost all Socialist governments do the same, to some degree or another. Things like the Medicare Codes, which fix the price for specific procedures, are a good example. So is rent control in Democrat-controlled cities like New York.

If you establish a price above what the market determines through free exchange, based on real supply and demand data, it will create surpluses.

If you fix prices below the real cost of production, based on free exchange and real supply and demand, you will create shortages.  This is the most common outcome.

A spinoff of shortages is long wait periods (waiting in the queue) or rationing, which is simply an attempt to equalize the misery of shortages.

An interesting book written during the last great inflation period was Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls by Robert Schuettinger and Eamonn Butler. The conclusion of the book, after exhaustive historical examples, is wage and price controls have never worked anywhere, at any time in history.

The reason they never work is that they never address the underlying causes of inflation, which is excessive government spending funded by monetary creation.

Price fixing inevitably leads to expansive and usually authoritarian government. For example, let’s suppose the government decides a particular item, let’s say milk, is vitally important to the population. So, they fix the price to stop public outrage.

To be even partially effective, you then must proceed to fix the price of dairy cattle, milking machines, barns, hay, farmland, farm labor, processing, transportation, and dozens of other price inputs that create what you see as the “price” of milk.

The price of anything is simply the sum of hundreds of prices of the applicable inputs. You can’t control one, without trying to control the others. Hence, attempts to control inflation through price control creates a gigantic and intrusive government that destroys the free market and its wealth-producing capacity. That is why Venezuela can sit on the largest reserve of oil per capita in the world, and be impoverished with oil over $100 a barrel.

The softer version of price controls is jawboning or attacking corporations for what the government has caused.

So, blaming corporations, taxing them heavily, and excoriating them in public (jawboning) should be expected.

Windfall profit taxes are likely as are price controls.

We may also see rationing.

Jawboning is an attempt to deflect blame onto someone else, typically business owners. Sometimes this gets very ugly when particular religious or ethnic groups are cited as exploiting inflation. Sometimes it has been Jews, sometimes ethnic Chinese,  Koreans in some neighborhoods, and sometimes kulaks.

Then, there is usually an attack on “hoarders”.

Hoarding is a rational response to expected shortages. Governments are against hoarding and prefer rationing. If you try to get supplies that you need, you are to be condemned as a hoarder. If your costs go up, you will be accused of exploitation and price gouging if you pass those costs along. If you correctly anticipate inflation and profit from it, you will be called a speculator. In all these cases, the government simply blames individuals and corporations for responding to something the government itself caused.

Finally, there is what could be called ‘the switch”.

This is a variation on the old theme of passing out public money to buy votes. Here is how it works: Take money from the public through taxation. Take money from the public secretly through currency debasement. Then hand money back to the public to help them deal with the excessive price inflation the money printing caused.

It is almost a perfect circle. Give the money back to the public that you took from them, to acculturate the public to taking government money and make them politically dependent on politicians.

A good example has actually been proposed. Drive up the cost of fuel by harassing and regulating oil producers, forcing the Green agenda, and printing excessive money. Then ride to the rescue by sending the public a check so they can deal with the high fuel costs. Since the government is running huge deficits anyway, simply print the money you will pass out to the public. The belief is the public will be too stupid to understand the game.

A variation of this scheme was the stimulus checks. Shut the economy down using Covid restrictions, causing great pain. Relieve some of that pain by sending checks to those harmed, hopefully, to make them grateful and dependent.

Thus, the way not to fight inflation is to harass and harangue businesses and housewives, print excessive money to pass out to the public to help with inflation, impose wage and price controls, blame corporations, and impose “windfall” profit taxes.

As to what to do to really fight inflation, the following steps are necessary. If inflation is too much money chasing too few goods, one needs to decrease the amount of money and increase the supply of goods.

Slow dramatically the growth of government spending and the growth of the money supply.

Increase the supply of goods by deregulating and rewarding production. Avoid at all cost wage and price controls, rationing, and windfall profit taxes. Foster vigorous competition, knocking down legal and regulatory barriers that block new producers from entering the market.

In short, do the opposite of what Democrats propose.

If the program is both credible and consistent, consumer hoarding will stop as the public learns there is no rational reason for doing it. When supplies of goods and services are reliable, and if prices moderate, there is no reason to buy before prices climb even further. It takes time to break the back of inflationary psychology. However, if the underlying cause, too much money and too few goods is addressed, the inflation will subside.