Saturday, March 29, 2008

We are not the only state with a fiscal crisis...

... as Vermont State Rep. Michael Obuchowski would attest. At the end of a discussion on Windham's finances, he recommended that Vermont consider secession from the Union, according to the Brattleboro Reformer.

Thanks to Vermont Commons for bringing this to my attention.

Note: This post was altered 4/14/2008 to remove a broken link.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Treaty of Paris

Speaking of International Law; it is noteworthy that the Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the First American Revolution, clearly states that the former American colonies "are, and ought to be, free and independent States". This treaty is signed by the then-king of England as well as representatives of the colonies that fought against British rule. This, and not the ratification of the Federal Constitution, is the freedom that they won.
It would be interesting to see if our British Allies today could see the wisdom of upholding this treaty and recognizing that our States are, and have always been, Free and Independent States. After all, their king did give his word....

"I need courage," said the lion

That line from The Wizard of Oz came to mind after reading Michael Tuggle's analysis of the Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule.

Freedom is never free, it is, as Thomas Jefferson said, "watered with the blood of patriots."

In admiration of their courage and as a reminder that we need courage of our own, I am adding the Free Tibet logo to this site.

Secession and international law

Professor Valerie Epps has written an interesting article for the Korea Times discussing the evolution of international law as it relates to state sovereignty, then applying it to the secession in Kosova and the recent conflict in Tibet. She stresses that the United Nations has generally walked a fine line between favoring the right of self-determination and opposition to secessionist movements, undoubtedly reflecting the desires of the existing member-states.

One point bears repeating: Small states are not inherently unstable. Prof. Epps cites Liechtenstein and Luxembourg as examples, but there are any number of small countries throughout the world that exist peacefully -- consider the small Caribbean and South Pacific island nations, the Arab sheikdoms, and African countries like Gambia, Lesotho, and Swaziland.

Bloodshed occurs, not because territories want to secede; but because the ruling élites in the larger nation do not want to give them up, and are willing to use force to keep them. It's as simple as that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Secessionist takes: Lincoln and Immigration

Regular readers to this blog know that I frequently read (and occasionally quote from) the League of the South's blog Rebellion. While my endorsement of their content can be rather qualified, they do bring up some excellent points on topics of interest to all conservatives and secessionists, including these:

Those who praise Abraham Lincoln as the one who saved the Union usually do so without thinking about the price that was paid. As President, he more blatantly violated the Constitution than any other (the present one included). In this post Rebellion gives us a sort of theological take on the subject (Their link to Al Benson, Jr., elaborates; but has a stronger Southern slant than I would endorse).

The other post gives several quotations from America's founding fathers on immigration, which show considerably less enthusiasm for open borders than the American left has today.

My thanks to Michael Tuggle for providing the entire secessionist movement with some great source material!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Minimum price for US Treasury securities: $100

The US Treasury Department has announced that it will offer its bills notes and "inflation-protected" securities in denominations as low as $100, beginning in April. (Previously, the minimum was $1,000).

According to the Treasury press release:

"'U.S. Treasury securities, the world's safest, most liquid investments, should be accessible to the broadest universe of investors- large and small. The new, lower minimum Treasury amount will put marketable securities within reach of more savers and investors in the United States and around the world,' said Anthony Ryan, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial
Markets. "

Ah yes ... "backed by the 'full faith and credit' of the United States." The Chinese, Arab oil sheiks, and Europeans used to think that. Now that foreign investors are switching from dollars to euros, the governmental entity that is $9,392,204,908,953.75 in debt* will just have to bilk its own people.

* As of March 20 (source)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"A More Perfect Union"

Sen. Barack Obama (left) certainly did distance himself from Rev. Wright's rhetoric, in one of the most beautiful and potentially powerful speeches I have read in some time. I encourage you to view it on his site, or to read it (this link is to the Drudge Report Flash site).

Clearly, this speech came from the heart, and is not the work of some spin doctor. It was an extremely courageous speech in a nation that has been gripped in fear of even discussing openly our racial issues. However, the test of a President's leadership is the ability to translate fine words into effective action; and his ability in this regard remains to be determined.

I do not want to be cynical. We need new hope for all our people. At the same time, the entrenched corporate kleptocracy will be difficult to dislodge. While I stand by my assertion that the United States is too large and complex to support a free government, I am willing to be proven wrong.

I shall wait and see what comes of it ...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Note for China

A word to the wise is sufficient...

If you want respect, act respectable.

Let go of Taiwan and Tibet, and listen to your own people. The benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

If we only had "more money"....

Well it seems that the result of decades of fraud is finally at hand, and everyday Americans are struggling to understand the cryptic jargon of the financial elite as they attempt to squirm their way out of a straightforward explanation for their behavior.

In a climate of rampant "debt speculation" loans have been made to people who cannot possibly pay them. Why these people accepted these loans is unclear, but the real question is: Why were they hade at all? The answer is that the mortgage lenders create money from nothing for the purpose of lending it. This loan is repaid by even more money which represent the value of the labor of the person who worked for it. At the end of the process, if the mortgage is repaid, the lender gets to keep the difference and the Fed gets their cut, and the extra money washes through the system. If the mortgage is not repaid, then the institution still created the money, the borrower still spent it, inflation still occurs, and the bank is left holding the deed to the home. Either way it's a pretty good deal.... for the bank, I mean.

This "extra" money that has been created dilutes the value of the preexisting money, which gives the appearance that prices have gone up, when in reality, it simply takes more of the paper dollars to equal same amount of "value". The apparent inflation of prices includes the price of the home in question, and lots of quasi-real money is said to accrue in the form of "equity". But don't be fooled.

Now that the number of people who, having fallen afoul of the other dying aspects of the economy (or having simply made a foolish decision in the first place, we don't know), are unable to make good on their debt, the rottenness of the financial "sector" and the interrelation of all of its components are coming into the spotlight. Everyone is terrified (justly) that they may be about to lose their livelihood due to artificial fluctuations in the economy... and of course, if the mortgage payers fail, then the banks fail - clearly something has to be done, and crowds of frightened and confused Americans cry out to their government, "Do something! Save us! You are all-powerful! Fix this reality!"

But reality is what it is and the Americans seem to have forgotten that it was never the government's job to make everything OK for everyone. Now they are hatching a plan for the Fed to "guarantee" these loans. What that means is this: the Federal Reserve System has been authorized to create money out of absolutely nothing and use it to "buy" these loans. This guarantees the solvency of all the lending institutions involved, whether they had been pursuing sound lending policies up to this point or not. It also means that the Federal Reserve System, and not any other lending agency, now becomes the holder of the deed to that property. The speculators will have been rewarded because they really took no risk at all, and the person holding the mortgage sleeps with sound relief until....

....the money that was created from nothing floods into the money supply. It will quite suddenly take many more dollars to purchase anything and everything, because the value of the individual dollars has been diluted. Since the individual's paycheck, denominated in dollars, will not go up correspondingly, that individual will have lost purchasing power, even though they may in fact be receiving "more money".

So there are three really simple facts that everyone should try to keep in mind:

1) The banks and mortgage institutions will be profiting, and everyone whose income is denominated in dollars is going to be paying for it;

2) If you let the Federal government pay your mortgage, don't be surprised when they start acting like they own your house - because they will; and

3) None of this hocus-pocus would be possible if these jokers actually had to raise real money to finance these schemes, as would be the case in a 100% specie economy.

Oh, one other thing. Another way that money can be added to the money supply is from outside. Many of these nearly-insolvent "investment" firms are being "liquidated", or sold to investors. But since everyone in the US is struggling, they are being sold to foreign investors, who just happen to have large amounts of dollars they have amassed over the last few decades. These dollars are losing value too and the foreigners would love to convert them into something of real value, like euros, or oil, or your family's house.

The way "out" of this is not to increase bureaucracy, add government regulation, and give even more power to the Fed. The way "out" of this is "through" it: let it happen, learn from it, and pick up the pieces.

Knowing Wright and wrong

The Presidential candidate whom one of my fellow Ohio bloggers is fond of calling “BOOHOO” * has for a pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (right), who according to Thomas Sowell and ABC News, reportedly invoked Divine damnation upon the United States of America †

Such a statement, especially coming from a minister of a Christian denomination, is blasphemous and obscene. Blasphemous, because he is assuming that he knows better than God what God should do; obscene, because he is assuming that America is inherently evil. Those who express the contrary sentiment in the song “God Bless America” usually do so as a prayer that America would be worthy of God’s blessing, rather than taking for granted that the nation is worthy of it.

I expect that, if Sen. Obama attends a service where such a sentiment is expressed, he will walk out and publicly distance himself from such remarks. (He didn't walk out, but he certainly did distance himself. See update)

There is no inconsistency between this stand and my advocacy of Ohio independence. I am not angry with America, but am saddened by how it has changed. America was founded on an idea that remains as great today as it was two centuries ago. In the last forty years, we have allowed that idea to wither in our pursuit of imperial dreams and wanton materialism. However, I do not believe that our founders’ vision can be restored in a nation as vast and diverse as the United States is today. My vision for the Ohio Republic is a restoration of the original concept of free government, one that prizes liberty above security, and which welcomes the input of every Ohioan into the life of their community and nation.

* With a separate link for each letter: see Bizzyblog
† I am avoiding the exact phrase to prevent search engines from locating The Ohio Republic on it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ohio's Report Card

The Pew Center on the States and Governing magazine released a report last week grading the fifty States on the effectiveness of their governments in handling money, people, infrastructure, and information. Ohio’s overall B- was the national average; but Ohio had one strong area, handling of money (B), and one that was weak, handling of people (C+). Handling of infrastructure and information each received a B-.

The report praised the Strickland Administration for its commitment to measurable long-term goals, for providing the public with a scorecard to know how the State is doing, and for the success of the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System (OAKS). Ohio was also praised for its intergovernmental coordination and for the way it has developed its online services and information.

On the minus side, the Administration made some blunders in its early choices for budget cuts. Ohio also needs to work harder at “human capital planning” to prepare for a coming retiree exodus; but notes that this will be difficult because of an “old-school, rigid relationship with labor unions – and the resulting Byzantine employee classification system.” Other demerits were given for Ohio’s system of financial controls and reporting, and its hiring system.

The highest scores went to Utah, Virginia, and Washington, each with an A- average. Utah seems to do almost everything right; the other two have long standing reputations for their outstanding use of information technology to support performance goals. On the other hand, New Hampshire (D+ overall) fiscally strangled itself by taking to an extreme former Ohio Gov. George Voinovich’s dictum to “do more with less.”

Ohio’s Report Card in 2005

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Client #9

It seems that the only news item people have wanted to talk about this week was the fall of New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer (story in New York Times). However, I could only find one angle that was not off-topic for this blog.

I have been married to the same woman for almost 30 years, and am committed to that marriage. I also am opposed to the legalization of prostitution where I live. However, I am still asking myself, why should "interstate trafficking in prostitution" be a Federal offense? If call girls can afford to ride commercial jets, let 'em. If a locality wants to legalize it (and accepts the social costs with its eyes open), let it. On the other hand, if the State of New York wants to slap a lengthy prison term (or whatever) for Gov. Spitzer's offense, the State has that right. The Other Paper (here in Columbus) published a piece this week that displays some very creative local approaches to enforcement against prostitution.

Free government means letting individuals make their own decisions, good or bad, at the lowest level possible.

Now, people, would you please move on to something else?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Say it ain't so, Ted (and mean it) !

Washington Post columnist George Will, in his latest pontification, has weighed in on the reasons Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (right) would be an asset to the party as its nominee for Vice President.

In the narrow calculus of Presidential elections, it does make sense. Ohio supposedly "determined" the 2004 election (my take on that), and no Democrat has won without Ohio.

But Gov. Strickland's accession to the Vice Presidency will not benefit Ohio in any way at all. It would be a tragic waste of leadership, both practical and moral, at a time when leadership of either sort is in short supply (example); and would seriously cripple his Turnaround Ohio and energy programs.

Please urge the Governor to stay home and stay the course.

Facing the Future

I do not know how anyone can read Carolyn Baker's piece ("Food, Fuel, and Fascism" in Vermont Commons) and not come to the conclusion that the collapse of civilization as we know it is imminent.

I am skeptical of conspiracy theories; but you do not have to believe in them to understand that Peak Oil; the loss of individual influence over government, society, and economy; and the free fall of the U.S. dollar are providing the perfect breeding ground for a revolution.

Those who expect one of the Three Senators (Hillary, Obama, McCain) to deliver us from this fall are foolishly expecting one of the products of the corporate kleptocracy to deliver us from it.

We can manage the revolution by seceding and building a republic dedicated to our traditional principles of government and economics; or we can let the revolution drag us all into a new Dark Age of poverty and despair.

Ohio, it is time to choose, because this offer is good for a limited time only.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How to succeed in the 21st Century

Dr. Dobb's Portal, an e-newsletter for software professionals, reported a list of 14 "Grand Engineering Challenges" that, in the opinion of the National Academy of Engineering, would greatly improve how we live in the future.

The list is also handy for identifying 14 great business opportunities for Ohio in coming years. They are:

Make solar energy affordable
Provide energy from fusion
Develop carbon sequestration methods
Manage the nitrogen cycle
Provide access to clean water
Restore and improve urban infrastructure
Advance health informatics
Engineer better medicines
Reverse-engineer the brain
Prevent nuclear terror
Secure cyberspace
Enhance virtual reality
Advance personalized learning
Engineer the tools for scientific discovery

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kosova update

It probably goes without saying that Kosova's secession from Serbia has caused great excitement within the secessionist blogosphere; as we try to determine what effect this event will have on the future. Following are some stories that may be of interest.

  • The Associated Press reports that the Serbian government under nationalist Vojuslav Kostunica is dissolving, finding itself unable to work with liberal President Boris Tadic. There is some disagreement over whether the real issue is Kosova or Serbia's application to eventually join the European Union. Prime Minister Konstunica has tied the two issues together, while President Tadic argues that they should be dealt with separately. Failure to find common ground was the reason the government collapsed.
  • The Palmetto Patriot in the Republic of South Carolina blog tries to explain Kosova in terms Americans can understand by putting the shoe on our foot with a parable about Tejanos (Hispanic Texans) declaring independence from the United States with the support of China.
  • The Second Vermont Republic figures in another Associated Press story asking, if Kosova, why not Vermont? One of the interviewees is Thomas Naylor, of that organization, for what that is worth.

I have also observed considerable confusion between the breakup of nations, as the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia experienced (and the United States may soon experience) with balkanization, which has a specific reference to the breakup of nations into warring states. (See "Kosovo succeeds and secedes!" below; and especially, the comments to that post).

Friday, March 7, 2008

My day at the polls

I was incredibly busy on Tuesday, as usual, but I made time to go to the polls to "do my duty" as a citizen of Ohio. I had already been somewhat lax in this duty because, I confess, I went to the polls without any idea of what would be on the ballot.

On the table were three pads of paper ballots: a pink one, a green one, and a white one. After standing in line for a long time behind a senior citizen who seemed unsure of her current address but knew she was a Republican, I signed and presented my ID, after which I was asked my party affiliation.

"I'm Independent!", I replied provacatively.

"Oh! Really? then you'll get an issues-only ballot."

The woman ripped the very first ballot off the white pad, which had been set to the side, and handed it to me. It was huge - definitely bigger than 11x17 - and it was almost totally blank! She asked me if I needed help and I laughed, showing her the ballot. "There's only one question!" I replied. So I took the ballot to the booth and looked at it. The question read:

"A proposed tax levy of 4.9 mills for... the general fund of Cuyahoga County Dept. of Health and Human Services...."

So I voted Yes under the reasoning that I'd rather the county get my money than the Feds. Not sure how they'd spend it, of course.... but that's fine print for another day.....