Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Tyrant State runs Amock....

It just keeps getting worse.

Over 400 children, ripped away from their mothers and fathers and homes, and placed in foster homes.

No Charges filed against any of the parents.

No accusations of any of these particular children being abused.

No trial, no guilty verdict.


Just 400 children ripped from their homes because these people "aren't like us."

And the media spin begins. One imbecile on TV stated that the children were 'rescued' from the compound. Really? Rescued from what? What cedible accusation has been filed against any of their parents? What evidence of abuse has been put forth on any of these children.

Like the rounding up of American Indian children a century ago, we are witnessing another tragedy, and no one seems to care. And I don't understand why.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Raid on El Dorado & Government abuse of power: State-sponsored Kidnapping & Fishing Expeditions

400 children have been forcibly removed from their homes in ElDorado, Texas. Members of a Mormon-breakaway religious sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, they lived in a compound isolated from much of the outside world.

They're polygamists. Men have many wives. They exile young men to keep the competition down. They live an extremely closed lifestyle. Their days are filled with Bible-reading and quoting. Their women are subservient and wear plain clothes. Their beliefs are weird.


You don't have to like their beliefs about God, marriage, gender, or mainstream America. If you want to think they're nuts, fine. But under the U S Constitution, people have the right to be nuts, unmolested by government. They have the right to say things that are screwy, worship false Gods, and associate only with their own kind. All three of those rights are enshrined in the Bill Of Rights.

"But wait!"," you say, "There was sexual abuse going on!"

Really? All 400 women, boys, and children removed were abused?

It seems to me that the media has reported officials saying, "we have to find out if anyone was abused." In fact, there was *one* report, by a 16 year old woman who accused a man who has admittedly not been in ElDorado for a year. And the woman who made the report is mysteriously missing..and evidence now suggests it was a hoax call.

Does a single charge by one person mean an entire community can be raided, "just in case?"

Generally, as a society, we dont like fundamentalist polygamists. But lets' pretend instead that rather than a call from a Mormon camp, a girl placed a phone call to NY authorities claiming abuse. And lets say that that girl lived in one of the Hasidic Jewish summer compunds surrounding Ellenville NY. Let's even say that an ex-Hasidim claims that they saw a man spank his child. All in a fenced compound, where men wear black clothing and unshorn beards, where kosher law is kept, and women wear uniform housecoats)

Can you imagine the outrage if NY authorities decided that they should round up hundreds of Hasidic Jewish children, "just to see if they were all right?"

Or let's say that a report comes in from Pennsylvania Dutch Country, that a man abused a teenaged girl. What would the reaction be if PA authorities rounded up all the members of the local Amish community, "just to see if they were all right?"

Or suppose, after multiple complaints against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for sexual abuse, Massachusetts authorities had descended on the Catholic Churches in Boston and left with all of the children "just to see if they were all right."

It is *possible* that the authorities in Texas acted with much more evidence than they are making public. But so far, the stated facts are thay they have no victims, no charges but a single one against a man who is not there, and they have used this as an excuse to rip almost 400 children away from their homes.

The Director of Texas' child protective agency proudly stated, "Since Thursday, authorities have been searching the 1,700-acre compound 40 miles south of San Angelo from house to house ... and we're getting close to being finished."

House to house? Government searching house to house, and stealing away any chidlren they find there? Just WHO is a greater abuser than the government itself in this case?! How horrifying and Nazi-like for people to be in fear of the government searching every house to take their children!

The most valid evidence they have are the existence of fifteen year old mothers. So why are mothers much older than that being taken from the compound? And why is that the majority of 15-year old mothers in America, who do NOT live in this compund but live among us, are not 'rounded up," along with their children and families?

Which is worse, living in a closed society, or being ripped apart from the safety of home by Government?

Yes, they may be wackos. They have the right to be wackos. And governent has no right to force them into comformity unless they are committing crimes. And so far, this seems more like a fishing expedition that a judicious use of government authority.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

New Powers for The Federal Reserve?

The Federal Reserve System is arguably one of the most powerful (and least understood) institutions in America. Treasury Secretary Paulson's recent suggestions that "The Fed" should be granted even more power is a dangerous step.

And what's even more scary is that so many editorial writers are saying that Paulson's plan does not go far enough...so the 'debate' so far has centered on whether we give the Fed "New Power," or "Lots of New Power."

I would suggest we give it NO new powers at all, and reign in some of the power it currently wields over our lives.

By way of background: There are many tools available to an administration to jump-start or safeguard an economy. Over the years, the federal government has tried direct government spending (FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps), borrowing (every adminstration since then), giving tax rebates and cuts to consumers, deregulating business, cutting business taxes, increasing direct aid to low-income people (Bush's extension of unemployment benefits, Social Security) and building transportation infrastructure. Some presidents have attmpted policies that were dismal failures (Nixon's gas rationing in the 1970s). And of course, it is certainly arguable that Government should *not* attempt to regulate the economy at all, but should get out of the way and stop messing it up natural markets.

What all of the above approaches have in common is that they are *highly* political. They require the chaos of Congressional, Presidential, and Bureaucratic action to happen. They involve log-rolling, and compromise, and committees and all sorts of political machinations. And if you're looking for results, that's not a very effective way to run an economy.

The Federal Reserve System was designed to function quite differently.

The philosophy behind the Fed is to masage the economy through a professional banking system. The Feds, rather than responding to voters, have historically responded to numbers, and made objective decisions. This is the body that sets the Discount Rate (the interest rate at which they lend money to member banks, thus influencing general interest rates). They determine the ratio of deposits that banks must keep on hand in case of a 'run' on the bank. And in New York, the Fed buys and sells government bonds in order to inject cash into the economy or withdraw it to slow down easy credit. By all accounts, The Fed is a conservative, staid, professional group of bankers that responds to bottom lines, not the whims of voters who want goodies for their district or the passion of politicians seeking reelection.

In fact, the Fed is very, very insulated from politics. Their 7 member Board of Governors is appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate, but they each serve 14 year terms. One is up for reappointment every 2 years, which effectvely means that even a two-term president can not realistically change the makeup of the majority of Governors. Even if he could, it wouldnt matter that much, because the Regulatory functions of the Fed reside in something called the "Open Market Committeee," which consists of the 7 Governors plus 5 regional, private Fed Bank presidents (there are 12 District Fed banks. Each is a private bank, with its own Board of Directors). By design, there is NO Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, DC. All in all, it is a very decentralized system, independent from most government oversight, which operates within the banking community. Unless there is a crisis, they only meet once every 6 weeks (which they did during the Great Depression, and right after 9/11)

Under Ben Bernanke, the Fed has taken some 'wild' steps. In one case, it called two meetings only 3 days apart from each other. It has dropped the discount rate precipitously. It has stepped in to private markets to arrrange a takeover of Bear Stearns by Citicorp at a price of $2/share, destroying shareholders values (and their pensions). Fortunately, that deal that is unravelling now that Morgan Stanley has offered $10 a share. Bear Stearns is a private investment house, not a bank, and the Fed had no direct authority in the matter. .

And now, Secretary Paulson has made some 'minor' suggestions to give the Fed more such authority. His proposal would give sweeping new authority to Fed to collect data and regulate private investment houses in prder to 'stabilize markets.'

But the Fed was designed to stabilize the value of *currency* by regualting member banks. It was never meant to make decisions about business practices of non-banks, or regulate private stock transactions or financing instruments.

And that's a big, big change, and a problem for a country that calls itself a democracy.

The Fed has always walked a fine line: It's greatest strength is that it is non-political, so it can be an effective and efficient institution in protecting the economy. But its greatest weakness is that it is undemocratic, and unresponsive to the voters. It exists on its own, high above the fray. Therefore, it was given very limited authority. Paulson's plans destroy that balance.

First, it takes an institution which is the nations *only* non-political approach to the economy and drops it squarely in the middle of the political arena by giving it regulatory authority over private businesses outside of its own banking system. The political pressure on the Fed to 'save' certain companies 'assets' at the expense of others will be enormous.

Second, it gives increased regulatory authority over private transactions to an institution that is essentially unanswerable to the political process. In other words, we are creating a new branch of government, with power and authority, that is not answerable to voters, or to congress, or to any democratic process whatsoever; the Fed would become Power without any check or balance, Authority without any accountability to the citizens.

If Investment houses need to be regulated, an agency (The Securities and Exchange Commisson) is already in place. If Predatory lenders need to be more tightly regulated, all 50 state legslatures have the authority to do that, and Fraud statutes exist that can be used or strengthened through the legislative process. If poor business decisions cause a business to go under, taxpayers should not be forced to prop it up (Why is it that failing businesses always want taxpayer money to help them when they fail, but they never feel that their profit should be distributed to taxpayers when theymake a profit? Hmmm........)

Paulson's plan is not a 'small step.' This is the continuing eviscerating of the Republic's Constitution.

But then, we should have come to expect that from this administration.