Chamber of Big Brother

When did so many of our fellow citizens start expecting ‘Big Brother’ to make the majority of our decisions for us?  I’ve written before about themes from George Orwell’s book 1984 that I see playing out in the world around me.  Now… socialism isn’t anything new, and considering it’s complete and total failure whenever it’s been allowed to run its course you’d think that it would be relegated to the history books…but it continues to rear it’s head in some of the most unlikely places.  One such place it reared up recently was my local Chamber of Commerce…or maybe we should begin calling it the Chamber of Big Brother.

I live and work in a small town.  I didn’t always live here.  I grew up in a good size metropolitan area and traveled the world before settling down here to raise my kids.  One of the ways I went from being an outsider to becoming a ‘local’ was by getting involved in community groups that I shared values with.  One of the first groups I joined after moving to my corner of God’s country was the local Chamber of Commerce.

If you’re not familiar with what a Chamber of Commerce does it’s basically a civic organization that supports the local business community as well as offering networking opportunities among businesspeople, local officials and members of other civic organizations.  I’ve made good friends through my Chamber participation, learned which tradesmen can help me with I’m over my head on a project and worked on a number of civic projects that improve my community.

At a recent Chamber of Commerce leadership meeting we were presented with letter from a community member that both amazed and saddened me.


Paine on Commerce & Defense – Today’s Quote

No country on the globe is so happily situated, so internally capable of raising a fleet as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards and Portuguese, are obliged to import most of the materials they use. We ought to view the building a fleet as an article of commerce, it being the natural manufactory of this country. It is the best money we can lay out. A navy when finished is worth more than it cost. And is that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and protection are united. Let us build; if we want them not, we can sell; and by that means replace our paper currency with ready gold and silver.

In almost every article of defence we abound. Hemp flourishes even to rankness, so that we need not want cordage. Our iron is superior to that of other countries. Our small arms equal to any in the world. Cannon we can cast at pleasure.

Thomas Paine from Common Sense

Economic Freedom Heat Map

I recently came across’s 2013 Economic Freedom Heat Map.  Below is a snapshot but you can click on the map to go to their interactive version and explore the data.  Note that this only shows economic freedom and the U.S. falls into the ‘Mostly Free’ category with 76 out of a potential 100 points.

2013 Economic Freedom Heat Map

Whole Foods on Capitalism – Today’s Quote

Whole Foods CEO John MackeyCapitalism is the greatest creation humanity has done for social cooperation. It has lifted humanity out of the dirt. In statistics we discovered when we researching the book, about 200 years ago when capitalism was created, 85% of the people alive lived on $1 a day. Today, that number is 16%. Still too high, but capitalism is wiping out poverty across the world. 200 years ago illiteracy rates were 90%. Today, they are down to about 14%. 200 years ago the average lifespan was 30. Today it is 68 across the world, 78 in the States, almost 82 in Japan. This is due to business. This is due to capitalism. And it doesn’t get credit for it. Most of the time, business is portrayed by its enemies as selfish and greedy and exploitative, yet it’s the greatest value creator in the world.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey via Capitalism Is the Greatest Creation Humanity Has Done for Social Cooperation

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You…Twinkies

The 5,000 members of The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union that work(ed) for Hostess never learned that you Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You.

Hostess Brands is Closed. We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets. For more information, go to hostess Thank you for all of your loyalty and support over the years.

via Hostess Brands Website.

No one wants to take a pay cut, but because the Unions refused to accept an 8% short term pay cut and make other concessions those Union members and another 13,500 (18,500 total employees not including lost jobs in Hostess’ vendors network) Hostess employees are now out of a job.  I don’t know about you but I’d rather have 92% of the salary I’ve gotten used to (or 82% or 72%, etc.) than 0%…at least that way I’d have time to search for a new job if I felt I needed/deserved more income.

Hostess BrandsIn addition to the 18,500+ workers joining the ever growing ranks of the unemployed (look at the real numbers, not those massaged for pre-election public consumption) there are now 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers and 570 outlet stores idled. (more…)

Don’t Follow the Judas Goat – a Tax Commentary

A ‘Judas Goat’ is a goat trained to associate with other herd animals, primarily sheep or cattle and lead them to slaughter.  By following the Judas Goat the unsuspecting livestock calmly walk right up to their own demise.  When it comes to taxation, make sure that you don’t follow the Judas Goat!

I’m consistently amazed at the stupid things that celebrities say and the questionable causes they support.  Just look at how many celebrities have been hoodwinked by the extremist group PETA into endorsing their agenda and even posing naked to support it.  I understand the need to ‘make a difference’ in the world but do your homework folks!  The worst of these celebrity ’causes’ is the recent rash of celebrity ‘tax the rich’ and last year’s ‘support Occupy Wall Street’ celebrity endorsements.

These tax-increase celebrities remind me of that Judas Goat…with their expectation that we will be so star-struck that we calmly follow them into taxmeggeddon.  Even seemingly rational businessmen like Warren Buffet have chosen to play the Goat.  My only guess is that if you’ve accumulated all the wealth you’ll ever need than it’s worth it to deflect the animosity of the class envy by saying “no, really, I should be taxed more” or maybe the motivation is just guilt.

The problem with the Judas Goat is that his or her approach doesn’t lead to the Goat’s slaughter…just the rest of us.  If you really believe you should pay more taxes it’s easy to do…just look how hard most U.S. citizens work to keep their tax burdens manageable. (more…)

News to Know

Situational awareness is a key element of survival and today, situational awareness must be global.  Today we present news to know from the past week (or so) with a dab of commentary:

Security Threat News:

An electromagnetic pulse attack — the ‘other’ Iranian nuclear threat:  EMP is a game changer…a nuclear strike on a major city could be less damaging to the U.S. than a well executed EMP attack on the homeland in terms of lives lost and property damage and financial loss.

Russia says it will not renew arms agreement with U.S.

al-Qaeda-linked group could have advanced weapons after joining Syria rebels in seizing missile defence base: 
Iran Strikes Back:  Iranian cyberattack on the U.S. financial system.  Let’s face it folks, we’re now in a perpetual state of war even when we pull out of Afghanistan.

Enter At Your Own Risk: Police Union Says ‘War-Like’ Detroit Is Unsafe For Visitors:  How did Detroit get here…read this excellent article by Porter Stansberry…there but for the grace of God go the rest of U.S.

Ripped From The Pages of An Ian Fleming Novel:

The Danish agent, the Croatian blonde and the CIA plot to get al-Awlaki:  You just couldn’t make this stuff up! (more…)

Rand on Prosperity – Today’s Quote

…the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.

Ayn Rand

Gault’s Gulch, the Micro-Nation and Honduras

There have been a number of attempts in the last few decades to create micro-nations by those who desire more freedom and less taxation than is currently available in more established nations.  The most successful and famous of these is the Principality of Sealand…although Sealand was only mildly economically successful before its devastating fire several years back.  Sealand’s success was largely in the form of cyber-freedom after the entire ‘country’ (built on a group of World War II anti-aircraft platforms in international waters off the coast of England) was turned into a server farm.  Not so much as a Gault’s Gulch as a steel decked Gault’s Island.

In recent years the proposed creation of micro-nations has moved from maritime endeavors (no unclaimed land left and floating cities have never caught on) to semi-autonomous city states within established nations.  Not micro-nations in the true sense but these economic enclaves provide many of the same benefits without the drawbacks associated with maritime endeavors.  There are even successful models (of a sort) by comparing the economic engines of Hong Kong and Macau ‘Special Administrative Districts’ to the rest of China. (more…)

Friedman on Freedom – Today’s Quote

The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that’s why it’s so essential to preserving individual freedom.

Dr. Milton Friedman

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