Thursday, December 29, 2011

Keeping all your assets in the USA is unsafe

By keeping all your assets in the country where you live, you commit, ahead of time, to ratify whatever policy your home government might adopt, no matter how objectionable, unreasonable or pernicious that policy happens to be. If the next new mandate is "Register today to get a nail pounded into your head," you're already signed up.

Americans, by and large, run all their affairs within the confines of the US. The US economy is so large and so varied that it's easy to assume that everything you want to do with your wealth can be done without crossing any borders. And people in the US, like people anywhere, live with the habits and attitudes developed over generations. They're only human. In the case of Americans, those habits grew out of long experience with a government that was small and that generally practiced the rare virtue of following its own laws. In a happy exception to mankind's experience with rulers, there was little to fear from it.

Stay at home is still the norm for Americans, but it's a norm that is slowly fading. Every billion-dollar tick of the government debt clock, every expansion of the government's regulatory apparatus, every overreaching judicial decision made in the name of a compelling public need, every inversion of protection for citizens into license for the state and every intellectually tortured discovery of a new meaning in the Constitution's 4,400 old words leaves a few thousand more people wondering how prudent it is to consign all their eggs to a single national basket. Encounters with high-handed IRS agents and eager TSA gropers do nothing to ease that concern. And for those who listen thoughtfully, the messages from our designated leaders and their would-be replacements only hurry the dawning sense of unease.

Specific worries include exposure to predatory lawsuits, especially claims that could draw extra go-power by association with politically favored causes or legally favored groups; fear of where income tax rates might climb; the prospect of losing a family business in a regulatory battle or simply through estate tax; the fragility of financial institutions that have operated for forty years with the assurance that the Federal Reserve would rescue them from any folly; the possibility that a government desperate to protect the dollar from collapse might impose foreign exchange controls or capital controls; the memory and precedent of the forced gold sales of 1933; and the thought that a government floundering in deficits might start pilfering from IRAs and other pension plans.

But beyond those particular worries and perhaps more important than any of them is the sense that from here on, anything goes. The politicians will do whatever they find convenient, because there is no longer anything to stop them – not an electorate that is jealous of its freedoms and certainly not the Constitution, which is now just a playhouse for judicial imagineering. No one can know what's coming next from the government and the financial system it has fostered, but for many of us there is an awful suspicion that we are not going to like it.

Most Americans still have yet to stick a single financial toe across the border, but more and more are considering it. Many, perhaps millions of toes are now twitching at the thought. Their owners want to end their absolute dependence on what happens in the US. They want to prepare for whatever is coming down the road, even though they don't know what it will be. They want to be as ready as possible, even though their worries can only guess at what's ahead.

Because internationalizing your financial life means dealing with the unfamiliar, the project can seem more complex than it really is, so it's best to start with the simplest measures, even if by themselves they don't give you all the safety you're looking for. Even from a simple beginning, what you learn with each step will make the next step easier to plan. Start with the first rung on the ladder of internationalization. Then climb, at your own speed, to reach the right level of protection.

Much more HERE


The gift of giving

by Jeff Jacoby

OF ALL THE RITUALS that mark this season, none is more misguided than the complaints about how crass and mercenary the holidays have become.

The laments begin early in November, when Santa starts showing up in TV commercials. They surge during the hyperactive shopping weekend that follows Thanksgiving. By the time Christmas (and Chanukah) are actually at hand, you'd have to be in a persistent vegetative state not to hear all the scolding about how the "reason for the season" has been lost amid the buy-one-get-one sales and the over-elaborate mall displays.

Even Pope Benedict joined the chorus this year. In the homily he delivered on Christmas Eve, he deplored "the superficial glitter" of the season, urging the faithful not to confuse the "commercial celebration" Christmas has become with its "true joy and true light."

I wouldn't presume to argue with the pope about the religious significance of Christmas, and I will readily acknowledge that the holiday shopping season can certainly be stressful, expensive, and more than a little materialistic. Nonetheless, as a measure of cultural and communal health, I can't help seeing this yearly impulse to shower friends and family with presents as one of our society's most endearing and heartening traits.

Ten days ago I took my 8-year-old son Micah to a local Dollar Tree Store, where he was eager to spend his savings -- 11 dollars and change, grubbily folded into a miniature wallet -- on Chanukah gifts for his family. We had done this together last year, and Micah had been besieging me to pick an evening when the two of us could make a return trip.

I found it a wonderful experience, no irony intended. Dollar Tree isn't exactly Tiffany & Co., and in any case Micah chooses gifts with all the sophistication and refinement you'd expect from a rambunctious third-grade boy who loves bugs and can never seem to keep his shirt tucked in. The presents he picked out for his mother included a desktop picture frame for her office, glow-in-the-dark necklaces ("Mama can wear them if she goes for a walk at night"), and two boxes of Milk Duds; for his teen-age brother he found an air horn, Lemonheads, and a container of "noise putty" that emits flatulent sounds when poked. A devotee of Martha Stewart Living the kid is not.

But whatever Micah may have lacked in style and taste, he more than made up for with the unfeigned delight he brought to the whole project. He couldn't wait to turn his little clutch of dollars into presents for the people he loves. He wasn't consciously trying to be altruistic or selfless; and he's never given 30 seconds' thought to the meaning of generosity. He was simply excited by the prospect of giving -- and indeed, when the moment came a few nights later to bestow his gifts on his recipients, he was practically bouncing up and down with elation. If this is crass commercialism, let's have more of it.

Would modern society really be improved if the happiness of gift-giving were not an integral part of one special season each year? Granted, anything can be overdone, and materialism is no exception. And it is important to remember that the hustle and pressure of buying presents for loved ones doesn't reduce our obligation to give charitably and generously to the poor.

But how diminished our culture would be without that hustle and pressure. Children learn an important lesson when they see the adults in their world treat the joy of others as a priority worth spending time, money, and thought on. No one has to teach kids to be acquisitive and selfish -- that comes naturally -- but what an inestimable asset they acquire when they find out for themselves that it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

It is only a coincidence of the calendar that links Christmas and Chanukah; theologically the two holidays have little in common. But essential to both Judaism and Christianity is the principle of imitatio Dei, of striving to walk in God's ways, above all by being kind to others as He is kind to us. Isn't that what underlies the expense and scramble of our holiday gift-giving? In lavishing gifts on others, we reflect the openhandedness with which God lavishes gifts on us. Maybe that's not the entirety of the season's "true joy and true light." But if my 8-year-old's unaffected joyfulness is any indication, it makes a great start.



Occupy Wall Street becomes highly collectible

How sick is this? Empty-headed bums need to be remembered?

Occupy Wall Street may still be working to shake the notion it represents a passing outburst of rage, but some establishment institutions have already decided the movement’s artifacts are worthy of historic preservation.

More than a half-dozen major museums and organisations from the Smithsonian Institution to the New-York Historical Society have been avidly collecting materials produced by the Occupy movement. Staffers have been sent to occupied parks to rummage for buttons, signs, posters and documents. Websites and tweets have been archived for digital eternity, and museums have approached protesters directly to obtain posters and other ephemera.

The Museum of the City of New York is planning an exhibition on Occupy for next month.

“Occupy is sexy,” said Ben Alexander, head of special collections and archives at Queens College, which has been collecting Occupy materials. “It sounds hip. A lot of people want to be associated with it.’’



Is Obamacare Stopping Businesses From Hiring? Businesspeople certainly think so


President Obama says his health care “reform” will be good for business. Business has learned the truth.

Three successful businessmen came on my Fox Business show last week to explain how Obamacare is a reason that unemployment stays high. Its length and complexity make businessmen wary of expanding.

Mike Whalen, CEO of Heart of America Group, which runs hotels and restaurants, said that when he asked his company’s health insurance experts to summarize the impact of Obamacare, “the three of them kind of looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve gone to seminar after seminar, and, Mike, we can’t tell you.’ I think that just kind of sums up the uncertainty.”

Brad Anderson, CEO of Best Buy, added that Obamacare makes it impossible to achieve even basic certainty about future personnel costs: “If I was trying to get you to fund a new business I had started and you asked me what my payroll was going to be three years from now per employee, if I went to the deepest specialist in the industry, he can’t tell me what it’s actually going to cost, let alone what I’m going to be responsible for.”

You would think a piece of legislation more than a thousand pages long would at least be clear about the specifics. But a lot of those pages say: “The secretary will determine ...” That means the secretary of Health and Human Services will announce the rules sometime in the future. How can a business make plans in such a fog?

John Allison, former CEO of BB&T, the 12th biggest bank in America, pointed out how Obamacare encourages employers not to insure their employees. Under the law, an employer would be fined for that. But the penalty at present—about $2,000—is lower than the cost of a policy. “What that means is in theory every company ought to dump their plan on the government plan and pay the penalty,” he said. “So you don’t really know what the cost is because it’s designed to fail.”

Of course, then every employee would turn to the government-subsidized health insurance. Maybe that was the central planners’ intention all along.

An owner of 12 IHOPS told me that he can’t expand his business because he can’t afford the burden of Obamacare. Many of his waitresses work part time or change jobs every few months. He hadn’t been insuring them, but Obamacare requires him to. He says he can’t make money paying a $2,000 penalty for every waitress, so he’s cancelled his plans to expand. It’s one more reason why job growth hasn’t picked up post-recession.

Of course, we were told that government health care would increase hiring. After all, European companies don’t have to pay for their employees’ health insurance. If every American employer paid the $2,000 penalty and their workers turned to government for insurance, American companies would be better able to compete with European ones. They might save $10,000 per employee.

That sounded good, but like so many politicians’ promises, it leaves out the hidden costs. When countries move to a government-funded system, taxes rise to crushing levels, as they have in Europe.

Whalen sees Obamacare as a crossing of the Rubicon. “We’ve had an agreement in this country, kind of unwritten, for the last 50 years, that we would spend about 18 to 19 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) on the federal government. This is a tipping point. This takes us to 25 to 30 percent. And that money comes out of the private sector. That means fewer jobs. This is a game-changer.”

He means it’s a game-changer because of the cost. But the law’s impenetrable complication does almost as much damage. Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute is right: If you wonder why businesspeople are not investing and reviving the economy, the answer lies in all the question marks that Obamacare and other new regulations confront them with. Higgs calls this “regime uncertainty." It’s also what prolonged the Great Depression.

No one who understands the nature of government as the wielder of force—as opposed to the peaceful persuasion of the free market—is surprised by this.




American wealth eroding: "The Federal Reserve is now unleashing American banks from restrictions on dividends. This means Americans are essentially capitalizing Americans banks at a loss while banks are divvying out dividends to make it falsely appear they are solvent. Bank stockholders, including many bank executives, will now reap even larger rewards at the expense of the savings class"

Dorothy Rabinowitz’s attack on Ron Paul: "One of the more fascinating attacks on Ron Paul comes from Dorothy Rabinowitz in the December 22, 2012, issue of the Wall Street Journal. Not surprisingly, given that Rabinowitz serves on the Journal’s editorial board, she goes after Paul for his foreign-policy views. What I found interesting about the article, which is entitled 'What Ron Paul Thinks of America,' is the superficial nature of the attack. Rabinowitz’s article, quite simply, lacks any depth of analysis on the critical points she makes about Paul."

Would Ron Paul have stopped the Holocaust?: "The latest line of attack on the Texas congressman, courtesy of his ex-staffer Eric Dondero, has it that Ron Paul would not have taken us into World War II to stop the Holocaust. 'He expressed to me countless times, that ‘saving the Jews,’ was absolutely none of our business,' Dondero claims. Of course, that’s exactly how Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and the rest of America’s wartime leaders felt."

Britain’s future lies with America, not Europe: "In 1952, then-U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that 'Britain has lost an empire but has failed to find a role.' Sadly for Britain, it decided to renounce its longstanding global cultural, legal and philosophical links to North America and instead looked for that role in Europe. Despite its geographic proximity to Britain, the Continent is nevertheless home to a host of cultures, legal systems and governing philosophies very different from those of traditionally liberal Britain. The consequences from that bad choice have bedeviled Britain for decades."

Alcohol pricing: Better England free than England sober: "The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today condemns proposals to make it harder for poor people to buy alcohol. The proposals include higher taxes, compulsory minimum prices for drink, further controls on advertising, and power to close down retailers. The only disagreement between the three main parties is how far they wish to go."



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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