Feds Seize 150 Websites for Selling Counterfeit Merchandise–Kind Of

I saw this article titled “Feds seize 150 websites in counterfeit crackdown” and thought to myself, could the Feds actually be acting within the confines of normal law enforcement? After reading last week about a fisherman who was robbed by the Feds of the largest tuna ever caught, I was in the mood to have my faith in government restored. (As if!) So I was willing to overlook two of my own peeves in the case at hand, specifically:  I don’t want the Feds anywhere near the Internet, and as an anarcho-capitalist I don’t actually believe in using government to enforce copyrights, patents and trademarks (more on that below).  But busting counterfeiters is at least an example of government action NOT in the service of gratuitous revenue generation or the ubiquitous Drug War, so I was encouraged and read on. I was at once amused to read that even the federal agent being interviewed for the article found it noteworthy that the Feds were cracking down on real crime. The article actually quotes ICE Director John Morton as saying, “This is straight crime. This is people being duped into buying a counterfeit.”

This quote demonstrates to me that Mr. Morton knows full well that most of what he does has nothing to do with “straight crime” (mala in se crime, or crime that is bad in itself), but rather he is almost always enforcing prohibitions (mala prohibita crime)–drugs, guns, prostitution–and fighting the inevitable violence that arises in black markets that perforce operate outside the law. The way I see it, mala prohibita crimes are crimes created by the government because authorities not only refuse to enforce otherwise valid contracts but actually attack people for making voluntary arms-length transactions. It drives me near to madness to think my tax dollars go to creating and then enforcing immoral laws that result in so much death and destruction. (I have actually thought that if there’s a Judgment Day the greatest sin I will have to answer for will be having paid taxes that were used to finance theft, murder and injustice.)

Director Morton’s quote genuinely delighted me, though, for another reason:  he was claiming to fight counterfeiting as the fraud of selling knock-offs under false pretenses and not for trademark infringement. As I mentioned, anarcho-capitalists such as I don’t believe the government can tell people what to do with their private property even if what they do with it is copy an idea someone else came up with and then put out in the world for all to see. It’s rather a nuanced argument and it was my last reservation about anarcho-capitalism, however, through the persuasive arguments of Stephan Kinsella, I am now totally convinced of the correctness of this position. (Concidentally, patents et al are powerful tools of crony capitalists.)

I should have stopped reading this article right there, though, ’cause wouldn’t ya know it? Director Morton was so uncomfortable with the idea of fighting “straight crime,” that he felt he had to further justify his actions. He went on to say, “Typically we don’t track the volumes of sales of these particular sites. . . . We are worried about organized crime and [that profits] are going to fuel other criminal activity.” So it IS about the Drug War after all! Or he hopes it is. In any case, it most certainly is NOT about protecting taxpayers from fraud–that would be too paltry a goal for the mighty federal government!

Maybe I shouldn’t get bent out of shape about something as apparently minor as this, but earlier today I read about a former marine, Jose Guerena Ortiz, who was suspected of selling pot. A SWAT team snuck up to his house and he, awakened by his fearful wife, grabbed his gun and the cops mowed him down in his living room in front of his four-year old. This counterfeiting article made me hope that law enforcement was doing something OTHER than trying to figure out the next guy who might be selling something they don’t like and killing him. But I guess that’s what it was all about anyway. I should’ve known.

Read the article here: Feds seize 150 websites in counterfeit crackdown

Is Operation Fast & Furious Obama's Iran-Contra?

I think there’s much more to Operation Fast & Furious than we’ve heard about so far. Will it bring down Eric Holder? How about Obama? Listen to my take on the developing story:
Monica Perez Fast and Furious
And here are links to two more sources of ongoing information on Operation Fast & Furious:
Judicial Watch: Dump Holder

The Truth About Guns: ATF Deathwatch

And for a great overview of the operation, read this story in The Washington Times by Robert Farago & Ralph Dixon
Was CIA behind Operation Fast & Furious?
Also check out my post:
Where Does Eric Holder Get Off?

What Are the Occupiers Really Thinking?

They don’t know it, but Occupy Wall Street craves more capitalism, not less. Listen to my views on the subject in this podcast:
Monica Perez OWS
And if you really want to have some fun, watch this video (there’s a clip from this in the podcast above, but here’s the full rant).

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

A Congressional Budget Office report reveals that income inequality is increasing.  In this excerpt from Saturday’s show, I explain that the progressive tax system and expansionary monetary policy are at the root of the growing disparity between rich and poor in America.
Monica Perez income inequality debunked
If like I do, you crave economic truth in all its glorious detail as a purgative to the garbage forced down our throats by the State and its lackey, the mainstream media, you will enjoy the nitty gritty in this article from the great website, Zero Hedge.

Wealth Inequality in America:  Understanding the Source

It's the Boom That's the Problem!

Ron Paul points out that the booms are what cause all the cyclical devastation in our economy.  Until we stop the booms we will always have the terribly damaging busts.  What does he mean by that?  Listen to my explanation from last week’s show.
Monica Perez boom bust

CDC: More People Die in the US from Prescription Painkillers than from Cocaine & Heroin Combined

How much are we spending on the Drug War? How about the FDA? According to the Drug War Clock at drugsense.org, the Drug War cost the US $15 billion so far this year. In addition, President Obama’s budget request for the FDA topped $4 billion. Unfortunately, these programs not only cost an insane amount of money and keep the government all up in our shorts, they apparently do more harm than good. I have long noticed that government-controlled drugs seem to be killing people. Heroin felled quite a few stars back in the day: Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Sid Vicious and John Belushi to name a few. Celebrities of today, however, die from drugs that are highly regulated and controlled: Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and Brittany Murphy all died from prescription drugs.
It seems that the more we spend to have the government protect us from ourselves, the more we suffer at its hands. It could be gross incompetence, or it could be that government and its controllers are self-protecting entities who are not going to make us safe if our fear is the source of their power. The current mentality of citizens who fear an end to the Drug War or who cannot envision free market regulation of drugs reminds me of what I have heard about the behavior of the abused child. The abused child clings to his parent thinking, “If this is how someone who loves me treats me, how would someone who doesn’t love me treat me?!” It’s time to realize things will NOT be worse without government control of everything from the food we eat to the thoughts we think. Unfortunately, this study will probably be used to justify more government control, not less.
Here are a few highlights of the CDC study from the Sydney Morning Herald (sometimes you have to go out of the country just to get away from the spin!)

Elizabeth Warren's Latest Viral Video–A Little Too Convenient?

Apparently a man showed up at a volunteers meeting for Elizabeth Warren’s Massachusetts Senatorial campaign in order to do the following: announce he is unemployed, identify himself as anti-Occupy Wall Street and pro-Tea Party, call Elizabeth Warren a socialist whore, claim that Obama was born in a foreign country, and then walk out, all in approximately two minutes caught on video. Also during these two minutes Elizabeth Warren had an opportunity to: pity him for his unemployment and point out that Obama’s jobs bill would have fixed that, clarify her position on the Occupy movement by both embracing it and distancing herself from it at the same time, and point out that it’s guys like this who make it important now more than ever to keep to the Left. I don’t know about you, but this smacks of an advertising gimmick to me.

Peter Schiff at Occupy Wall Street

I don’t know where Peter Schiff gets the patience to go down to Wall Street and try to explain economic principles to the protesters there. To their credit many are reasonable, but others won’t accept his arguments even though they have none of their own.

Corporations Don't Pay Taxes, People Do!

It is my view that the corporate tax rate should be zero for the exact reasons laid out in this mainstream media report intended, as usual, to make us conclude the opposite of the truth–in this case that corporations should pay more taxes.

Biggest Public Firms Paid Little US Taxes, Study Says

Complex corporate tax law gives rise to just this sort of imbalanced taxation, but more important, it distorts economic behavior and in the end is, of course, paid by us: the employees, customers and shareholders of the corporations, and no one else. Here’s a short article from Americans for Tax Reform that lays this out nicely:
Corporations Don’t Pay Taxes–People Do!

Income inequality is increasing. So what’s the big deal?

In a truly free society there would be no way for anyone to amass great wealth or earn high levels of income without offering a product or service commensurately valuable to the individuals in society—the nature of voluntary exchange guarantees that. But do we have a truly free society? People are upset about a CBO report showing an increase in income inequality between the highest earning 1% and lesser paid earners (see chart below).  But why exactly?  I don’t think people are upset because they think it’s unfair for someone like Steve Jobs to get rich selling us what we want, but because they don’t think most of the rich are really adding the value their earnings imply. They know instinctively that the system is rigged and I’m beginning to think their instincts are right.

When I first got out of college I had a friend Steve from South America who said to me, “Don’t you think that anyone who’s really rich has done unethical things to get his money?” I was horrified. I felt it was a poor reflection on Steve’s character that he couldn’t see any possible connection between being good and doing well. Only a few years ago I recalled the statement to my husband who replied, “What is he talking about?  Happens all the time. There are plenty of good, rich guys in this country.” That was the key: “In this country.”
But now I am beginning to see signs in America of what Steve saw in his country. I now believe that if you want to make it BIG, you have to be connected, make a campaign contribution, drop a stock tip—whatever it takes—even if you would rather reach the top on the up and up. This is what has been aptly coined “crapitalism”—crony capitalism—and it’s the rat that everyone is beginning to smell.
The Occupy Wall Streeters smell it but don’t know where it’s hiding, so they believe the people they trust, who happen to be the Unions and the Big Government—nay, World Government—guys who tell them it’s the bankers, although the rich in general are the target. (See my blogpost of October 4 with hidden audio of SEIU’s Steve Lerner planning OWS back in March).
But amassing riches is not de facto immoral—voluntary exchange is a moral exercise that benefits both parties. It’s only when riches are amassed unfairly that it’s a problem. But how can you get rich unfairly? Only by using force or fraud. And who is using force or fraud? Are the Citibank guys taking their security guards to GM and forcing or tricking them into taking loans? Are GM goons coming to your house and forcing or tricking you into buying a car? No, they aren’t doing it that way, which is why they are not in jail. What they ARE doing is using the government to do those things through laws, regulations, bailouts, and of course through the ubiquitous and secretive Federal Reserve. And why do those in government voluntarily engage in these practices and often initiate them? Because they can. Government has the power to force some economic actors, particularly tax payers and small businessmen, to do things for the benefit of themselves and their cronies, so that’s what they do.
Both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party know something’s rotten, and probably know it’s crony capitalism—even Michael Moore’s movie “Capitalism” was about government bailouts not truly free markets. But which of the two protest groups really gets it? To me, Occupy Wall Street is further from the truth. They are on Wall Street when they should be on Liberty Street outside the Fed. The Tea Party is getting warmer—they go to Washington—but they don’t totally get it either. From what I could tell when I marched alongside the Tea Party against Obamacare, they continue to support the Drug War and the War on Terror, probably because of fears of social instability and personal insecurity, which in turn keeps them beholden to the government they know is destroying the very society they are clinging to.
Unfortunately, fostering base fears has been a tactic of the state for centuries if not millennia. If the masses on the left continue to let their leaders prey on their fear of financial insecurity, and the masses on the right continue to let their leaders prey on their fear of personal insecurity, we will continue to have tyranny and instability—along with crony capitalism and invidious income inequality.

Stick with What You Know: The Vatican on Economics

The Vatican has just released a Note on Financial Reform from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. I am reading it with horror on many levels. As I attempt to fully digest its contents (without losing my lunch), I thought I would pass along the following great article on a similar subject by Tom Woods, who is a Roman Catholic, a historian and an economist of the Austrian school.
Truth & Charity, by Tom Woods