Was it a chilling act of de-facto censorship, or just a “computer glitch?” Within two hours of its appearance yesterday, search engine giant Google removed an article about Ron Paul, the IRS, and the Federal Reserve from its database.
Friday, April 18, 2008
♣ Media Paranoia Department
Call me paranoid, but please don’t stop reading just yet; I have seen this kind of thing happen more than once, and whatever the cause, it raises some serious questions.
I published a news article yesterday – Thursday – about a San Diego Meetup event which I attended on Tuesday. The article is “Ron Paul Meetup Enlightens San Diego Tax Lemmings,” and the Nolan Chart website database placed this time-stamp on the article:
Last saved: 2008-04-17 13:26:25
As I often do, I polled the Google News search engine to see if the article would appear (they do not always appear.) Sure enough, within a matter of minutes, Google spiders had crawled Nolan Chart, picked up the article, and made it available to anyone searching for “ron paul.” Fine and good so far.
I then searched “Sorted by relevance” and was pleased to see my article on the “ron paul” front page, second from the top.
However, I went back about two hours after the article’s original posting on Nolan Chart and found that Google had “mysteriously” pulled its reference to the article.
Within that two hour span, the article had been visited by over 200 readers, and favored with ten “Thumbs Up”s – a readership response that is hard to match on those rare occasions when Google does not index an article. However, when an article is not listed by the engine whose very name has become synonymous with “search,” unless it is spread virally, readership remains quite low. I did in fact see readership drop dramatically when the listing vanished.
Polling Google occasionally after the disappearance, I saw the article reappear momentarily, only to vanish once more. Perhaps that fleeting view was a copy of the evidently offending entry that had not quite been purged from Google’s distributed database farm?
From personal experience, it is evident to me that it is Google that drives the bulk of web traffic to the Nolan Chart site and its articles. This is, in my humble opinion, a two-edged sword. It’s great when an article is indexed by Google, and not so hot when it is not.
How could this have happened? Technically, removing a listing cannot quite be called “censorship” because Google is a private corporation and can index material or not as it pleases. But it begs the question: Was this a “computer glitch” or has Google possibly already been co-opted by the Internal Revenue Service and the “powers that be” who wish to maintain the hegemony IRS has over the populace?
Which would be easier: using legislative and judicial powers to restrict free speech, or “working with” the existing commercial information channels to be “selective” about what is disseminated?
You do the math.
In the past, I have seen Google “just not pick up” on some articles. The most recent example of this is “Ron Paul, Friend of April Fools and Taxpayers,” an article containing extensive information for readers who want to learn about the Tax Honesty movement. You may want to read and bookmark that one, as Google, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to help you with that.
In some cases, my suspicions were allayed when I discovered that there may have been some “automatic/technical” reason for the omission, as explained by Google themselves here. In other cases I have wondered. Yesterday’s circumstance however seemed to me at the time to be by far the most blatant evidence to date that “something might be up.”
As I am putting the final touches on this article, Google’s “technical glitch” has in fact been corrected. Last I looked, it is now possible to find “Ron Paul Meetup Enlightens San Diego Tax Lemmings” in Google’s indexed database. It somehow “reappeared” after about a two hour absence yesterday.
Even so, please consider the implications of any one entity having near complete control over your ability to locate information. Also bear in mind that “Ron Paul, Friend of April Fools and Taxpayers” still remains unlisted (at the time of this writing) if you search for “ron paul” and “april fools.”
Will Google index this article about its own shortcomings? Will it list it briefly and then “pull it” once a human member of the “thought police” actually perceives what it is about? Just how sophisticated is Google’s system and setup for regulating incoming material? Is it pure coincidence that I have seen this kind of problem, most frequently, with articles about the IRS? I welcome comments on the matter, especially from anyone with authentic “inside knowledge” of Google’s policies and technology, published or otherwise.
Most “Ron Paul rEVOLutionaries” have (justifiably) come to despise the “Mainstream Media,” but we should also be aware of the danger of getting our internet search information from a single source, as I have written about before in Google Meltdown? Where’s Ron? and other articles.
Whether this was a “technical glitch” or some darker behind-the-scenes manipulation, in my humble opinion it is PAST TIME for us to develop distributed and uncensored search engines.
Topic: Government Regulation
Barney and Ron: Together Again
It may come as a shock to supporters of both men, but Barney Frank and Ron Paul are jointly sponsoring s bill affecting federal regulatory power and states’ rights.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The Hill newspaper reports today thatBarney Frank and Ron Paul are together again, or perhaps together again for the first time.(www.thehill.com). They jointly introduced a bill in the House of Representatives last Friday dealing with federal regulatory power and states’ rights, issues on which most would expect them to be taking opposite sides. What may be even more surprising is that the measure is in reponse to complaints from bankes, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.
Barney Frank is a liberal Democrat and an advocate of strong federal regulation of business. Ron Paul is a conservative Republican and libertarian who wants to limit federal regulation and supports the right of state government to set regulations on matters he believes are outside the legitimate scope of federal power.
What brought the two opponents into at least temporary agreement is their opposition to the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The law the two are sponsoring would prohbit the Federal Government from adopting any measures to carry out this law.
The 2006 Act does not prohibit internet gambling nor regulate it. It directs the federal government and the banks to enforce various state laws prohibiting gambling. A number of states, of course, are, directly or indirectly, in the gambling business themselves, either through the licensing and taxing of casinos or through lotteries, which are voluntary tax systems. These states want to limit competition by banning gambling on the internet and prohbiting payoffs from internet gambling sites. Unable to directly enforce these laws, they have called upon the federal government to act for them. The NFL and other sports organization as well as the Family Research Council joined in vocal support of the measure.
Representatuve Frank, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has already sponsored a law to legalize and provide for federal regulation of internet gambling, which would, among other things, repeal the 2006 Act. It would treat internet gambling as a matter of interstate commerce and therefore under the delegated power of the federal government. In terms of economic and personal freedom this might not be an improvement over the current law.
He has joined Representative Paul in sponsoring the legislation introduced Friday in reponse to complaints before his committee from the American Bankers Association, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. Because a great deal of business is done over the internet and a great deal of money changes hands, the government feels that devising regulations for distinquishing illegal gambling payments from other payments would be difficult to devise. The bankers feel they would be almost impossible to apply without using too many of the banks’ resources in sorting out the payments.
The Frank-Paul measure would stop the implementation of the 2006 Act by prohibiting the creation of a federal enforcement mechanism From Frank’s point of view, the measure provides a means of blocking an onerous regulation until his bill can be considered. From Paul’s point of view, this is another means of limiting federal regulation of business.
This is not the only issue on which Frank and Paul are in agreement, despite their very different viewpoints. Both, for example, want to leave regulation of at least marijuana, if not other drugs, to the states and get the federal government out. On the whole, however, they have very different views of the role of government and on the interpretation of the constitution.
But intelligent people holding strongly opposing views can work together when their goals coincide.
A blunt former Fed chairman takes on Bernanke. Take heed of what he says
00:00 EDT Saturday, April 12, 2008
A few days ago an unusual event took place: Paul Volcker, the mythical U.S. Federal Reserve Board chairman from the Reagan years, criticized the policy of the current Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, in a speech to the Economic Club of New York.
Just so you grasp how extraordinary this was, you should first understand that normally a past Fed chairman scrupulously avoids saying anything at all about current Fed policy – for the simple reason that the current Fed chairman’s words are one of his most important tools: They can sway markets.
This ability does not fade entirely when a Fed chairman leaves.
So when a past Fed chairman speaks, his words can clash with those of the present one and make that one’s job difficult. Out of professional courtesy, past Fed chairmen therefore keep quiet; Mr. Volcker especially – the man who hiked interest rates to 20 per cent to kill inflation, at the cost of a deep recession. But last week Mr. Volcker spoke his mind bluntly. He said, in effect, that the current Fed is not doing its job.
This would have been unusual enough. But Mr. Volcker went further. Not only is the Fed not doing its job, he said, but it is doing the wrong job: It is defending the economy and the market, instead of defending the dollar. And just to stick the knife in, Mr. Volcker added that this bad job now will make the real job – defending the greenback – much harder later. It’ll cause even greater economic suffering.
by Ron Paul
There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about the Federal Reserve and the actions it has taken over the past few months. Many media pundits have been bending over backwards to praise the Fed for supposedly restoring stability to the market. This interpretation of the Fed’s actions couldn’t be further from the truth.
The current market crisis began because of Federal Reserve monetary policy during the early 2000s in which the Fed lowered the interest rate to a below-market rate. The artificially low rates led to overinvestment in housing and other malinvestments. When the first indications of market trouble began back in August of 2007, instead of holding back and allowing bad decision-makers to suffer the consequences of their actions, the Federal Reserve took aggressive, inflationary action to ensure that large Wall Street firms would not lose money. It began by lowering the discount rates, the rates of interest charged to banks who borrow directly from the Fed, and lengthening the terms of such loans. This eliminated much of the stigma from discount window borrowing and enabled troubled banks to come to the Fed directly for funding, pay only a slightly higher interest rate but also secure these loans for a period longer than just overnight.
After the massive increase in discount window lending proved to be ineffective, the Fed became more and more creative with its funding arrangements. It has since created the Term Auction Facility (TAF), the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF), and the Term Securities Lending Facility (TSLF). The upshot of all of these new programs is that through auctions of securities or through deposits of collateral, the Fed is pushing hundreds of billions of dollars of funding into the financial system in a misguided attempt to shore up the stability of the system.
The PDCF in particular is a departure from the established pattern of Fed intervention because it targets the primary dealers, the largest investment banks who purchase government securities directly from the New York Fed. These banks have never before been allowed to borrow from the Fed, but thanks to the Fed Board of Governors, these investment banks can now receive loans from the Fed in exchange for securities which will in all likelihood soon lose much of their value.
The net effect of all this new funding has been to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial system and bail out banks whose poor decision making should have caused them to go out of business. Instead of being forced to learn their lesson, these poor-performing banks are being rewarded for their financial mismanagement, and the ultimate cost of this bailout will fall on the American taxpayers. Already this new money flowing into the system is spurring talk of the next speculative bubble, possibly this time in commodities.
Worst of all, the Treasury Department has recently proposed that the Federal Reserve, which was responsible for the housing bubble and subprime crisis in the first place, be rewarded for all its intervention by being turned into a super-regulator. The Treasury foresees the Fed as the guarantor of market stability, with oversight over any financial institution that could pose a threat to the financial system. Rewarding poor-performing financial institutions is bad enough, but rewarding the institution that enabled the current economic crisis is unconscionable.
Has Capitalism Failed?
Congressional Record — US House of Representatives July 9, 2002
It is now commonplace and politically correct to blame what is referred to as the excesses of capitalism for the economic problems we face, and especially for the Wall Street fraud that dominates the business news. Politicians are having a field day with demagoguing the issue while, of course, failing to address the fraud and deceit found in the budgetary shenanigans of the federal government — for which they are directly responsible. Instead, it gives the Keynesian crowd that runs the show a chance to attack free markets and ignore the issue of sound money.
So once again we hear the chant: “Capitalism has failed; we need more government controls over the entire financial market.” No one asks why the billions that have been spent and thousands of pages of regulations that have been written since the last major attack on capitalism in the 1930s didn’t prevent the fraud and deception of Enron, WorldCom, and Global Crossings. That failure surely couldn’t have come from a dearth of regulations.
What is distinctively absent is any mention that all financial bubbles are saturated with excesses in hype, speculation, debt, greed, fraud, gross errors in investment judgment, carelessness on the part of analysts and investors, huge paper profits, conviction that a new era economy has arrived and, above all else, pie-in-the-sky expectations.
When the bubble is inflating, there are no complaints. When it bursts, the blame game begins. This is especially true in the age of victimization, and is done on a grand scale. It quickly becomes a philosophic, partisan, class, generational, and even a racial issue. While avoiding the real cause, all the finger pointing makes it difficult to resolve the crisis and further undermines the principles upon which freedom and prosperity rest.
Nixon was right — once — when he declared “We’re all Keynesians now.” All of Washington is in sync in declaring that too much capitalism has brought us to where we are today. The only decision now before the central planners in Washington is whose special interests will continue to benefit from the coming pretense at reform. The various special interests will be lobbying heavily like the Wall Street investors, the corporations, the military-industrial complex, the banks, the workers, the unions, the farmers, the politicians, and everybody else.
But what is not discussed is the actual cause and perpetration of the excesses now unraveling at a frantic pace. This same response occurred in the 1930s in the United States as our policy makers responded to the very similar excesses that developed and collapsed in 1929. Because of the failure to understand the problem then, the depression was prolonged. These mistakes allowed our current problems to develop to a much greater degree. Consider the failure to come to grips with the cause of the 1980s bubble, as Japan’s economy continues to linger at no-growth and recession level, with their stock market at approximately one-fourth of its peak 13 years ago. If we’re not careful — and so far we’ve not been — we will make the same errors that will prevent the correction needed before economic growth can be resumed.
In the 1930s, it was quite popular to condemn the greed of capitalism, the gold standard, lack of regulation, and a lack government insurance on bank deposits for the disaster. Businessmen became the scapegoat. Changes were made as a result, and the welfare/warfare state was institutionalized. Easy credit became the holy grail of monetary policy, especially under Alan Greenspan, “the ultimate Maestro.” Today, despite the presumed protection from these government programs built into the system, we find ourselves in a bigger mess than ever before. The bubble is bigger, the boom lasted longer, and the gold price has been deliberately undermined as an economic signal. Monetary inflation continues at a rate never seen before in a frantic effort to prop up stock prices and continue the housing bubble, while avoiding the consequences that inevitably come from easy credit. This is all done because we are unwilling to acknowledge that current policy is only setting the stage for a huge drop in the value of the dollar. Everyone fears it, but no one wants to deal with it.
Ignorance, as well as disapproval for the natural restraints placed on market excesses that capitalism and sound markets impose, cause our present leaders to reject capitalism and blame it for all the problems we face. If this fallacy is not corrected and capitalism is even further undermined, the prosperity that the free market generates will be destroyed.
Corruption and fraud in the accounting practices of many companies are coming to light. There are those who would have us believe this is an integral part of free-market capitalism. If we did have free-market capitalism, there would be no guarantees that some fraud wouldn’t occur. When it did, it would then be dealt with by local law-enforcement authority and not by the politicians in Congress, who had their chance to “prevent” such problems but chose instead to politicize the issue, while using the opportunity to promote more useless Keynesian regulations.
Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven’t had capitalism. A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank. It’s not capitalism when the system is plagued with incomprehensible rules regarding mergers, acquisitions, and stock sales, along with wage controls, price controls, protectionism, corporate subsidies, international management of trade, complex and punishing corporate taxes, privileged government contracts to the military-industrial complex, and a foreign policy controlled by corporate interests and overseas investments. Add to this centralized federal mismanagement of farming, education, medicine, insurance, banking and welfare. This is not capitalism!
To condemn free-market capitalism because of anything going on today makes no sense. There is no evidence that capitalism exists today. We are deeply involved in an interventionist-planned economy that allows major benefits to accrue to the politically connected of both political parties. One may condemn the fraud and the current system, but it must be called by its proper names — Keynesian inflationism, interventionism, and corporatism.
What is not discussed is that the current crop of bankruptcies reveals that the blatant distortions and lies emanating from years of speculative orgy were predictable.
First, Congress should be investigating the federal government’s fraud and deception in accounting, especially in reporting future obligations such as Social Security, and how the monetary system destroys wealth. Those problems are bigger than anything in the corporate world and are the responsibility of Congress. Besides, it’s the standard set by the government and the monetary system it operates that are major contributing causes to all that’s wrong on Wall Street today. Where fraud does exist, it’s a state rather than a federal matter, and state authorities can enforce these laws without any help from Congress.
Second, we do know why financial bubbles occur, and we know from history that they are routinely associated with speculation, excessive debt, wild promises, greed, lying, and cheating. These problems were described by quite a few observers as the problems were developing throughout the 1990s, but the warnings were ignored for one reason. Everybody was making a killing and no one cared, and those who were reminded of history were reassured by the Fed chairman that “this time” a new economic era had arrived and not to worry. Productivity increases, it was said, could explain it all.
But now we know that’s just not so. Speculative bubbles and all that we’ve been witnessing are a consequence of huge amounts of easy credit, created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve. We’ve had essentially no savings, which is one of the most significant driving forces in capitalism. The illusion created by low interest rates perpetuates the bubble and all the bad stuff that goes along with it. And that’s not a fault of capitalism. We are dealing with a system of inflationism and interventionism that always produces a bubble economy that must end badly.
So far the assessment made by the administration, Congress, and the Fed bodes badly for our economic future. All they offer is more of the same, which can’t possibly help. All it will do is drive us closer to national bankruptcy, a sharply lower dollar, and a lower standard of living for most Americans, as well as less freedom for everyone.
This is a bad scenario that need not happen. But preserving our system is impossible if the critics are allowed to blame capitalism and sound monetary policy is rejected. More spending, more debt, more easy credit, more distortion of interest rates, more regulations on everything, and more foreign meddling will soon force us into the very uncomfortable position of deciding the fate of our entire political system.
If we were to choose freedom and capitalism, we would restore our dollar to a commodity or a gold standard. Federal spending would be reduced, income taxes would be lowered, and no taxes would be levied upon savings, dividends, and capital gains. Regulations would be reduced, special-interest subsidies would be stopped, and no protectionist measures would be permitted. Our foreign policy would change, and we would bring our troops home.
We cannot depend on government to restore trust to the markets; only trustworthy people can do that. Actually, the lack of trust in Wall Street executives is healthy because it is deserved and prompts caution. The same lack of trust in politicians, the budgetary process, and the monetary system would serve as a healthy incentive for the reform in government we need.
Markets regulate better than governments can. Depending on government regulations to protect us significantly contributes to the bubble mentality.
These moves would produce the climate for releasing the creative energy necessary to simply serve consumers, which is what capitalism is all about. The system that inevitably breeds the corporate-government cronyism that created our current ongoing disaster would end.
Capitalism didn’t give us this crisis of confidence now existing in the corporate world. The lack of free markets and sound money did. Congress does have a role to play, but it’s not proactive. Congress’s job is to get out of the way.
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