News & Analysis
What Kind of Freedom?
Obama to award Medal of Freedom to 15, including investor Buffett ... President Obama will award the Medal of Freedom to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, one of 15 recipients who will be given the country's highest civilian honor, the White House said ... Among the other Medal of Freedom recipients will be former president George H.W. Bush; German Chancellor Angela Merkel ... poet Maya Angelou ... and labor chief John Sweeney. – Washington Post
Dominant Social Theme: The US government is at again, honoring the VIPs that mean the most to the American people.
Free-Market Analysis: We are reminded of a certain book when we read who is getting freedom medals from Barack Obama; but more on that at the end of this article. Warren Buffet is a kind of Keynesian socialist in our humble view, while George H. W. Bush is the former head of the CIA (as well as a former president), Angela Merkel is the quasi-socialist head of a combined Germany, Maya Angelou, a fine writer, is an activist feminist (by sympathy if not profession); labor chief John Sweeney was the president of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009.
All of these people in their own way have seemingly advocated using the force of government to support policies that they prefer. In fact, it strikes us that these medals support a kind of sub-dominant social theme – that freedom has to do (somehow) with empowering state activism, whether through financial regulation, government intelligences ops, feminist activism or labor law.
Start with Buffet. Here is a man who constantly campaigns for increased taxes to be placed on US citizens, identifies himself as a Democrat and is worth something like US$50 billion. He poses as an investor, but really he makes "investments" in businesses that have hidden economic advantages, usually via regulatory loopholes. Of course Buffet may seem free-market oriented in the sense that he has made a fabulous fortune in the "investment game" – but when one examines his criteria for picking companies, it becomes obvious that one of them is mercantilism.
This means that Buffet values companies that in some way have developed access to the US government at state or federal levels and can pull levers of power available to no one else. Buffet is thus not investing in companies that necessarily have a better widget. He is putting his money into companies that are interacting most efficiently with government. He is not in his investing making a principled stand for entrepreneurialism or free markets but seeks out firms that have best exploited the current socialist and leveling environment of the US. It is difficult to reconcile this investment philosophy with freedom.
Former President George H. W. Bush is a power player of the highest order, the scion of a family that was involved with financial support for pre-war Nazi Germany and who participated throughout his career in anti-freedom intelligence operations, especially with the CIA which he used to run. The CIA in particular has been involved in all sorts of "black ops" operations that involve the murder of foreign officials, the installation of totalitarian regimes in foreign countries (so long as they were friendly to the US) and even, apparently, drug running and drug sales to raise money for unfunded operations that Congress had no knowledge of.
Much of what George H.W. Bush participated in throughout his career was profoundly undemocratic and anti-freedom. In fact, such philosophies likely lead to more and more abuses and violence. It is not coincidence in our view that after a modern era that has seen 12 years of presidential rule by the Bush family, the US is embroiled in two hot wars and several more pending cold wars. Violence, assassination and serial warfare supported by Bush senior and junior are legacies that do not necessarily support freedom and that we would argue are in fact antithetical to it.
Angela Merkel, the current Chancellor of Germany, has shown herself of late to be a primary supporter of the European Union and a proponent of its ever-more authoritarian grasp over the sinking nation-states of what once was a freer Europe. The EU itself is a profoundly corrupt institution, one that has not allowed itself an audit in years. Meanwhile, it seems to make up the rules as it goes. Its senior leaders are unelected by the larger population and the EU now has a history of insisting on election "do-overs" when the popular vote goes against it.
While the EU itself was growing steadily more unpopular in the past decade as a result of its increasingly arrogant use of power, the past two years of financial crisis have shown the depth of its dysfunction. The euro currency itself that demands certain levels of governmental fiscal restraint is virtually unworkable in the South of Europe where cultural differences toward government engender outcomes that are much different than those in the North.
What is the result? The EU is doing its best to "crack down" on taxes and governmental corruption among the PIGS countries while ignoring the pervasive corruption within its own halls. This is not the hallmark of an admirable organization but of a dysfunctional enterprise that bullies others while exempting itself from similar standards. This is the enterprise that Ms. Merkel wholeheartedly stands behind and freedom is not a word we use to describe it.
Maya Angelou is a fine writer who is a pioneer in black prose for the early 20th century. Given what she went through as a person and how far she has traveled within the arc of her success, she no doubt deserves a freedom medal more than most. We don't want to in any way criticize a person who has built a successful artistic career from virtually nothing and who has made her own way in life without, initially anyway, help from others.
But what we WOULD point out is that it is very fashionable in the literary community to reward certain kinds of writers and to popularize certain kinds of writing. Ms. Angelou strikes many of the chords that are most fashionable in American literature these days. She is of African American descent, is a woman, has experimented with alternative lifestyles and sex and has experienced great poverty. We would not begrudge Ms. Angelou a smidgen of her success, but we wonder if she were white, male and wealthy – and had written commensurate literature – whether she (he) would still be feted with the same level of enthusiasm. Surely she deserves a medal, but freedom perhaps has not a great deal to do with it.
Finally, there is John Sweeney, a union leader for what has got to be the most corrupt, or one of the most corrupt, unions in America. The AFL-CIO has been behind the modern union movement for years and it is certainly an open question as to whether the union movement has, ultimately, been an unadulterated (or even adulterated) good for working people in the US and throughout the West. Too often, it seems to us, the union movement has conspired to keep workers OUT of well-paying jobs and has even helped destroy companies that will not agree to its inevitably escalating demands.
Just yesterday, as we composed this article, there were reports that Americans were fleeing highly taxed and unionized states to go to states that did not have much union presence, presumably because there were more opportunities there. One can argue about the net-positives that unions bring to the workplace and worker, but over time it seems that unions have negative employment impacts. Though workers increasingly reject unionism, and the movement has shriveled in the private sector, it has grown in the public sector via laws that mandate its adoption and effectiveness. The largest unions are now mostly to be found in government – helping to get out the vote for their legislative supporters. We see little in this that involves freedom or warrants a medal for it.
We suppose we should mention Barack Obama here as well. Obama has not done very well as a president, perhaps because he believes in the solutions of American progressivism, which are all quasi-Marxist and collectivist in nature. The American economy is currently a US$3 trillion plus Leviathan with an invasive and authoritarian intelligence community that wiretaps at will at all levels of society, a prison-industrial complex that runs on the virtual slave labor of 3-6 million inmates, a serial war wager utilizing depleted uranium weapons that poison (literally) whole countries, and a leader of the Western world's central banking economy that has brought ruin to every society that adopts it.
Barack Obama not only apparently endorses what America has become, he recently socialized more fully another sixth of the American economy with his health care bill. We are not sure how this supports "freedom" – or what freedom even means within this context. We also note that he is handing out freedom medals to people whose careers from our humble point of view are somewhat anti-freedom.
The US, in fact, used to stand for freedom and may one day again. But for now, the US seems to us to be firmly in the clutches of a shadowy Anglo-American, familial, banking elite that is dedicated to expanding government and in fact lessening freedom in pursuit of one-world government. This elite uses every tool at its disposal to promote its one-world agenda and tries to portray authoritarian measures as those that support or even increase freedom.
Conclusion: We started out this article by writing that the distribution of freedom medals to people who, at least in some cases, do not seem interested in the slightest in encouraging freedom reminded us of a certain book. Here is a quote from it. It is very famous and you should be able to figure it out quickly. As follows:
It was as though the world had turned upside-down ... Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder. He looked round. It was Clover. Her old eyes looked dimmer than ever. Without saying anything, she tugged gently at his mane and led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written. For a minute or two they stood gazing at the tatted wall with its white lettering.
"My sight is failing," she said finally. "Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?"
For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.
Posted by Victor Barney on 11/19/10 07:37 AM
Yes, America our voters did it! They elected the son of the man who made Kenya, the only other "Republic" in the world into a Marxist state and now his son has made America(Israel by the seed of Joseph) into a Marxist(anti-messiah) state for Lucifer! However, President Obama, this is not Kenya, but the lost tribe of Israel and the two-witnesses of Revelation will appear before you're done for sure! I just don't know if the witnesses start their testimony before the fall of 2012 or not? I will know then won't I? Now I understand what is met by the first(Cain) will be last and the last(Seth) will be first. Think about the voting block? Obama clearly says that he is a Marxist, like his father!
Posted by AmanfromMars on 11/19/10 02:43 AM
"We are not in aggregate big fans of the presidency of George Bush, it must be admitted. (And we have admitted it.)" ... Reply from the Daily Bell
To admit being a fan at all tells all to everyone, and for whom does the Daily Bell toll and ring its bells, and blow whistles on messengers with messages loded with greater insights ..... which ideally, surely, one is always looking for to be, and contain, magic foresight .... PreCogniscence.
Crazy Loons and Mad Toons Bumping against the Levers of Power without the Benefit of ITs Control with Hindsight Enriched Foresight, which delivers nothing other than as can only be described as a tragic pantomime ... "Idiots and Dolts at the Helm and on the Bridge of a Crashing Vessel"
Or would you disagree and see an altogether Different Big Picture? Pray tell, so that we can see All see what you Know?
Posted by Philip Mccormack on 11/19/10 02:41 AM
John Blenkins@ Thanks John. Thank goodness for the internet.Philip
Posted by Wayne on 11/19/10 01:44 AM
Great critique of Warren Buffet.
Ayn Rand would have called Buffet a true "second rater"
Buffet is so lauded by the system precisely because he represents the mercantile system so well.
You will never hear of a real free-enterprise heavyweight praised by that source.
Posted by Finn on 11/19/10 12:16 AM
Oh so subtly posted. So volatile! So inclusive! Who should not look! Who will it not affect!!!!......??????
Come all...and see what awaits you! Aren't you curious? 0.5c only!! You're sure to be intrigued....!
Click to view link
Posted by Finn on 11/18/10 09:31 PM
RE: book release
What a pathetic display of authorship. First of all, can we all say together, plagiarism? That guy couldn't release his 1st grade journal. He didn't learn to form a coherent, individualistic thought until the first murder command. At that point I'm sure he realized it was serious.
The book's release was so poorly timed. They thought they were being genius by waiting until after the election. Ooooooohhhhhh, the Republicans will win by a landslide!!!! Turns out it doesn't freakin' matter. The book is already marked down 46%!!!!!!! People must be paying the premium for the literary genius of it all! HA!
Add one more stick to the fire of the elite losing power and relevance. Surely the MIB will call me for my commentary on Amazon. But only if Amazon posts it. Which I doubt they will do. So I may be safe.
Posted by Charly on 11/18/10 09:04 PM
From DB: "The Iraqi population ...
Since 2001, medical personnel at the Basra hospital in southern Iraq have reported a sharp increase in the incidence of child leukemia and genetic malformation among babies born in the decade following the Gulf War. Iraqi doctors attributed these malformations to possible long-term effects of DU, an opinion which was echoed by several newspapers. In 2004, Iraq had the highest mortality rate due to leukemia of any country. The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) has made a call to support an epidemiological study in the Basra region, as asked for by Iraqi doctors, but no peer-reviewed study has yet been undertaken in Basra.
A medical survey, 'Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009, published in July 2010, states that the 'Increase in cancer and birth defectsare alarmingly high and that infant mortality 2009/2010 have reached 13.6%. The group compares the dramatic increase, five years after the actual war 2004, or exposure, with the lymphoma Italian peacekeepers developed after the Balkan wars, and the increased cancer risk in certain parts of Sweden due to the Chernobyl fallout. The origin and time of introduction of the carcinogenic agent causing the genetic stress, the group will address in a separate report.
Click to View Link
Notice lately how they are parading Georgie 'The Shrub' before us again, as his Memoirs are now coming to light? Such a magnanimous example of Freedom being brought to the needy of the world. [puke] The above quote undoubtedly will not be listed in his accomplishments I'm sure. I shudder to admit that the final scene in Braveheart leaps to my mind as being just due, but too kind for such kingly accomplishments. Forgive my rant, as we can't all be Bluebirds I guess.
Reply from The Daily Bell
We are not in aggregate big fans of the presidency of George Bush, it must be admitted. (And we have admitted it.)
Posted by Breck on 11/18/10 07:34 PM
Very deft footwork around Maya, Bell. I for one don't need to be so deft. She has always impressed me as one of the most successful self-promoters in a generation, and with the least amount of talent to warrant it. There is something smug about her. I don't like her. And I would not like her, by the way, if she were green, purple or white.
Posted by Finn on 11/18/10 06:53 PM
Segue everyone.....addressing fear and let's have a laugh....
First a quote that I think pertains to our community here at the Daily Bell:
"There are a lot of religious traditions that require isolating oneself from the world and praying"the monastic traditions. My form of spirituality is not a form of withdrawal but of engagement, personal and collective. And that comes partly from my own Greek tradition. The word idiot comes from ancient Greek"an idiot was someone who was not engaged in public life. So there is a deep Greek tradition of engagement. It's part of what has shaped me. For me, engagement in the world is an extension of my spiritual life." Arianna Huffington
And now the laugh:
Click to view link
Posted by William3 on 11/18/10 06:38 PM
"..these medals support a kind of sub-dominant social theme ' that freedom has to do (somehow) with empowering state activism."
This is a very astute observation. All great medal awards seem to be sanctioned by statism -- even the Olympic medals and Oscars. Only state-sanctioned, or at least statist-promoting, bodies can award them. This genuine Western phenomenon sadly has now been adopted around the world.
Obama, for his part, seems to be using ceremonies like this, and his trip abroad, as tactics to lessen the damage to his credibility caused by the mid-term elections.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Posted by John Blenkins on 11/18/10 06:25 PM
What Kind of Freedom? Indeed
Click to view link"/paramparam
Posted by Philip Mccormack on 11/18/10 05:42 PM
Great takedown. The great surprise Krugman after his Nobel prize didn't get the medal of freedom, must have been an oversight. Happy days Philip
Posted by Dogwood on 11/18/10 05:20 PM
You could add some more meat to your paragraph on Warren. There is plenty of fodder out there for your cannon, but as written it comes across as whining. Warren would probably counter that his investment in Coke is under attack. He's a scoundrel though. Smack that old liar with something good!
Reply from The Daily Bell
First you mention meat, then a cannon and then "smacking." Your metaphors are as mixed as your vituperation is clear. And it is really not necessary, nor wanted. Go away.
Posted by Alan on 11/18/10 05:11 PM
Good comments on Buffet, the elites favorite investor, now on very good terms with Bill "I love vaccines" Gates.
Prescott Bush worked at the Union Bank in New York (Harriman/Thyssen) that was closed down at the beginning of 1943 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. He was a member of Skull and Bones at Yale like George Senior and George Junior. He is said to have led a party that stole the bones of Geronimo from his grave and taken them back to The Tomb at Yale.
Posted by J.D.Beck on 11/18/10 04:04 PM
"The government of the distant future will consist of wise sages who make decisions based on love, logic and what is best for the population as a whole. It will be devoid of petty human lust and greed. Currently China seems to be on the very beginnings of this noble path."
Really ?? I must have been in another part of China...and missed this awareness.
Moreover : Of what help is it for Kant to say "You can" if this only elicits the answer " I will not"
Posted by Dogwood on 11/18/10 03:49 PM
Looks like Car Czar Rattner got his own federal medal of achievement today... a $6.2mm fine for pay to play related to NY Pension/Quadrangle. Charges were known and public prior to Obama appointing him. Crooks.
Posted by Dogwood on 11/18/10 03:44 PM
Warren gets a medal for writing a $14bn put on the S&P after he goes in front of congress and says "derivative are financial weapons of mass destruction." Liars serving liars.
Warren also owns insurance companies – which are derivatives, and trades plenty of CDS. So Warren – I guess it's good for you but not for me? Do as I say...
You old, lying, DC insider, bag, Warren.
Posted by Bluebird on 11/18/10 03:30 PM
Of course I over reacted. My sincerest apologies. We all have a common goal, to get through this world crisis together. We share ideas, and hopefully can find solutions. We have to show a unified front to face those who would enslave us. It is difficult times.
I still cannot view the picture in question. I get a 403 error with some guy ranting about comment spam. But it did not feel good being compared to an artichoke. ;-) I was having a bad day.
@ Daily Bell and the others who were so kind, I am overwhelmed. Thank you! This website fills a void in my life due to being home bound with an ill child. My husband works hard and provides for our family, but is not much on conversation. Even though I love him dearly and would be lost without him, I get lonesome. I read and enjoy every comment.
Yes, DB, I have read up on alternative treatments. But with a child, we have to follow standard chemotherapy or are considered criminals. (Remember the woman and her son they hunted down because they wanted to try something else?) You are not allowed a choice. It is ...difficult. Standard treatment for a young boy is 3&1/2 years. We are not yet half way, but he has improved. He had no chance otherwise and would be gone by now. Thanks so much for the prayers, friends!
Reply from The Daily Bell
Good to hear. A great weight to carry. Good luck. Godspeed.
Posted by Finn on 11/18/10 02:26 PM
Warren, your father would be ashamed of you. Sell out!
This quote from Howard Buffett in 1948 on gold stands in stark contrast to the views held by his son, "When you recall that one of the first moves by Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler was to outlaw individual ownership of gold, you begin to sense that there may be some connection between money, redeemable in gold, and the rare prize known as human liberty. There is no more important challenge facing us than this issue – the restoration of your freedom to secure gold in exchange for the fruits of your labors."
Click to view link
Posted by Light Being on 11/18/10 02:23 PM
The government of the distant future will consist of wise sages who make decisions based on love, logic and what is best for the population as a whole. It will be devoid of petty human lust and greed. Currently China seems to be on the very beginnings of this noble path.