Sanctions Harm All Except Targeted Governments

The United States recently instituted economic sanctions on Russia due to its conflict with Ukraine over the Crimea and is urging other world powers to follow suit.

But do sanctions really work? History tells us they are a passive-aggressive measure, and in the end, they hurt ordinary people while leaving subject governments—composed of a fluid body of individuals—virtually unaffected.

No state (or group of states, in the case of the EU) nor NATO, the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to which Ukraine has applied for membership, have been willing to risk an outright military confrontation with Russia. Earlier this week NATO member nations suspended cooperation with Russia because of the Ukraine conflict, and yesterday Russia recalled its ambassador to NATO, according to

Retired Texas congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul agreed, calling sanctions “acts of war.” He continued:

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Libertarians Advocate for Moral Government

Back in the fall, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu wrote a piece for Bloomberg titled Libertarians Are the New Communists. In fact, libertarianism and communism could not be more different: Communism relies on an all-powerful state to enforce its ideology, apparently because the communalism it espouses just isn’t popular enough that people will adhere to it on their own. Libertarians oppose oppressive state control because it forcibly denies individual freedom. 

Glenn Jacobs, writing for, responded with a lucid and eloquently written rebuttal to Hanauer and Liu. Jacobs is a professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) who reads up on economics and politics on the side.

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Free Market Will Trump Volcker Rule In End

The ink was still wet on U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law in July 2010 when the wrangling began over how and how much to clamp down on trading by federally insured banks. Even though the financial reform act was passed, the devil is in the details of how regulators will actually implement it.

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Yellen Ain’t Yellin’ Whole Truth on Interest Rates

Janet Yellen, soon to be the head of the privately-owned Federal Reserve Bank (Fed), isn't revealing much on the truth about interest rates. But there was a thread to pull on.

This piece unravels multiple deceptions.

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From Janet Yellen’s April 4 speech, 2013:

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Mesh Internet Allows Everybody Access To Free Peer-to-Peer Local Wireless Networks, Democratizing Free Speech and Free Information

Open Technology Institute [OTI] recently held its first international training of Commotion Wireless technology in Dharamshala, India. Community from across India and Nepal gathered to learn about the free "mesh" wireless toolkit: software, documentation, and training materials.

Anyone can build their own local communications infrastructure. The training in India coincided with OTI’s May release of the latest developer’s version of Commotion, a major milestone in the project.

On May 1 WealthCycles summed up innovations such as these, born in the trough of a Kondratiev winter, as often what we would call revolutionary tech—the game-changing technological advances that permanently alter the course of humanity.

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Can Bitcoin Deemed ‘Real Money’ Offer Alternative to Fiat Currency?

A federal judge ruled this week that Bitcoins, a “digital crypto currency” that has been touted as a potential free market alternative to traditional, government-controlled currencies, is legally money.

The ruling came up in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Texan Trendan Shavers, who is charged with committing fraud in a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme worth millions of dollars, according to an NBC News report. Shavers attempted to counter the SEC charges by claiming that Bitcoins are not money, therefore shares of his company, Bitcoin Savings & Trust (BTCST), are not securities, and therefore the SEC has no jurisdiction. The U.S. District judge put the kibosh on Shavers’ argument, stating:

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Cash-Hungry Governments Go After Mobile Money

While mobile carriers and application developers like Google wrangle over virtual wallets and payment systems, carriers in parts of the developing world have long since implemented near-seamless mobile payments. “Mobile money,” or electronic payments via mobile phones, has displaced cash in parts of Africa. The remarkably easy and efficient system evolved as a market-based solution to real economic needs, but is now threatened by the heavy hand of corrupt governments.

The Globe and Mail describes how the system operates in Somalia. Telesom is the mobile telecommunications company offering the service named “Zaad”:

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India’s Promise Crippled by Market-Distorting Bureaucracy

India’s economy, one full of such potential, remained just on the edge of takeoff during the boom years of the 2000s. However, with high debt to GDP ratios and current accounts deficits, the Indian economy shows signs of real strain.

India’s bureaucracy, once the crown jewel of imperial administration, now serves to cripple the nation’s economic prosperity. Perennially named worst in Asia, the Indian bureaucracy stifles innovation in reams of paperwork and spools of red tape. It even has its own magazine, whose marketing message claims that the bureaucracy controls some 70% of India’s GDP.

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Mom-Pop Investors No Match for HFTs

In the movie Superman III, Richard Pryor’s character launches a get-rich quick scheme by stealing the fractions of a cent left over in electronic transactions. Characters in the movie Office Space picked up the theme and made thousands. This financial chicanery, however, is no longer fictional. A trading practice known as High Frequency Trading (HFT) exploits minute changes in stock prices—most less than a penny—to garner huge profits from unfair advantages.

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Swiss Initiative Reveals Push for Gold-Backed Currency

On March 20, 2013, the Swiss People’s Party, considered a right-wing populist and nationalist party, collected enough signatures to force a referendum on Switzerland’s gold reserve. If passed the initiative would require the Swiss National Bank (SNB—the country’s central bank) to maintain at least 20% of its assets in gold, and mandates that the gold be kept entirely in Switzerland. The Swiss National Bank, not surprisingly, does not consider this a great idea.

Switzerland, the last issuer of paper currency backed by gold reserves, began reducing its reserves after the country’s new constitution took Switzerland off the gold standard in 2000. Previously, the SNB was mandated to keep at least 40% of the Swiss Franc in gold reserves. In the intervening 13 years, gold reserves have declined to 1040 metric tons, or approximately 10% of the SNB’s assets. Bringing the reserve up to the 20% threshold required by the referendum would cost approximately $50 billion, if they could find the volume for offer, that is.

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