“For some time now – years actually – I have pondered the nature of liberty. Or more specifically, what liberty actually means to me. And to be extra clear, I am not talking about the meaning in abstract or philosophical terms, but tangibly – in much the same way I might answer if asked what my wife means to me.
The trigger for this entirely personal discourse comes from reading various articles and viewing various YouTube videos and speeches from self-styled champions of liberty (COL). There is even an entire conference, Mark Skousen’s FreedomFest, dedicated to the topic.
Invariably, these well-meaning COL rail against “The Man” (something I do myself), accentuating their public angst by sharing stories of being molested by the TSA or otherwise inconvenienced by minions of the state. It is my contention that most of these individuals, and certainly the majority of “freedom-loving” Americans, don’t actually understand the meaning of liberty, but rather give the matter little more than lip service.
And again, I don’t mean liberty in an abstract way – like, say, “world peace” – but tangibly.”
Via Activist Post
“The July retail sales beat came as a surprise to many: an 0.8% increase (full series here) at a time when the data was supposed to grow at less than half this would surely be indicative of a potential turnaround in the US economy. Then we decided to do a quick spot check if maybe the Census Bureau had not adopted one of the BLS’ worst habits: fudging seasonal adjustment factors. The reason for this is because we happened to notice that Not Seasonally Adjusted (full series here) retail sales data in July actually declined by 0.9% from $405.8 to $402 billion. Of course, if the Census Bureau was using a consistent, or at least remotely comparable July seasonal adjustment factor as it has in the past, this would make sense and we would move on. So we decided to look at what the July seasonal adjustment variance over the past decade has been. What we found would have shocked us if indeed this is not precisely what we expected: with the July seasonal adjustment factor routinely subtracting a substantial amount from the NSA number, averaging at -$5.2 billion, in 2012, for the first time this decade, the seasonal adjustment not only did not subtract, but in fact added “value” to the NSA number, resulting in a seasonally adjusted number that was $1.9 billion higher than the NSA number at $403.9 billion.”
Via Zero Hedge
“Despite the majestic efforts at jawboning ‘markets’ higher with constant reassurance that infinite QE will come ‘we promise’, it seems the real economy – full of small businesses and job creators – hasn’t got the message. As while equities trade at multi-year highs, small business optimism just printed at its lowest in 9 months. Trickle-down QE doesn’t seem to be taking hold among the dismal reality in which we all actually live – as opposed to the vacuum tune hyperplane that stocks exist on.”
Via Zero Hedge
“As Industrial Production falls -0.6% in Europe and as the economy shrinks -0.2% there is once again a good reason to pause to consider the ramifications for this going forward. As part of the data release this morning Germany and France did somewhat better than expectations but it was fairly marginal while the rest of the EU-17 continues to be mired in difficulties. Overnight LCH increased the margin requirements for both Spain and Italy as the banks of Spain keep increasing their borrowings at the ECB which is now at an all-time record. More troubling perhaps is the recent release of data from Italy which showed that their sovereign debt had ballooned to $2.437 trillion and the trajectory is more than troublesome. In 2010 and 2011 Italy’s debt was expanding by $7.90 billion per month but in 2012 Italian debt has increased by $11.73 billion per month for a projected $141 billion by the end of this year. In fact the Italian economy is shrinking by about -2.5% while their debt is growing by 5.8% which is the baseline for an unsustainable situation if these trends continue.”
Via Zero Hedge
“Economist George Stigler noted decades ago that in order to meet the nutritional standards of the U.S. government in 1943 least expensively, a man of 154 pounds could consume, in a year, 370 pounds of wheat flour, 57 cans of evaporated milk, 111 pounds of cabbage, 23 pounds of spinach, and 285 pounds of dried navy beans.
Is that all I’d be allowed under the Franklin scheme? Strictly speaking, all else is “superfluous,” right? Yet Franklin leaves no record of having been quite so abstemious himself.
How about theater tickets? Are those “superfluous”? If not, how many theater tickets would Ben Franklin consider essential for a satisfying life?
You see how arbitrary and inane this becomes.”
Via Tom Woods
“The data continues to show slowing economic activity…”
The Producer Price Index for finished goods rose 0.3 percent in July, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This advance followed a 0.1-percent increase in June and a 1.0-percent decline in May. At the earlier stages of processing, prices received by manufacturers of intermediate goods moved down 0.9 percent in July, and the crude goods index advanced 1.8 percent. On an unadjusted basis, prices for finished goods rose 0.5 percent for the 12 months ended July 2012, continuing the trend of slowing year-over-year increases following a 7.0-percent rise for the 12 months ended September 2011. (See table A.)
Via market Ticker
“Fond du Lac Police were forced to shoot an aggressive dog as they attempted to search an Amory Street residence.
Lt. Jason Laridaen said city officers executed a drug search warrant around 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 10 at a home in the 100 block of Amory Street. As police entered the residence, one of the officers was confronted by an aggressive bulldog.
“The dog was barking, growling and charging toward the officer,” Laridaen said in a news release. “He tried to step away from the dog without success and felt that he was going to be bitten.”
Laridaen said one shot was fired at close range at the dog, which ended the attack.
After securing the residents of the home, Laridaen said officers made arrangements to transport the dog to a local veterinarian for treatment. After an examination, the dog’s owner requested that the dog be euthanized.”
“It is absolutely amazing what some people will do to make a living in this economy. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we have not seen this kind of desperation for jobs in America since the Great Depression of the 1930s. What some people are willing to put up with just to bring home a paycheck these days will totally shock you. For example, would you slaughter dogs all day long even though you are really a dog lover? Would you personally train your replacement from China even though you knew he was about to take your job? Would you trade sex for a job? There are people out there actually doing all these things and worse. Every night in America, millions upon millions of people roll around endlessly in their beds and stare at their ceilings for hours because they can’t sleep. They are sick to their stomachs because their money is gone and nobody will hire them. They can’t provide even the basics for their families and they feel worthless. Unemployment can be absolutely soul crushing and it can suck the life right out of you. Things were supposed to be better by now, but they aren’t. The month after Barack Obama took office the unemployment rate broke the 8 percent barrier and it has stayed above it ever since. But the truth is that the “official” unemployment number greatly understates the real amount of suffering that is going on out there. In reality, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is lower today than when the last recession ended. There are millions upon millions of Americans that are desperate for some hope, and there is no hope on the horizon. In fact, things are going to be getting a whole lot worse for the U.S. economy.”