A Measure Of Fascism In America

The word “fascism” is generally used today as a pejorative to attack any idea that a speaker happens to dislike. But this word has a specific meaning and a specific historical context. It refers to an authoritarian, nationalistic system of government and social organization that is usually considered to be far right-wing. Historically, it was most popular in the 1930s, when the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco were in their primes. Later examples include Indonesia under Suharto, Bolivia under Banzer, and Chile under Pinochet. In practice, fascism combines the ideas of collectivism, mercantilism, nationalism, (statist) syndicalism, and uniculturalism into a system where business leaders and political rulers work together to create public policies that benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.

To what extent is the United States of America in 2015 a fascist nation? In order to determine this, a means of measurement is needed. Lawrence Britt has studied fascist regimes and found that there are 14 characteristics which all of them have in common to some degree. Let us examine these characteristics and assign each of them a value on a ten-point scale, with zero being completely absent and 10 being omnipresent. Let us also see how many are trending upward, trending downward, and holding steady. The final score on a 140-point scale will give a useful measure of the degree of fascism in America.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

In America, patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and flags have been part of the culture since the founding of the nation, with the frequency of their use varying from time to time. This reached a fever pitch immediately following the September 11 attacks, and while it has backed off since then, the sense of nationalism in America remains strong, perhaps the strongest of all nations in which the state does not directly force people into such observances.

Score: 8/10, Trend: Steady

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

After 9/11, the Bush regime and their lapdogs in the right-wing media were largely successful in convincing people that torture and indefinite detention of those who were not convicted of crimes was justifiable for national security reasons. The Obama regime has taken some positive steps on these matters, but has murdered far more people with drone strikes than his predecessor. The left-wing media has largely given Obama a pass on this. At home, the War on Drugs has placed many innocent people into prison for decades. While the American people are becoming more opposed to such abuses of power, little real change has occurred.

Score: 8/10, Trend: Slightly Up

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

America has a dark history of this. Over the centuries, Native Americans, Blacks, Mexicans, Irish, Eastern Europeans, Germans, Jews, Japanese, communists, and Muslims have all been perceived as common threats or foes to be contained or eliminated. More than once, the state has been able to engage in wars due to yellow journalism or false flag operations successfully creating a new enemy du jour. With the War on Terrorism, the state has found its holy grail: a war which can be made indefinite against an omnipresent foe which it can never seem to vanquish, not that it would want to.

Score: 10/10, Trend: Steady

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

The United States has the largest military budget in the world, and spends more money on its military than the next seven nations combined. Despite a stagnant economy and decaying infrastructure, 20 percent of the federal budget is devoted to the military. This is equal to the combined budgets of Medicare and Medicaid, and is nearly as much as the budget for Social Security. To be critical of the military as an institution is considered to be nearly as bad as aiding the enemy by the lapdog media, as is criticizing the glamorization of soldiers and military service. Though a minority is becoming skeptical of this situation, no changes appear to be coming in the near future.

Score: 10/10, Trend: Steady

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

The United States is one of the least sexist countries in the world. While the number of males in positions of political power outnumber females by about four to one, the United States ranks 94th out of 190 countries in this regard as of June 1, 2015. Over the last few decades, traditional gender roles have become less rigid. Divorce has become easier to obtain, with fault requirements being mostly removed as of 2015. Abortions were made legal nationwide in 1973, and same-sex marriage was made legal nationwide in 2015. A general hostility has developed toward government intervention into the family institution.

Score: 3/10, Trend: Down

6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.

While the press in America is not directly controlled by the government, it is indirectly controlled. Government regulation and pro-state media personalities perpetuate a lapdog establishment that echoes government propaganda and eschews authentic investigative journalism. Those who would challenge this status quo by asking uncomfortable questions frequently find themselves victimized by slave-on-slave violence as the privileged establishment seeks to preserve its access to the halls of power and its usefulness in informing the public of government activities. Censorship is common with regard to certain words and topics which are not used or discussed on mainstream programming, especially during wartime, although this is mostly done without direct government involvement. Before and during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the establishment media consistently towed the government line and censored certain images, such as war deaths. As a result, alternative and independent media sources are growing in popularity and trust in the establishment media is at an all-time low, but they have yet to displace the establishment media.

Score: 8/10, Trend: Slightly Down

7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

At least since the First Red Scare following the Russian Revolution and continuing through World War II, the Cold War, and the War on Terrorism, the government has used fear of external enemies as a justification for its activities. National security is considered by many right-wing (and some left-wing) politicians to be the most important role of the state. Though many people believe this has gone too far in the wake of the Snowden leaks, little meaningful change has occurred.

Score: 8/10, Trend: Steady

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

There is a tradition of separation of church and state in America, but this is only true in the sense that there is no official state religion. Atheists, agnostics, and religious skeptics are few and far between in public office. Appeals to the tenets of Christianity, the most common religion in America, are frequently used by politicians to advance their agendas, even when those tenets are diametrically opposed to such agendas. Christian theories of just war play a significant role in American conservatism, and Christian ideas about helping the poor are used by American liberals to argue for government welfare programs. Religiosity among the American people is declining, but these conditions will likely remain stable for another generation or so.

Score: 7/10, Trend: Down

9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

Since soon after the Constitution was ratified, business interests have played a financial role in determining which candidates for office are successful in elections. With the Citizens United decision, this has become more open and somewhat more blatant. Of course, those who invest in political campaigns expect a return on that investment, and research shows that they get it in spades. A political aristocracy has been present throughout much of American history, with many candidates for office being related to prior office holders. The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be more of the same.

Score: 9/10, Trend: Up

10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

While labor unions have not been eliminated entirely in America, they have been declining in the private sector for quite some time. In 2014, only 6.6 percent of private sector workers were union members, the lowest level since 1932. However, government sector unions are much stronger, with 35.7 percent of government workers belonging to a union in 2014. While national syndicalism is a major part of fascist theory, it has only had minor influence in America in the form of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union.

Score: 6/10, Trend: Slightly Up

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

In America, the government is quite dependent on the intellectual classes to propagandize the people, and is therefore rather accommodating to them, to the point of creating a bubble in higher education that has benefited the intellectual classes at the expense of everyone else during the postwar period. That being said, it is becoming more common for professors and other academics to be attacked for their views. The rise in influence of social justice warriors is causing disdain for free expression to trend upward.

Score: 4/10, Trend: Slightly Up

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forgo civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

While many police accountability activists in America say that “badges don’t grant extra rights,” the fact is that in practice, they do. Police routinely engage in activities that would land an ordinary citizen in prison, and when they are investigated, it is either by an internal review process or a grand jury examination, each of which tend to be highly sympathetic to the police due to conflicts of interest. While there is no national police force with virtually unlimited power, the DEA, FBI, and Secret Service are quite powerful and are getting stronger. After 9/11, many people were willing to overlook police abuses, but this is changing. However, many efforts toward police accountability are being blunted by distractions, such as a focus on racism.

Score: 8/10, Trend: Slightly Up

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

There is a revolving door in Washington, D.C. between being a member of Congress or federal employee and being a lobbyist for special interest groups. These special interest groups bribe politicians and regulators on behalf of wealthy business interests to write laws and regulations that favor their interests at the expense of competing businesses and individual citizens. Many of these laws and regulations work to shield business owners from civil and criminal liability. While it is uncommon for American rulers to steal national treasures, there is a tendency for the government to appropriate natural resources and sell access to them. This shows no signs of improving anytime soon.

Score: 7/10, Trend: Up

14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

While there is no proof that American elections are a complete sham, there are clear cases of manipulation. While smear campaigns tend to be waged by each major political party against the other, assassination of opposition candidates is almost never seriously considered, let alone attempted. That being said, the two major parties have rigged election laws to keep third parties from having any reasonable chance of winning. Over the past few decades, gerrymandering of political district boundaries has been used to create districts which are either reliably Democratic or reliably Republican, with the result being that the fringe elements of each party are able to put people into office. The judiciary was arguably used to manipulate the 2000 presidential election, and courts usually act to control elections by siding against claims of unfairness by minor political parties. With the introduction of top-two primaries in recent years, third party and independent candidates are being excluded further.

Score: 7/10, Trend: Slightly Up

Overall, America gets a score of 103 out of 140, meaning that America is 73.6 percent of the way toward fascism and away from liberty. While the trends on the various characteristics of fascism are moving in different directions, the overall trend is slightly upward, meaning that the score could advance at a rate of one or two points per year.

The Most Likely Reason For Disarming Social Security Beneficiaries

On July 18, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Obama regime is seeking to ban gun ownership for Social Security beneficiaries if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs. This has the potential to affect about 4.2 million people; about 2.7 million are now receiving disability payments from Social Security for mental health problems, and another 1.5 million do not manage their own finances for a variety of reasons.

If taken at face value, the Obama regime is seeking to strengthen background checks for gun ownership in an effort to prevent mass shootings, while critics say that the move conflates people who merely have memory problems or difficulty managing finances with people who are violent and dangerous. But we should remember Reece’s razor; whenever there are several possible explanations for a government action or policy, the most cynical explanation is the most likely to be correct. Let us find a more cynical explanation.

Let us begin with a few basic truths. Whenever politicians seek to disarm people, it is generally because they are either afraid of those people and/or because they seek to do something to those people that will be more difficult if those people are armed. If there is a state within a geographical area, then a certain group of people are exercising a monopoly on initiatory force within that area. Those people necessarily have a monopoly over the law, as no other group of people has the means to force their will upon everyone else. Thus, the law means whatever the leaders of that group say it means.

In this case, those who are unable to manage their own affairs are considered to be those with “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.” For the moment, anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary is considered to meet the above definition. But as explained above, they have the ability to change this to target anyone simply by redefining the sufficiently vague terms “subnormal intelligence,” “mental illness,” “incompetency,” “condition,” or “disease” to suit their liking.

Why would those who wield state power seek to disarm elderly and disabled people? The most obvious answer is that they are preparing to do something to those people which would lead them to retaliate against the state, and are therefore afraid of those people. The most obvious candidate for this activity is a significant reduction in retirement and disability payments to the elderly and disabled. Recent government reports show that unless a change occurs, Medicare will be insolvent by 2030 and the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by 2034. After these insolvencies occur, Medicare payments will be reduced by about 20 percent and Social Security payments will be reduced by about 25 percent even if no changes occur to reduce them further, such as continued shrinking of labor force participation and a combination of rising interest rates on the national debt and hyperinflation brought on by irresponsible Federal Reserve policies.

This could be the difference between an elderly or disabled person being able to tread water financially and such a person becoming insolvent, and this is going to make people angry enough at politicians and their minions to try to harm them. A move to disarm elderly and disabled people suggests that the Obama regime knows that a financial storm is coming which can make these insolvencies occur sooner than predicted, along with the accompanying social unrest. To be perfectly blunt, they want to grab guns from these people so that these guns cannot be used to shoot at them (or their successors) in the near future. It is hard to imagine a more cynical explanation than this, so it is most likely to be correct. Prepare thyself accordingly.

Planned Parenthood and Ukraine: There Is No Such Thing As Non-Lethal Aid

After the recent release of undercover videos featuring a executive of Planned Parenthood talking about harvesting organs from aborted fetuses, conservatives have renewed calls to strip the organization of taxpayer funding. Liberals have countered that taxpayer dollars are not allocated toward funding abortions.

Ukraine is also back in the news, as another round of aid from the US government is being sent there to help Ukrainian forces resist Russian encroachments into their territory. This aid is championed as “non-lethal aid,” partly to avoid increased tensions with Vladimir Putin and partly because lethal aid requires a full presidential finding and a briefing to congressional leaders.

At first glance, these events may appear to be completely unrelated. But there is an economic fallacy being advanced by both sides of mainstream politics which appears in both cases. Any organization has a total operating cost, which we may call C, and a total income, which we may call I. At issue here is the income from a particular source, which we may call S. Regardless of how S itself is allocated, the very presence of S means that the remainder of the total income, equal to I minus S, will be allocated differently than it would be in the absence of S. In other words, taxpayer funding for a non-controversial portion of an organization means that the organization can spend less of its non-taxpayer funding on that portion, thereby freeing up resources that the organization can now use for a more controversial activity.

In the case of Ukrainian defense forces, money that they do not have to spend on transport vehicles, food, training, medicine, etc. is money that they are now able to spend on armaments. In the case of Planned Parenthood, money that they do not have to spend on STD testing, contraception, cancer screening, etc. is money that they are now able to spend on abortion. Note that fungibility does not come into play, as this effect will occur regardless of whether resources are able to be redirected by the organization once the resources are in the organization’s possession. (Planned Parenthood is disallowed by law from doing this and would have a hard time getting away with it, but Ukrainian defense forces could do this rather easily with black market arms dealers.) The practical upshot is that there is no such thing as non-lethal aid to an organization that conducts lethal operations, and that economic and political commentators should take this into account.

Why Fixing Greece Requires Anarchy

On July 5, the Greek people voted against the latest bailout offer from the European Union, moving the country closer to an exit from the Eurozone and a return to its former national currency, the drachma. The government had already defaulted on a $1.7 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund on June 30, which led to bank closures and strict capital controls at ATMs. It now appears that Greece will be bailed out again, go deeper into debt, and be back in a similar situation in a few years. What the Europeans fail to understand is that it is impossible for them to fix this problem by their current methods. Let us examine why.

The Past is Prologue

Such problems do not occur overnight. In order to understand the present, one must first understand the past. Therefore, let us see how Greece reached this point.

Greece was home to the first advanced civilizations in Europe, and many of the features of modern Western civilizations originated in Classical Greece. Among these are the modern conceptions of mathematics, philosophy, science, architecture, literature, and democratic government. These allowed the Greeks to drive out Persian attempts at conquest and eventually conquer the Persians under the leadership of Alexander the Great. Their dominance was not to last. The Roman Republic was able to turn some Greek city-states to its side and wage the Macedonian Wars against the others, eventually taking over all of Greece by 27 BC. After the Roman Empire split, Goths, Huns, and Slavs raided Greece. The Byzantine Empire took over Greece from the 8th century until its collapse in 1453, with some parts of Greece falling to the Franks and Venetians after 1204. After this, the Ottoman Empire conquered Greece and held it until a resistance movement began in 1821 and the modern Greek state was established in 1832. It was a kingdom until a democratic movement abolished the monarchy in 1924. The monarchy was restored in 1935, but a Nazi collaborationist regime took power from 1941 to 1944. The monarchy regained power until 1974, during which time a civil war between communists and anti-communists caused economic damage and social tensions. During the last seven years of the monarchy, a coup d’état ousted King Constantine II and replaced him with a military junta. The democracy was restored in 1974 and has continued until the present day.

This history helps to explain the behavior of Greeks toward the European Union. Having a tradition of originating the concepts of democratic self-government, then being subjected to external authoritarian rule for two millennia, then being subjected to domestic monarchs and military dictatorships, and finally regaining sovereignty would create a mentality of resistance among the Greek population to external control of the sort that the European Central Bank, the German government, and other creditors seek to exert over Greek economic policies. This mentality is of sufficient strength to overrule economic and mathematical reality in the view of Greek voters, such that they would reject fiscal austerity measures even though they are necessary to prevent an economic catastrophe.

Democracy Is The Problem

Greece is not the first democratic nation-state to endure a sovereign debt crisis and go into default. Since 1982, Mexico, Russia, and Argentina have defaulted on sovereign debt while practicing some form of democratic government. The United States government has defaulted on debts on seven occasions since 1779. But it should be no surprise that democracies would build up sovereign debt and eventually default because the incentives inherent in democracies lead toward such a situation, and the rational self-interest of everyone involved is to take what one can while affecting a tragedy of the commons on a massive scale. In the words of Elmer T. Peterson (and often falsely attributed to many earlier writers),

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.

It is at this point that a defender of constitutional republics will try to insist that these are somehow different from democracies. In practice, it is only a question of the average time it takes for democratic incentives to wreak havoc, and the checks and balances of republicanism do slow down the march toward disaster. In theory, this insistence is akin to claiming that making a chocolate cake multi-layered and decorating it in a certain way somehow makes it not chocolate.

Another notable aspect of democracies is that there is a minimum age for participation in the voting process. This means that influence is entirely held by people above that age, and that those who are below that age are helpless to stop any predations inflicted upon them by their elders under color of law. Abolishing the voting age would not help much, however, as those who are below the minimum voting age are unlikely to have a firm understanding of economic realities and the voters in the present day would still be able to sell unborn future generations into debt slavery.

Anarchy Is The Solution

First, I must clarify the type of anarchism advocated here. There are anarchists in Greece who are farther left than the communists and socialists in the Syriza government. Anarcho-communism, with its contradictions concerning the nature of private property and hierarchy, will only make matters worse. What is needed is the sort of anarchism advocated by Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Robert Murphy, and many others, in which the state is eliminated in favor of free markets, private ownership of the means of production, and individual liberty.

We may either establish a direct proof for the need for anarcho-capitalism or show that statism makes it impossible to solve the problems in Greece. In essence, we must show that the state provides the necessary backing for the institutions which result in such problems, namely central banks and national debts.

National debts do not work like personal debts, despite the rhetoric of starry-eyed economists, politicians, and propagandists. Legitimate personal debts cannot be incurred without direct consent of the debtor, but a government can borrow upon the future productivity of its citizens, even those who are as yet unborn and could not possibly have a say in the matter. Personal debts are generally discharged when the borrower dies, but sovereign debts are interminable; for example, a sovereign debt in France that currently pays an annuity to creditors dates all the way back to 1738. While debtor’s prisons have fallen out of favor for personal debts, the non-payment of sovereign debts in the form of refusing to pay taxes is still punished by incarceration. When going into personal debt, the borrower chooses how much to borrow (and is limited by what the lender will lend!), decides how to use the money, and chooses a payment plan. With a sovereign debt, the citizens get no such choices; they may only try to vote out those who made bad decisions after the damage is done. The proof against the state here is straightforward; there can be no sovereign debt if there is no sovereign.

Central banks exacerbate the problems of sovereign debt, as they allow for the hidden tax of currency debasement that can hide the effects of overspending from the general population. As most people lack understanding of the operation of a central bank, politicians can use it to create the illusion of something for nothing in order to buy votes in the present and send the bill to the future. Of course, being forced to service the debts of one’s ancestors is a form of slavery, but if politicians and central bankers cared about morality, then they would not be politicians and central bankers. Central bankers lend to governments, make profits from the interest payments, and try to avoid losing their principal. This is antithetical to a free market, but a free market is against their rational self-interest until the debt reaches such a magnitude that a default becomes likely. Then, they suddenly purport to favor free markets rather than oppose them because free markets create the economic growth necessary to sustain their parasitism upon the people. This would be bad enough, but it gets worse. Sometimes the most profitable outcome for central bankers is to let a government borrow its way into default if there is the possibility of an external bailout, as the Europeans continue to provide for Greece. Even without a bailout, the rising interest payments on an unsustainable debt may be sufficient to compensate for a haircut that comes during a debt restructuring. Central banks also exacerbate war, the worst government program of all, by reducing a government’s borrowing cost and increasing the confidence of lenders. Along these lines, central bankers could make matters difficult for a government in arrears by funding its enemies, much as the Iron Bank of Braavos does in Game of Thrones.

Central bankers are evil, but they are not stupid, so it is difficult to believe that the above paragraph would be news to any of them. Once again, the state is vitally important to the maintenance of the problem. The state forces people to use the fiat currency created by the central bank by demanding that all taxes, fees, fines, etc. be paid using that currency and by demanding that the fiat currency be accepted as legal tender for all debts. Abolition of the state would not mean concurrent abolition of central banks, but the free market places central bankers at an enormous disadvantage, so it is unlikely that such institutions would survive for long.

Finally, there are other aspects of the state itself which make the problem intractable. Stifling regulations have made it increasingly unfriendly to do business in Greece, and those who are employed in regulatory agencies exist parasitically upon the productive economy. The corporate tax rate in Greece is rather high, though many countries are worse. The true purpose of regulations is not to protect consumers or workers, but to allow the wealthiest business owners to capture them for use against their smaller competitors. This is the quid pro quo that the wealthy receive for funding political campaigns. Likewise, the true purpose of corporate taxes is not to raise revenue (as these are really just taxes on the end users of a corporation’s goods and services), but to create loopholes for the wealthiest people. There is also the matter of unsustainable pension programs which were created partly for the purpose of buying votes in the present at the expense of the future, and which must be eliminated before they cause an economic catastrophe. It is against the rational self-interest of politicians to eliminate these, so the only sure way to be rid of them is to eliminate the statist system itself.

Feelings Are The Enemy

That someone will feel economic pain from any approach to this problem is unavoidable. Many people will argue that the elderly have paid into the system and should therefore receive a return. To argue this is to confuse paying for an investment with paying an extortionist, as participation in the government retirement system is not voluntary. There is no money in the system with which to pay them, as it has not only been spent, but has been used as collateral for borrowing more money. Thus, there is effectively a negative amount of money in the system with which to pay the pensioners. Many people will also argue that the elderly pensioners are victims in this situation, but they are actually victims of their own making, and as such are not worthy of the same compassion as the victim of another person’s wrongdoing. (If anyone deserves such sympathy, it is the young and the unborn who have been victimized by the elderly by having massive debts run up in their names!)

This is also a matter of personal responsibility. When the empty promises were made, it was the responsibility of the people at that time to refuse the offers of economic snake oil salesmen, and to bear the cost of accepting such logical impossibilities as truth. Now that the con game is revealed, they should suffer the consequences of their decisions rather than be able to foist their maladies upon their children and grandchildren.

Of course, those who propose that the elderly are the homesteaders of their own misery and deserve to suffer for it will be the targets of name calling and appeals to emotion, but these are merely admissions of defeat and ignorance on the part of those who resort to such childish tactics. To solve such a problem as the situation in Greece, we must realize that logic trumps emotion and act on this realization.

Prospects Are Slim, But There Is Hope

Admittedly, the likelihood that Greece will follow the path recommended above is none for now and slim for the near future. Most people, and therefore most institutions, tend to do what is right when they have exhausted all of their other options, and the Greeks are not made of finer clay than the rest of us. That being said, there are signs of hope. The Greek people already distrust rulers because of the past two millennia of history. They evade taxes to the tune of at least €76 billion since 2009, with billions more unknown from Greece’s robust agorist economy, which equals almost 25 percent of the entire Greek economy. Overall, the Greek government collects only about half of the taxes that it levies. Greeks likewise have little respect for gun control laws, with an estimated 2.5 million guns in civilian hands but only 100,000 of them in compliance with gun laws. The Greek government, by comparison, has only about 1.57 million guns. The combination of an armed populace and a robust black market means that the Greek government would not be so difficult for its people to overthrow, despite its relatively strong armed forces and large welfare state. Should the Greek people decide to embrace rather than reject economic reality and overthrow not only their own rulers but those in Brussels as well, they stand a decent chance of becoming free and prosperous.

An explanation of Litecoin’s price spike

On July 9, Litecoin reached exchange rates exceeding $7.75, €7.00, ¥48, and 0.029 Bitcoins. This represents a growth rate of over 22 percent in the past 24 hours. In the past week, Litecoin has gained over 79 percent against Bitcoin, 88 percent against the US dollar, and 90 percent against the Euro and the Chinese yuan. There are several reasons why this could be happening, and no one reason should be assumed to be fully responsible. Let us examine the most likely possibilities.

Pure speculation

Like all investments with a relatively small market cap and relatively low amount of liquidity, Litecoin attracts speculators who seek to profit off of pump-and-dump schemes. It also helps that financial regulators mostly turn a blind eye to cryptocurrencies at present, lessening the likelihood of legal troubles. Unlike lesser known altcoins with smaller market caps, Litecoin has enough users and size to make a bubble last for days or even weeks. This has happened before; in the price spike that occurred in the fourth quarter of 2013, Litecoin exchange rates surged as high as $55, €38.58, ¥253, and 0.06 Bitcoins.

Instability in Greece

As the situation in Greece continues to deteriorate, the government is tightening capital controls and may even attempt a bail-in where private funds are directly stolen from bank accounts to prop up the banking system, as occurred in Cyprus in 2013. Just as then, this has led affected citizens to look for safety, and cryptocurrencies are one avenue for this. Reuters reported that new customers depositing at least €50 with BTCGreece increased by 400 percent from May to June, and the average deposit increased by 300 percent in the same time period. While Coinbase is not available to Greek citizens, it is available in other financially troubled countries in the Eurozone, such as Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The number of new users of Coinbase in those countries has increased by 350 percent since the beginning of June, and average daily Bitcoin purchases have increased 250 percent in the first week of July.

Superiority to Bitcoin against spam attacks

On July 6-7, the Bitcoin blockchain was inundated with small, spam-like transactions that caused a backlog of transactions which delayed the processing of legitimate payments. Such a denial-of-service attack is made possible by the 1-megabyte cap on block size, which was originally intended to prevent denial-of-service attacks by means of sending an enormous “garbage block” that no one can process through the network. Litecoin suffered a similar attack in 2012, and Charlie Lee, its creator responded by implementing a sender fee for each instance of a small payment. In an interview with Coin Telegraph, he said of the incident, “I’ve fixed Litecoin to prevent this exact attack scenario three years ago, but at that time the Bitcoin devs did not agree with my fix and did not incorporate the fix into Bitcoin. …The fix implemented in Litecoin is just to charge the sender a fee for each tiny output he creates. For example, in this specific attack, the sender is charged one fee for sending to 34 tiny outputs of 0.00001 BTC. With the fix, that fee would be 34 times as much. So it would cost the attacker a lot more to perform the spam attack. The concept is fairly simple: the sender should pay for each tiny output he/she creates.”

Block halving

Like Bitcoin mining, Litecoin mining is set to unfold on a geometric series where half of the coins will be mined in roughly four years after its initial release, half of the remaining coins will be mined in roughly the next four years, and so on until all 84 million Litecoins are mined by the year 2150. (The year 2150 may be determined by noting that Bitcoin mining is to exhaust by the year 2140 and factoring in that Litecoin began two years later and will require two more four-year periods of mining than Bitcoin’s 21 million coin cap.) It is currently estimated that this block halving will occur on August 25, after which point Litecoin miners will only get half as many Litecoins for their efforts. All else being equal, halving the supply should double the price, and Litecoin exchange rates may be rising in anticipation of this event.