Elvis’s Own Personal Drug War

When Elvis Presley died in 1977 from drug abuse, he was an official, badge-carrying federal agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, an honorary appointment granted by President Richard Nixon.
To say that Elvis Presley had a respect for law enforcement is to drastically understate his enthusiasm. In another life, he would have liked to have been a police officer, and he was obsessed with collecting police badges and uniforms. When he would perform shows around the country, he always made an effort to obtain a badge from the local police force, sometimes by using his celebrity status and other times by donating money to police functions. In some cases, he would offer a $5,000 donation to a police ball in order to procure a badge. He was also known to give expensive cars to local sheriffs, including Sherriff Bill Morris of Memphis who gratefully deputized Presley after receiving a gift of a Mercedes-Benz.
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His generosity was so lavishly offered to members of the Denver police that it actually brought about suspicions of graft and corruption after the King’s death. Along with Cadillacs and Lincoln luxury cars, he paid for officers to take high-class vacations and gifted them with pricey jewelry. He purchased his own Denver police uniform and was made an honorary captain of the Denver Police Force. He would have been a police officer, Elvis once confided, but ‘God blessed him with a voice.’

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on September 23, 2017.

How The Government Ruined U.S. Healthcare (And What We Can Actually Do About It)

Government’s meddling in the healthcare business has been disastrous from the get-go.
Since 1910, when Republican William Taft gave in to the American Medical Association’s lobbying efforts, most administrations have passed new healthcare regulations. With each new law or set of new regulations, restrictions on the healthcare market went further, until at some point in the 1980s, people began to notice the cost of healthcare had skyrocketed.
This is not an accident. It’s by design.
As regulators allowed special interests to help design policy, everything from medical education to drugs became dominated by virtual monopolies that wouldn’t have otherwise existed if not for government’s notion that intervening in people’s lives is part of their job.
But how did costs go up, and why didn’t this happen overnight?
It wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon restricted the supply of hospitals by requiring institutions to provide a certificate-of-need.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 22, 2017.

At Last – – Even The FT Says Fed on Ropes as Yellen Seeks to Fend off Trump Blows

After a fusillade of excoriating and in many ways unprecedented attacks on the Federal Reserve by the Republican presidential candidate, Janet Yellen, the US central bank’s chair, finally hit back.
Ms Yellen last Wednesday dismissed as emphatically wrong Donald Trump’s claims that she and her institution were keeping short-term interest rates low at the behest of the Obama administration. ‘Partisan politics play no role in our decisions,’ she declared.
Mr Trump is throwing punches at a time when the US central bank is under assault from both sides of the partisan divide, and at a time when polling suggests public confidence in its leadership has declined during a subpar economic recovery.
Some experts say the Fed is vulnerable and that the populist attacks could fuel demands by politicians for tighter constraints on its policy freedoms. Mr Trump ‘is tossing a lot of fuel on the fire’, says Sarah Binder, a professor of political science at George Washington University. ‘It intensifies the partisan criticism of the Fed and keeps the Fed in the politicians’ crosshairs.’ Mr Trump’s interventions by no means mark the first time the Fed has been turned into a political punching bag. Previous Fed chairs have been the subject of barbs during presidential campaigns – including in 2011 when Republican candidate Rick Perry accused former Fed chair Ben Bernanke of ‘treasonous’ behaviour by conducting quantitative easing. Past administrations have seen outbreaks of tension with Fed chiefs, including under presidents George HW Bush and Richard Nixon.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Sam Fleming, Financial Times ‘ September 28, 2016.

At Last – – FT Says Fed on Ropes as Yellen Seeks to Fend off Trump Blows

After a fusillade of excoriating and in many ways unprecedented attacks on the Federal Reserve by the Republican presidential candidate, Janet Yellen, the US central bank’s chair, finally hit back.
Ms Yellen last Wednesday dismissed as emphatically wrong Donald Trump’s claims that she and her institution were keeping short-term interest rates low at the behest of the Obama administration. ‘Partisan politics play no role in our decisions,’ she declared.
Mr Trump is throwing punches at a time when the US central bank is under assault from both sides of the partisan divide, and at a time when polling suggests public confidence in its leadership has declined during a subpar economic recovery.
Some experts say the Fed is vulnerable and that the populist attacks could fuel demands by politicians for tighter constraints on its policy freedoms. Mr Trump ‘is tossing a lot of fuel on the fire’, says Sarah Binder, a professor of political science at George Washington University. ‘It intensifies the partisan criticism of the Fed and keeps the Fed in the politicians’ crosshairs.’ Mr Trump’s interventions by no means mark the first time the Fed has been turned into a political punching bag. Previous Fed chairs have been the subject of barbs during presidential campaigns – including in 2011 when Republican candidate Rick Perry accused former Fed chair Ben Bernanke of ‘treasonous’ behaviour by conducting quantitative easing. Past administrations have seen outbreaks of tension with Fed chiefs, including under presidents George HW Bush and Richard Nixon.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on September 28, 2016.

Nixon v Hillary

Richard Nixon was accused of being corrupt because some supporters back in the 1950s set up a fund he could use for political purposes. When it came out about this fund, it was touted as corruption. Nixon’s political career was on the line. He was chosen as Vice President by Ike who was a general and felt he needed a political running mate.
At the time, then Senator Richard Nixon gave his famous Checkers speech on September 23, 1952. Nixon exposed every account, what he made, and what he owed. He said his wife did not own a mink coat like the Democrats. He went directly to the people to dispel the false rumors. He said the only gift he ever took was a puppy for his children then named checkers. He said he would not return that dog and take it away from his children regardless of the allegation it was a political gift.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Aug 15, 2016.

The Long Road To Failure – – How Keynesians Conquered The Central Bank And Then Struck Out

It is human nature to extrapolate in straight lines, to take what is as what should forever be. In economic statistics, tail risks continue to live outside the tails because the math can never get past that limitation. No matter how sophisticated the ‘jump diffusion’ tendencies, no one can predict inflections. This is not to say there aren’t warnings, usually there are. But institutional inertia particularly with regard to apparent prosperity is a powerful force of destructive capacity.
In 1927, John Maynard Keynes confidently declared, ‘there will be no more crashes in our time’ such was his faith in centralized man. Despite the error revealed in disastrously in just three years’ time, in August 1971 President Richard Nixon famously appropriated Milton Friedman’s earlier declaration that ‘we are all Keynesians now.’ Friedman’s quote was, he later claimed, taken out of context by a December 1965 Time Magazine article with John Maynard Keynes’ face glaring on the cover. In 1968, Friedman said of his attributed affability towards the economist, ‘We all use the Keynesian language and apparatus; none of us any longer accepts the initial Keynesian conclusions.’
Nixon’s use of the quote was still far too similar even to where Freidman was protesting; interventionist policies would be the only way forward. Friedman agreed, only split into the monetary realm where so many others at that time were working it through fiscal policies.
Just nine years after Nixon declared everybody one, the Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress confirmed nobody was left to be – on the fiscal side. The disaster of the Great Inflation was palpable enough that even partisanship was no longer an impediment to the necessary judgement. Published on February 28, 1980, the JEC report thundered in its introduction:

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on June 21, 2016.

Origins Of Nixon’s War On Drugs – -To Jail Hippies And Black People

President Richard Nixon launched the War on Drugs for one specific reason: to decimate his perceived political enemies – the anti-war left, and black people.
That’s according to an anecdote in a lengthy cover story for Harper’s, in which journalist Dan Baum recounts an interview he conducted with John Erlichman, a former Nixon staffer who was jailed for one year due to his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Unprompted, Erlichman confessed the true purpose of federal drug prohibition:

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on March 23, 2016.

Update On Another Stupid Washington War – -$1 Trillion Has Been Wasted In The War On Drugs

WASHINGTON – The ‘war on drugs’ costs Americans a staggering amount of money every year that it persists. Despite the billions they receive, federal, state and local law enforcement have a proven inability to stem the flow of drugs on the nation’s streets.
Since Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in June 1971, the cost of that ‘war’ had soared to over $1 trillionby 2010. Over $51 billion is spent annually to fight the drug war in the United States, according to Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting more humane drug policies.
It’s also taken a massive toll on human lives. In 2013, at least 2.2 million people were incarcerated in the U. S., with some estimates reaching 2.4 million, making the U. S. home to the world’s largest prison population. A vast number of those prisoners are victims of the war on drugs, reported Alejandro Crawford in U. S. News and World Report in March:
‘Still, we should take comfort in the fact that these are mostly violent criminals and hardened drug kingpins, right? Not so. About half the inmates in the federal prison system are there for nonviolent drug crime – up from 16 percent in 1970 – and the leading druginvolved is marijuana. Of course, none of this seems to have made marijuana remotely difficult to procure for those who want it.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on December 9, 2015.