In my 2008 paper, “Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification: Franz Kafka’s Solution to Illegal Immigration,” I wrote about where “internal enforcement” of immigration law leads: “to a national, cradle-to-grave, biometric tracking system.” More recently, I wrote “Internal Enforcement, E-Verify, and the Road to a National ID” in the Cato Journal. The “Gang of Eight” immigration proposal includes a large step on that path to national identification.
National ID provisions in the 2007 immigration bill were arguably its downfall. Scrapping the national ID provisions in the current bill would improve it, allowing our country to adopt more sensible immigration policies without suffering a costly attack on American citizens’ liberties.
Title III of the “Gang of Eight” bill is entitled “Interior Enforcement.” It begins by reiterating the current prohibition on hiring unauthorized aliens. (What seems to many a natural duty of employers was an invention that dates back only as far as 1986, when Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Prior to that time, employers were free to hire workers based on the skills and willingness they presented, and not their documents. But since that time, Congress has treated the nation’s employers as deputy immigration agents.)
The bill details the circumstances under which employers may be both civilly and criminally liable under the law and provides for a “good faith defense” and “good faith compliance” that employers may hope to use as shelter. The bill restates (with modifications) the existing requirements for checking workers’ papers, saying that employers must “attest, under penalty of perjury” that they have “verified the identity and employment authorization status” of the people they employ, using prescribed documents or combination of documents. Cards that meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act are specifically cited as proof of identity and authorization to work.
In addition, the bill would create a new “identity authentication mechanism,” requiring employers to use that as well. It would take one of two forms. One is a “photo tool” that enables employers to match photos on covered identity documents to photos “maintained by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services database.” If the photo tool is not available, employers must use a system the bill would instruct the Department of Homeland Security develop. The system would “provide a means of identity authentication in a manner that provides a high level of certainty as to the identity of such individual, using immigration and identifying information that may include review of identity documents or background screening verification techniques using publicly available information.”
The bill next turns to expanding the E-Verify system, requiring its use by various employers on various schedules. The federal government and federal contractors would have to use E-Verify as required already or within 90 days. A year after the DHS publishes implementing regulations, the Secretary of Homeland Security could require anyone touching “critical infrastructure” (defined here) to use E-Verify. She could require immigration law violators to use E-Verify anytime she likes.
Employers with more than 5,000 employers would have to use E-Verify within two years for all newly hired employees and employees with expiring temporary employment authorizations. Employers with more 500 or more employees would have an additional year, but the application of these requirements as to agricultural workers could take four years. Essentially all employers would have to use E-Verify within four years to check the employment status of new hires.
The bill elaborately details how it intends the E-Verify system to work, presaging thousands of pages of regulatory documents that employers will have to obey.
Knitting Together a National ID System
The American public detests the idea of a national ID, so no bill is going to straightforwardly create one. The authors of national ID systems continually deny the real import of what they are doing, and this bill is no exception.
Under the bill, section 274A(c)(8) of the revised immigration laws would say, “Nothing in this section may be construed to directly or indirectly authorize the issuance, use, or establishment of a national identification card.”
You can try, Congress. You can require government agencies to watch their language, and they will. But there is no honest denying that this is a national ID system.
Over years of work on this issue, I’ve recited the defining characteristics of a national ID in a way that is relatively simple but worth reviewing.
First, it is national. That is, it is intended to be used throughout the country, and to be nationally uniform in its key elements.
Second, its possession or use is either practically or legally required. A card or system that is one of many options for proving identity or other information is not a national ID if people can decline to use it and still easily access goods, services, or infrastructure. But if law or regulation make it very difficult to avoid carrying a card or using the system, this presses it into the national ID category.
The final “element” of a national ID is that it is used for identification. A national ID card or system shows that a physical person identified previously is the one presenting him- or herself on later occasions. (A Social Security Number is a national identifier, but it is not a national identifiction system because there is no biometric tie between the number and a person.)
So what do we have in the “photo tool” backed by a USCIS database of images, and in E-Verify’s mandated use for every new hire in the country?
Why does the bill set aside a quarter billion dollars for grants to states in order to get access to “driver’s license information as needed to confirm that a driver’s license … confirms the identity of the subject of the System check”?
Why does the bill exempt state shaing of driver’s license photos from the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act?
And why does the bill spend a cool $1 billion on “fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant, wear-resistant, and identity theft-resistant social security cards,” exempting that spending from Pay-Go and other spending limits?
The photo tool and E-Verify are a national system, uniform in their key elements (1). By using them to control access to employment, the government makes it practically required to be a part of this identity system (2). And there is no question that the photo tool and E-Verify are for identification (3).
Title III of the Gang of Eight immigration is the path to a national ID.
There are many reasons to avoid a national ID, including their propensity to increase surveillance, the transfer of power they produce by giving governments and corporations a tool for tracking and control, and the experience of history. National ID systems’ administrative efficiencies have been applied to the awful things governments can do right along with the good things.
The bill tries to provide protections against that. It says that no agency or other entity may “utilize any information, database, or other records assembled under this subsection for any purpose other than for employment verification or to ensure secure, appropriate and nondiscriminatory use of the System.” But is that protection?
If you’ve ever seen a Social Security card that says “NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION,” you must understand mission creep. The Social Security number was meant to be solely for use in administering retirment benefits, and now it is our national identifier. If the national ID system created by the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill is not put to uses beyond employment control illegally, Congress can authorize that mission creep at any time simply by saying, “Section 274A(d)(9) is repealed.”
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To both a greater and lesser degree of success, foreign policy scholars have tried to explain the disconnect between President Obama’s soaring idealism of America’s role in the world and his halting political caution about it in discrete situations. That vacillation has drawn criticism, both for being too meddlesome and for not being meddlesome enough.
Daily Caller contributor Adam Bates ably sums up the president’s incoherence as “not based on any particular logic or worldview beyond the president’s own desire to distance himself from America’s foreign policy past without bothering to actually change any policies.” Indeed. As this author has written in the past, specifically on counterterrorism policies,
On the one hand, Obama openly rejected Bush’s ‘with us or against us’ approach to foreign affairs. On the other hand, Obama’s sophisticated demeanor opened him to criticism, with hawks condemning him as too weak and easily manipulated by America’s enemies.
The administration has supported policies that have failed to deliver tangible benefits to the American people (Libya), continued to prop up brutal regimes (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt), and helped tether our country to the region’s parochial quarrels (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and perhaps ever-more-so in Syria). Despite seemingly courageous attempts to distance itself from failed policies of the past, the Obama administration has managed to drift into strategic purgatory.
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According to Byron York, Republicans are gearing up to defund Obamacare. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee want a vote on a budget amendment to defund the president’s government healthcare plan but the Senate Republican caucus remains “deeply divided” about such a move, which of course the Democrats oppose. Whatever the politics involved, a case can be made that Obamacare deserves defunding. Consider for example the conditions.
The nation has been suffering the worst recession since the 1930s, with high unemployment, the deficit outpacing GNP, trillions in unfunded liabilities and entitlements on shaky ground. Those are hardly the conditions to launch a vast new entitlement, especially one based on legislation that some legislators didn’t bother to read, and which will impose fathomless costs and onerous regulations. And how Obamacare will actually work in practice remains an open question.
Suppose, however, that the Republicans succeed in defunding Obamacare, and suppose that helps reduce the deficit. Congratulations would not necessarily be in order because when they called the shots the Republicans failed to achieve reform of the employer-based health care that is a legacy of World War II, just like the government’s practice of withholding income tax from workers’ paychecks. As John C. Goodman notes in Priceless: Curing the Health Care Crisis, the current system distorts the market and makes it hard to find out what any procedure actually costs. If a worker loses her job she loses her health care, and can’t shop for a better plan in another state. Government mandates make plans expensive. Workers don’t really own their own healthcare and certainly wouldn’t under Obamacare.
Instead of a grotesque government system like Obamacare legislators should decouple healthcare from employment, liberate the marketplace, and let individuals select the plan they believe best meets their needs and budget. This type of reform has not been tried and found wanting. Rather, politicians find it politically incorrect and leave it untried.
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Four-Month Path to $2,250 Gold?
By Patrick A. Heller
November 07, 2012
The next several months will be interesting. Are you financially prepared to survive them? Gold could vault to $2,000-$2,250 by the end of January.
How will it get there?
On the basis of my judgment that the gold market price is manipulated, the price outlook for the next four months is fairly straightforward, assuming that significant extraordinary events don’t come into play before then.
Now that we are past the U.S. elections, gold will be “allowed” to rise by a small amount. From now until the COMEX December gold options expire on Nov. 27, I still expect major efforts to hold the price of gold below $1,800. The reason for this short-term ceiling is that if gold breaches $1,800 going into the options expiry, the demand for immediate delivery of physical gold will soar, putting even more pressure for higher prices.
After Nov. 27 until the COMEX February gold options expire in late January, look for a good possibility that the floodgates will start to open. Demand for physical gold could easily overcome the selling short of paper contracts by the U.S. government’s trading partners. So, by late January, gold could easily trade in the $2,000-$2,250 range.
From last January going into spring 2013, I anticipate significant shortages of physical gold to meet demand. Potential prices during this time could to higher to very much higher. The potential range of prices is so wide that it would be meaningless to try to predict a range.
I anticipate silver will follow a similar pattern, though it may well rise by a greater percentage than gold.
As I said earlier, these predictions assume that no significant extraordinary events affect markets during this time. However, there are several potential catastrophes lurking that could throw a monkey wrench into these forecasts.
First, the U.S. securities industry misinterpreted one sentence out of 17,000 words of regulations issued to implement the Dodd-Frank Act. Because the regulations took effect after June 30, 2012, the securities industry believed that swaps committed before that date had either 90, 180, or 270 days to be moved into clearinghouses. The total amount of outstanding swaps at June 30 totaled $648 trillion. In October, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association notified members that, unless the regulations are changed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), these swap may have to be moved into clearinghouses much sooner than thought. The impact could call for the securities industry to put up an immediate extra $50 billion of collateral. The CFTC could bail out brokers and bankers, or it may not.
Second, the political fighting over the expiring tax cuts that could place extra strains on the economy, even if most or all of the cuts are eventually extended. Just about every analyst and politician agrees that if nothing is done the U.S. economy will suffer a significant downturn. Third, the prospect for any kind of military escalation in Syria, Iran, the islands claimed by both China and Japan, or elsewhere could accelerate the rise in gold and silver prices.
Fourth, the last two months of producer price and consumer price increases reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics should be enough to scare anyone that Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke’s contention that price increases are so low that they justify current U.S. government policies about expansion of the money supply.
I only list a few of the possible significant events that, if they come to pass, could alter the timing and the extent of my short-term forecasts. There are other crises that could unexpectedly have the same impact.
Patrick A. Heller is the American Numismatic Association 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at http://www.libertycoinservice.com. Other commentaries are available at Coin Week (http://www.coinweek.com and http://www.coininfo.com). He also writes a bi-monthly column on collectibles for “The Greater Lansing Business Monthly” (http://www.lansingbusinessmonthly.com/a … nt-columns). His radio show “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at http://www.1320wils.com.
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:06 am
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The Path to $10,000-an-Ounce Gold
There’s a plausible path to $10,000 an ounce gold. And it doesn’t require a breakdown in civil society…
Speculators see central bankers as modern-day superheroes, able to push markets around with a single phrase. In the minds of most investors, Ben Bernanke, Mario Draghi and Masaaki Shirakawa might as well be wearing tights, masks and capes. These superhero central bankers continuously swoop down into the financial markets to defend them from downticks…and to insure that they always deliver capital gains.
The reality, of course, is that these superheroes are frauds. They have no superpowers…other than the power of mass delusion. The powers of Mario Draghi and the other central bankers in Europe are waning. Excess debt is like kryptonite: Each new wave of printing has less impact on markets. As the popular phrase goes: “This is a solvency problem, not a liquidity problem.”
In other words, new money supply cannot restore health to sick loans and government bonds. The only way to restore solvency to the system is to deflate the economy or slash the amount of debt in the system through mass bankruptcy.
Or is there another way? Is there a “reset button” that central bankers can push (with the approval of political leaders) that would restore balance to the system?
We know central bankers would never want to deflate the economy or crash the value of debt, which would destroy the banking system. So how about inflating the money supply to dilute the value of debt? All in one fell swoop?
Right now, central bankers are diluting the value of debt very slowly by pushing interest rates below the rate of inflation. Some call this “financial repression.” It’s an unspoken policy that has many negative consequences. What is an alternative, since all attempts to “fix” the current system with more borrowing and printing are failing?
How about the classical gold standard, which stands out as the least flawed of all the systems we’ve tried. Each nation could choose to peg its local currency to gold at a price that allows for enough growth in bank reserves to greatly reduce the burden of public- and private-sector debts.
Re-pegging a currency like the US dollar to gold at the current price (about $1,550) has its pitfalls. Most notably, it would not deleverage an overleveraged banking system. But re-pegging the dollar to something like $10,000 an ounce might do the trick.
Hedge fund managers Lee Quaintance and Paul Brodsky from QB Asset Management wrote a fascinating outline on the potential reintroduction of gold into the monetary system, while simultaneously implementing what one might consider a debt jubilee. I recommend reading the entire outline. Zero Hedge posted it at this link. QB explains the mechanics of how it could work in the US:
Using the US as an example, the Fed would purchase Treasury’s gold at a large and specified premium to its current spot valuation. The higher the price, the more base money would be created and the more public debt would be extinguished. An eight-to-10-fold increase in the gold price via this mechanism would fully reserve all existing US dollar-denominated bank deposits (a full deleveraging of the banking system).”
Below is what the remonetization of gold would look like in chart form. The yellow line would rapidly approach the blue line. And the blue line will keep rising as we see further growth in the money supply. QB’s “Shadow Gold Price” divides the US monetary base by official US gold holdings. Policymakers, who always feel the need to manage something, would appreciate that this is the same formula used during the Bretton Woods regime to peg the dollar at $35 per ounce. In other words, the Shadow Gold Price is the theoretical price of gold after the Fed inflated the supply of dollars to a level that would cover systemic bank liabilities and then re-pegged the dollar to gold. Behold the path to $10,000 gold:
This path would weaken the economy-sapping effects of debt created since President Nixon closed the gold window. It would transform a debt-based currency into an asset-backed currency. No longer would one ask the unpleasant question “What backs the dollar?” and come away with even more questions (and a headache). Right now, the dollar is backed by Treasuries held on the Fed’s balance sheet, which are in turn backed by dollars, which are in turn backed by faith in fiat money — i.e., nothing!
QB’s monetization scenario would impose losses on certain parties as the reset button is hit, but unlike most of the policy prescriptions we’ve seen lately, it seems to solve more problems than it creates. Most notably, politicians could argue that this reset would involve “migration of value, in real terms, from leveraged assets to unleveraged goods, services and assets.” Wage earners would be winners relative to asset owners, because “stable to higher nominal asset prices would require even higher nominal wage and consumable pricing looking forward.”
This scenario argues for holding some shares in producers of physical commodities (especially gold miners), even if it feels like we’re in a deflationary environment. A gold standard, after a one- time debt monetization, would make for a more-balanced, efficient global economy less prone to violent booms and busts.
As an added bonus: Central bankers would no longer be viewed as superheroes! Just meager servants, pegging the money supply to gold and letting the free market determine the price of money. After all, when in history has central planning worked better over time than the free market?
We can hope the central bankers of the world stumble their way to a solution like that proposed by QB Asset Management before they inflict even more damage to the foundation of the global economy. Unfortunately, conditions may have to get much worse in financial markets, banking systems and economies before such “outside the box” ideas are considered. A defensive portfolio with exposure to gold and other real assets seems like the right mix in today’s environment.
for The Daily Reckoning
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:35 pm
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Report of Investigation Fast & Furious: The Path to the White House
- Doug Hagmann & Judi McLeod Saturday, June 30, 2012
April 2009 CLAIM: Barack Obama, Eric Holder & Hillary Clinton publicly claim 90% of guns in Mexico come from U.S. Obama orders Holder to assess U.S. gun sales. The objective of Operation Fast & Furious was to substantiate these false claims, to enact stronger GUN CONTROL and attack Second Amendment rights.
See Full Report (PDF)
Fast & Furious: Paths leading to the White House Timeline
George Walker Bush administration
2005: To help combat firearms trafficking into Mexico, ATF began Project Gunrunner as a pilot project in Laredo, Texas, in 2005 (See OIG Report dated November 2010)i
2006: April: Project Gunrunner official launch date.ii
2007: June: ATF published a strategy document, Southwest Border Initiative: Project Gunrunner, outlining four key components to Project Gunrunner: the expansion of gun tracing in Mexico, international coordination, domestic activities, and intelligence. In implementing Project Gunrunner, ATF has focused resources in its four Southwest border field divisions.
January: Project Gunrunner expanded by adding 58 staff to the Southwest border field divisions, 3 additional staff to EPIC, and deploying eTrace to all U.S. consulates in Mexico.
June: Merida Initiative signed into law, allocated $2 million to expand Spanish eTrace throughout Mexico and Central America.
Barack Hussein Obama administration
February: The Recovery Act signed into law, allocated $10 million to ATF for Project Gunrunner.
February 25: DHS Secretary Napolitano testified in the House Homeland Security Committee, stressing that stopping the flow of guns to Mexico was a top priority of the Obama administration and key focus of her work.
*March 24, 2009: A 30-minute press conferenceiii was held at the White House by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that included Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, newly appointed Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, and Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg. Ogden, who had been on the job for a mere 12 days, referred to Project Gunrunner and other ancillary ATF programs by name, and stated that he was working directly with the Attorney General on the implementation of these programs that included Project Gunrunner.
(See May 3, 2011)
June: Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 allocated an additional $6 million to ATF for Project Gunrunner.
December: Spanish eTrace piloted in Mexico; ATF Agent John DODSON, who later came forward about the tactics used by the ATF & DOJ, arrives in Phoenix.
January 16: Murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry (Jaime AVILA) purchases 52 firearms – one of which was used to kill Agent Terry. Pays cash for purchase.
June: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Commission closes 3,500 acres of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge as the federal park was deemed too dangerous to the American public.
August: Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Bill of 2010 allocated $37.5 million to ATF for Project Gunrunner.(STIMULUS MONEY)
October: Agent John DODSON transferred from ATF to FBI
December 14: Agent Brian TERRY gunned down in Peck Canyon. The gun used is traced to Jaime AVILA, purchased from Lone Wolf Trading Company while under ATF surveillance. AVILA and purchase of 52 weapons
December 15: Washington Times publishes article blaming drug cartel gun violence on U.S. gun shops.
2010: 15,273 murders attributed to Mexican drug Cartel violence
January: Agent John Dodson meets with Senator Grassley to discuss Fast & Furious – investigation by Senate Judiciary Committee begins
January 20: ATF SAC Bill NEWELL holds press conference denies allowing guns to “walk”
January 27: Senator Grassley requests information about Operation Fast & Furious from Assistant AG Lanny Breuer
May 2: In advance of Holder’s testimony on 3 May 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano meet with Barack Obama in East Room at White House for an extended period.
May 3: In his capacity as U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committeeiv. During that hearing, Holder was questioned about Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast & Furious on two notable occasions. Holder was asked direct questions by Congressman Darrell Issa (49th District of California) about when he first learned of the operation, and who else knew about the project. This exchange begins about 90 minutes into the hearing, and Holder was elusive with his answers. He ultimately stated to the best of his recollection, he first became aware of the deadly operation within the last few weeks of that hearing. (See March 24, 2009)
February 4: Assistant AG Lanny Breuer denies Agent Dodson’s claims in letter to Grassley
February 15: ICE Agent Jamie ZAPATA killed in Mexico as he and his partner travel back to U.S. from embassy in Mexico City.
March 27: Obama appears on Spanish TV Univision, denies that he or Eric Holder knew anything about Fast & Furious
April: House Oversight Committee Chairman Daryl Issa issues subpoenas to Justice Department. Subpoenas are IGNORED.
June: Holder submits 800 pages of heavily redacted documents to House Oversight Committee Chairman Daryl Issa – Issa threatens contempt charges against Obama/Holder.
June 15: First House Oversight Committee hearing; Democrats call for gun control as a result of Operation Fast & Furious
June 30: House democrats submit legislation for gun control
July 11: New gun control reporting measures placed in force on border state gun shop owners.
July 14: E-mails found that confirm Operation Fast & Furious was implemented as a method to promote gun control.
See Full Report (PDF)
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:56 am
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