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Columns on STR: 87

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Columns by Paul Hein

A Desirable Quality--in Sheep
10
Paul Hein 2012-11-27 09:16
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Along with thousands of other St. Louis Countians, I recently received in the mail a document entitled “St. Louis County Missouri Real Property Tax Bill.” It was anonymous, but presumably from the “Collector of Revenue.” He—or she--demands thousands of dollars. Of all the taxes with which we are burdened, the property tax may be...
Here and There: Everywhere
10
Paul Hein 2012-11-19 08:20
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Jurisdiction! What a wonderful word! It’s easy to see why it is used so often by lawyers and judges; its meanings allow such broad interpretation--and application. For instance: my dictionary gives this as its first definition: “the power, right, or authority to interpret and apply the law.” The words “power,” “right,...
Swap, Don't Pay
10
Paul Hein 2012-11-12 01:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR One of the problems which our newly re-elected president will face is that of the national debt. Terms such as the “fiscal cliff” suggest that disaster awaits if a solution isn't found. It won’t be, and the cliff looms large. The fiscal cliff first began to take shape back in 1913, with the advent of the Federal Reserve Bank. That system...
The Little Issues
9
Paul Hein 2012-11-05 01:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Although I have little interest in politics--except as outstanding examples of the madness of crowds--there was no avoiding them during the final days of the 2012 electoral campaigns. There seem to be two predominant campaign types. There are the well-known negative campaign ads, in which candidate A points out the utterly baseless character, lack of...
A Couple of Fallacies
9
Paul Hein 2012-09-18 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Forgive me for repeating myself, for I have written about these matters before. However, my readership in those days, decades ago, varied between one and two, and today it must be at least ten times as large, and, as the economy crumbles, these ideas seem worth repeating.   First let’s consider the truly absurd statement: “There’s no...
Filled Buckets Get Emptied
0
Paul Hein 2012-08-24 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR  In April 1953, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was created. Its first secretary was Oveta Culp Hobby.  I’ve often wondered what Mrs. Hobby did during those first few days on the job. Did she bring her own insights and preferences to the agency? No, the agency didn’t exist prior to her appointment. Did she follow the...
Muddy Waters
10
Paul Hein 2012-08-14 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Obamacare matter stirred up interest in the subject of federal taxation, and just what the government can, or cannot, tax. This, I gather, was because of the expectation--not to be realized--that the Court, if it ruled Obamacare constitutional at all, would do so on the basis of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution....
Trade Deficit: Hooray!
10
Paul Hein 2012-07-31 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR With an election looming, our politicians are wailing and bemoaning the economic crisis, which, given their policies and legislation during the past century, was inevitable and predictable. They express grave concern over the balance of payments and trade deficits, among other things.   If you do any research at all on those subjects, you will be...
A Heartening Discovery
10
Paul Hein 2012-07-06 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Decades ago I heard a speaker say that, in any dispute with authorities about an alleged violation of a law, the important thing was to read the law, word for word. The implication was that those citing the law might not know what the law actually said.   I put that theory to the test years ago when the local city rulers cited me for having “weeds...
Robbing Peter to Pay Pablo
10
Paul Hein 2012-06-25 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR I like to go out to eat. Three or four times a month my wife and I--usually on the spur of the moment--will decide to go out to lunch at a neighborhood restaurant. We are lucky to have several quite close to home that serve excellent food.   It’s not only the food that I enjoy. I marvel at the snippets of conversation I overhear from other diners....
A Different Perspective
7.5
Paul Hein 2012-06-14 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR I recently watched a video clip of a TV commentator remarking about random shootings, in Tucson, as I recall. He said that the shootings presented three elements for our consideration. The first one, he said, was the fact of mental illness, and the need for better treatment of the mentally ill. He then, perhaps predictably, questioned whether gun ownership or...
Being Rich--Even a Little Bit
9
Paul Hein 2012-06-05 00:00
Column by Paul Hein   Exclusive to STR   I’ve said this before, with the usual worldwide repercussions that greet all of my pronouncements. I’m going to say it again, so prepare yourself. I do not want to frighten, alarm, or shock anyone, but there are some things that simply must be said, so here goes: THERE ARE ADVANTAGES TO BEING RICH!! I’ll go even further: There...
The Armored Cars
10
Paul Hein 2012-05-21 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Decades ago, seated at my desk, writing checks, the thought came, unbidden and unexpected, into my mind: Where are all the armored cars?   I was, at that moment, probably only one of thousands—perhaps hundreds of thousands—of individuals writing checks. By means of those written instruments, money was being transferred from one bank to...
Theft by Any Other Name Is Still Theft!
9
Paul Hein 2012-05-04 00:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   You encounter an ominous character on the street who stops you, points his finger at you and declares that he wants your money—all of it---and he wants it now, and you’d better give it to him, or face the consequences.   You reach into your pocket, but instead of pulling forth your wallet, pull forth your .38 caliber automatic...
Shadow Boxing
10
Paul Hein 2012-04-17 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR It takes two to tango. Who could deny it? Have you ever seen anyone dancing the tango, or the fox trot, or the waltz, by himself?   Would you buy a ticket to a fight if the fighter entered the ring and boxed or wrestled with himself?   And yet there are instances of fights against nobody: the War on Poverty is an excellent example. Poverty seems to...
Who Owns What?
9.75
Paul Hein 2012-03-28 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Are you the owner of some property? For many of us, the answer would be, “Of course. I own a home, and a car.” Maybe, for some, an additional home, and several cars, plus a boat. But whatever it is, it’s yours, and you own it, right? You even have impressive documents like “Title,” or “Deed.”   It is interesting...
The Free Lunch
10
Paul Hein 2012-03-21 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR  If you watch political commentators on television, you won’t have to watch very long before the subject of the national debt is introduced. That, in itself, is interesting, because the national debt has been around for a very long time indeed. Evidently it has reached such proportions today that it cannot be ignored, and the pundits are wringing...
Psychology Rules Again!
9.25
Paul Hein 2012-03-09 01:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Readers of STR are no doubt familiar with George Washington’s characterization of government as force, not reason. (Has any president since ever acknowledged that?) In our time, we can find plenty of examples of government achieving its goals with violence, and I’m thinking not only of the federal government, but even local government. Just search...
A Modest Proposal
10
Paul Hein 2012-02-23 01:00
Column by Paul Hein.  Exclusive to STR  Once again the earth’s alignment with the sun is becoming such that assorted natural—and some quite unnatural--phenomena can be expected.   In the unnatural group is the appearance, like dandelions in the lawn, of assorted individuals and firms offering expert income tax preparation. This is so predictable, and has been happening...
An Enduring Institution, and Democracy!
0
Paul Hein 2012-02-08 01:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   Some might jump to the conclusion that the world’s oldest enduring institution is prostitution, and they wouldn’t be far wrong. But in fact, the holder of the title is not prostitution, but slavery. Not only is it alive and well, but thriving.   We’ve dealt with the subject of slavery before, but what made me think of it...
I Can Do It; You Can't
8
Paul Hein 2012-01-30 01:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR President Obama was served with a subpoena to appear in an Atlanta court on January 26, to offer proof of his eligibility to be on the ballot in Georgia in the upcoming presidential election. Georgia law, as I understand it, requires that all candidates for federal office be qualified to hold the office to which they aspire.   Of course, Obama did not...
Stupidity Reigns
10
Paul Hein 2012-01-10 01:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   Perhaps you saw the video clip of Bridget Brown, who is a “markets reporter” declaring that gold is not backed by anything, whereas the U.S. dollar is backed by the American government. She apparently considered this a shortcoming of the precious metal. The mind boggles.   The late Merrill Jenkins, the original Monetary Realist...
It's Magic!
0
Paul Hein 2012-01-03 01:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   I’ve always enjoyed magic. Magicians, especially those who trick us by sleight of hand, impress me with their skill. But until recently, I didn’t realize that there were two forms of magic. There is private, or voluntary, magic, and public, or compulsory, magic.   You know the private, voluntary kind. It’s generally done...
Of Dogs and Men
8.66667
Paul Hein 2011-12-14 01:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   We have two dogs. They are both miniature poodles, pure-bred, with papers (gosh!). What I am about to reveal now may make you despise me and my dogs, but at least give me credit for honesty: our dogs are defective. I cringe to admit it, but it’s true.   A poodle, I have learned from the appropriate authorities, may be any color (...
Bad News Is Good News
9
Paul Hein 2011-12-05 01:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The pretty TV newsperson was interviewing a doctor about the coming crisis in the funding of health care. It seems that physicians will be taking a 27% cut in reimbursements by Medicare, which will not, however, make a corresponding cut in their expenses. (Thank God I’m retired!) Can a doctor opt out of Medicare? Sure, but then he’s not...
Home of the Slave, Land of the Fee
10
Paul Hein 2014-03-06 09:10
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR My Fourth Edition of Black’s Law dictionary defines “slave” thusly: “a person who is wholly subject to the will of another.” The phrase “will of another” sounded familiar. I checked the same dictionary for “statute,” and found it defined as the “written will of the legislature.” You might come...
What's Mine Is Yours--If You Say So
10
Paul Hein 2014-03-18 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Reading the newspaper this morning, I got the impression that the purpose of the paper is to obscure, rather than present, the news. The front page headline, for instance, was a piece about a local hockey player, and his rise to fame. Succeeding pages concerned local school board problems, and other such trivia. Not until page seven was there any information...
A Remarkable Document
10
Paul Hein 2014-04-02 08:45
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR From time to time, we hear our rulers refer to the Constitution, in such solemn tones and with such serious demeanor that we might think they took it seriously. For example, some of them have expressed outrage that the NSA should violate the people’s right to privacy. Good for them; it IS an outrage. Some of the rulers are indignant that the...
The National Non-Debt
10
Paul Hein 2014-04-28 07:22
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Let’s look at a familiar aphorism: If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a noise? Now let’s modify it: If an obligation is settled with an IOU, which is never to be paid, is there a debt? In the first instance, we are asked whether there is a sound if no one hears it. In the second, if there is a debt if no one pays it...
Small Things
10
Paul Hein 2014-07-08 08:14
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The small things in life are sometimes enclosed in ritual. There’s nothing wrong with this per se; it often adds an appropriate appreciation to the simple thing being done--as, for instance, being married. The accompanying ceremony may give the couple an awareness of the importance and significance of what they are doing. Sometimes it can be amusing....
Economics for Dummies
10
Paul Hein 2014-07-31 08:06
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR I don’t want to deceive you: I am not going to present a sort of Economics 101 for the benefit of the economically illiterate. In fact, I am myself among that number, never having studied economics. What I am suggesting is that, in the current financial crisis, economics may be, in my opinion, somewhat irrelevant. It may be foolish to think that there...
The Oldest Institution
9.85714
Paul Hein 2011-09-29 00:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   No, I’m not referring to the oldest occupation--assuming it IS the oldest. I am speaking of a social institution which must have begun when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden, and which has flourished ever since. It is slavery.   In its most obvious and elemental form (which is the only way most people think of it), it consists of...
Much Ado About Nothing
9.8
Paul Hein 2013-01-25 07:56
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR My wife likes to watch political discussions on TV, and from time to time, for as long as I can stand it, I’ll join her. I am invariably puzzled and saddened by the vehemence exhibited by some of the commentators. Voices are raised, speakers are interrupted, and tempers flare. Why? These are all people with, I assume, some level of education and...
All-Purpose Platitudes
9.75
Paul Hein 2010-12-02 04:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   During the pre-election propagandizing, I heard enough platitudes to last me a lifetime, but it hasn’t ceased with the cessation of voting. Now the president, seeking to make the best of a bad (for him) situation, is giving us still more, but they’re the old familiar, tried-and-true blatherskite we’ve come to know and despise...
Pay? How?
9.75
Paul Hein 2011-06-06 00:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   I can’t stand it any longer. For days--weeks, even--the chatter on the TV news has dealt, almost exclusively, with the debt “crisis.” Despite the thousands of words uttered about it, none have hit the mark. The problem, as any Monetary Realist could tell you, has little or nothing to do with the way money is spent, or saved, or...
Who Owns What?
9.75
Paul Hein 2012-03-28 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Are you the owner of some property? For many of us, the answer would be, “Of course. I own a home, and a car.” Maybe, for some, an additional home, and several cars, plus a boat. But whatever it is, it’s yours, and you own it, right? You even have impressive documents like “Title,” or “Deed.”   It is interesting...
Keep the Home Fires Burning
9.66667
Paul Hein 2011-03-09 04:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   As the economy collapses, and civilization disintegrates, increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of the corrupt, vicious, and arrogantly stupid nature of government—especially the federal government--and its role in the dissolution.   But wait! Do we really want to believe that government is the problem? Keep in mind...
The Irrelevance of Government
9.66667
Paul Hein 2014-05-13 08:17
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Today has been, so far, like many others. My wife and I rose early and had breakfast. We went to Mass at 8:30--we’re old-fashioned Catholics--and then came home to a few chores around the house: unloading the dishwasher, changing the bed, vacuuming, sweeping leaves out of the garage, and other such mundane chores. We’ll have lunch in another hour...
Going Down With the Ship
9.5
Paul Hein 2010-10-05 03:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   In 1939, a movie entitled “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” made its debut, to critical acclaim. It was the story of an idealistic young man who went to Washington to fight corruption and cronyism.   One of the first things our young Congressman did, however, was to propose a government purchase of some land in his own state, for a...
A Robber By Any Other Name
9.33333
Paul Hein 2012-12-18 08:40
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR From time to time I receive in the mail demands from strangers for money, often a rather large amount of money. The people making these demands may have impressive titles, such as Revenue Director, or Collector of Revenue, but the writer is often anonymous, although on an impressive letterhead that, presumably, is sufficient to convince you to send the money...
Psychology Rules Again!
9.25
Paul Hein 2012-03-09 01:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Readers of STR are no doubt familiar with George Washington’s characterization of government as force, not reason. (Has any president since ever acknowledged that?) In our time, we can find plenty of examples of government achieving its goals with violence, and I’m thinking not only of the federal government, but even local government. Just search...
It Never Stops!
9.14286
Paul Hein 2010-10-28 03:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   As a younger man, I had plenty of patients, but little patience; and my meager supply is diminishing with age.   Elections are particularly annoying, with the same inane platitudes voiced over and over again, until I wonder how the public, even as numbed and dumbed as it is, can stand it.   There is, for example, the incessant...
Psychology Rules!
9
Paul Hein 2011-02-03 04:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   By coincidence, I recently watched two television programs in the same evening that, upon reflection, said a great deal about society. One was a documentary about the President’s airplane, “On Board Air Force One.” I had seen it before, but it seemed worth a second look.   The other was “Downton Abbey,” a sort...
Bad News Is Good News
9
Paul Hein 2011-12-05 01:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The pretty TV newsperson was interviewing a doctor about the coming crisis in the funding of health care. It seems that physicians will be taking a 27% cut in reimbursements by Medicare, which will not, however, make a corresponding cut in their expenses. (Thank God I’m retired!) Can a doctor opt out of Medicare? Sure, but then he’s not...
Theft by Any Other Name Is Still Theft!
9
Paul Hein 2012-05-04 00:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   You encounter an ominous character on the street who stops you, points his finger at you and declares that he wants your money—all of it---and he wants it now, and you’d better give it to him, or face the consequences.   You reach into your pocket, but instead of pulling forth your wallet, pull forth your .38 caliber automatic...
Being Rich--Even a Little Bit
9
Paul Hein 2012-06-05 00:00
Column by Paul Hein   Exclusive to STR   I’ve said this before, with the usual worldwide repercussions that greet all of my pronouncements. I’m going to say it again, so prepare yourself. I do not want to frighten, alarm, or shock anyone, but there are some things that simply must be said, so here goes: THERE ARE ADVANTAGES TO BEING RICH!! I’ll go even further: There...
A Couple of Fallacies
9
Paul Hein 2012-09-18 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Forgive me for repeating myself, for I have written about these matters before. However, my readership in those days, decades ago, varied between one and two, and today it must be at least ten times as large, and, as the economy crumbles, these ideas seem worth repeating.   First let’s consider the truly absurd statement: “There’s no...
The Little Issues
9
Paul Hein 2012-11-05 01:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Although I have little interest in politics--except as outstanding examples of the madness of crowds--there was no avoiding them during the final days of the 2012 electoral campaigns. There seem to be two predominant campaign types. There are the well-known negative campaign ads, in which candidate A points out the utterly baseless character, lack of...
The Name Game
9
Paul Hein 2014-04-14 08:23
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR An interesting phenomenon: You receive a letter, signed by a group of people unknown to you, asking you to send them a large check, and implying that if you don’t, there could be unpleasant consequences. You laugh, and throw it away. Perhaps, if you’re sufficiently annoyed, you could send a copy to the authorities, asking that they put a halt to...
Monetized Debt
8.66667
Paul Hein 2010-06-14 03:00
Exclusive to STR   The TV anchor--anchorette?--was interviewing her financial guru, who had just pointed out that the rapid growth of debt, if graphed, would be a virtually vertical line. Nothing like it had ever happened before in American history--at least not in living memory.   “How did we get in this mess?” anchorette asked. “How are we ever going to pay this debt...