Like Our Facebook Page

Friday, December 4, 2009

Socialism in Guyana

This article was originally published at Given the direction the US government is taking today it seems more relevant than ever.

Socialism in Guyana

By Rehana Wolfe

Imagine for a moment what life would be like if you had to queue up at every grocery store just to get basic food items for your family. While you’re standing in line, your palms get sweaty , your heart pounds hard against your chest. Waiting to get to the point of sale seems like an eternity. While in line, your fear intensifies with every step forward to the counter. Your fear is that you would have spent several hours in line only to be turned away at the counter with the dreaded words, 'sorry, come back next week. We just ran out of ….' For many, this is a difficult scenario to comprehend, but for my generation and that of my parents, this was reality during the 70’s and 80’s in Guyana, South America when we lived under the dictatorship of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, the first President of this small South American country of only 83,000 square miles and a population of under one million people.

Guyana, once a British colony, gained its independence in 1966 under the leadership of Burnham. Under his ideology of nationalization and self sufficiency, he gradually steered the country into the abyss of socialism from 1966 until his death in 1985. In an already poverty stricken environment, 1966 marked the beginning of political and economic chaos accompanied by growing racial tensions between the East Indians and Blacks who together form the majority.

Guyana, conquered from the Dutch, came to be developed under British rule. Under the British Slave Act, shiploads of African slaves were cast on the shorelines of Guyana, followed by indentured laborers from India, Asia, and Europe. These slaves and laborers were brought to Guyana to work on the sugar plantations.

After Burnham gained Guyana’s independence in 1966, his political platform and cabinet were very race oriented, empowering the Blacks and resulting in growing tensions and dislike for each other among the Indians and Blacks. There were no general elections between 1966 and 1985. Human rights and civil liberties were suppressed. There were many political assassinations of brilliant scholars and political activists who tried to bring change to Burnham’s socialist regime. Two unforgettable assassinations were Walter Rodney and Vincent Teekah.

The tensions between the Blacks and Indians continued to grow and eventually rose to the level of riots, looting, burning, and killing. I’ll never forget the riot of 1971. At eight years old, it would be my first glimpse and real understanding of the racial pain. It was a beautiful day. At around 9 a.m., the sun shone in all its glory but the calm and beauty of the day was disturbed by the echoing cries of people running for cover as the loud bang of gunshots filled the air. My sister and I were at school when suddenly my Dad burst into the classroom and grabbed us without much explanation. He had to brave the violent streets on his bicycle, dodging bullets to get his two daughters back home safely. My Dad put my sister and me on the bike, both on the middle passenger bar and pedaled as fast as he could to get us home safely. When we got there, he rushed us into the living room (which was upstairs) and told us to lie on the floor behind the sofas. There would be many more of these riots in the years ahead.

Let’s go back to the scene at the beginning of this story. Many institutions were nationalized; travel and foreign currency were restricted. Therefore, waiting in line for basic food items was the norm. Burhnam’s idea of self sufficiency meant that we produced our own flour, rice, sugar, etc. Of course, importation of these items was illegal. Many businessmen tried to smuggle them in but couldn’t meet the demand. While Guyana could supply itself with rice and sugar, we could not produce wheat flour (He urged the people to make flour from rice), milk, and other nutritional foods.

Infant formula was not sufficiently available. Mothers improvised to feed young babies. The baby formula ration was one five pound can of per month. How did working mothers feed their babies when they were not available to breast feed? I was one of those mothers who added pureed plantains to the formula to make it last until it was time for the next can.

Many things were in short supply. At the gas station where we purchased propane cooking gas by the canister there were lines too. And not every day, only on certain days when the canisters were in stock. Here the lines would form the previous evening. At around 6pm people started taking their positions to make sure they were among the first 20 or 50 or whatever the quota was that day. They would take turns sleeping and watching each other ‘s position until dawn.

Electricity was another big problem. It was constantly interrupted – to the point where many residential areas would go without electricity for an entire day or night. This affected not only electrical appliances but also the flow of water to our homes. We were constantly keeping buckets of water for the shower, toilets, and all other needs.

Education was good until the student got to the university. A four year college became a three-year one, with the third year being obligatory national service. After graduation, students often had to sign a five year contract with the government. One had to work for the government and could not leave the country during this period.

All travel abroad was controlled. Permission to travel abroad was granted only after your tax records were checked and it was confirmed that you were tax compliant. Foreign currency restrictions were tracked by stamping the last page of the passport with the date and amount of cash issued per trip.

Guyana’s socialism gradually faded after the death of Burnham in 1983. And it wouldn’t be until 1992, after 28 years of dictatorship, that Guyanese citizens would experience their first free and fair election. Cheddi Jagan would become President – yes the same guy that lost the rigged election to Burham in 1963.

In conclusion, I must say that amidst all these sufferings and struggles, one cannot leave amiss the emotional distress that a population suffers from under socialism. While trying to find food, and nurture growing babies, families yell at each other in anger and frustration – life becomes a barren desert upon which love and compassion are hard to cultivate.

Rehana Wolfe, born in Guyana, now lives in Pennsylvania. She has a Master's degree in Communications from Villanova University.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jake Towne at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia 11/22/09 END THE FED!!!

Jake Towne's speech on the Federal Reserve at the Constitution rEVOLution Tea Party event in Philadelphia on 11/22/2009.

Towne is an independent candidate for US Congress (Pennsylvania's 15th district) in 2010. You can learn more about his thoughts on the FED here.

Transcript the above video can be read here.

Later that day Jake Towne delivered a thirty minute talk on how the transition to sound money could be accomplished. Transcript of that speech can be read here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

USA: The Iron Fist of Fascism (IRS and healthcare)

The Washington Examiner is reporting that the proposed healthcare bill the Democrats are pushing would have the Internal Revenue Service (yes that IRS, the tax collectors everyone so fears) enforcing the reforms. Read about it here.

There is no mistaking this for anything but a naked power grab. Please consider the points this author made in "How Dare You Want To Know What "Your" Government Is Doing!". We now have the same principle expanded in our private affairs. The government is already way too intrusive and way too secretive. More and more we live under an elected dictatorship. As Thomas Jefferson warned us:

"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's Raining Pork! Hallelujah!

Here in Pennsylvania our governor, Ed Rendell, is spending $22.2 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program is called PA Conservation Works! and it is "a new grant program for local government and non-profit entities seeking to conserve or reduce energy use. PA Conservation Works! will provide up to $250,000 for individual projects and $500,000 for joint projects designed to increase energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption and reduce energy costs by at least 25 percent."

(Read the press release here.)

No doubt the government will succeed at reducing energy consumption the way they have
succeeded in reducing drug use, illiteracy, poverty, crime, unemployment, teenage pregnancy....I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point.

No wonder we have a recession going on, we're drowning in pork! This kind of spending only aggravated and prolonged the great Depression and is only hurting us now. When will they learn?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama Wants To Lock'em Up, No Trial

According to the New York Times President Obama is considering using “preventive detention” with terror suspects. It is not definite, only talk at this point, but very scary talk none the less. Given the government's propensity to abuse its powers and the broad definition of what makes one a terror suspect this can't be allowed to happen.

If this is truly Obama's view it is obvious that he doesn't understand his job and it is time for him to resign.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stupid Politicians

When I read this part of their letter quoted below I thought that John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon must have had a crystal ball and seen what our politicians today are like! The more things change, the more they remain the same:
They are therefore stupid politicians, who would derive advantages from a distinction which is manifestly without a difference: It is like, however, that they may improve in their subtleties, and come, in time, to distinguish between corrupt corruption and uncorrupt corruption, between a good ill administration and an ill good administration, between oppressive oppression and unoppressive oppression, and between French dragooning, and English dragooning; for there is scarce any other new pitch of nonsense and contradiction left to such men in their reasonings upon publick affairs, and in the part which they act in them.

Cato's Letter No. 94
Against Standing Armies.
John Trenchard & Thomas Gordon (Saturday, September 15, 1722)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Oaths, War, And Liberty

On this beautiful Mother's Day an email from the HispanicLibertarians Yahoo Group landed in my inbox. It was a post titled "Troops and Law enforcement officers say not on my watch!". The entire post was this link,, the Oath Keepers website. At first glance I thought good for them; this is a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, further examination quickly revealed another side of this organization. While they advocate liberty and respect for the Constitution they also support the US government's imperial wars. It is not possible to be pro war and empire, on the one hand, and pro liberty at the same time. One must choose one or the other.

The pro war and pro empire side is revealed when one clicks on the links in the blog post, "Shout Our Oaths In The Tyrant's Face- Washington D.C., June 13, 2009", a call to celebrate an alleged victory in Iraq. The first link is to Gathering of Eagles. On their page titled Our Mission point number 9 states, "We will accept nothing less than total, unqualified victory in the current conflict. Surrender is not an option, nor is defeat." The freedom hating Neoconservatives couldn't have said it better. The truth is that ending an aggressive war overseas isn't surrender or defeat, it is good sense. It is the only way to live in peace with the world.

(I will give them credit for one thing, point number 7 which reads, "We vehemently oppose the notion that it is possible to 'support the troops but not the war.' We are opposed to those groups who would claim support for the troops yet engage in behavior that is demeaning and abusive to the men and women who wear our nation's uniform." This is quite true. It is the height of moral cowardice to proclaim support for the troops but oppose their mission. Those who oppose the war should do so completely and openly.)

Oath Keepers is missing a key point. The problem isn't that the military and police are being given the wrong orders, that's merely the symptom. The real problem is the fact that these organizations exist allows such orders to be issued in the first place. I make this point about police powers in, "Drug Prohibition: Law Enforcement Is The Problem".

The answer is not to take this oath, the answer is to resign from government service. I would remind readers that this would be emulating George Washington's resignation from and disbanding of the Army after the fighting in the Revolutionary War ended. He knew better than to have a standing army.

Let me conclude with some words of wisdom on the subject from the Founders:

It is certain, that all parts of Europe which are enslaved, have been enslaved by armies; and it is absolutely impossible, that any nation which keeps them amongst themselves can long preserve their liberties; nor can any nation perfectly lose their liberties who are without such guests: And yet, though all men see this, and at times confess it, yet all have joined in their turns, to bring this heavy evil upon themselves and their country.

Cato's Letters, No. 95: Further Reasonings against Standing Armies [September 22, 1722]

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

--James Madison

"What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."

-- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts,
Floor debate over the Second Amendment [1789]

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies."

Thomas Jefferson

If we admit this consolidated government, it will be because we like a great splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, a navy, and a number of things: When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, Sir, was then the primary objectBut now, Sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country to a powerful and mighty empire.

Patrick Henry

"Avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty".

George Washington, Farewell Address [1796]

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tax Us Some More, Why Don't You?

According to the Huffington Post the Internal Revenue Service is hiring 800 more agents to inflict taxes on us. Didn't Obama say he wasn't going to raise taxes? Collecting more money is raising taxes. It will have the same bad effect on the economy as raising tax rates.

What we're seeing is the Clinton style of government. Smile in our faces while sticking the knife in our backs. This is different from the Bush style were you got the knife in the belly. Good thing we got that "change", it makes a big difference! Yeah, right.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Drug Prohibition: Law Enforcement Is The Problem

Ending the War on Drugs would save countless lives from being lost or ruined. An enormous drain on our economy would cease. It would be great. Ending the War on Drugs would be a tremendous first step, but then what?

The government would still have all the police powers it used to have. Perhaps they could be convinced to cut them back a bit, but we know from painful experience how hard it is to get the government to give up a power it has acquired. No doubt it wouldn't take them long to find other laws for their bloated police agencies to enforce on us. They have to justify those big budgets somehow.

A key point here is that the source of the problem is not the War on Drugs, that is merely the symptom. The problem is that the government has the means to enforce laws like the drug prohibition. Once it had the power it then passed the bad laws. (Of course, once they had these bad laws to enforce they then used the higher crime rates these bad laws created to justify more, and more powerful, police.) The only way to ensure that there won't be a repetition of the War on Drugs fiasco is to abolish policing as we know it today. The ending of the prohibition of alcohol proves this point. They merely switched from punishing bootleggers and drinkers to punishing drug dealers and users.

We need to move to a system of private security. There is no need for local police. History has already proved that private security is better at protecting us than the government is. A shining example is Oro Valley, Arizona. In 1975 they hired Rural/Metro Fire Department, Inc. to essentially be their police department providing the services previously provided by the county sheriff. Crime rates where greatly reduced at a fraction of the cost of a government police force. (See Guns for Protection, and Other Private Sector Responses to the Government's Failure to Control Crime, page 22 of the PDF page counter)

There is no need for national level law enforcement. Agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Drug Enforcement Administration are merely instruments of oppression enforcing mostly unconstitutional laws. One is reminded of Thomas Jefferson's words about the distant and overly powerful capitol, "When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated."

So not only is private security better able to protect people and property, they have a provider/client relationship with them. Under this scenario there is no incentive for private security to enforce something like the Drug Prohibition and the government wouldn't have the means to do so.

Policing as we know it today got its start in the mid 19th century. It wasn't truly about preventing crime as crime rates were quite low back then. It was all about expanding the government's power. Fast forward to today and we find that the greatest threat to our lives, liberty, and property is the government. This is due to their tremendous police power. The only way for us to preserve (restore?) our rights is to take that power away from the government.

The inspiration for this article was the presentation given by the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) speaker Neill Franklin at the Montgomery County Libertarian Party (PA) Liberty Forum on 4/20/09. This is a great organization composed of courageous individuals trying to right one of the worse wrongs of our time. I thank them for their tireless efforts.

Carry on, I'm with you, my friends at LEAP. Just remember that ending the War on Drugs is merely the first step.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Dare You Want To Know What "Your" Government Is Doing!

In his excellent article "Bad Regulation Drives Out Good" Mr. Richman makes the point that government regulation doesn't work very well. One thing that he doesn't mention is how Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is actually advocating secret government.

While describing regulatory changes on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" the senator states:

There will be a strong, quiet, hopefully more unified federal regulator. And he's gonna be tough–or she. But they're gonna be quiet. So like when Bear Stearns began to run into trouble, they're gonna call the heads of Bear Stearns in and say, "All right fellas, you're getting rid of those two hedge funds; you're gonna raise more capital even if means you have lower profitability. We're not gonna tell anyone you're doing this, but you do it or we're gonna take sanctions against you."

Why does Schumer think we need "quiet" regulators that aren't "gonna tell anyone you're doing this"? Since when is government supposed to operate in the shadows out of public view? This is nothing short of advocating an unaccountable, tyrannical, and corrupt government. Have we really sunk so low that he thinks he can get away with this?

Believe it or not, it gets worse. The senator goes on to say, "You need a tough, strong regulator, unified—no holes in the system— who sees the problem ahead of time, so they have complete transparency, they know exactly what's going on". In Schumer's dream world the government gets to know everything that private companies are doing, "no holes in the system ", while the same "tough, strong regulator, unified" gets to operate in secret! Transparency will only apply to the private sector, not the government.

The real reason for regulation is now nakedly revealed. It's not about protecting the people, it's about controlling them. As Ayn Rand wrote, "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."

We can't let this nightmare come to pass.