If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Interesting Perspectives on Growth

The US economy has been expanding wildly for two centuries. Are we witnessing the end of growth? Economist Robert Gordon lays out 4 reasons US growth may be slowing, detailing factors like epidemic debt and growing inequality, which could move the US into a period of stasis we can't innovate our way out of. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Erik Brynjolfsson.

Robert Gordon: The death of innovation, the end of growth

As machines take on more jobs, many find themselves out of work or with raises indefinitely postponed. Is this the end of growth? No, says Erik Brynjolfsson -- it's simply the growing pains of a radically reorganized economy. A riveting case for why big innovations are ahead of us ... if we think of computers as our teammates. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Robert Gordon.

Erik Brynjolfsson: The key to growth? Race with the machines

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Realizing Human Progress & Sustainability | Zeitgeist Day 2013

5th Annual "Zeitgeist Day", 2013 Main Event, held in Los Angeles CA on March 17th.

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Sharleen Bazeghi | "Introduction to The Zeitgeist Movement" [Part 1 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Peter Joseph | "History of Economic Thought" [Part 2 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Matt Berkowitz | "Logical Fallacies & Cultural Baggage" [Part 3 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Jen Wilding | "From the Great Escape to an Improved Reality" [Part 4 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Douglas Mallette | "From Mars to Earth" [Part 5 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Federico Pistono | "Freedom from Work & Social Evolution" [Part 6 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Jason Lord | "Thinking in Systems" [Part 7 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Brandon Kristy | "Case for Human Unity" [Part 8 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Ben McLeish | "Public Health" [Part 9 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Brandy Hume | "We Are All Connected. Literally" [Part 10 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: Eva Omori | "The Transition" [Part 11 of 12]

Zeitgeist Day 2013: End Speech (Peter Joseph) and Q&A Panel with All Speakers [Part 12 of 12]

RT Peter Joseph on Abby Martin's "Breaking the Set" | The Zeitgeist Movement

On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin talks to Peter Joseph, social activist and director of the Zeitgeist film series, about the war as a symptom of military empire, and the need for a revolution of values. Abby then talks to RT correspondent, Lucy Kafanov, about daily life in post-war Iraq, and the whether or not the country is better off without Saddam. BTS wraps up the show with a closer look at the continued use of depleted uranium, and the impact of DU contamination on the lives of innocent Iraqis.

Peter Joseph on Abby Martin's "Breaking the Set", March 21 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Should Economists and Policymakers Learn From the Financial Crisis? | London School of Economics

Speaker(s): Dr Ben S Bernanke, Olivier Blanchard, Professor Lawrence H. Summers, Axel A. Weber
Chair: Professor Sir Mervyn King

Recorded on 25 March 2013 in Old Theatre, Old Building.

Five years on, the global economy continues to come to terms with the impact of the financial crisis. This event examines the lessons that both economists and policymakers should learn in order to lessen the chance of future crises.

Ben S. Bernanke was sworn in on February 1, 2006, as chairman and a member of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System. Before his appointment as chairman, Dr. Bernanke was chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, from June 2005 to January 2006.

Olivier Blanchard is economic counsellor and director, Research Department at the International Monetary Fund. After obtaining his Ph.D in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977, he taught at Harvard University, returning to MIT in 1982, where he has been since where he holds the post of Class of 1941 Professor of Economics.

Lawrence H. Summers is President Emeritus of Harvard University. During the past two decades he has served in a series of senior policy positions, including vice president of development economics and chief economist of the World Bank, undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, director of the National Economic Council for the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011, and secretary of the treasury of the United States, from 1999 to 2001. He is currently the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University.

Axel A. Weber is visiting professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, former president of the Deutsche Bundesbank and current chairman of the board of UBS.

Professor Sir Mervyn King is governor of the Bank of England. Before joining the Bank he was professor of economics at the LSE, and a founder of the Financial Markets Group.

What should economists and policymakers learn from the financial crisis?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Existence of Nothing

The concept of nothing is as old as zero itself. How do we grapple with the concept of nothing? From the best laboratory vacuums on Earth to the vacuum of space to what lies beyond, the idea of nothing continues to intrigue professionals and the public alike.

Join moderator and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson as he leads a spirited discussion with a group of physicists, philosophers and journalists about the existence of nothing. The event, which was streamed live to the web, took place at the American Museum of Natural History on March 20, 2013.


J. Richard Gott, professor of astrophysical sciences, Princeton University, and author of Sizing Up the Universe: The Cosmos in Perspective

Jim Holt, science journalist and author of Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story

Lawrence Krauss, professor of physics, Arizona State University and author of A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing

Charles Seife, professor of journalism, New York University, and author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Eve Silverstein, professor of physics, Stanford University, and co-editor of Strings, Branes and Gravity

The late Dr. Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific and influential authors of our time, was a dear friend and supporter of the American Museum of Natural History. In his memory, the Hayden Planetarium is honored to host the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate — generously endowed by relatives, friends, and admirers of Isaac Asimov and his work — bringing the finest minds in the world to the Museum each year to debate pressing questions on the frontier of scientific discovery. Proceeds from ticket sales of the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates benefit the scientific and educational programs of the Hayden Planetarium.

2013 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Existence of Nothing

From Mars to the Multiverse | Martin Rees

A lecture given by the 2012 winner of the Isaac Newton medal, Professor Martin Rees, University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy, and chaired by Michael Rowan-Robinson, Imperial College.

From Mars to the Multiverse: Newton Lecture 2012

Consciousness: The Hard Problem

Will consciousness ever be explained by neuroscientists?

What is the latest philosophical and scientific thinking in explaining how the wet stuff in our heads creates the world we experience?

An expert panel consisting of Dr. Anil Seth, Professor Barry Smith and Professor Chris Frith discuss these questions and more.

This event was held at the Royal Institution on Wednesday 7 March 2012 and forms part of a series curated for the Royal Institution of Great Briatin by Alok Jha.

Seth is co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex. His research crosses the fields of computational neuroscience, consciousness science and neurorobotics. In addition to contributing new insights into the mechanisms of action selection, he has developed new ways to link brain activity to conscious experience and he is an authority on the statistical analysis of causality. He is also chair of the upcoming annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, which will take place in July.

Smith is director of the Institute of Philosophy where the aim is to promote and facilitate high quality research in philosophy, making it available to the widest possible audience both inside and outside the academic community. According to Smith, "Consciousness creates, in each of us, an inner life where we think and feel; a realm where we experience the sights, sounds, feels, tastes and smells that inform us of the world around us."

Frith is professor emeritus at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford

Source: 33rd Square | Consciousness: The Hard Problem

Alok Jha: Consciousness: the hard problem? - Discussion

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Consciousness: Searching for the Mind

With the help of a hammer-wielding scientist, Jennifer Aniston and a general anaesthetic, Professor Marcus du Sautoy goes in search of answers to one of science's greatest mysteries: how do we know who we are? While the thoughts that make us feel as though we know ourselves are easy to experience, they are notoriously difficult to explain. So, in order to find out where they come from, Marcus subjects himself to a series of probing experiments.

He learns at what age our self-awareness emerges and whether other species share this trait. Next, he has his mind scrambled by a cutting-edge experiment in anaesthesia. Having survived that ordeal, Marcus is given an out-of-body experience in a bid to locate his true self. And in Hollywood, he learns how celebrities are helping scientists understand the microscopic activities of our brain. Finally, he takes part in a mind-reading experiment that both helps explain and radically alters his understanding of who he is.

Consciousness: Searching for the Mind

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Great Debate - What is Life?

Richard Dawkins, J. Craig Venter, Nobel laureates Sidney Altman and Leland Hartwell, Chris McKay, Paul Davies, Lawrence Krauss, and The Science Network's Roger Bingham discuss the origins of life, the possibility of finding life elsewhere, and the latest development in synthetic biology.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview Documentary

*Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview* is a documentary exploring the depths of the current human condition and the emergence of a worldview that is recreating our world from the inside out.

Weaving together insights and findings from biology, psychology, network science, systems science, business, culture and media, the film reveals the inner workings of the human experience in the 21st century, urging viewers to step out of the box and challenge their own assumptions about who we really are, and why we do what we do.

*Crossroads* places evolutionary context to today's escalating social unrest, natural disasters, and economic failures. It illuminates the footsteps of an integrated worldview, penetrating its way through the power of social networks to the forefront of our personal and collective awareness.

A refreshing reality check for all viewers and a clarion call for those who carry the seeds of the emerging worldview.

Scientists and thinkers featured in *Crossroads* include: Amit Goswami, Neale Donald Walsch, Elisabet Sahtouris, Bruce Lipton, Peter Joseph, Caroline A. Miller, Nicholas Christakis, James Fowler, Michael Laitman, Ervin Laszlo, Dean Radin, Dave Sherman, Annie Leonard, Jairon G. Cuesta, and John St. Augustine.

Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview

Four Horsemen Documentary

The modern day Four Horsemen continue to ride roughshod over the people who can least afford it. Crises are converging when governments, religion and mainstream economists have stalled. 23 international thinkers come together and break their silence about how the world really works and why there is still hope in re-establishing a moral and just society. Four Horsemen is free from mainstream media propaganda, doesn't bash bankers, criticize politicians or get involved in conspiracy theories. The film ignites the debate about how we usher a new economic paradigm into the world which, globally, would dramatically improve the quality of life for billions.

Four Horsemen

Monday, December 10, 2012

Singularity Summit 2012 - Create the Future

The Singularity Summit is the Singularity Institute’s annual conference on science, technology, and the future. Topics explored include artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, the Singularity, robotics, regenerative medicine, and big picture issues on the trajectory of human civilization. Each year, about 25 eminent speakers share their latest views over the course of two days.

The conference was founded by the Singularity Institute, Ray Kurzweil, and Peter Thiel in 2006. The inaugural conference was held in 2006 at Stanford University. Until 2008 the conference was held in the San Francisco Bay Area, at which point it began alternating between New York (where the conference was held in 2009 and 2011) and the Bay Area. The event regularly attracts over 800 scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, and other thinkers. In 2010, it was covered in a front-page article in TIME magazine.

Nathan Labenz: "Opening Remarks"

Temple Grandin - How Different People Think Differently
Author, professor, and autism advocate Temple Grandin uses the example of the 2012 Fukushima nuclear disaster to illustrate how sometimes, the most obvious flaws in a system can be the least apparent to those working in it.

Dr. Grandin is a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.

Temple Grandin: "How Different People Think Differently"

Laura Deming - End Aging
Thiel Fellow Laura Deming makes a plea for health research to tackle an epidemic that affects everyone: the negative effects of aging.

Currently a partner at Floreat Capital and fellow with the Thiel Foundation 20under20 Fellowship, Laura has wanted to cure aging since the age of 8. After years working on nematode longevity at the UCSF graduate school, Laura matriculated to MIT at 14 to work on artificial organogenesis and bone aging, and is now based in SF, working to find and fund therapies to extend the human healthspan.

Laura Deming: "End Aging"

Julia Galef - Rationality and the Future
Julia Galef, president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, describes humanity as slave to its own genes: that is, people exist solely to perpetuate their DNA. Furthermore, she argues, we have to contend with the fact that "the genes don't care about us."

Julia Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, an organization teaching math and cognitive science-based techniques for effective decisionmaking. She has a degree in statistics from Columbia University.

Julia Galef: "Rationality and the Future"

Luke Muehlhauser - The Singularity, Promise and Peril
Luke Muehlhauser, Executive Director of the Singularity Institute, takes on skeptics who argue that superhuman artificial intelligence will forever remain beyond the capabilities of technology. "If you make these kinds of predictions about what machines can't do, you're going to end up on the wrong side of history," he says.

Luke Muehlhauser has published dozens of articles on self-help, decision-making, and artificial intelligence, including peer-reviewed research on AI safety. He is currently the Executive Director of the Singularity Institute.

Luke Muehlhauser: "The Singularity, Promise and Peril"

Linda Avey - Personal Genomics
Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe and Curious, reassures those with concerns about abuse of genetic information that it is not possible to make designer babies like in Gattaca, but there are ways to avoid some genetic diseases.

Linda Avey is co-founder and CEO of Curious, Inc., a personal data discovery platform. Previously, she co-founded 23andMe, the leading personal genetics company.

Linda Avey: "Personal Genomics"

Steven Pinker - A History of Violence
Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker links the Humanitarian Revolution, an historical decline in violence, to widespread literacy. "It's plausible," he explains, "that as people consume fiction, drama, history, and journalism, they start to inhabit the minds of people unlike themselves, which conceivably could expand their empathy and decrease their taste for cruelty."

Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and has also taught at Stanford and MIT.

Steven Pinker: "A History of Violence"

Ray Kurzweil - How to Create a Mind
Author and futurist Ray Kurzweil examines the rise in health and wealth levels throughout the world since 1800, speculating that combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence will continue to perpetuate this trend.

Ray Kurzweil is a famous entrepreneur and inventor, described as “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal, and Co-Founder of the Singularity Summit.

Ray Kurzweil: "How to Create a Mind"

Q&A: Economist Daniel Kahneman, the Pioneer of Heuristics
Noble Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman comments on the most important biases concerning the singularity. Kahneman sees the major bias as believing in seemingly inevitable scenarios.

Daniel Kahneman pioneered the field of heuristics and biases with Amos Tversky. He won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on human decision-making.

Daniel Kahneman: "Q&A"

Melanie Mitchell: - AI and the Barrier of Meaning
Melanie Mitchell, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, redefines "singularity" to mean "the appearance of a machine that crosses the barrier of meaning." Mitchell proposes to do this by teaching computers visual concepts that they can re-purpose as analogies.

Melanie Mitchell is Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and External Professor and Member of the Science Board at the Santa Fe Institute.

Melanie Mitchell: "AI and the Barrier of Meaning"

Carl Zimmer - Our Viral Future
Popular science writer Carl Zimmer confirms that viruses will always surprise us, for better or worse: the key is to find innovative uses in science and medicine for viruses instead of trying to eradicate them.

Carl Zimmer is a popular science writer and blogger, writing about evolution, medicine, biotechnology, and natural history.

Carl Zimmer: "Our Viral Future"

Robin Hanson - Extraordinary Society of Emulated Minds
Robert Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University, speculates on how systems of class might operate between artificially intelligent machines. Speed and efficiency would be most rewarded, in Hanson's view, while interaction skills with humans would be least valued.

Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, and Chief Scientist at Consensus Point.

Robin Hanson: "Extraordinary Society of Emulated Minds"

Jaan Tallinn - Why Now? A Quest in Metaphysics
Jaan Tallinn, creator of Skype and Kazaa, narrates a story that explores the notion of existing in multiple places simultaneously.

Jaan Tallinn is one of the programmers behind Kazaa and a founding engineer of Skype. He describes himself as a singularitarian-hacker-investor-physicist (in that order).

Jaan Tallinn: "Why Now? A Quest in Metaphysics"

John Wilbanks - Your Health, Your Data, Your Choices
John Wilbanks, Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, uses what he learned from a copy of his genotype as a proxy for the possibilities of how people might be able to learn about themselves with usable electronic health records.

John Wilbanks is a Senior Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, is currently running the Consent to Research project, and studied philosophy at Tulane University.

John Wilbanks: "Your Health, Your Data, Your Choices"

Stuart Armstrong - How We’re Predicting AI
Stuart Armstrong of the Future of Humanity Institute places the quality of predictions about the emergence of artificial intelligence on a continuum with other fields, showing them to be the least accurate.

Stuart Armstrong: "How We’re Predicting AI"

Vernor Vinge - Who’s Afraid of First Movers?
Retired mathematics professor Vernor Vinge describes one pathway toward the technological singularity: by using computers as external brain supplements that allow humans to approach superhuman intelligence.

Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University (SDSU) Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author.

Vernor Vinge: "Who’s Afraid of First Movers?"

Peter Norvig - Channeling the Flood of Data
Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google, demonstrates a computer system that has been programmed to organize collections of images from YouTube videos into sets of objects, without any direction from the programmers.

Peter Norvig is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and the Association for Computing Machinery, currently Engineering Director at Google.

Peter Norvig: "Channeling the Flood of Data"

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Intelligence and Machines: Creating Intelligent Machines by Modeling the Brain | Jeff Hawkins

Are intelligent machines possible? If they are, what will they be like? Jeff Hawkins, an inventor, engineer, neuroscientist, author and entrepreneur, frames these questions by reviewing some of the efforts to build intelligent machines. He posits that machine intelligence is only possible by first understanding how the brain works and then building systems that work on the same principles. He describes Numenta's work using neocortical models to understand the torrent of machine-generated data being created today. He will conclude with predictions on how machine intelligence will unfold in the near and long term future and why creating intelligent machines is important for humanity.

Intelligence and Machines: Creating Intelligent Machines by Modeling the Brain with Jeff Hawkins

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed | Ray Kurzweil

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

About the book:

In How to Create a Mind, The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, the bold futurist and author of The New York Times bestseller The Singularity Is Near explores the limitless potential of reverse engineering the human brain. Ray Kurzweil is arguably today's most influential—and often controversial—futurist. In How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in human-machine civilization—reverse engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines. Kurzweil discusses how the brain functions, how the mind emerges from the brain, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence in addressing the world's problems. He thoughtfully examines emotional and moral intelligence and the origins of consciousness and envisions the radical possibilities of our merging with the intelligent technology we are creating. Certain to be one of the most widely discussed and debated science books of the year, How to Create a Mind is sure to take its place alongside Kurzweil's previous classics.

Early praise for the book:

It is rare to find a book that offers unique and inspiring content on
every page. How To Create A Mind achieves that and more. Ray has a
way of tackling seemingly overwhelming challenges with any army of
reason, in the end convincing the reader that it is within our reach
to create non-biological intelligence that will soar past our own.
This is a visionary work that is also accessible and entertaining.

-Rafael Reif, President of MIT

Kurzweil's new book on the mind is magnificent, timely, and solidly
argued!! His best so far!

-Marvin Minsky, Co-founder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab

One of the eminent AI pioneers, Ray Kurzweil, has created a new book
to explain the true nature of intelligence, both biological and
non-biological. The book describes the human brain as a machine that
can understand hierarchical concepts ranging from the form of a chair
to the nature of humor. His important insights emphasize the key role
of learning both in the brain and AI. He provides a credible roadmap
for achieving the goal of super human intelligence which will be
necessary to solve the grand challenges of humanity.

-Raj Reddy, founder, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon

If you have ever wondered about how your mind works, read this book.
Kurzweil's insights reveal key secrets underlying human thought and
our ability to recreate it. This is an eloquent and thought-provoking

-Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST

About the Author

Ray Kurzweil has been described as "the restless genius" by the Wall
Street Journal, and "the ultimate thinking machine" by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the "rightful heir to Thomas Edison," and PBS included Ray as one of 16 "revolutionaries who made America," along with other inventors of the past two centuries.

As one of the leading inventors of our time, Kurzweil was the
principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary
speech recognition. His website Kurzweil AI.net has more than one
million readers.

Among Kurzweil's many honors, he is the recipient of the $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize, the world's largest for innovation. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame, established by the US Patent Office. He has received 19 honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents. Kurzweil is the author of five books, four of which have been national best sellers.
The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into nine languages. His last book, The Singularity is Near, was a New York Times-best seller and has been translated into eight languages.

This talk was hosted by Boris Debic on behalf of Authors at Google.

Ray Kurzweil "How to Create a Mind", Authors at Google

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ron Paul's Congressional Farewell Speech

Delivered on the House Floor, November 14, 2012

Farewell to Congress

This may well be the last time I speak on the House Floor. At the end of the year I’ll leave Congress after 23 years in office over a 36 year period. My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.

It was my opinion, that the course the U.S. embarked on in the latter part of the 20th Century would bring us a major financial crisis and engulf us in a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.

To achieve the goals I sought, government would have had to shrink in size and scope, reduce spending, change the monetary system, and reject the unsustainable costs of policing the world and expanding the American Empire.

The problems seemed to be overwhelming and impossible to solve, yet from my view point, just following the constraints placed on the federal government by the Constitution would have been a good place to start.

How Much Did I Accomplish?

In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little. No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways—thank goodness. In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues. Wars are constant and pursued without Congressional declaration, deficits rise to the sky, poverty is rampant and dependency on the federal government is now worse than any time in our history.

All this with minimal concerns for the deficits and unfunded liabilities that common sense tells us cannot go on much longer. A grand, but never mentioned, bipartisan agreement allows for the well-kept secret that keeps the spending going. One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and corporate elite. And the spending continues as the economy weakens and the downward spiral continues. As the government continues fiddling around, our liberties and our wealth burn in the flames of a foreign policy that makes us less safe.

The major stumbling block to real change in Washington is the total resistance to admitting that the country is broke. This has made compromising, just to agree to increase spending, inevitable since neither side has any intention of cutting spending.

The country and the Congress will remain divisive since there’s no “loot left to divvy up.”

Without this recognition the spenders in Washington will continue the march toward a fiscal cliff much bigger than the one anticipated this coming January.

I have thought a lot about why those of us who believe in liberty, as a solution, have done so poorly in convincing others of its benefits. If liberty is what we claim it is- the principle that protects all personal, social and economic decisions necessary for maximum prosperity and the best chance for peace- it should be an easy sell. Yet, history has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians which are rarely if ever fulfilled.

Authoritarianism vs. Liberty

If authoritarianism leads to poverty and war and less freedom for all individuals and is controlled by rich special interests, the people should be begging for liberty. There certainly was a strong enough sentiment for more freedom at the time of our founding that motivated those who were willing to fight in the revolution against the powerful British government.

During my time in Congress the appetite for liberty has been quite weak; the understanding of its significance negligible. Yet the good news is that compared to 1976 when I first came to Congress, the desire for more freedom and less government in 2012 is much greater and growing, especially in grassroots America. Tens of thousands of teenagers and college age students are, with great enthusiasm, welcoming the message of liberty.

I have a few thoughts as to why the people of a country like ours, once the freest and most prosperous, allowed the conditions to deteriorate to the degree that they have.

Freedom, private property, and enforceable voluntary contracts, generate wealth. In our early history we were very much aware of this. But in the early part of the 20th century our politicians promoted the notion that the tax and monetary systems had to change if we were to involve ourselves in excessive domestic and military spending. That is why Congress gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax. The majority of Americans and many government officials agreed that sacrificing some liberty was necessary to carry out what some claimed to be “progressive” ideas. Pure democracy became acceptable.

They failed to recognized that what they were doing was exactly opposite of what the colonists were seeking when they broke away from the British.

Some complain that my arguments makes no sense, since great wealth and the standard of living improved for many Americans over the last 100 years, even with these new policies.

But the damage to the market economy, and the currency, has been insidious and steady. It took a long time to consume our wealth, destroy the currency and undermine productivity and get our financial obligations to a point of no return. Confidence sometimes lasts longer than deserved. Most of our wealth today depends on debt.

The wealth that we enjoyed and seemed to be endless, allowed concern for the principle of a free society to be neglected. As long as most people believed the material abundance would last forever, worrying about protecting a competitive productive economy and individual liberty seemed unnecessary.

The Age of Redistribution

This neglect ushered in an age of redistribution of wealth by government kowtowing to any and all special interests, except for those who just wanted to left alone. That is why today money in politics far surpasses money currently going into research and development and productive entrepreneurial efforts.

The material benefits became more important than the understanding and promoting the principles of liberty and a free market. It is good that material abundance is a result of liberty but if materialism is all that we care about, problems are guaranteed.

The crisis arrived because the illusion that wealth and prosperity would last forever has ended. Since it was based on debt and a pretense that debt can be papered over by an out-of-control fiat monetary system, it was doomed to fail. We have ended up with a system that doesn’t produce enough even to finance the debt and no fundamental understanding of why a free society is crucial to reversing these trends.

If this is not recognized, the recovery will linger for a long time. Bigger government, more spending, more debt, more poverty for the middle class, and a more intense scramble by the elite special interests will continue.

We Need an Intellectual Awakening

Without an intellectual awakening, the turning point will be driven by economic law. A dollar crisis will bring the current out-of-control system to its knees.

If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties. Prosperity for a large middle class though will become an abstract dream.

This continuous move is no different than what we have seen in how our financial crisis of 2008 was handled. Congress first directed, with bipartisan support, bailouts for the wealthy. Then it was the Federal Reserve with its endless quantitative easing. If at first it doesn’t succeed try again; QE1, QE2, and QE3 and with no results we try QE indefinitely—that is until it too fails. There’s a cost to all of this and let me assure you delaying the payment is no longer an option. The rules of the market will extract its pound of flesh and it won’t be pretty.

The current crisis elicits a lot of pessimism. And the pessimism adds to less confidence in the future. The two feed on themselves, making our situation worse.

If the underlying cause of the crisis is not understood we cannot solve our problems. The issues of warfare, welfare, deficits, inflationism, corporatism, bailouts and authoritarianism cannot be ignored. By only expanding these policies we cannot expect good results.

Everyone claims support for freedom. But too often it’s for one’s own freedom and not for others. Too many believe that there must be limits on freedom. They argue that freedom must be directed and managed to achieve fairness and equality thus making it acceptable to curtail, through force, certain liberties.

Some decide what and whose freedoms are to be limited. These are the politicians whose goal in life is power. Their success depends on gaining support from special interests.

Continue reading - Ron Paul's Farewell Address - Full Text

Ron Paul's Congressional Farewell Speech - C-SPAN 11/14/2012