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Columns by Paul Hein

The Source
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Paul Hein 2014-12-18 08:48
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The figure quoted for the first bailout was three trillion. That’s three trillion dollars, which could be more meaningful if we knew what “dollars” were. But whatever they are, three trillion of them is a number so large that one simply cannot comprehend it. It might even be thought to be meaningless, because one doesn’t experience...
Then and Now
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Paul Hein 2014-11-12 07:44
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR I enjoy historical fiction. It is an easy and pleasant way to become familiar with important events in history, without the tedium of a history text’s display of names, dates, etc., in a style guaranteed to generate boredom. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed the TV series “The Tudors.” Once, after watching an episode of that series, I chanced...
Flying High
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Paul Hein 2014-10-28 07:18
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Guess who’s launched a rocket into orbit around Mars? It’s quite an accomplishment, since about half of the world’s previous attempts have failed. Would you guess Saudi Arabia? Dubai? Nope. Would it surprise you to learn it was Liechtenstein? It sure would surprise me, because it isn’t Liechtenstein. Nor Monaco. OK, enough guessing....
Two Modest Suggestions
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Paul Hein 2014-10-15 07:31
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR A long time ago, in a different galaxy, I offered a suggestion for the relief of the financial problems of the airline industry. My advice went unheeded, and today we see the sorry mess that constitutes that industry today. I told you so! My idea, as I’m sure you remember, was to enhance the profitable aspects of airline operation, while reducing the...
Who's On First--And Where Is It?
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Paul Hein 2014-10-03 07:01
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR I am bemused at the concern shown about the problem of illegal aliens, but perhaps that can be attributed to the fact that I live hundreds of miles from the border. There seems to be some controversy about the role of the federal vs. state governments. I think this would be an ideal situation to employ the principle of subsidiarity, which states that problems...
Who?
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Paul Hein 2014-09-23 07:38
Column by Paul Hein.  Exclusive to STR Hillary is being coy about declaring her ambition to be president, and the first female Ruler of the World. While she dithers about the announcement, let me make mine: Once again I declare my candidacy for the presidency. You may recall that the last time I garnered 15 votes; this time I hope to get at least twice as many. The usual question is raised...
An Electrifying Event
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Paul Hein 2014-09-11 07:21
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR I’ll wager you don’t drive a Tesla, or know anyone who does. But you’ve probably heard of it--a pricey deluxe sedan powered by electricity, with a range of over 200 miles between charges. Tesla management wants to sell its cars direct to consumers, rather than to dealers who will then re-sell it to buyers, after adding their costs, plus...
Crime and Punishment
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Paul Hein 2014-09-03 07:05
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }About three decades ago, I was visiting a friend at the penitentiary in Jefferson City, where he was about at the end of his sentence for the ghastly “crime” of buying cigarettes cheap in a neighboring state, and selling them to his clients in Missouri. It was the practice at the time to allow soon-to-be-released...
Malum Prohibitum, Ad Nauseum
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Paul Hein 2014-08-25 06:40
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR “I’ve got a tremendous idea,” you announce to your colleagues. “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had health insurance?” “You bet,” they agree--at least most of them. “Well, let’s make everybody buy it. If some can’t afford it, we’ll subsidize it, somehow, and if they refuse, we’ll...
Assumptions
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Paul Hein 2014-08-11 06:31
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Our lives are, to a large extent, based upon assumptions. Many of them are obvious: the assumption that the sun will rise in the morning, or that the car will start when you turn the key. The validity of these assumptions has been shown hundreds of thousands—millions—of times. They have become less assumptions and more statements of fact. Other...
Economics for Dummies
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Paul Hein 2014-07-31 07:06
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...
Who Owes What?
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Paul Hein 2014-07-22 07:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR I recently came across some old news reports from 2009, when, in the early days of July, the media concerned itself with the really significant news: the death of Michael Jackson. However, we were also given a glimpse of other matters, admittedly less important, such as the nation’s perilous finances. What I most vividly remember was the report that...
Small Things
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Paul Hein 2014-07-08 07:14
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....
Who Am I?
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Paul Hein 2014-06-24 06:40
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR My pastor is worried about my immortal soul, and the risk of its eternal damnation. I laugh at him. Since when did virtue make the ten o’clock news? My doctor warns me about my unhealthy diet and lifestyle. I puff on a cigarette while reaching for my Martini, and offer him some of my doughnuts. My son wants some money to buy a new electronic game to...
Velvet Glove, Iron Fist
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Paul Hein 2014-06-12 23:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The term “jurisdiction” has several similar meanings. It can simply mean control. Or it can mean the power to enforce the law. The latter definition is more significant, because the organization that enforces the law is also the one that writes the law. It is correct to say, therefore, that jurisdiction can mean the power to enforce one’s...
The Chinese Water Torture, Sort Of
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Paul Hein 2014-05-27 07:19
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Years ago I gave speeches to any group that wanted to hear me, about the nature of our money and the illegality and immorality of the monetary system. I gave one such talk to a group of students at a tony private school in St. Louis, and had a pleasant meeting with the headmaster prior to my speech. I noted a plaque on his desk bearing the words: “...
The Irrelevance of Government
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Paul Hein 2014-05-13 07:17
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...
The National Non-Debt
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Paul Hein 2014-04-28 06:22
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...
The Name Game
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Paul Hein 2014-04-14 07:23
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...
A Remarkable Document
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Paul Hein 2014-04-02 07:45
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...
What's Mine Is Yours--If You Say So
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Paul Hein 2014-03-17 23:00
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...
Home of the Slave, Land of the Fee
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Paul Hein 2014-03-06 08:10
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...
A Minor Office
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Paul Hein 2014-02-19 08:08
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The advertisement headline read: “President increases amount seniors can get from reverse mortgages.” Imagine the astonishment that the Founding Fathers would experience if they could read that! “What in the world does the president have to do with mortgages, whether forward, reverse, or sideways?” They would be flabbergasted to hear...
The Rules
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Paul Hein 2014-02-06 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR It’s a familiar aphorism: You’ve got to play by the rules. There’s no picking up the puck and running with it; no using a tennis racket in handball. Golfers are not to use baseball bats. And there are penalties for violations. It’s not only sports, of course. If you’re a Rotarian, you’re expected to observe the by-laws of...
Representative Government
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Paul Hein 2014-01-24 08:02
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR There are six million people living in the section of North America designated “Missouri.” They know that because they’ve been told they live in Missouri, not because they’ve seen lines on the ground saying, for example, Missouri on this side, and Oklahoma on the other. People are encouraged to think of the portion of the earth they...
Just Say No!
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Paul Hein 2010-10-19 02:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR   It is interesting to read what St. Augustine had to say about what we now call government: A gang is a group of men under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. If this villainy wins so many recruits from the ranks of the demoralized that it acquires...
Shadow Boxing
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Paul Hein 2012-04-16 23:00
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...
A Heartening Discovery
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Paul Hein 2012-07-05 23:00
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...
Public vs. Private
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Paul Hein 2010-07-19 02:00
By Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR     The two terms have always confused me. In general, public means the people considered as a whole, the populace, the citizenry, etc. Private, on the other hand, refers to particular individuals. So public ownership means ownership by everyone, which is a bewildering concept, to say the least. Private ownership, on the other hand, is...
Laughing Terrorists
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Paul Hein 2010-12-15 03:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   Do terrorists have a sense of humor? If not, perhaps that’s what makes them so terrible. But if they do, how they must be laughing!   Their use of box-cutters on 9/11 resulted in heightened security for anything sharp--even such things as nail clippers and nail files. Not surprising, of course, although slightly ridiculous. It did...
Some Christmas Reflections for Our Rulers
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Paul Hein 2010-12-23 03:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   Dear Missouri Legislators, Administrators, Adjudicators, and various other employees:   Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! At this time of year, one’s thoughts turn toward giving, and it occurs to me that I have been remiss in expressing to you, my rulers, my appreciation of what you have given me, over these many years of my long...
Rights--and Wrongs
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Paul Hein 2011-01-10 03:00
Column by Paul Hein.  Exclusive to STR  In a letter written in 1816 to Francis Gilmer, Thomas Jefferson set forth his idea of a proper government:   Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights . . . and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit...
Ah, Sweet Mystery of...Taxation
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Paul Hein 2011-01-24 03:00
Column by Paul Hein.   Exclusive to STR   Does anyone really understand taxation? For that matter, does anyone really understand anything?   Well, of course, there are many people who understand--really know the truth about--many things. Still, it seems that, regarding taxes, there is a degree of ignorance that surpasses that of the general level of ignorance!   If, for...
Lemmings and Pied Pipers
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Paul Hein 2011-11-16 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR Suppose, for a minute, that several of your neighbors came to your door and presented you with a paper on which they had written, in quite formal language, their intent to build a playground for neighborhood children, and that this enterprise was to be funded by a “contribution” from you, among others. “No thanks,” you tell them....
Stupidity Reigns
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Paul Hein 2012-01-10 00:00
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...
A Modest Proposal
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Paul Hein 2012-02-23 00:00
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...
The Free Lunch
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Paul Hein 2012-03-20 23:00
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...
The Armored Cars
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Paul Hein 2012-05-20 23:00
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...
Robbing Peter to Pay Pablo
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Paul Hein 2012-06-24 23:00
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....
Trade Deficit: Hooray!
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Paul Hein 2012-07-30 23:00
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...
Muddy Waters
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Paul Hein 2012-08-13 23:00
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....
Swap, Don't Pay
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Paul Hein 2012-11-12 00:00
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...
Here and There: Everywhere
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Paul Hein 2012-11-19 07:20
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,...
A Desirable Quality--in Sheep
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Paul Hein 2012-11-27 08:16
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...
All Men Are Equal, BUT!!
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Paul Hein 2012-12-07 05:52
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The animals had overthrown their human masters, and taken control of the farm. Nirvana! The pigs--intelligent, natural leaders, proclaimed “All animals are equal.” What a noble concept! How believable--especially by those who wanted to believe it. Eventually, however, the natural leadership qualities of the pigs led them to proclaim that “...
Titles of Nobility
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Paul Hein 2013-02-06 07:48
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR A question frequently asked, and one which has often troubled me, goes like this: the state is corrupt, rights are ignored or denied; justice cannot be found. But what can I do about it? As I’ve said before, the state will collapse of its own weight eventually, so, in that sense, we need do nothing. The likelihood, however, is that another state,...
Where?
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Paul Hein 2013-12-27 08:10
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR I haven’t taken a poll, but if I did, I’m certain I’d find that most Americans would claim that they were free. Many would claim that they were living in the “freest” country in the world. To some extent, they’d be right. For example: I can take a walk after lunch, or a nap, if I prefer. I can go shopping when I please,...
Statuses: Who Assigns Them?
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Paul Hein 2014-01-14 08:25
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR We all acquire numerous statuses as we move through life. Some of them are natural, like the status of white male, or mother. They simply reflect who we are by our nature; they are built-ins, so to speak. Others are the result of choices. I may acquire the status of pilot, for example, or Kiwanian. These statuses are chosen, and can be abandoned, renounced,...
The Rules
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Paul Hein 2014-02-06 00:00
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR It’s a familiar aphorism: You’ve got to play by the rules. There’s no picking up the puck and running with it; no using a tennis racket in handball. Golfers are not to use baseball bats. And there are penalties for violations. It’s not only sports, of course. If you’re a Rotarian, you’re expected to observe the by-laws of...
A Minor Office
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Paul Hein 2014-02-19 08:08
Column by Paul Hein. Exclusive to STR The advertisement headline read: “President increases amount seniors can get from reverse mortgages.” Imagine the astonishment that the Founding Fathers would experience if they could read that! “What in the world does the president have to do with mortgages, whether forward, reverse, or sideways?” They would be flabbergasted to hear...