Slavery To Continue At Walmart

In a June 20 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck a note for liberty when it overruled Federal courts in San Francisco that had allowed all women who worked for Walmart since December 1998 to join in a single, nationwide suit seeking back pay. I say struck a note for liberty, because this was about far more than Walmart’s winning out over a bunch of high-priced litigators who represented a group of ungrateful Walmart employees.

The court ruled that the 1.5 million women at 3,400 Walmart stores in the United States had too little in common to allow a class-action lawsuit to move forward. In the court’s opinion, there was no proof that Walmart employed a general policy of “systemic discrimination.”

What makes the Supreme Court’s decision especially delightful is that the law firm of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll lost roughly $7 million in pursuing this classic deep-pockets case. It’s enough to make one fantasize about how different our court system (and our economy) would be if attorneys who lost frivolous lawsuits would be required to pay the winners’ legal fees.

But let’s get back to Walmart’s employees. Forget that Walmart is the No. 1 employer in the country, employing 1.4 million Americans in 4,424 stores. (Worldwide, Walmart employs more than 2.1 million people in 9,198 stores.) Forget that Walmart saves consumers billions of dollars each year on retail purchases. Forget that its employees, on average, earn about double the minimum wage. It doesn’t matter how much good Walmart does, the raw-meat crowd continues to call for beheadings. Bring on the Jacobins!

The word from some disgruntled employees has long been that Walmart doesn’t treat its employees “fairly” — whatever that’s supposed to mean. But, definitions aside, this is your lucky day. Because if you think Walmart is “unfair,” guess what? You don’t have to shop there.

Wow! What a novel idea: shopping with your feet. If you don’t like the fact that Walmart carries too many products made in “sweatshop” countries, shop with your feet. If you believe Walmart puts smaller retailers out of business and you’re unhappy about that, shop with your feet.

Nevertheless, to make it easy on the social-justice crowd, let’s assume there is such a thing as absolute fairness. And let’s further assume that Walmart does, indeed, treat its employees unfairly. That, of course, begs the question: What in the world can be done to protect Walmart’s paid slaves?

More good news: In a truly free society, unfair treatment of employees would never be an issue, because workers would be free to sell their services for the highest possible wages in the open market. If someone chose to work at Walmart, he would do so only because he believed, consciously or otherwise, that it afforded him the best opportunity to be adequately compensated for his skills, his experience and his efforts.

An employer doesn’t ask a job applicant to present a list of his job requirements when he submits his application. On the contrary, the employer lets the applicant know, in advance, what the company’s conditions of employment are.

If those conditions call for 15-hour workdays, minimum-wage pay and no paid sick leave, so be it. How can I say such a dastardly thing? Because an employee not only does not have to take such a job, he also has the right to quit his job at any time.

Furthermore, since an unhappy employee is free, he can apply for another job anywhere he chooses. No permission needed. On the other hand, if he chooses to stay in his present employment situation, he is making a clear statement that he believes it’s the best position he can hope to obtain at that particular time. If this were not true, he would be insane, or perhaps masochistic, to remain in his present job.

It doesn’t take a Ludwig von Mises to explain it. In a free market, everything works smoothly because both employers and employees are free to make their own choices. It’s only when government bureaucrats or labor thugs (aka labor unions) enter the picture that freedoms are violated.

All government intervention between employers and employees results in infringements on the rights of one or the other — or both. The same goes with labor unions. The actions of most labor unions are fundamentally immoral and in violation of the Constitutional rights of both employees and employers.

The so-called union shop is a violation of the natural rights of every employee who is forced to join a union against his will — even without the new card-check legislation being proposed by the National Labor Relations Board. And, worse, it is a violation of the rights of an employer to hire whomever he wants, whenever he wants, for whatever reasons are important to him.

Unfortunately, that’s not reality in today’s People’s Republic of America. After decades of artificially high wages and benefits, job-protection schemes and government-mandated safety standards, spoiled American workers demand still more.

I would make the case that an excellent investment for Walmart would be to spend mega-millions of dollars to educate its employees about the morality and efficacy of liberty and laissez-faire economics. It would be a lot less expensive than the draconian legal fees it is certain to continue incurring in the coming years.

Now that we’ve come face to face with the ugly realities of Marxism in the United States, it’s time for corporate leaders to man up and start educating their own employees, as well as the public at large, about the wonders of capitalism. History has clearly taught us what to expect if good men do nothing.

However, educating muddled minds does not begin with the worker; it begins with big business. If corporate America does not truly believe in laissez-faire capitalism, why should its workers? And if it does believe in laissez-faire capitalism, but is unwilling to suffer “mortification of the flesh” (in the words of Frank Chodorov) in presenting the truth to the public, then the case for free enterprise is lost.

In the meantime, it’s up to each of us to become proactive and not wait for corporate America to come to our rescue. Take every opportunity you can get to extol the virtues of capitalism; when you do so, you extol the virtues of freedom. It’s true that you are but one person in a sea of millions, but it is completely within your power to be part of the solution to America’s ills rather than part of the problem.

If the Supreme Court can rule in favor of liberty, anything is possible.

–Robert Ringer

Will Looters Target You?

Protecting your property — whether your home, your animals or your garden — is key, especially if there’s been a breakdown in civil order.

A reader asked: “What is the best way to misdirect potential thieves and looters from your property?”

Another reader said: “We’re in a rural setting, we’ve got chickens and, depending on the season, a garden that would make an inviting target. We’re currently in the process of hardening the house proper, but we still have sheds, a chicken coop and a workshop to keep in mind. I’d rather people just pass us by than have to fight anyone off.”

Protection is something everyone needs to consider, no matter his level of preparedness. I’ll cover the urban situation first.

Misdirecting Thieves And Looters

In short, make sure your neighbors look like better targets than you do. Criminals are creatures of opportunity and will, in general, pick the targets that offer the most potential reward in exchange for the least potential risk.

Also, look at your house as if you were a thief. Do you have a big-screen TV, a gun case or other valuables in plain view through your windows? If so, move the items so they aren’t easily visible.

If you have an alarm system, make sure you have signs advertising the fact and use your alarm. It won’t stop a truly determined home invader, but it will give you a few seconds’ advanced warning. If you don’t have an alarm, consider getting one or at least getting alarm stickers.

While you’re looking at your house through the eyes of a thief, do you see any places where you could hide — either because of bushes or because of shadows? One of the most basic things you should do is to add lighting with motion sensors on the approaches to your house. Also, consider clearing out the bushes that provide concealment or replacing them with roses or other thorny bushes.

The next thing is to look at your doors. Do they look secure? Is the bolt lock a high-end one or the $12 special from Home Depot that lock-pickers use for practice when they first start picking locks?

How about your windows? Fragile antique windows may look great architecturally, but they are also very inviting to someone who wants to break in. If replacing old windows isn’t an option, install some inexpensive alarms, back up old locks with a piece of wood or PVC cut to size to prevent someone from opening the window from the outside and apply security film.

Perhaps most important, look at your house and the other houses in your area and see which you would try to rob first. Which would be last on your list? Is your house closer to the top of the list or the bottom of the list? You may be able to get away with having valuables visible through your windows if you have Rottweilers, German shepherds, pit bulls or other guard-type dogs in the house or in the front yard.

If you find yourself in an urban-survival situation, you not only want to look like a bad target from the outside, you probably want to make sure you don’t look like a target to people who are inside your house.

You can accomplish this by separating and hiding as much of your survival provisions as possible so that, if need be, you can actually let people into your house to show them you don’t have much food or supplies worth stealing. This obviously isn’t an ideal scenario, but it is a realistic one when you’re dealing with hungry friends.

Historically, almost no urban-survival situation has been a “Mad Max”-type scenario. Instead, they are long-term, extremely fluid scenarios in which people are dying of starvation and struggling to get by in close proximity to healthy people who have jobs and food.

When most people think of survival, they think of a dramatic, instant, across-the-board breakdown in civilization in which people are eating one another within three to four days. Again, history proves this just doesn’t happen. One of the biggest reasons is because the majority of people will simply act like zombies and do nothing, unless they’re told to do something by an authority figure. They don’t know how to make decisions, they don’t know how to take initiative, and they sure as heck don’t know how to spend their time and resources in a way that improves their chances of surviving.

There’s no doubt that a complete breakdown is possible, but this melting pot of people in completely different phases of desperation living near each other is probable and requires a completely different approach.

In these in-between scenarios, you can reduce your risk of becoming a target by simply hiding the fact that you have supplies to steal.

This will be much harder to do with generators, solar panels, deep-cycle battery arrays and other large items, but the principle of hiding everything you can holds true.

Survival In The Country

If you have chickens, you might need to have a plan to move them inside your house if things get unstable. Again, your options are to hide them, increase deterrents or have a 24/7 watch.

If you need to protect a garden, there are a few options; but none of them are really easy. One would be adding a skylight to your garage or attic and switching over to a hydroponic or aeroponic garden.

Another would be surrounding your garden with weeds to disguise it.

A third strategy is to make sure you don’t plant things that will scream: “Food!” As an example, carrots blend in with green weeds because the orange is underground, but tomatoes stick out because the red is aboveground and visible from a considerable distance.

Keep in mind that it’s very difficult to grow enough food to provide all of the calories you need if you’re gardening part-time.

Considering the number of calories you’ll need and the amount of time it takes to maintain and protect the garden, combined with the potential shortage of water, fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, it’s a 50/50 bet at best whether you will get enough food to survive or just end up wasting a lot of time trying. Add in vitamin, mineral and fiber requirements, and you start to see how big of a challenge this really is.

If you already live off your own garden, this doesn’t apply. But if you don’t have a garden or if you are just a hobby gardener and expect to be able to flip a switch and start growing everything you need to survive while adjusting to civilization breaking down and doing something to earn money at the same time, you might want to rethink your plan.

A better approach may be to switch to medicinal herbs or native edible plants that are low-maintenance. Plant native vegetables that grow easily and have low water requirements. A bonus is that they blend in and don’t look like food to passers-by.

This brings up an important point. Even if you have chickens, a garden and a rural location, you still need to have a good supply of food in the event of a breakdown in civil order.

Even without having to defend against looters and thieves, chickens get sick and predators get hungry. Bugs come, hail happens and, sometimes, gardens just don’t grow the way you expect them to or that they have in seasons past.

U.S. Houses Aren’t Made To Withstand A Determined Attack

Determined, focused attackers aren’t going to mess around with your doors and windows. If they want you badly enough, they’ll launch Molotov cocktails with a water balloon launcher over your neighbors’ house and smoke you out.

If they want your stuff, all they have to do is drive a truck through one of your exterior walls and use smoke, gas grenades or a mix of household chlorine and ammonia to take care of you.

Both readers wanted to learn how to “misdirect” thieves and looters instead of how to make an impenetrable fortress. They were spot on that a better approach is to do whatever you can to stay invisible, and that’s one of the points I hit repeatedly in the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival course.

If a fight comes to your front door in a survival situation and you have to defend yourself against a lethal-force attack, you’re setting yourself up to likely spend time in jail or looking out for people who want revenge.

I’m not suggesting you let people steal from you. I’m saying you should try to do whatever you can to keep from being a target thieves think is worth hitting.

What thoughts do you have for these two scenarios? What operational security measures are you using to keep your preparations under wraps? Do you have any “wicked-smart” strategies for hiding livestock and gardens from passers-by? What’s your top survival and preparedness question that you’d like David to answer in an upcoming article? Let us know by commenting below or by contacting David directly at: http://secretsofurbansurvival.com/contact-us/

Republican Leaders Exit White House Budget Talks

On Thursday, the bipartisan budget talks led by Vice President Joe Biden were effectively sidelined when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) announced they were pulling out.

“Since early May, Vice President Biden has led meetings surrounding the debt limit. The Vice President deserves a great deal of credit for his leadership in bringing us this far. We have worked to find areas of commonality to meet the goal of identifying spending cuts commensurate with or exceeding the amount of the Obama Administration’s request for a debt limit increase,” Cantor said in a statement.

“That said, each side came into these talks with certain orders, and as it stands the Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases… Given this impasse, I will not be participating in today’s meeting and I believe it is time for the President to speak clearly and resolve the tax issue.”

Kyl echoed Cantor’s sentiments in his statement regarding the talks: “The White House and Democrats are insisting on job-killing tax hikes and new spending… President Obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes, or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. He can’t have both. But we need to hear from him.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, the two GOP leaders were representing the Republicans in the budget talks for the last six weeks, and “(m)ost participants had expected the negotiations would eventually be passed off to Mr. Obama and a higher level congressional leader, but this move may force the shift sooner than many expected.”

 

 

 

Why didn’t anyone complain about the national debt when Bush was President?

Dear Bob,

How is it NO PERSON, Senator, or Congressman said anything about the National Debt when President G. Bush kept borrowing money from China, Japan, and South Korea to finance a war that he and Dick Cheney concocted for their own financial gains through Haliburton? All of a sudden the whole country is crying about spending. Then, no one spoke of the enormous bill that was adding to the national debt without figuring how to pay for their actions.

All these expenses were authorized by the Republicans and nobody complained.

Errol

Dear Errol,

You cannot say that NO PERSON has said anything. I and many others have been warning of the dangers of the spending policies of Congress and the Federal Reserve’s money printing for 40-plus years. But you are looking the financial situation in our country through a false left-right paradigm. Obama’s spending policies and war expansion are more egregious than were Bush’s. Bush’s were more egregious than were Clinton’s. Clinton’s were more egregious than were Bush 41’s, whose were more egregious than Reagan’s, etc. The financial collapse is being orchestrated by the powers that be and right and left, Republican and Democrat are all the same. Why are Republicans complaining now but didn’t when Bush was in office? That answer should be obvious to you. It’s the same answer as the one to the question: Why did Democrats complain loudly of Bush’s spending and war policies but do not now complain about Obama’s? They are trying to keep people like you caught up in the false left-right paradigm in order to sow discord and keep themselves and their parties in power and keep you distracted from the real culprits, the Federal Reserve, U.S. monetary policy and unConstitutional laws passed by Congress.

And by the way, one person in Washington, D.C., has complained loud and long about spending and consistently voted against it: Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Best wishes,
Bob

Mexican Troops Cross U.S. Border

Mexican troops in three trucks crossed the U.S. border on Thursday in what is a violation of international law.

The incursion, which occurred at International Bridge Two at Laredo, Texas, was reported by KGNS-TV. A photo on the station’s website shows gun-wielding soldiers riding in the back of three military pickups.

“Mexican leaders say the soldiers, who had just been deployed to Neuevo Laredo, didn’t know the area, got lost and then made their way through Bridge Two,” according to the television report.

In a separate story, KGNS-TV reported that several hundred Mexican soldiers and marines were in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in an effort to combat drug cartels and the city is under martial law.

“More troops are expected to move into the city to beef up security, and it’s not just in Nuevo Laredo but the whole state of Tamaulipas,” the television station reported. “Last week demonstrators took to the bridges to protest the military presence. Many claim those holding signs and chanting ‘no more military’ were paid as much as $100 a day by the cartel members to protest at the bridges.

“Drug cartels don’t want that information out; therefore, the Mexican media is not reporting it.”

 

The Robber Barons

Ben Bernanke is stumped.

That’s what the Federal Reserve chairman told The Associated Press last week. The AP report said:

“Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told reporters Wednesday that the central bank had been caught off guard by recent signs of deterioration in the economy. And he said the troubles could continue into next year.

‘We don’t have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting,’ Bernanke said. He said the weak housing market and problems in the banking system might be ‘more persistent than we thought.'”

I thought he was the smartest guy in the room. But eight weeks ago, he was singing a different tune. He said then that the job market was gradually improving.

Since then, unemployment has gone up. It was at 9.1 percent in May. New jobless claims hit a seasonally adjusted 429,000 for the week of June 13. (It’s topped 400,000 for 11 straight weeks.) And the Fed has revised its forecast for economic growth this year down to a range of 2.7 percent to 2.9 percent from its April estimate of 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent.

The economy grew only 1.8 percent in the first three months of 2011. That, of course, is not what the Fed expected. Back in January, Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, told The Hill newspaper that the economy “could expand by 4 percent and interest rates may need to go up.”

Does anyone see a pattern here? Isn’t it time for Bernanke and company to admit they haven’t a clue?

Trillions of dollars of spending money created out of thin air in the form of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), bailouts, loans to banksters — both foreign and domestic — and stimulus haven’t changed the economic situation. Throwing more fiat money at the problem has made it worse.

Who knew? Lots of people, but none of them subscribe to the same Keynesian philosophy that Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the economic advisers to the Presidents — Barack Obama and those before him — subscribe to.

Some of us saw this coming long ago. In February 2008, I wrote in my monthly newsletter, The Bob Livingston Letter™:

“The focus of the Federal Reserve is on preventing the collapse of the financial balloon.

“There is no free market solution to the credit collapse. More likely we are witnessing a de facto nationalization of the banking system in which massive profits flow to the private sector while big losses accrue to the public, as always.

“The banking system is insolvent or on the verge of insolvency. The Fed will be voicing repeated concerns about inflation while sacrificing the savers of the world to salvage the banking system.

“We will float on paper money. Buy gold and silver!

“Up to now, gold has served mainly as a bet against the dollar and U.S. policy failures, but just ahead, gold will be a strong bet against all fiat globalism. Gold is a tremendous alternative to political foolishness. We sit in the middle of a spectacular finale in the next two to three years.

“In 2008, I expect silver to glitter maybe at an all time nominal high.

“The planners are managing a silent and invisible reduction in the American living standard.

“Be forewarned!”

In the March 2008 Letter I wrote:

“When central banks expand the money supply, it gives rise to the consumption of goods of every description, which is not preceded by production (and savings). It leads silently to less means of sustenance. As long as the pool of funding continues to expand, loose monetary policies give the impression that economic activity is being boosted. It is a great illusion to all but the sober.

“In reality, economic activity is not boosted and to some it becomes apparent. Once this happens, the economy begins its downward plunge. Then the most aggressive expansion of the money supply will not reverse the plunge.

“This foretells that the end of the financial system is near. At that point you will need your precious metals to survive.

“Some things will rise big in price, like food, fuel and commodities. While homes will go down for some time, bailouts and foreclosures will last for years. Precious metals will keep going up!

“Under cover of this financial crisis, I expect a vast nationwide expenditure for infrastructure like highways and bridges. This is badly needed in the U.S. now.”

In the January 2009 Letter I wrote:

“Paper money expands consumption way beyond income. This eventually guarantees debt collapse and social breakdown. The foundation of the household collapses and the middle class is destroyed. Paper money is an illusion and illusory because it is non-substance and can be created by the government to infinity. When the people accept numbers on green strips of paper or computer symbols for money, they accept illusion for reality.”

In the May 2009 Letter I wrote:

“Bubbles and bailouts are not paid for with gold and silver. They are paid for with printing press money, which dilutes your savings and retirement funds. So who are the heroes of bubbles and bailouts? The short answer is, the money creators. They are presiding over and benefiting from the greatest transfer of wealth in history, with the almost certain guarantee that they will never be found out because they are operating above the threshold of perceived reality.

“We should, of course, know that every new dollar that the money creators create dilutes every dollar already created. They are using non-substance, fiat, that costs them nothing and exchanging it for substance in the form of capital assets. This is a transfer of wealth by definition. This depreciating fiat is impoverishing all who hold dollar assets.”

This article was reprinted in January 2010 here, if you’d like to read it in its entirety.

I point these out not to toot my horn or present myself as a sage, but to show that some of us understand what is going on. I’m not alone.

In his 2007 book, Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse, Peter D. Schiff wrote, “The real estate bubble, easily the worst speculative episode in American history, has been artificially propping up the entire national economy. The unwinding will cause havoc reaching well beyond the stakeholders directly involved.”

In an article for the Ludwig von Mises Institute titled The Rescue Package Will Delay Recovery, adjunct scholar Frank Shostak wrote:

“(T)he rescue package cannot prevent so-called economic disruptions. If anything, government intervention would make these disruptions much worse. Again, a better alternative is to let the market do the job. The market’s ability to make swift adjustments without much drama was vividly illustrated only a few weeks ago when the very large investment bank, Lehman Brothers, was allowed to go belly up. The world did not come to an end. Instead, this was a healthy development. A money loser was eliminated from the market. This freed up resources to promote growth.”

The only statesman left in Washington, D.C., Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), has been preaching a similar message to deaf ears for many years. For that, the mainstream media and elite “economists” have labeled him a crackpot and worked overtime to marginalize him, even as his warnings have proven true.

To the Obama haters, the blame is not his alone. The problems began long before Obama entered the scene. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan had a lot to do with it. Bernanke has perpetuated it. President George W. Bush set much in motion. Obama doubled down. But the roots are much deeper, reaching to 1913 and perpetuated through the years.

What they’ve done is set in motion the collapse.

Bernanke and his advisers, Obama and his advisers, Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and their advisers are all cut from the same cloth. Is it any wonder that those who advocated the policies that brought us where we are say they don’t know what to do to fix it? To change course would be to admit their past lies.

Reality is far different. They know what to do but they’re saying what they need to say for public consumption. Meanwhile, the robber barons continue their work.

NASA Climate-Change Scientist Accused Of Ethics/Financial Disclosure Violations

A NASA climate-change scientist has been accused of privately profiting from his taxpayer-funded position.

James Hanson, the scientist in question, once claimed the Administration of President George W. Bush tried to “silence” his global warming claims, according to FoxNews.com.

“In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., a group claims NASA is withholding documents that show James Hansen failed to comply with ethics rules and financial disclosures regarding substantial compensation he earned outside his $180,000 taxpayer-paid position as director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies,” the news outlet reported.

“Hansen’s office appears to be somewhat of a rogue operation. It’s clearly a taxpayer-funded global warming advocacy organization,” Chris Horner, a co-founder of The American Tradition Institute, which filed the lawsuit, told Fox News.

Hansen reportedly received more than $1.2 million in gifts, speaking fees, prizes and consulting fees from environmental organizations whose agendas he advocated. “Federal rules prohibit government employees from receiving certain types of income outside their job. Employees are required to file Form 17-60 in writing before any outside activity. And annually, they’re required to submit Form SF 278, after receiving outside compensation,” the article read.

The American Tradition Institute maintains that NASA has never produced these documents, despite repeated requests.

“Should the taxpayer know what’s going on? Should, as FOIA (the Freedom of Information Act) intends, NASA disclose documents to shed light on its operations and its compliance within the law? We say yes. The law says yes. NASA says no,” Horner told the news outlet.

Weiner Roast

● So Weiner is worse than Assad? I was glad to see that Barack Obama finally weighed in on the fate of Anthony Weiner. His exact words in his interview with NBC’s Today were: “I can tell you that it if was me, I would resign.” Dear, dear, did no one teach the one-time professor to say “if it were me?” Anyway, it’s worth noting that our President has never taken such a strong stand against Syria’s murderous dictator, Bashar Assad. Apparently, sexting teenagers is worse than murdering innocent civilians.

● Hey, U.N., where did they go? Thanks to the Alert Reader who asked me to check out a grim warning from a U.N. agency that has been shoved down the memory hole. In 2005, the U.N. Environmental Programme warned that by 2010, there would be “fifty million climate refugees” fleeing man-caused disasters across the globe. When a reporter asked the U.N. agency about that dire prediction, the U.N. bureaucrats acted as you might expect from those hypocrites: They deleted the article and accompanying map from their website. No apologies for getting it wrong, of course.

● Granted, John Edwards is a scumbag. But is he a criminal? I have no sympathy for the pretty-boy politico and multimillionaire trial lawyer. After all, he cheated on his wife while she was dying of cancer, tried to pay an aide to claim he was the father of Edwards’ illegitimate child and spent a small fortune from his campaign funds trying to cover up his misdeeds. As someone else observed, he’s guilty of behavior that would make Representative Anthony Weiner blush. But is he a crook? Would someone please tell me what Federal statute the poor slob broke?

● Those dastardly French did what with their wine? In 2010, a French court found 12 businessmen guilty of lying about the quality of wine they were exporting to the United States. It seems 18 million bottles of inferior-grade plonk were marketed as top-quality pinot noir. The culprits received suspended sentences and fines of 3,000 to 18,000 euros for a crime that allegedly netted them millions of euros. To teach them a lesson, a wine-loving friend of mine suggests switching to Argentine malbec or Australian shiraz. I already have.

–Chip Wood