Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Quintessence of Utopianism

If socialism is a social necessity, then it would be human nature and not socialism which would have to readjust itself, if ever the two clashed.

Karl Kautsky

One wonders how it can be a social necessity if it is against nature, since a social necessity is exactly what is necessary to comply with the requirements of nature.

Mark Steyn: When Responsibility Doesn't Pay

Do yourself a favor and read one of the best pieces by Mark Steyn I have read in a while, When Responsibility Doesn't Pay:

While Barack Obama was making his latest pitch for a brand-new, even-more-unsustainable entitlement at the health-care “summit,” thousands of Greeks took to the streets to riot. An enterprising cable network might have shown the two scenes on a continuous split-screen — because they’re part of the same story.

It’s just that Greece is a little further along in the plot: They’re at the point where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls. America is farther upstream and can still pull for shore, but has decided instead that what it needs to do is catch up with the Greek canoe. Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter Twenty (total societal collapse): The Greeks are at Chapter Seventeen or Eighteen.

What’s happening in the developed world today isn’t so very hard to understand: The 20th-century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless, insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany, and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social-democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. [...]

So you can’t borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don’t have one. [...]

[Greece's] socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people’s response is: Nuts to that. Public-sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months’ work: For many of them, the work day ends at 2:30 p.m. And, when they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?

We hard-hearted small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the Greek protests make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than the socially equitable communitarianism of big government: Once a chap’s enjoying the fruits of government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, and all the rest, he couldn’t give a hoot about the general societal interest; he’s got his, and to hell with everyone else. People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense. [...]

Welfare always breeds contempt, in nations as much as inner-city housing projects: How dare you tell us how to live! Just give us your money and push off. [...]

Think of Greece as California: Every year an irresponsible and corrupt bureaucracy awards itself higher pay and better benefits paid for by an ever-shrinking wealth-generating class. And think of Germany as one of the less profligate, still-just-about-functioning corners of America such as my own state of New Hampshire: Responsibility doesn’t pay. You’ll wind up bailing out anyway. The problem is there are never enough of “the rich” to fund the entitlement state, because in the end it disincentivizes everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the basic survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. In Greece, they’ve run out Greeks, so they’ll stick it to the Germans, like French farmers do. In Germany, the Germans have only been able to afford to subsidize French farming because they stick their defense tab to the Americans. And in America, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are saying we need to paddle faster to catch up with the Greeks and Germans. What could go wrong?

Read the full article.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rome: Fundamental Justice Brought to Reality

Ancient Eastern kingdoms were headed by despots (i.e. one person held absolute power), while Greek and Phoenician poleis were either absolute democracies or absolute oligarchies - i.e. either the majority or the minority wielded virtually unlimited power. Moreover, they generally failed to create federations in the true sense of the word - their alliances were usually dominated by the hegemon city in a tyrannical way and were inherently unstable (the Athenian, Spartan and Carthaginian empires). Meanwhile, Hellenistic kingdoms were a mixture of despotism and poleis.

Rome was the first polis founded on a stable foundation - the rule of law. Neither one person nor a minority nor a majority ruled. It was a constitutional republic with checks and balances. Moreover, it was the first successful federation - Rome's allies did not suffer oppression similar to previous city-state alliances. As you can guess, Rome served as a major inspiration for the United States - a federal constitutional republic. Law had existed since the beginning of civilization but only in Rome it acquired its modern sense - not primitive irrational custom but impartial justice based on reason. It is this factor that made Roman rule attractive for the entire Mediterranean and caused Rome's military triumphs - to the unpredictable whims of despotism and majority rule the empire's subjects preferred the secure aegis of Roman law. The inertia of Roman law kept the wheels turning even for some time after the constitutional system collapsed in the imperial period, when the principle of princeps legibus solutus est (the sovereign is not bound by the laws) came to the fore (though the position of emperors was very precarious and the ultimate check on their power was the tyrannicide's sword). 

Rome was not a liberal constitutional republic (unlike the U.S.) - because liberalism did not exist yet and numerous atrocities were inevitable - but it was the highest political achievement up to that time. To a certain extent, it was the first government of laws, and not of men - the Aristotelian ideal brought to reality. It was a precursor to the republic of the Founding Fathers. 

It is for this ideal of fundamental justice - not for persecution - that the early Christians hated Rome and considered it the new Babylon. The this-worldly success of the Roman way of life was a refutation of Christian other-wordly escapism - just like the success of America is a refutation of Islamist self-denial and self-flaggelation and is therefore hated by jihadists today.

Interesting insights on the nature of the Roman government can be found in the God of the Machine by Isabel Paterson.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Poll: People May Be Catching On...

From the Communist News Network:

A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans. [Continued]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Best Obama One-liners

"Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, I am an ardent believer in the free market."

"I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system."

"Like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning."

"What do you think a stimulus is? It's spending - that's the whole point! Seriously. "

“Now, if you hear some of the critics, they'll say, well, the Recovery Act, I don't know if that's really worked, because we still have high unemployment. But what they fail to understand is that every economist, from the left and the right, has said, because of the Recovery Act, what we've started to see is at least a couple of million jobs that have either been created or would have been lost. The problem is, 7 million jobs were lost during the course of this recession.”

"I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95 percent of all working families, because, in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class."

"I can make a firm pledge, under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes. "

"You will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime."

"We need earmark reform, and when I'm President, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely."

"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig."

Spreading Da Wealth
"I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody."

"I don't take a dime of their [lobbyist] money, and when I am president, they won't find a job in my White House."

"I hope I said 100,000 people the first time instead of 100 million. I understand I said there were 57 states today. It's a sign that my numeracy is getting a little, uh." (At that point, an aide cut him off and ushered journalists out.)

“I bowled a 129….it was like Special Olympics, or something.”

"A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, 'Huh. It works. It makes sense.'"

"The thing about hip-hop today is it's smart, it's insightful. The way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable. "

"I did. It's not something that I'm proud of. It was a mistake as a young man, but you know? I mean not going to -- I never understood that line. The point was to inhale. That was the point."

"Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack [heroin] though."

"I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war."

"We're not going to baby sit a civil war. "

"America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. "

"I've been fighting with Acorn, alongside Acorn, on issues you care about, my entire career."

Child Rearing
"I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. "

"In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world."

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That's not leadership. That's not going to happen."

The Hoi Polloi
"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. "

"My administration is the only thing between you [CEO's] and the pitchforks. "

Typical White People
"The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn't. But she is a typical white person who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away, and that sometimes comes out in the wrong way, and that's just the nature of race in our society."

Red State, Blue State
"We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. "

"My first job is to say thank you to those who voted me. Those who didn't, I'm going to get your vote next time."

The DINO Strategy

For years statists have masqueraded as fiscal conservatives, "moderate" Republicans, independents, "blue dog" Democrats, and even conservatives. Many have infiltrated the Republican party under the false pretense that they take their Constitutional oath seriously and that they are a "conservative" in one American sense or another. We call this latter group RINOs or Republicans in Name Only.  Well, with the Republican name tarnished in some areas of this country, and the mainstream media acting as cheerleaders for the Democrats, there is a strategy worth considering for some folks out there. You can become a Democrat in Name only, or "DINO."

Progressives have infiltrated both parties and have subverted them with more or less success, the Democrats being the more, and the Republicans being the less. They have used Trotskyist "fusion" tactics whereas they lobby for a specific cause, and have dozens of radical groups waiting in the wings to latch onto it and blow the issue up into a leftist cause celebre that garners them money, influence, and power.  Environmentalist groups are a case and point, but there are others, such as unions, and humanitarian organizations. These clientelistic groups ultimately steer the Democrat Party, and both parties to some extent, leftward and include: The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, SEIU, George Soros' Open Society Institute, ACORN,, DailyKos, Code Pink, La Raza, and many more.

Another tactic of the statist is to "wedge" an issue into the purview of government with a modest program whose goals everyone can agree on, and then turn it into a cash cow of funding and influence. The idea is to get both parties to "compromise" on the stated end of a program, and then blow it up. SCHIP is a great example. It was created for uninsured and underinsured children, obviously something the Republicans would not dare turn down, and the program was passed. The left, Cloward-Piven style, then expanded the program up to cover children in some states whose parents make $100,000 a year or more! Bi-partisanship and compromise comes with a heavy price. It is time to flip the game on the lying progressives, tell them what they want to hear, and then betray them by actually showing some integrity in office.  That is where the DINO strategy comes in.

There are plenty of Democrat-leaning districts across the United States where there are literally no challengers to the Democrat incumbent. These districts are heavy Democrat, but there are wedge issues arising, such as unemployment, which can be used against the Democrat in power. The famous refrain of the mainstream media is that there is heavy "anti-incumbent" sentiment, as if people don't know that the Democrats are the ones in power. The point is that there are radical districts where the Democrat brand is indeed the only one in town, and one cannot run and win as a Republican. In other words, the mainstream media is the public relations firm for the Democrat party and the association of Democrat with "compassion" and Republicans with "greedy" is so ingrained in people's minds that many have a reflexive compulsion against ever voting Republican. So what am I driving at?

The idea is that if there is a conservative out there in a heavy Democrat district who feels that he or she could never win as a Republican, go rogue and become a DINO - a Democrat in Name Only.

We conservatives tend to be men and women of integrity who could never bring ourselves to become like the left - lying, scheming politicians who misrepresent who they are just to get elected. But look around, the progressives have waged a war against the American people for years effectively advocating unconstitutional government. The contract that undergirds the government-civil society relationship is the Constitution. What conservatives can do is register Democrat and run for office promising all sorts of big government entitlement programs, rail against corporations, and upon taking the oath of office have a "crisis of conscience" and actually take the pledge to uphold the Constitution of the United States to heart.

In all seriousness, the statists are showing their truly ugly colors now, between folks like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain dragging the Republicans down the statist-progressive path from the right, and open progressives, socialists, and other assorted radicals in the Democrat party like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama yanking America off a cliff from the left, we American people need to intervene to protect ourselves from the impending disaster. If that means telling Democrats what they want to hear and then denying their requests for legalized robbery, so be it.

The bottom line is that the statists, the progressives, and the socialists are treating American politics as a war. As Sun-Tzu pointed out, "All war is deception." We liberty-loving Americans need to take the gloves off and realize there are two kinds of honor in politics; there is the honor that comes from being an honest slave of the state, and there is the honor that comes from saving one's countrymen from tyranny. I am only slightly facetiously putting the DINO strategy out there so people will think of more creative ways to go on the offensive against the statists and beat them at their own game.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Why Democracy Sucks: A Textbook Example

It is worth mentioning that Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the author of the first welfare state in history, and German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle concluded a secret alliance against classical liberals. Both Bismarck and Lassalle supported universal suffrage, while classical liberals supported property qualifications. Thus, German socialists and reactionaries achieved their goal of destroying liberty by promoting democracy. They utterly defeated pro-capitalist forces by appealing to ignorant masses. 

A Libertarian Revolution?

Ron Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

And the winner is … Ron Paul.

Mr. Paul, a Republican Congressman from Texas who inspired an intense following for president in 2008, swept the 2012 presidential straw poll Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The backlash against Obama's statism has reached its apogee. I'd like this to be a libertarian revolution but I seriously doubt that. 

Socialized Healthcare Fallacies

The Democrats are back at it again with a kamikaze-mission to bring socialized healthcare to the American people, stealing the model of medicine from the likes of Russia, Cuba, Canada, and Great Britain. Am I being tendentious and overly simplistic lumping in the healthcare system of those states with the one proposed by the Democrats? No, because the same failed Marxist philosophy underwrites them all.

Marxists argue that profit is the great sin of capitalism because it is the exploitation of labor, following the debunked labor theory of value. This theory basically means that the value of all commodities, including commodified "labor," is derived from labor. Therefore, if one hires out labor to perform a service or manufacture a good, and one turns a profit, then one is inescapably exploiting one's fellow man.

Marx's theory is a tendentious one - it overlooks the investment of time, labor, and risk of the person or group that provides the means of production. Additionally, it is impossible to derive all value from labor. Marx ignores that value is based on individual preferences that cannot be explained by his method of dialectical materialism (the value of those commodities whose "utility" is largely based on aesthetics, such as diamonds, for example).

Furthermore, Marxists propose to end the system of exploitation by eliminating capital and private property. Now how does this relate to healthcare? Because:

1. Supporters of socialized medicine misperceive that doctors who profit in the healthcare industry exploit those less fortunate. But what of the time, labor, and resources the doctor needed to invest in order to properly care for the patient? If a doctor trades his time to care for a patient "at cost," in other words if his labor is traded directly at the same rate as the patient he is providing for, then what of the time and effort the doctor invested preparing to treat the patient, who is, let's say, a burger flipper? Is the dismissal of the doctor's time, talents, and expertise "fair"? It is not an accident that socialist systems tend towards mediocrity, and a very low quality mediocrity at that. Socialists crush the incentive for people to invest time and effort in themselves.

2. What of reinvestment in new medicines, treatments, and medical equipment? In a competitive environment, care providers are driven to modernize or else lose patients to the hospital next door. Governments that provide healthcare are generally insulated from such pressures, because they are a form of monopoly within their respective sovereign territories.

3. In a state-run system, the emphasis is not on improvement and modernization, but on the management of "problems." From a bureaucratic point of view, people are the problem. This is a doubly worse implication for healthcare, since people's health is directly tied to the sympathetic provision of care. When the government becomes a monopoly provider, and even worse, one with an army, inefficiency inevitably results from a lack of negative consequences for the bad behavior of bureaucrats.

4. Those who back a "healthcare reform" bill at all costs readily conflate the control of prices with the control of costs. This is true whether one advocates a "government option," a single-payer plan, or price controls. Whether or not one measures costs in money, there are still costs to any human endeavor tied to the allocation of scarce resources. A government option seeks to obfuscate these costs by burying them in a sea of government-printed or taxpayer money. The government cannot add thirty million or more to the healthcare system and lower "costs." In a single-payer plan, the government can seek to devour prices by internalizing them, but this will only create an inefficient system where the administrators fly blind.

The ultimate result of government intervention into healthcare is one of a number of things: Driving medical workers out of the field through suppressing wages; decreasing the quality or quantity of equipment, pharmaceuticals, or other resources; or implementing a totalitarian system where individuals are coerced to provide their labor or else. This last scenario cannot be laughed off, since the implementation of socialized medicine typically sets off a chain reaction of nationalizations.

Finally, price controls are simply window dressing that obscure the real costs of services or goods. The prices of goods or services not only reflect their cost in the present, but the past, due to investment; the future, through accounting for natural and human-demand caused uncertainty, which cannot be controlled by the state; as well as the need to reinvest and repair; not to mention the sustenance of the life of the individual or individuals providing the good or service.

5. Regulation as such cannot lower costs or prices, it cannot only create barriers to efficiency, because an economy is most efficient when supply is freest to meet demand. There is already legal recourse for those in a contractual relationship with an insurance company that breaks a contract, for example. Law based on contracts and individual rights is the best insurance against fraud, and a company that engages in fraud is penalized by the market over time, leading to brand deterioration and a window for competition to enter the market. Insurance companies do not need to be penalized by virtue of them being insurance companies. Bad companies are punished, and good companies are rewarded over time. The idea that corporations naturally collude is simplistic; "greedy" companies are always looking for ways to take market share from their competitors.

Given the above, what are our real-world solutions to "reform" healthcare?

1. Tort reform. Courts should not be able to exact arbitrary damages on negligent doctors by fiat. This intervention into the market and distortion of it carries a high cost. One should not be awarded lottery settlements for having the poor luck of having an incompetent doctor. A maximum award should be levied to restrict judges and trial lawyers from abusing the property rights of doctors and the companies that insure them.

2. Intrastate regulations should be lifted in order to free companies up to tailor plans to meet the needs of their clients. This will result in more choice: From bare minimum plans for low-income earners to those dreaded "cadillac" plans for those who can afford them and want more protection.

3. Interstate commerce should be regularized by opening up the market to citizens buying out-of insurance coverage. This radical idea would entail a pro-capitalist solution and the use of the Interstate Commerce Clause for what it was intended. Such an action would increase competition and lead to the lowering of prices and the improvement of care.

The Democrats' healthcare plans are pitched to the most ignorant and the most power-hungry among us. Unfortunately for the Democrats, those with insurance are happy where they are, including the upper middle class who purport to be altruists. The great majority of American people are against the socialized healthcare plan, except only those with no stake in the system, and therefore nothing to lose.

If the Democrats truly cared about the American people, they would find ways to lower costs by getting out of the way and thereby expand access within the market system that has evidently shown itself to be superior in quality to that of Russia, Cuba, Canada, and Great Britain. Those who believe that America is exempt from the laws of economics can scoff at the suggestion that the market can provide superior quality at a lower cost than the government can. They are simply following the primrose path to ruining one of the greatest healthcare systems the world.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Inside Obama's Secret Economic Council

Unified in Freedom

The ideological and political war between the tea party movement and statist elites comes down to a dispute over the concept of freedom. While the great majority of Americans cherish freedom according to their own values and ideals, elites dismiss the idea out of hand as outdated and obsolete. The argument for emphasizing freedom in this movement is two-fold: first, it is the organizing principle this country was founded on, and the one most consistent with reality; and second, it is the main platform that holds together all the disparate groups of the "tea party" coalition.

Elites like to imagine that average Americans are narrow-minded, reflexively conditioned rubes who unquestioningly cling to the obsolete ideology of freedom. Elites' resentment of the unwashed masses is fueled by the false notion that they are relatively enlightened, and thus they arrogantly seek to unify power and decision-making of the nation in the central government. Whether elites acknowledge it or not, their call to unity in a central government necessarily implies the destruction of freedom, all competing value-systems, and by implication, the nation itself.

What elites do not understand is that freedom is not just a quaint fetish for flag-waving fanatics. Elites see freedom as an impediment to their ability to use the power of government to "do good," and are thus extremely suspicious of the concept. But freedom is an ideal-type that reflects the reality that individuals are self-interested agents whose own minds and own lives drive each person's aspirations for self-empowerment; this may be conceived of as the enlightenment sense of freedom. Self-empowerment in the healthy manifestation is nurtured by laws that protect the rights of all individuals, which is reinforced by mutual respect of individuals as ends in and of themselves in a civil society. But this is not sufficient. People must be allowed to succeed or fail according to their own talents and merits in order for them to develop the ability to respond appropriately to the natural constraints of reality.

Reality in the world is a non-linear, complex system comprised of infinite interdependent variables, most of them uncontrollable by the means of mankind as isolated variables, let alone within the context of a complex reactive system. These variables are dispersed across a three-dimensional physical sphere, and most importantly, reality retains the property of the "fourth dimension" of time, that is, the change in the relationship of physical variables. Elites who advocate centralized decision-making for a society and economy must appreciate that an inestimable amount of information is needed in real-time for a body of sentient beings to control and coordinate millions of other human beings, themselves sentient beings requiring ongoing action and reaction to meet their own particular needs in real-time within their own respective environments. The informational hurdles to success for a centralized government is daunting enough, not to mention the immense task of administering and mobilizing to action the means to carry out centralized social and economic planning in real-time. Temporally, such a model of government is guaranteed to reflect entropy; the decisions of the government become prone to reaction, which over time becomes overreaction, and this in turn fuels chaos. The big picture suggests that the vision of a prosperous, vibrant, and harmonious centrally controlled state is nothing short of a quixotic pipe-dream, and as such, the attempt to implement one leads directly to systemic destruction of a nation founded on freedom. This argument can be summed up quite nicely with the Aristotelian principle, "Unity is the destruction of the state."

A basic underlying unity in values among citizens in a polity, however, does not imply destruction, but cohesion. What unites most Americans is the love of freedom, though each ideological group and subgroup has its own interpretation of what freedom means according to its underlying value-system. We shall briefly examine each ideological group and subgroup in American politics and its healthy and destructive dispositions towards the political, economic, and social ideal-type of freedom.

Americans are generally united in their value of freedom, though the main ideological groups, including conservatives, which are comprised of the religious right, fiscal conservatives, and national security conservatives, and also modern liberals, see and appreciate freedom quite differently. If we might adapt an Aristotelian analysis, each of these groups has a healthy and a destructive strain as it relates to other groups.

Religious conservatives are most rationally self-interested when they advocate freedom of conscience for all Americans. Lockean philosophy rightly predicted that freedom would lead to a healthy and vibrant religious life in a society. The destructive strain of the religious right condones violations of individual rights and free will in the interest of enforcing God's law on earth. Some religious zealots may seek to use the state to advance religious causes, or to combat progressives. By doing this, they change the political rules to those based on freedom to those where "the victor takes the spoils." It is quite evident that democracy, which is a "victor takes the spoils" political model, in the absence of individual rights, is not conducive to freedom; in a free country one group cannot deprive another group of rights simply by virtue of being a majority or plurality.

Fiscal conservatives are most ideologically consistent when they unapologetically insist on private property rights and free enterprise. While there are limited mandates for a legitimate government to provide security and to administer a just rule of law based on freedom of the individual, there are no such mandates for the government to seize property "for the common good." The general welfare of the United States is to enforce those principles the nation was founded on, including, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By extension, drawing on the Lockean philosophy that informed the founding, this includes the right to private property. Fiscal conservatives err when they compromise on principles in the interest of pragmatism, expediency, or the false appearance of compassion.

National security conservatives advance the country's interests best when they advocate freedom from foreign entanglements, the primacy of self-defense, and the retention of liberty without trade-off for the fleeting illusion of security. National security conservatives are gravely mistaken when they support police state measures, which ironically threaten Americans more than any terrorist group, or the remote chance of invasion against us, a nuclear-armed power. In addition, the premise of protecting trade and assets abroad does not justify policing the world or nation-building friendly states. It is also flawed to argue that the United States can "force states to be free," as neoconservatives believe. The ideal-type of freedom at the national level rightly extends to our foreign policy, as well as to the most just and harmonious organization of international relations.

Modern liberalism used to have the benefit of being an ideology that promoted social freedom. In the course of ideological perversion by socialism and progressivism, however, it turned into a radically aggressive call to re-engineer America. The cause of freedom for each American morphed into freedom for particular groups, an absurd idea on the face of it, with the arbitrary cordoning off of such groups from assimilation into a capitalist America based on individual rights. The left accomplished this crucial conceit by engaging in divide and conquer politics under the guise of promoting diversity, multiculturalism, and moral and cultural relativism. The national unity of the value of individual freedom is thus thwarted by socialists and progressives, who violate the freedom of others by using the state to attack and undermine the value systems of rival ideological groups.

The left's call for "democracy" and centralized power in a national government is largely consistent with leftists' view of politics as group warfare. Unfortunately for the left, they are outnumbered by conservatives of all stripes, and are especially outnumbered when one adds libertarians and modern liberals (sometimes self-described as "moderates" and "independents") who have a correct appreciation for social freedom. Though for decades the uniting value-system of freedom overrode any move for collective action by conservatives, due largely to a "live and let live" attitude, the relentless assault on freedom by progressives and socialists within what was thought to be "liberal" ranks has provoked many Americans to take action to protect the Republic.

While progressives, socialists, and radicals thought that they could usher in the demise of freedom through massive systematic brainwashing in education and the media, they did not have the monopoly of information needed to either prevent the spontaneous self-organization of freedom-loving Americans, nor to prevent them from learning of the disastrous results of the statists' fundamentally misguided policies. The irony for the elites of the American hard left is that they will be defeated by the very model of democracy that they have hypocritically endorsed. Whether the grass-roots tea party movement to preserve and defend freedom eventually defeats itself by transforming into an aggressive, freedom-destroying form will be contingent upon its understanding and respect for the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. If the currently active tea party movement maintains a healthy respect for individual freedom at all times, it will be spared an ultimately self-destructive transformation into what it intends to defeat; this would entail a fracturing into rival subgroups who have their own unique views of freedom.

The Eminent Absurdity of Eminent Domain

When Emperor Napoleon was building a palace for his son, the king of Rome, one of the landowners asked a very high price for his home, which was expected to be demolished to make room for the palace. Napoleon's advisors suggested using the government's eminent domain powers to seize the property. The emperor said: "Leave it where it is - as a monument to my respect for private property."
Check this out, dictator Napoleon respected private property and modern "democracies" do not. The landmark Kelo ruling has now brought the absurd logic of eminent domain to its ultimate conclusion. Witness the results of government's promotion of the "public good":

As of September 2009, the original Kelo property is now a vacant lot, generating no tax revenue for the city.[14] (…) Two years after the Supreme Court decision nothing is happening on the ground and it appears doubtful whether the city's redevelopment project will proceed. In September 2009, the land where Susette Kelo's home had once stood was an empty lot, and the promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues had not materialized.[14] In November 2009, Pfizer announced it would close its New London research facility.[16] After the Pfizer announcement, the San Francisco Chronicle in its lead editorial called the Kelo decision infamous: "The well-laid plans of redevelopers, however, did not pan out. The land where Suzette Kelo's little pink house once stood remains undeveloped. The proposed hotel-retail-condo "urban village" has not been built. And earlier this month, Pfizer Inc. announced that it is closing the $350 million research center in New London that was the anchor for the New London redevelopment plan, and will be relocating some 1,500 jobs."

But some clouds do have a silver lining:

A group of New London residents formed a local political party, One New London, to combat the takings. While unsuccessful in gaining control of the New London City Council, they gained two seats and continue to try to gain a majority in the New London City Council to rectify the Ft. Trumbull takings. In June 2006 Governor M. Jodi Rell intervened with New London city officials, proposing the homeowners involved in the suit be deeded property in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood so they may retain their homes.

The Kelo decision increased public awareness of eminent domain abuse. Many states have now passed constitutional and statutory restrictions on eminent domain. However, what many fail to understand is that the problem is not "abuse" of eminent domain but eminent domain itself. Once you place the vague and absurd notion of "public good" above private property, abuse is inevitable. Using the pretext of the allegedly beneficial effects of infrastructure construction, eminent domain destroys the most beneficial institution of them all - private property.
The Fifth Amendment currently reads:

Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But it should read:

Nor shall private property be taken for public use. Period.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Political Liberty vs Individual Liberty

Benjamin Constant contrasts what the ancient Greeks and Romans understood by "liberty" (libertas) and what liberty meant in the age of classical liberalism. He demonstrates that true liberty is not two wolves' freedom to vote a lamb into their jaws, as most modern politicians and so-called political scientists would have us believe. The ancients failed to understand that political liberty is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It is a safeguard for individual freedom. Without individual liberty, political liberty leads to the worst kind of despotism. By closely imitating ancient republicanism, the French revolutionaries ushered in a tyranny far more oppressive than that of Louis XVI or even his more absolutist predecessors. The Reign of Terror, in turn, paved the way for three modern atrocities that seek to partially reconstruct this ancient idea of "collective" liberty (an oxymoron and a misnomer) - democracy, nationalism and socialism.

Moreover, while ancient republicanism revolved around war as society's chief concern and source of virtue, modern liberty is based on a more rational and sound way of obtaining wealth - commerce. Modern capitalism is inherently anti-war (that is, aggressors should be punished but a free society cannot be an aggressor itself because it has much more to gain from peaceful trade than from military plunder). Below is a quote:  

Thus among the ancients the individual, almost always sovereign in public affairs, was a slave in all his private relations. As a citizen, he decided on peace and war; as a private individual, he was constrained, watched and repressed in all his movements; as a member of the collective body, he interrogated, dismissed, condemned, beggared, exiled, or sentenced to death his magistrates and superiors; as a subject of the collective body he could himself be deprived of his status, stripped of his privileges, banished, put to death, by the discretionary will of the whole to which he belonged. Among the moderns, on the contrary, the individual, independent in his private life, is, even in the freest of states, sovereign only in appearance. His sovereignty is restricted and almost always suspended. If, at fixed and rare intervals, in which he is again surrounded by precautions and obstacles, he exercises this sovereignty, it is always only to renounce it.

Fallout from Duke Lacrosse Rape Case An Indictment of Academia, Journalism, and Racial Activism

Here is a recent story I'm sure will conveniently slip under the radar of your friendly neighborhood lamestream media outlet: "Duke lacrosse accuser charged with attempted murder, arson."

The opening two paragraphs:

Durham police arrested Duke lacrosse accuser Crystal Gale Mangum, 33, late Wednesday after she allegedly assaulted her boyfriend, set his clothes on fire in a bathtub and threatened to stab him.

Authorities charged her with attempted first-degree murder, five counts of arson, assault and battery, communicating threats, three counts of misdemeanor child abuse, injury to personal property, identity theft and resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer.

She sounds like a real peach - not to give Ms. Mangum any ideas on future stripper names. Buried down in the ho-hum "nothing to see here" story are some choice quotes:

Mangum is the author of the memoir "Last Dance for Grace." She was a student at North Carolina Central University in 2006 and also worked as an exotic dancer when she performed at the now infamous Duke lacrosse party."

The infamous Duke Lacrosse party?  What is infamous is the way the media botched the reporting of story, leaping to the conclusion of guilt based solely on race.  More misleading and half-reporting:

"David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were indicted on rape and other charges on the basis of her allegations and were eventually exonerated after North Carolina's attorney general dismissed the case, citing a lack of evidence."

It is true that the prosecutor Mike Nifong eventually exonerated the youths, but only after prosecuting a case based on heresy and making several egregiously misleading statements.  Nifong, who was up for re-election, apparently took the case due to its politically explosive implications. 

In case the lamestream media doesn't recall, the Duke academic community, left-wing journalists, and professional race-baiters lept to the opportunity to condemn young white students based on the flimsy testimony of a poor black stripper - err, exotic dancer.

The Paul Harvey rest of the story doesn't look so good for you race-traders on the left now, does it?  You character assassinate innocent people according to race and move on as if nothing happened.  But don't worry, drive-bys, we are checking up on you people, and let me tell you, yall don't look good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Garden Variety Totalitarianism

Radicals, modern liberals, socialists, communists, progressives - all are plant varieties in the garden of leftist totalitarianism. Each is rooted in its own doctrines and dogmas, watered in "noble lies," and nourished in the soil of disaffection and rebellion against objective reality.

The leftist radical is inspired first and foremost by the French Revolution. Deeply dissatisfied by the status quo of any kind, he projects his existential rage onto the world at large, "the system," "the State" (just or unjust), and "the man." Jean Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot, and even the murderous Robespierre are among the heroes in the leftist radical's pantheon.

Modern liberals claim to be ideologically descended from the Enlightenment, and believe themselves to be the pinnacle of the "liberal" values of emancipation and equality. Yet the dismissal of human nature and the value of the individual that arose through "liberalism's" fusion with utilitarianism, and its secularization during the increasing influence of Darwinism, mutated the Christian-Reason utopian strain of liberalism into a call for statists to create a heaven on earth.

Socialists are often mistaken to be "soft communists" or weak-kneed believers in Marxism unwilling to implement communist ideas in practice without regard to human life. But note that modern liberals and socialists are often conflated. Socialism is a utopian collectivist idea predating Marx. Marx often used the language of socialism to describe his ideas, and many times used the term interchangably with communism. Modern liberals, because of the weak strain of humanism tenuously clinging to their ideology, are not as strident as socialists and often disagree with them amongst themselves. Socialists can best be thought of as "blooming communists."

Communism, because of its ready association with totalitarian nightmare states of the twentieth century, is disavowed by most of the left to the point where the invocation of the term is enough to provoke nervous fits of laughter in leftist circles. Communism is most easily thought of as the implementation of socialism by direct force. There are many species of communism, and we may therefore more readily think of communism as a genus of leftist ideology. One species is Marxist-Leninism, or the supposed dictatorship of the proletariat ushered in by a party of professional revolutionaries; another is Maoism, which adapts Marxist-Leninism to instrumentalize a "revolutionary class" of peasants; Trotskyism, which is simply put an elaborate theory of "permanent revolution" and associated tactics; and Stalinism, which is a term intended to suggest that it is somehow a virulent wild strain that is a radical departure from communism writ large. Along with this fallacy, that Stalinism is a departure from communism and not simply one variant of it, there is the propaganda that communism is the utopian fulfillment of socialism. On the contrary, there has never been and can never be a utopian fulfillment of socialism; therefore in doctrine and in practice, communism is the forcible implementation of socialism, with that associated blatant disregard for reality.

Progressivism is America's native version of socialism or communism.  It is communism on the slow track, which is necessary due to the vitality of American's founding.  Progressivism is a unique hybrid of labor movements; populist anti-business sentiment; the ideal of statist-pragmatic-bureaucratic micro-management of the economy and society by elites in order to achieve what they conceive of as "the common good"; and gospel utopianism. Progressivism, when harnessed to achieve the modern liberal ends, results in socialism in practice, which eventually produces communism. In its wrestling with what are thought to be the hardy "weeds" of private property and free enterprise, progressivism in the interim period to communism appears a lot like fascism, or the de facto control of the economy by the state (as opposed to communism, which seeks to eradicate private property).

Barack Obama can in this context be thought of as the "Great Gardener" of the Left. With his spade he pulls out the "weeds" of private property and free enterprise. He sprays pesticides like Race-away, PoliticalCorrectnessBeGone, and Teab*****cide in the media to create a toxic atmosphere for particularly resistant strains. And after the pesticides are allowed to soak in, he takes a riding lawnmower to the Constitution.

But as the leftists try to recreate their totalitarian version of the Garden of Eden, a return to the days when men and women could run around naked like primitive hippies; with all the herbs and seed-bearing plants like cannabis to "use"; with no work or personal responsibilities; a place with no climate; no competition; no desire for personal achievement; one with no divisions among men to cause us squabbles; essentially, a place unlike any seen on earth; they disregard reality, which inevitably comes back with a vengeance. The fatal flaw in all ideologies of the left is that the beautiful flowering societies of their imagination always wither and die in the sunlight of truth.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Keynes on Lenin

John Maynard Keynes on Vladimir Lenin's proposal on how best to destroy capitalism:

Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, Governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity (or fairness) of the existing distribution of wealth.

As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.

Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of Society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

Mark Steyn Puts the Weight of the Nation, Perhaps the Western World on the Tea Party Movement's Shoulders

Mark Steyn may have it exactly right that, barring any mass pro-liberty uprisings in Europe, the fate of Western Civilization as a fount of capitalism, freedom, and individualism may indeed be on the tea party movement's shoulders. The movement must neither be co-opted by statists or populists and must stay as broad and focused a coalition as possible. Enforcing fiscal sanity and limited Constitutional government are sufficient tasks in the short-term to occupy all citizens' attention

From NRO Online:

[...]The Washington Post ran a remarkable headline this week: “Europe Could Use Its Own Tea Party.” Underneath, David Ignatius went through the obligatory metropolitan condescension toward America’s swampdwelling knuckledraggers before acknowledging that the Continent’s problem was that there was no similar populist movement demanding fiscal sanity from the governing class.

He’s right. I’ve been saying for months that the difference between America and Europe is that, when the global economy nosedived, everywhere from Iceland to Bulgaria mobs took to the streets and besieged Parliament demanding to know why government didn’t do more for them. This is the only country in the developed world where a mass movement took to the streets to say we can do just fine if you control-freak statists would just stay the hell out of our lives, and our pockets. You can shove your non-stimulating stimulus, your jobless jobs bill, and your multi-trillion-dollar porkathons. This isn’t karaoke. These guys are singing “I’ll do it my way” for real.

But it’s awfully late in the day. The end is near, we face the final curtain, and it’s an open question whether the spirit of the tea parties can triumph over the soporific, sophomoric, self-flattering conformism of that [aforementioned "Green Police"] Audi ad: Groupthink compliance has never felt so right! [End.]

The consequences of losing America as a beacon of liberty and hope in the world would be unimaginable.  Reversing the crash course of Western Civilization requires more than lashing out at transient issues and political figures; it requires no less than a revolution of ideas along objectivist lines.

Former Marxist Prof Relates Conversation With Young "Marxist-Leninist" Barack Obama

We're All Grecians Now?

From Zero Hedge:

For Greece, with on and off balance sheet liabilities at over 800%, it's game over. For the Eurozone, with the same ratio at about 500%, it is also game over. For the US, at 500%+, it is, you guessed it (sorry Joseph Stiglitz), game over, but since we have the printers, it will simply take a little longer.[ More...]

 And here is the topic that will dominate over all pundit round table discussions in the next weeks: the entire world is insolvent, although some are more insolvent than others. Greek total net liabilities (on and off balance sheet) to GDP are 800%! EU: at 470%, the US, at over 500%. There is no way out but default.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Marxism for Dummies, or, Marxism is For Dummies

From the Ludwig von Mises Institute:

While socialism and communism have now been thoroughly discredited, many still maintain that Karl Marx's social theories, at least, remain relevant. While grudgingly acknowledging that Marxian economics, in particular the labor theory of value, is neither original nor correct, Marx's defenders claim that his social analysis — in particular, his theory of class conflict — remains a real scientific contribution.

The famous and dramatic opening lines of the Communist Manifesto boldly state that
the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles…. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight.
The "distinctive feature" of capitalism, they say, is that in contrast to the "complicated arrangement of society into various orders," the "manifold gradation of social rank" that characterized all "earlier epochs of history," the
epoch of the bourgeoisie … has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: bourgeoisie and proletariat.
According to Engels's notes to the 1888 edition, "bourgeois" refers to "capitalists, owners of the means of social production, and employers of wage laborers." Proletarians are defined as those "in the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live."

The process by which capitalism simplifies class antagonisms is presented in detail in volume one of Capital. The bourgeoisie are able to pit worker against worker, thereby keeping wage rates at subsistence levels. And
The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class.
Their fight, however, is in vain: They are unable to compete with the large factories established by the capitalists. They go bankrupt and "are turned into proletarians." Thus, says Marx, "the other classes perish and disappear in the face of modern industry." In time, only two classes remain: the bourgeoisie, who "usurp and monopolize all advantages," and the proletariat, for whom "the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, [and] exploitation" continues to grow. Eventually, this class will become so numerous, and their misery so severe, that they will rise up and "expropriate the expropriators."

On the surface, Marx's definition of class is simple and clear. Yet its implications, as Marx himself came to realize, are devastating to his analysis. Marx assumed that those who owned or controlled the means of production were the rich and powerful, while those who sold their labor did so because they were weak and poor. While he acknowledged that these were "pure" types, Marx believed that as the capitalist system ran its course and the small and middle-class independent operators were gradually eliminated, the class system would become more and more pure.

In fact, the distinction between bourgeoisie and proletariat is neither clear nor simple. First, the characterization of the proletariat as those who work for a living and the bourgeoisie as those who hire others to work for them has an obvious and insidious implication: only one group in society, the proletariat, actually does any productive work, while the bourgeoisie live off or "exploit" the workers. Marx thereby reduces work to physical labor, glossing over the fact that income is earned by providing services to others, and that physical labor is merely one way of doing this. Nevertheless, Marx's definitional distinction between worker and owner was a master stroke of political propaganda. [More]

Scientist at Center of Climategate Fesses Up to Fraud

So climate "skeptics" are "deniers" who are no different than Holocaust deniers? This global warming hoax should not only be remembered for one of the most colossal and widespread frauds in world history, but as a TEXTBOOK CASE of leftist "big lies." The modus operandi appears to be trading our money for their power, thereby buying businesses and universities the ropes to hang themselves. From Newsbusters:

ClimateGate's Phil 'Hide the Decline' Jones Admits Manipulating Data

The British scientist in the middle of November's ClimateGate scandal says that contrary to what Al Gore and many in the media claim, the debate concerning manmade global warming is not over.

"There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well," Phil Jones, the former head of Britain's Climatic Research Unit told the BBC.

In a lengthy Q&A published at Saturday, Jones also said: the recent warming trend that began in 1975 is not at all different than two other planetary warming phases since 1850; there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995, and; it is possible the Medieval Warm Period was indeed a global phenomenon thereby making the temperatures seen in the latter part of the 20th century by no means unprecedented.

Maybe most important, Jones explained what "hide the decline" in ClimateGate e-mail messages meant confirming they manipulated data (questions in bold, h/t Sonic Frog via Glenn Reynolds): [More]

Hey, The Olympics Are On - So We're Going to Watch Your Every Move

The Feds have announced that due to the Olympics, and the supposed threat of a terrorist attack, the government is going to be monitoring certain websites to gain "situational awareness" of what is going on, including: The Drudge Report, Facebook, Twitter, and The Blotter.

Why announce this to the world, including all terrorists?  The reason is that this isn't about terrorism at all, it is about desensitizing Americans to infractions of their civil liberties.  It is about trampling on the Constitution without fear of future investigative exposure adding to the public perception of impropriety. It is about gathering information on political dissenters, including conducting surveillance of so-called "right-wing extremists" who have the gall to believe in individual liberty, as many of us anti-statist bloggers can testify to personally. And ultimately, it is about intimidating people into self-censorship.

As a quasi-journalist who has worked in Russia, this last point shouldn't be overlooked.  Those who publish criticism of the Kremlin are always aware that the Russian intelligence services are watching.  Sure, you can technically criticize Putin or Medvedev, but you wouldn't want anything unfortunate to happen to you, your business, or your publication, would you?  Like tax and financial audits, unannounced building inspections, neck ties, contracts, high mountains - use your imagination.  And don't think that that sort of chill of free speech isn't exactly what Washington wants.  When I look at our nation's capital nowadays, I see the future Kremlin of the United States.

Obama Goes Into Full Dictator Mode

From The New York Slimes:

With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities.

The latest on President Obama, his administration and other news from Washington and around the nation

Mr. Obama has not given up hope of progress on Capitol Hill, aides said, and has scheduled a session with Republican leaders on health care later this month. But in the aftermath of a special election in Massachusetts that cost Democrats unilateral control of the Senate, the White House is getting ready to act on its own in the face of partisan gridlock heading into the midterm campaign.

“We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. [More]

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why is Ayn Rand Copyrighted?

It is extremely frustrating when you come across a truly great essay, one that devastatingly withers the conceits of the collectivist, the statist, the parasite, and the pseudo-intellectual only to learn that its use is restricted.

Why is Ayn Rand copyrighted?  That is like Aristotle or Plato being copyrighted.  For those who have not read her smaller, more digestible, more accessible works, such as her essays in the collection The Voice of Reason, there really is no substitute for her lucidity, her incisive insight, and the irresistible force of her logic.

The best I have to offer to anyone who wants to know why intellectuals in America tend to be so philosophically and morally bankrupt, I highly recommend, "Altruism as Appeasement," the sixth essay in the Voice collection. [Another excellent resource with a similar theme is Dr. Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society, also available in audio format.] Rand's essay summarizes my frustration and disappointment with "intellectuals" since I first was naive enough to think that most of them cared about knowledge and truth, and that the thing that they value above all in this world is the development of their minds.  Ayn Rand crushes this illusion once and for all, and reconstructs the pieces to form an image of the modern pseudo-intellectual as a man without the moral fortitude to stand up to the collectivist herd and inform them that their mystical subjectivist theories rest on feet of clay.  And perhaps that is putting it too kindly - feet of sand might be more apropos.

The central thrust of "Altruism as Appeasement" is the sketch of the burgeoning intellectual who seeks out camaraderie in academia only to find that the majority of students and even professors have compromised the integrity of their own minds long ago in the interest of turning education into a social bonding exercise.  The depiction of the elitist as a fearful snob quavering in his boots at the suggestion of an uprising of the unwashed masses is not to be missed.  It explains the elitist's twisted view of his fellow man, and his inner craving for government as a sprawling Kraken, whose tentacles hold down the millions of mental Liliputians lest they debauch the entire social order in an orgy of aimless violence and excess.

MSNBC Admits: "We're Not Marxists, We're Socialists" - HUH??

9/11 Truther Lawrence O'Donnell's blow-up on live TV at Marc Thiessen has got to be seen to believe.  He even corrects Joe Scarborough's jocular comment about "Marxists."  The left just gets funnier and funnier, now that they are on the path to being a coalition of basket-cases, welfare dependents, bureau-hacks, and mental jobs for the next twenty years.  Now if we can just keep them out of power, they might prove to be quite entertaining.

John Stossel on "The Road to Serfdom"

John Stossel's program on Hayek's The Road to Serfdom is well worth watching. It is chock full of jaw-dropping facts and statistics, for example, 60% of Americans are net drains on the economy. There is also footage of film and stage adaptations of Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron, quotes from F.A. Hayek, and an expose on how much unions really cost Americans.

VDH: Why Did Rome Fall—And Why Does It Matter Now?

Victor Davis Hanson makes some interesting observations on the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the decline of Western civilization.

Article [...]

The point? We see something like this today. What made American culture boom through much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were traditional American values like the Protestant work ethic, family thrift, limited and stable government, equality of opportunity rather than result, lower taxes, personal freedom, opportunity for advancement and profit, and faith in American exceptionalism.

But the cloning and spreading of this system after WWII (“globalization”) did two things: literally billions of non-Westerners adopted the Western mode of production and began, in economic terms, becoming far more productive in creating valuable manufacturing goods, food, and exporting previously unknown or untapped natural resources; in addition, the vast rise in population added billions to the world’s productive work force. [...]

Today, the “poor” as I see them daily at Wal-Mart and Food-4-Less in Selma (a poor town in a poor county in poor central California) buy blue-ray DVD players, have to buy food-stamp subsidized sirloin rather than rib-eye (as I can attest watching 5 carts ahead of me in line tonight), and drive used 2000 Tahoes and 2001 Yukons rather 2010 Honda Accords. Government subsidies for housing, food, transportation, etc., coupled with cheap Chinese and Indian imported consumer goods, have for a time been substituted for the old manufacturing jobs or resource-based work (e.g., we don’t make steel, we increasingly curtail farming, we don’t drill, etc.). In other words, we are enjoying a lifestyle undreamed of by our grandparents who had values quite different from our own — a result of globalization, advances in technology, and massive borrowing and debt.

The Tab
But as in the case of Rome, there is a price for all these sudden riches. Just as the Iberians, and Libyans, and Thracians were hungrier and more enterprising than Italians back in the bay of Naples, so too we, the beneficiaries of this wealth, lost the values that were at its heart, in a way that the Indians, Chinese, and others have not — yet. Our youth in schools are not so excited by the notion of creating 100 new nuclear power plants, creating new mountain reservoirs, building new railroads and highways, or eager to rebuild the steel industry, or dreaming of increasing food production or eager to mine more ores. Instead, the emphasis in our schools is more on race/class/gender engineering, regulation, redistribution, etc, all of which in classical terms is not necessarily wealth creation.

We are now borrowing nearly $2 trillion a year to do things like ensure the 84-year old has a hip replacement — nearly half of it from the Chinese where 400 million have never been to a Westernized doctor. We spend $45,000 to incarcerate the felon in California, to meet utopian court-ordered mandates. As imperial Romans, we are felt to be owed a standard of living, even as our own daily habits would no longer necessarily translate into such largess, even as those on the periphery have learned what made America so wealthy from 1950 to 1990. [...]

A State of Mind
The strange thing is that these wild swings in civilization are at their bases psychological: decline is one of choice rather than necessity. Plague or lead poisoning or famine did not destroy Rome. We could balance our budget tomorrow without a great deal of sacrifice; we could eliminate 10% worth of government spending that is not essential; we could create our own energy with massive nuclear power investment, and more extraction of gas, oil, and coal. We could instill a tragic rather than therapeutic world view that would mean more responsibilities rather than endlessly more rights. We could do this all right — but too many feel such medicine is worse than the malady, and so we probably won’t and can’t. An enjoyable slow decline is apparently preferable to a short, but painful rethinking and rebirth.

Cutting Capital Gains Taxes Raises Revenues and The Left's Laffer of a Counter-Argument

[The American Spectator]

The Plague of Left-Wing Propaganda

[...] On a recent broadcast of the Larry Kudlow Show on CNBC, Art Laffer politely sat through an infantile lecture from Michael Linden, Associate Director for Tax and Budget Policy for the Center, claiming that Laffer had been "long discredited" in his argument that cuts in capital gains tax rates produce higher revenues.

But the truth is that over the past 40 years, every time capital gains tax rates have been cut, revenues have increased, and every time capital gains tax rates have been increased, revenues have declined. [More]

Since the government can print as much money as it likes, and because it is clearly demonstrated that taxes destroy wealth creation, one can only assume that the government taxes us for the hell of it.  By putting the invisible yoke of tax withholding and confiscation around our necks, that is how they incrementally prep us for serfdom.  The effect of taxation, regulation, and criminalization of every sphere of life is psychological demoralization of the individual and the steady breaking of the American people's will to resist.  But the gig is coming to an end, and if the statists think that they've seen the worst of the fury of the American people, just wait until this false recovery fades away and Americans and their children are stuck with the bill for rampant political corruption, wasteful spending, and more Keynesian pipe dreams.

Obama the Transformative Figure

Let's not forget his lowering of sea levels, moving beyond partisan politics, and ushering in of a post-racial America.  But at least he was able to reverse global warming.

Edward Lynch for Representative in Florida's 19th

This man is a non-nonsense straight shooter who is confident, competent, and bright. Let's help this man get elected in the Florida special election April 13th! That's just two short months away, folks.

Lynch's MoneyBomb begins at 12 pm eastern time.  In honor of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president, the donations are preset to increments of $16.


Issues [Full]

Health Care
I believe improvement to our Health Care system can be achieved through free market, inter-state competition solutions, that include Medicare/Medicaid fraud elimination, tort reform, healthy living and tax credits for the less fortunate.

National Security
The most important role of government is the protection of the American people and our homeland. Strong leadership on National Security is a must.

The answer to our energy "crisis" is a "use it all" approach, which will not only lessen our dependence on foreign sources but create quality, high paying jobs for our citizens.

I believe in a single state solution for Israel and unwavering support for Israel, without conditions.

Federal Budget and Spending
We need to aggressively cut taxes, reign in government spending, stop bailing out failing industries and get back to free market solutions to revive our nations economy.

Tax Reform
    * Fundamental tax reform built on the principles of simplicity, fairness, and growth.
    * A new tax code that gets the government out of our citizens' pocketbooks, while enhancing U.S. competitiveness abroad.
    * Dissolution of the IRS as we know it.

It's time to reform our tax code and work toward the dissolution of the IRS as we know it.  I believe current tax rates and complicated tax forms are a burden to the American people and a hindrance to economic prosperity. 

I believe that education for our children should be governed locally and teachers should be allowed to teach a curriculum. I am against "embedded assesments" programs.

No amnesty. Period.  We must secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws.

2nd Amendment
Every American citizen is born with the right to keep and bear arms

To contribute to Edward Lynch's campaign please go to:

Lynch's opponent has recently stated that "hell will freeze over" before a Republican wins in Florida's 19th.  The Democrats must have thought the same thing before Scott Brown decided to run for Senator in Massachusetts.  Well, let's send another chill through Washington to go with its 2-3 feet of snow by electing Edward Lynch!

The Anti-Avatar: "I Believe in Philosophy"

In an atmosphere of cultural decay and corruption, it is things like these that make you go on living. I have just seen Agora, a film that exceeded my wildest expectations. On the most fundamental level, it is the Anti-Avatar.
The movie is set in Alexandria, the heart of ancient science and philosophy. The ancient world's greatest library and research center (originally centered at the Museum - the House of the Muses - and then at the Serapeum - the Temple of Serapis), founded by a student of Aristotle and modeled after his Lyceum, and the Pharos, the world's tallest lighthouse, both feature prominently there.
Hypatia, the main protagonist, embodies the spirit of Hellenic culture. When asked how she dared not to believe in God, she said: "I believe in philosophy."
But barbarians were already at the gate. In contrast to the eulogized savages in Avatar, Agora shows the forces of unreason for what they really are. As opposed to Avatar's call for destroying civilization, Agora is an ode to the glorious achievements of the human mind.
Eventually, the Christian hordes pounced on their prey. The heart of the civilized world beat no more. It was torn out by Christianity. 
But Hypatia's efforts were not in vain. It would beat again…

This is Freaking Crazy

From Gallup:

Socialism Viewed Positively by 36% of Americans
Majority of Americans positive on capitalism, entrepreneurs, free enterprise, and small business
by Frank Newport

More than one-third of Americans (36%) have a positive image of "socialism," while 58% have a negative image. Views differ by party and ideology, with a majority of Democrats and liberals saying they have a positive view of socialism, compared to a minority of Republicans and conservatives.
Comrade Khruschev must be laughing his ass off in hell.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Politico: Obama Edges "Nobody" in 2012 Election

From Politico:

President Barack Obama only leads a generic Republican candidate by 2 percentage points in a potential 2012 match up, according to a new Gallup Poll out Thursday that also shows a continued drift of independents from Democrats.

Obama leads 44 percent to 42 percent, a statistical dead heat, against a nameless Republican, according to the survey of 1,025 adults nationwide.

Not surprisingly, the poll shows that Democrats strongly believe the president should be reelected, while Republicans would like to see one of their own in the White House.

But among independent voters, 45 percent would back a Republican and only 31 percent would favor the president. Twenty-four percent of independents are not sure if they would vote for Obama or a Republican candidate. [More]

Operation Moshtarak

It just sounds nasty. From The Jawa Report:

We're softening them up before the big assault. Folks, this is the biggest planned and coordinated assault in years. Operation Moshtarak involves tens of thousands of troops moving in to the last Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province:

SAS men and US Navy SEAL teams killed the 50 insurgent leaders in a series of dramatic covert operations deep inside southern Afghanistan's Helmand badlands.

Their objective was to destroy the Taliban command structure - and military sources labelled the daring raids "a great success"....

Patrols of around four men would have used the tried and tested "find, fix, strike" method to locate and destroy their prey.

Their tactics are veiled in secrecy. But they would have moved by night, covering their tracks as they went. Then they would strike with lethal force before vanishing to seek new targets.

The American Republic vs European Democracy

Below, I attempt to analyze two examples that demonstrate the fundamental difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic.

Separation of powers. The U.S. is a presidential republic, where the executive, legislative and judicial branches are absolutely independent from each other and do not report to each other. By dividing government, this system weakens it and prevents it from growing strong enough to overstep constitutional bounds.
Most European governments are parliamentary systems - i.e. absolute democracies where the parliament has virtually unlimited power. It is restricted neither by the executive (presidents and monarchs are nominal figureheads, while prime ministers represent the parliamentary majority), nor by the courts, which have much less power than the U.S. judicial system. The main principle of despotism is to centralize as much power in one body as possible. Whether this undivided and absolute power is wielded by a monarch or a democratic majority does not matter. There have been attempts to introduce at least some degree of separation of powers but they were inefficient. The legislative branch remains supreme, with all other authorities being subordinate to it. Some countries (such as France) have switched to a compromise between the parliamentary and presidential systems (a semi-presidential republic), but the high degree of power centralization still prevents a limited government from emerging.

The independence of the judiciary. The contrast between the American and European judiciary systems largely stems from, respectively, their common-law and civil-law traditions. So the U.K. and Ireland are exceptions, though their parliamentary systems make the judiciary less independent than in the U.S.
In the U.S., a life tenure for judges has been a long-running tradition that is intended to prevent executive influence on the judicial system. But this is not enough for making judges fully independent. U.S. judges determine law according to precedent and are not restricted to interpreting statutory law passed by legislatures. Anglo-Saxon common law (as opposed to statutory law) is, as it were, a realm independent from legislative assemblies, "a law unto itself." Though legislatures still adopt statutory laws, the judicial system's common-law roots nonetheless make it an independent source of power, not a subservient clique of bureaucrats. As if this power were insufficient to restrict the executive and legislative branches, the U.S. political system put yet another obstacle in the way of tyranny - juries. Such is the importance of this institution that the concept of "jury nullification" emerged - the idea that juries have a right to judge not only the facts but also the law - i.e. nullify unjust and tyrannical laws (this power, as any other, can be abused but, if applied properly, it is a check on government power). Moreover, in the U.S. adversarial system, the judicial process is largely driven by the parties themselves, represented by their attorneys (not only by judges), which puts yet another important check on the power of government.
In Continental Europe, judges used to be bureaucrats who could be appointed or dismissed at the whim of a monarch. This is no longer the case but traces of their subordinate and secondary role remain. Unlike in common-law systems, judges cannot "make law" and can only interpret acts passed by legislatures. The jury trial is much less important in civil-law countries and even absent in some of them. Civil-law courts are based on the inquisitorial system, where judges (appointed by the executive or legislative branches) play a dominant role, while attorneys ("the private-sector" element, as it were) are subordinate.

The bicameral legislature. In the U.S. constitutional structure, the House of Representatives and the Senate have equal powers and balance each other. The House is traditionally more "popular" and represents the union, while the Senate is more "aristocratic" and conservative and represents the states. The Senate has historically impeded the progress of democratic tyranny. One of the glorious Senate traditions that thwarted the onslaught of statist legislation has been the filibuster.
In Europe, the principle of bicameralism is not strictly observed. In Portugal and Scandinavia, the legislatures are unicameral. In the rest of Europe, they are mostly bicameral but the upper house usually has far less authority than the lower one and is not a real check on its power. In the U.K., the House of Lords has been gradually emasculated and turned into a rubberstamping shadow of its former glory. The trend toward unicameralism is a manifestation of power centralization and unlimited government.

Federalism. The division of authority between the states and the union is the cornerstone of the U.S. constitutional system. Separation of powers between the three federal branches would perhaps be insufficient to rein in government appetites. Federalism puts another important check on the powers of government. Originally U.S. federalism was so strong that states' rights to secession and nullification were asserted. Unfortunately, these rights have been largely lost as the U.S. government became less limited.
Most European countries are unitary states. Some are federations but much less pronounced ones than the U.S. States generally have less authority and sway than in America. Germany's Bundesrat, which is supposed to represent states' interests on the federal level, has authority only over some issues and cannot affect others. Moreover, votes are not equally allocated for each state and different states' delegates have different voting powers. Recently, however, there has been a certain trend towards "federalization" - Belgium became a federation, while regions received more autonomy in France and Spain, which still remain unitary governments, nonetheless.

The Constitution. Though there had been similar documents in the past (American colonial charters, England's Instrument of Government of 1653, the Swedish Instrument of Government of 1772, the Corsican Constitution of 1755), U.S. state constitutions and the U.S. federal constitution were perhaps the first constitutions in the modern sense. Ironically, they have been the most enduring ones, and the U.S. constitution has not been replaced by another one even once. Nowhere is the respect for constitution so entrenched as in America.
In Europe, constitutionalism has fared much worse. The U.K., though the homeland of modern constitutionalism, has so far failed to pass a written constitution, which may be attributed to the parliament's unwillingness to subject its arbitrary power to any restrictions. Moreover, much of the original "law of the land" and the original "rights of Englishmen" - the cornerstone of the ancient English constitution - have been effectively repealed. France, Sweden and the Netherlands have had constitutions since the 18th century. In most of the rest of Europe, constitutional government was only firmly established around the mid-19th century (though there had been earlier abortive attempts to introduce constitutions).
European constitutions tend to have been frequently amended, replaced and suspended. The basic principle of constitutionalism - the immutability of law - has thus been totally subverted.

The Bill of Rights. The U.S. Bill of Rights is the fundamental document that makes all other aspects of the constitutional system meaningful, the heart that pumps the blood of the body politic. It is individual rights that are the justification of government authority, and whenever government violates them, as opposed to protecting them, its authority is rendered null and void and the body politic is dissolved. A constitution without a bill of rights is a meaningless document.
In Europe, there are no real equivalents of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Most of the provisions of the English Bill of Rights (1689) have been repealed by the parliament. The French constitution, though it pays lip service to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), is not actually bound by it. Some other European constitutions (e.g. the Spanish, Italian and German ones) have lists of "basic rights" but it is specifically stated that they are subject to restrictions and can be limited by law.
Nor are the basic rights protected by the U.S. Bill of Rights recognized in Europe. As to the First Amendment, the U.K., Denmark, Norway and Iceland still have established churches, while in other European countries the church and state are still closely intertwined. Unlike in the U.S., there is no absolute guarantee of free speech in European countries, which makes such idiotic stuff as "hate speech" and Holocaust denial laws possible. This also entails state ownership of major media. The right to bear arms is not protected in Europe either. Some European constitutions also stipulate positive rights (e.g. to education, healthcare, labor), the absurd concept that effectively overturns negative rights listed alongside them and renders them meaningless.

To sum up, the US, at least as conceived at its founding, is a federal constitutional republic - a government of laws, and not of men. To a certain extent, it is a limited government.
Most European countries are unitary democracies with ineffective constitutions - governments of men, and not of laws. In a certain degree, they are absolute, unlimited governments.