Monthly Archives: November 2008

More of Barack Obama’s “Change”

What do we hear now from this President-Elect Obama, supposed harbinger of change?  Consider this contradictory news headline: “Obama promotes fiscal restraint, big spending.”

In reality, this is the same sort of political mumbo-jumbo we’ve seen from mainstream Keynesian economic theory since The Great Depression.  Where has it gotten us?  Since the Great Depression, we had the Great Society, (a huge government “stimulus,” so to speak) with its massive government spending, followed by the stagflation conditions of the 1970’s (economic stagnation, including with respect to unemployment, while inflation rose).  A 1982 recession followed; we can recall the 1987 stock market crash, the 1992 recession, the dot.com bust, the 2001 recession, and now this debaucle.  Whether you understand economics as it is taught in university courses nowadays or not, the plain, simple economic fruits are easy to see.

Why are we going back to the same philosophy that has brought all of this economic turmoil?

By their fruits we shall know them, we are told.  A corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruitA good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.  Some may be uncomfortable applying scripture to economic systems.  But was not one of the great indicators of Red Russia’s failure its starvation, its oppression, and its turmoil, or in other words, the fruits of its economic system?  Would not the fruits of prosperity and liberty indicate a good nation? 

It should also be noted that this sounds remarkably similar in tone or connotation to the decider.  He may not go out and say it, but that’s ultimately what he’s doing: he’s the one to decide where the money gets spent and where it does not.  And somehow, he’s better qualified than any of the other central economic planners we’ve seen in the last century or so.  Or so we are led to believe.

Don’t believe the rhetoric.  Barack Obama is not more qualified to run the economy than George Bush, or anyone else.  Looking at charts and following quantitative data and computer models have not forecasted, much less prevented, this current economic crisis, to name one example.  Why do we trust this stuff to get us out of it?  Economies are far too complicated to be coordinated and run by one man (or a team of men) successfully.

1 Comment

Filed under Austrian Economics, fiscal policy, Libertarian, politics, role of government

Subsidizing the Wealthy

If Washington’s leviathan government is good at anything, it is subsidizing the wealthy.  Consider corporate welfare, for instance.  Those with the most resources (esp. time, information, and money) are rewarded with the pork barrel spending, the government contracts, the special legislation, etc.  We keep thinking that by putting in more rules and regulations (reforming the system, as John McCain or President-Elect Obama may say), we can restrain the problem.

Then there are farm subsidies.  Have you ever considered the lunacy of spending billions of dollars a year to large agribusiness outfits to prop up already overpriced crops like corn, wheat and sugar, and also spending tens of billions of dollars so that the poorest among us can purchase these overpriced commodities?  Eliminate the subsidy and the need for WIC, for instance, is greatly reduced, or even eliminated.  Meanwhile, family farms are going out of business: again, the wealthy are rewarded.  Those with the most resources have both the biggest stake in farm subsidy policy and legislation, but also the greatest ability to affect, craft, or persuade legislators and regulators to bend things their way.  Again, the wealthy are subsidized, while the family farms go out of business or struggle to make ends meet.

Subsidizing professional sports’ stadiums is another way to subsidize the wealthy.  After all, who can afford them except the wealthiest among us?  By subsidizing them, we make the wealthy pay less, lining their pockets with more money for owners, coaches, athletes, and a burgeoning bureaucracy, full of agents, assistants, lawyers, trainers, and the like.  Those who are upset at the outrageous salaries of professional athletes should consider whether they are supporting these inflated salaries by supporting subsidies to professional sports’ stadiums.

Speaking of professional sports, I heard last week that Ken Griffey, Jr., famous and wealthy professional athlete, has been pegged as an American Public Diplomacy Envoy

Let’s see if we can figure this out.  We spend (through taxation, borrowing, and inflation) hundreds of billions of dollars a year on an aggressive, unconstitutional, hyperinterventionist foreign policy, involving hundreds of thousands of troops and over 700 military bases, not to mention the tens of billions sent in foreign aid to prop up bankrupt regimes, so that we can be “safer,” or so that we can be the world’s policeman.

The inevitable result: widespread hostility, from Venezuela to Iran to France to Russia to North Korea.  Almost anywhere you go (with the possible exception of Israel), there is an anti-American sentiment: not one generally opposed to values of liberty and freedom as much as opposed to American foreign interventionism, political, military, and economic.  It’s true that in some countries, this is more pronounced than in others.  But nonetheless, it exists, and it is widespread.

To put a band-aid on this severed limb, the government hires the uber-wealthy, like Cal Ripken or Ken Griffey, two American mega-stars, to travel around the world promoting baseball and American “values.”

What about the values of freedom and liberty?  Of treating others how we would want to be treated?  Of a limited government that does not overtax, overregulate, or overspend?  Of honest friendship with nations, involving private trade, individual travel, and government diplomacy?  These values speak for themselves, and require no subsidy to the wealthy to implement.

Leave a comment

Filed under fiscal policy, foreign policy, Libertarian, politics, role of government

What Kind of Change, Mr. Obama?

Though I am sick of hearing about President Obama’s cabinet appointees, being fed ad nauseum, the pundits perspectives and rumored picks does bring up one question: considering the types of people who have been or will be offered positions by President Obama, what kind of change is he really going to work towards?

Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s choice for Chief-of-Staff, for instance, is considered fiercely partisan and somewhat fiery-tempered.

This morning on the radio I hear Obama is considering Tom Daschle, a Congressman since 1978, and a Senator since 1986, as his Secretary of Health and Human Services.  He passed up Kansas governor Kathleen Sibelius and former Vermont governor Howard Dean, both Washington outsiders.  Now he is being lauded for picking people to work in the White House who know Congress.

Senator Clinton is supposedly being considered for Secretary of State.

The fact is that despite Barack Obama’s rhetoric about changing the same old Washington ways and the same old Washington politics, Barack seems right in the thick of it: same ties to lobbyists (and pandering to lobbyists), same foreign policy, same sort of divisive rhetoric, and same monetary policy.  Really, what type of change does he bring except for motivational speaking and left-leaning policies?

2 Comments

Filed under politics

You’re Asking the Wrong Question

From the latest commentary piece by Ron Paul posted today on CNN:

Now, in light of the election, many are asking: What is the future of the Republican Party? But that is the wrong question. The proper question should be: Where is our country heading?

1 Comment

Filed under fiscal policy, foreign policy, politics, role of government, Ron Paul

Veteran’s Day

Veterans’ Day is plagued with sadness and tragedy.  It is a day to remember war and its costs, especially the most brutal 20th Century conflicts.

It was originally called “Armistice Day,” as it was the day that ended the armed hostilies of World War I.  The Western parties signed an armistice, a treaty, a peace agreement, a truce.  World War I was considered the war to end all wars.  It was called “The Great War” by some.  Violence and fighting were terrible and gruesome.

One thinks of the veterans, of their noble (and often voluntary) sacrifice for country and freedom.  They were motivated by duty and honor.  Many showed great courage in unimaginable situations.  And yet the horror, brutality, and confusion of war complicates: for what quarrel did a Frenchman have with a German?  Or a Brit with an Austrian?

As evidenced by the Christmas truce, by and large, there was no individual hostility.  Certainly not enough private or individual hostility to start a war of this scale and magnitude.  This conflict, and many of the 20th Century conflicts, were about nation-states sending its citizens to war against each other.  These brutal conflicts are a condemnation of the modern nation-state as an instrument of peace.

Theologically, these conflicts also serve as a very graphic reminder of the reality of spiritual darkness, and of the adversary, the enemy of peace, who seeks the destruction and misery of all.  The devil laughed and his angels rejoiced to see the wickedness and destruction among the Nephites right before the coming of Christ.  Surely he rejoiced to see such hostility and destruction in the 20th Century.  Surely he rejoices today when such destruction occurs.

Veterans’ Day is a reminder of these hard truths.  It is not a day to glory in war, nor justify its presence, but a day to mourn those whose lives were cut short from its brutal path and honor their memory and sacrifice.  Most importantly, it is a day to remember that through Christ, His Atonement, and the Resurrection, all foes are vanquished.  As Paul taught in 1st Corinthians, “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

1 Comment

Filed under foreign policy, Libertarian, Mormonism, Personal, role of government

Socialism in America

I know some may bristle when I say that I believe socialism is in America’s current political system, but there are reasons for me believing so.

When the government can directly confiscate an arbitrary portion of my earnings (via the income tax), that’s socialism.

When the government has arbitrary authority to regulate all aspects of my life (what I eat, the car I drive, the clothing I wear, the place I work, ad infinitum), with unelected bureaucrats doing most of the decision-making, that’s socialism.

When the government makes it nearly compulsory to get a Social Security Number and then “contribute,” whether you like it or not, to this retirement program every time you get paid, that’s socialism.

When the government discourages wealth creation by punishing the wealthy for being wealthy (i.e. higher income tax bracket), that’s socialism.

When a huge percentage of the populus receives money from the government without paying any, that’s socialism.

When the government forces me to be charitable by deducting money from my paycheck for medicaid and medicare, that’s socialism.

There are opposites to all of these: a respect for private property rights, including the fruit’s of one’s labors, should be primary.  Freedom, in other words, and liberty, should be the principles upon which our government is based.  Charity becomes a private matter, between individuals and God.  Economizing and exchange should be minimally regulated, if at all.  

The opposites:

When the government allows me to keep all of my paycheck (the fruits of my labors), that is freedom.

When the government regulates itself heavily and only intervenes in the lives of its citizens as specified in the Constitution, that is freedom.

When the government allows me to withdraw from contributing to (or benefiting from) Social Security, that is freedom.

When the government encourages the wealthy to keep their wealth and save or invest it in as they see fit, that is freedom.

When taxation is minimal, funds only those Constitutionally-authorized government functions, and never singles out any class or group of people unequally, that is freedom.

When the government encourages private donations and contributions by not creating and supporting a dependent underclass, that is freedom.

Notice the Republicans are doing nearly nothing to counter the major socialist influences in America.  We need a freedom party, a Constitution Party, a Libertarian Party, and a Campaign for Liberty.

2 Comments

Filed under Libertarian, Personal, politics, role of government, Ron Paul

Public vs. Private Menaces and the Bill of Rights

In our lively and lengthy discussion on proposition 8 in California, a few items were mentioned of special interest, which in and of themselves merit more discussion.

One is the idea that the Bill of Rights was meant to guard mainly against public (government) oppression.  We sometimes consider the Bill of Rights to be a guarantee that government will protect us from private encroachments on our individual rights.  But, in fact, the Anti-Federalists, those skeptics of government power as authorized by the Constitution, demanded that a Bill of Rights be included in the Constitution proper to protect individuals from government encroachments, especially those from the federal government.

So considered, the first amendment is really not about whether a school board is allowed to post the Ten Commandments on public school property, but whether the federal government will force the school to remove them.  (Note also the wording, “Congress shall make no law” thus clearly showing the legislative function of the Congress, and that this right is reserved to the legislative branch alone.  An executive or judicial decision, therefore, along these lines, is not even mentioned, as neither executive nor judicial branches have any legislative authority given them in the Constitution.  Judicial or executive decisions to this end, sadly commonplace nowadays, would then be considered egregious violations of Constitutional bounds.)

The second amendment is not about ensuring that a militia is in place to secure our safety, and that all other firearms can be regulated and otherwise controlled by the federal government.  It is to protect the individual’s right to protect himself or herself from government encroachments by bearing arms.  Note that the wording in this amendment is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” and that by implication, an infringement by any government branch is unconstitutional.

Some amendments, though clearly not obeyed by the federal government, are more clear; for instance, the blanket prohibition on unlawful search and seizure in the fourth amendment.

The ninth and tenth amendments, which explicitly render most of our federal government bureaucracy unconstitutional, are about ensuring that the federal government never grows beyond means except those explicitly specified in the Constitution itself.

I recommend all read and understand the Bill of Rights so that our rights may be preserved from unwanted and unconstitutional government encroachments.

3 Comments

Filed under Libertarian, politics, role of government