Thursday, February 25, 2010

Repealing the First Amendment

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal had an op-ed about how leftists in Congress are trying to end-run the recent Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United vs. FEC which invalidated a major part of the McCain Feingold campaing finance law by banning certain categories of people, primarily corporations, from spending any money promoting political messages.  Congress critters Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) and John Conyers (D-Michigan) are actually proposing to amend the Constitution so it bars corporate free speech. John Kerry and Arlen Specter are also supporting this First Amendment attack. The common argument among supporters of these efforts is that corporations aren't people and therefor shouldn't enjoy the same free speech rights as real people. Of course they have no problem about other artificial entities, such as unions, having the same free speech rights as they do now. This is the comment I left after the article:

I’m getting rather tired of hearing that corporations shouldn’t have First Amendment free speech rights because they are not “real people”. While it is true a corporation is a legal and accounting construct, it is much more than that. It is run by real human beings and it is owned by real human beings, exercising their free association rights to pool their resources and conduct business. I own stock in many corporations, either directly or through mutual funds. Nearly everyone who has any kind of retirement plan, whether it is an IRA, 401K, union pension fund or what have you has an ownership interest in corporations.

The job of corporate management at the companies I own a part of is to look after the common interests of its owners, such as me. That job includes speaking out against government policies, or political officeholders/candidates that might be injurious to the company’s and therefore my interests as an owner. I believe the speech issue is actually somewhat of a red herring. Fundamentally what those who would muzzle corporations are doing is assaulting my property rights. They want carte blanche to do as they wish with my property whether it be, for example, imposing “windfall profit” taxes, i.e. seizing my legally earned money becasue they think I earned too much, imposing union labor contracts, violating my rights to associate or rather not associate with whomever I please, etc. They just want to be able to do it without my having the ability to protest their actions thorough the people who represent my interests, the management of those corporations.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Obama Inherited a Mess Alright - One of His Own Making

I've posted a couple of times on why it isn't quite accurate to blame presidents for deficits. The simple fact of the matter is all spending bills orignate in the House of Representatives. This time though, President Obama rightly gets his share of the blame. has an open letter to Harry Reid with the subject line "I'm Sick of Inherited", that makes exactly this same point. It rightly points out that the Democrat Party controlled House started the recent climb in deficits and as a Senator, President Obama voted in favor of the budget busting spending of the 110th Congress and as President signed the 111th Congress' spending into law.  Here is the letter in it's entirety, along with my favorite graphic illustration of the deficit timeline since 2000.

To:  Sen. Harry Reid

February 23, 2010

The Washington Post babbled again recently about Obama inheriting a huge deficit from Bush, blah blah blah. Amazingly enough, a lot of people swallow this nonsense.

So once more, I'll try a short civics lesson.

Budgets do not get approved by the White House. They are passed only by CONGRESS and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democratic Party. They controlled the budget process for FY 2008 and FY 2009, as well as FY 2010 and FY 2011. In that first year, they had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases. For FY 2009, though, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the FY 2009 budgets.

And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete FY 2009.

Let's remember what the deficits looked like during that period:

If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the FY 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for those budgets. If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself.

In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Are Your 401(k) Investments Safe - From the Government?

Via Powerline we learn that inspired by Argentina's confiscaton of private retirement accounts, the Obama administration is exploring the possibility of taking over American's private retriement savings over in exchange for annuities backed by Treasuries, the same ones that back Social Security now. The proposal is being put forward as voluntary, but that's not likely as we can buy Treasury securities in our retirement accounts now. No, it will quickly become mandatory. It's for our own good, you know.  As Glenn Reynolds observes:
ARE THE FEDS COMING AFTER YOUR 401K? “I doubt it. Because first on the list of those who have accumulated wealth in reliance on the laws governing private savings accounts are lawyers.” Aside from that, I think that we would see — literally, not figuratively — members of Congress swinging from lampposts if that happened.

Read both the IBD and Powerline pieces. This makes my blood boil.
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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Climategate Scandal So Far

I haven't posted much on the Climategate/Climaquiddick AGW scandal lateley, mainly because absorbing all the revelations is sort of like trying to drink from a firehose. There's just so much of it and other people are doing a great job of exposing the facts. Charlie Martin is one of them and he has a great summary of the still unfolding scandal over at Pajamas Media, so I'll point you over there for the latest summation of the Great Global Warming Meltdown. One point I want to draw out though is this one:

It is, of course, purely a coincidence that this market, which simply doesn’t exist without the legal requirement that companies reduce carbon emissions, is closely connected with the politically connected people who are pushing for carbon restrictions by law and treaty.
Read it all.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Greek Tragedy In the Present Tense

Victor Davis Hanson has another must-read piece up over at Pajamas Media, talking about Greece as "the canary in the coalmine in the impending crack-up of the modern welfare state and why the Greek example is a gift to us. On California as Greece:

On the one hand, the money is vanishing. Income, state and federal, as well as payroll, taxes here in California may soon top 60% on top incomes (10% state, 15% plus payroll on most of one’s self-employed income, 39% federal). Add in property and sales taxes and we’ve reached the point where the lemon can no longer be squeezed without either more than the current 3,500 a week leaving the state, or going the Greek route of endemic cheating.

(Indeed, as I wrote not long ago: I go to Greece every other summer, and lived in the country for over two years. I come away with one overriding observation: almost every Greek I met in some way either cheated on his tax obligation or conned a way to get some state subsidy — or both, while furiously damning “them.” [“Them” if one were poorer, meant the rich; and if richer, the state; and for both, also meant the United States.])

Bottom line: I don’t see how the state or federal government can up taxes much more and still find wealth-producing, law-abiding, motivated job creators.

On the other hand, as the money runs out, will state workers, pensioners, and entitlement recipients accept that there are too few wealth-creators to fund their pay-outs, or, as in Greece, hit the streets in protest, teenager style, each time some adjustments are necessary?

So if we can’t raise taxes and we can’t cut expenditures what is left? There is no Germany to bail us out? Cut defense? Keep borrowing from the Chinese and Japanese?

Let's hope we all take the lesson to heart.
Read the whole thing.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Candidate for Congress Jeff Smith - A Tea Party Republican Worth Looking At

The Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds has a column in today's Wall Street Journal recounting what he saw at last week's Tea Party Convention in Nashville. The whole thing is worth your time to read but one fact he noted is that there are people stepping up all over the country to mount primary challenges to sitting Republicans, typically because the imcumbent is perceived to be too comfortable or out-of-touch or not voting the way we expect Republicans to vote or all of the above.

I recently met one such candidate for the House seat now held by Jeff Flake (R- AZ 6) at a local Tea Party meeting. His name is Jeff Smith. In the interests of full disclosure, Jeff offered me the position of Political Director for his campaign. I'm very flattered by the offer but I declined as I have a rather demanding full-time job and one of them would have to suffer. It can't be the paying job.

I've talked to Jeff at some length and I think he would make an excellent representative. He has a background in business and shares the views of most Tea Partiers that government has gotten too big, spends too much is unresponsive and as Glenn points out "has a habit of rewarding failure with handouts and punishing success with taxes and regulation."  That shouldn't strike anyone with any common sense as a good way to produce a prosperous society.

What about Jeff Flake? On balance I think Congressman Flake has been a good representative but the common complaint about him locally is the one noted above that he is falling out of touch with the district. He originally ran in 2000 promising to spend only three terms in Congress. He is now running for his sixth. He's been good on earmarks, he doesn't take them, but is not very strong on the border security/illegal immigration question. That one is a big deal in Arizona as illegal immigration costs the taxpayers of this state billions. He also comes from a public affairs/ think tank background, not a business one. People who have at least worked in the private sector, if not actually run a business, score extra points with me. It's just time for some fresh blood.

Go and visit Jeff Smith's campaign website. His positions on the issues that are important to me, stopping socialism/wealth redistribution, limited government and states rights and getting government stuffed back within its Constitutional limits, seem to align quite well with my small "L" libertarian outlook and I intend to support his candidacy. 

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Frozen Wasteland - A New Offering from the Minnesotans for Global Warming

The Minnesotans for Global Warming add to their hit parade. I suggest that if you are drinking anything you put it down now.

Take that, Al Gore!  The Minnesotan's other greatest hits are here and here.
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

An Excellent Point About Government Versus Private Sector Accountability

Over at Samizdata, Johnathan Pearce makes the following distinction between government and the private sector regarding the consequences of failure:

Toyota is recalling thousands of motor vehicles around the world to deal with certain problems, such as possible brake failures. The story was the lead item on the BBC TV news today, not surprisingly, given the large number of people who now drive Toyota cars. On one level, this issue is being billed as a terrible embarrassment for the Japanese company, but to an extent I find the comprehensive recall of the cars to be a pretty good example, in fact, of how private businesses with a huge brand-name investment have to act when their products have a problem. Can you imagine, say, a government department doing such a massive "recall" of a failed policy? With private business, the penalties for failure are bankruptcy. For government, the consequence of a mess is often more of the same, only with more lumps of taxpayers' money. To put it more technically, there is little in the way of a negative feedback loop when governments are involved.

As an aside, and yes, I know this may seem a bit mean-spirited, but I cannot help reflect that the problems of the Prius cars add to what has been a terrible time for the Green/AGW alarmists. The Prius is very much the car that guilt-ridden, Greenie types like to drive. As the snows continue to fall, who wants to drive one of those machines right now? And in any event, they are just pig-ugly. Time to fire up the Aston Martin, Carruthers.

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Two Thoughtful Pieces on the Power of Government

I've seen a couple of very thoughtful pieces on the the power of government in the last couple of days. Via Instapundit we have this post entitled "Put Down the Political Pom-Poms" by Scott Stein, a writer I don't recall having seen before, writing at When Falls the Coliseum. Talking about how one end of the political spectrum would get upset about how they perceived the other end to be abusing power when in charge and vice versa he has this advice: 

It’s time to stop cheering for a team, to put down the political pom-poms and to allow the government, when it is your party in office, to only have as much power as you would be comfortable with it having if the other side were in power. Because at some point it will be the other side in power. And if you were cheering for one side to have that power, most likely you won’t be happy about how that power is used when the other side has it (even when both parties take us in the same direction).

I think this is the discipline that the Tea Partiers, a movement that includes Democrats as well as Republicans, are trying to impose on both parties. Call it American's innate common sense starting to assert itself. It's excellent advice.

The other piece that  I would recommend reading is by Victor Davis Hanson (OK, now I've given that away, how can I stop you from clicking over and reading it?), posting at Pajamas Media, called "Why Fear Big Government?" . He lists five reasons. I'm sure there are more but I think this line best sums up why big government is a problem:

But the larger the government, the more its power, and so the more its employees feel that they are royal and exempt from enforcement. In other words, big government creates millions who feel the law does not pertain to themselves. Ask Tom Daschle, Duke Cunningham, Chris Dodd, or Timothy Geithner. The result is an increasingly lawless society.

Read it all.
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Bill Whittle Says: Party Time!

Bill Whittle has just posted a piece over at Pajamas Media on why there's a Tea Party movement and what it means. He correctly warns against trying to form a third party, a sure way to make sure neither a Tea Party nor the Republican Party become permanent minorities. No, the Tea Party is a vehicle for pulling the wayward Repeublican Party back to its professed roots as a low tax, small government party. For the purists, Bill also warns that holding out for the perfect candidate, one that pushes every last one of your serotonin release buttons.

 "The question we should be asking – and did ask, it seems – is not whether Scott Brown is more conservative than Ronald Reagan. The question is whether or not Scott Brown is more conservative than Ted Kennedy or Martha Coakley.

He is, and by a very wide margin. That’s a win!"

Reinforcing that point is this one:

"Victory is a ratchet. To retake this country we need every gain we can get – no matter how small – and give up as little as possible. If Scott Brown – Republican Senator from Massachusetts – turns out to be the most liberal man in the Senate then we’re living in paradise. That’s why there’s a Tea Party. And that’s why being a part of the Tea Party movement is, when it is all said and done, just plain fun."

There's a lot more Bill has to say. There always is and it's all good. So go and read it all.

Update: The above is a script. Here is the video presentation.
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