That's quite a rcord of non-achievement for three years of what I hope will be a single four-year term.
I propose that if people were in the habit of of questioning the deepest meaning of words, that statism would be much less acceptable. For example, such questioning would yield the realisation that 'property' really means what Julie from Chicago described in a recent Samizdata comment: "One's property is untouchable by others because it is the product of a portion of one's life."
Imagine there were no word for tax, or you disciplined yourself not to use it, much as Korzybski recommends listing individuals rather than using group words. You would be unable to say, "I propose an income tax." Instead, you would have to say, "I propose that for every hour you spend working to provide for your family, we are going to demand that you spend a further hour in servitude to some men you have never met, and if you refuse to do this eventually we will send some other men round to your house who will drag you away from your family and lock you in a cell." It would be a lot harder to advocate certain statist ideas.
In Teddy Roosevelt's era, President Barack Obama explained to the nation this week, "some people thought massive inequality and exploitation was just the price of progress....But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you want from whoever you can."
And he's right. Even today there are people who believe they should have free license to take whatever they want from whomever they can. They're called Democrats.
At heart, Oakland’s occupiers and worthless political class want more of the same fix that has made America the Brokest Nation in History: They expect to live as beneficiaries of a prosperous Western society without making any contribution to the productivity necessary to sustain it. This is the “idealism” that the media are happy to sentimentalize, and that enough poseurs among the corporate executives are happy to indulge — at least until the window-smashing starts. To “occupy” Oakland or anywhere else, you have to have something to put in there. Yet the most striking feature of OWS is its hollowness. And in a strange way the emptiness of its threats may be a more telling indictment of a fin de civilisation West than a more coherent protest movement could ever have mounted.
Leftism is bad for people. It makes them awful. The unwashed, ill-mannered, anti-Semitic, entitled, and now violent mobs littering various parts of the nation under the banner “Occupy” believe their ideas will lead to a better society — but they actually are the society their ideas lead to. Their behavior when compared to the polite, law-abiding, non-racist demonstrations of so-called tea partiers tells you everything you need to know about the end results of statism on the one hand and constitutional liberty on the other.
This is not, of course, to say that every left-winger is a miscreant but rather that the natural, indeed inevitable, result of statism is to produce nations of miscreants. When the state is permitted to make the individual’s moral choices, the individual is forced to become either a slave or a criminal; when the state is permitted to redistribute wealth, it chains the citizen into a rigid, two-tiered hierarchy of power rather than freedom’s fluid, multi-layered rankings of merit and chance; when the people are taught to be dependent on entitlements, they are reduced to violence when, inevitably, the entitlement well runs dry; when belief in the state usurps every higher creed, the people become apathetic, hedonistic, and uncreative and their culture slouches into oblivion. I need hardly expend the energy required to lift my finger and point to Europe where cities burn because the unemployable are unemployed or because the hard-working won’t fund the debts of the indolent; where violent and despicable Islamism eats away portions of municipalities like a cancer while the authorities do nothing; where nations that once produced history’s greatest achievements in science and the arts can now no longer produce even enough human beings to sustain themselves.
Why wait to see such results come home? Leftism is an ignoble creed on the surface of it. Its followers display their awareness of its shamefulness by projecting its evils onto their opposition. Leftists accuse conservatives of avarice, but which is greedier in a person: to seek to hold on to what is his own, or to seek, as the leftists do, to plunder what belongs to others? Leftists call conservatives racist and sexist, but who is it who wants race and gender enshrined in law? Who penalizes white or male babies for sins they never committed on the long-exploded theory that evil can undo evil?Leftists call conservatives hateful…
But proposing to close the "wealth gap" is worse than silly. It entails a lie. The notion of economic equality is based on an ancient and ugly falsehood central to bad economic thinking: There's a fixed amount of wealth. Wealth is zero-sum. If I have too many cups of tea, you have to lick the tea pot. But wealth is based on productivity. Productivity is expandable. Otherwise there wouldn't be any economic thinking, good or bad, or any tea or tea pots either.
But instead of working together where we agree, the President has opted for divisive rhetoric and the broken politics of the past. He is going from town to town, impugning the motives of Republicans, setting up straw men and scapegoats, and engaging in intellectually lazy arguments, as he tries to build support for punitive tax hikes on job creators.
" Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates."Kevin D. Williamson at National Review, writing about the late Steve Jobs' contribution to society.
The outsourcing of private morality to the state is a particularly modern affliction, but equally as pernicious. We witness the startling paradox that today’s private society is crasser, less honest, and more uncouth even as its government’s official morality stresses gender, race, class, and green ethical superiority. But just because the state now thankfully mandates disabled parking spaces does not mean that we honor a crippled relative more than in the past, or that our children are more likely to write a note of thanks to a grandparent’s gift. I can surely see an erosion in the public expression of manners and morality even as I sense our government is now more “fair” and “equal” than ever before.
The whole thing is, as usual, worth reading but down in the comments, the always astute cfbleachers has a great summary of what's eating us alive. A partial quote:When poverty is defined as relative want rather than existential need, states decay and societies decline. In the fifth century, Athenians were content to be paid to go to the theater; by the fourth, they were paid also to vote — even as they hired mercenaries to fight and forgot who won at Salamis, and why. Flash mobbing did not hit bulk food stores. The looters organized on Facebook through laptops and cell phones, not through organizing during soup kitchens and bread lines. Random assaults were not because of elemental poverty, but anger at not having exactly what appears on TV.
Obesity, not malnutrition, is the affliction at Wal-Mart. In our strange culture, that someone drives an overpriced BMW apparently means that our own Toyotas don’t have air conditioners or stereos. But that John Edwards or John Kerry or Al Gore has a huge house doesn’t mean that mine is inadequate — or the tract homes that sprout in my community for new arrivals from Mexico are too small.
Of course, the elite have responsibility to use their largess wisely and not turn into the Kardashians. But that a fifth of one percent of the taxpayers are finding ways not to pay at the income tax rate on their large incomes does not hurt the republic as much as 50% of the population paying no income tax at all. The latter noble sorts do not bother us as much, but their noncompliance bothers the foundations of our society far more than that of the stingy, but minuscule, number of grasping rich.
A society that is hell bent on trying to find new and unique ways to pick a fight with itself is in for a headache. This current group is so inane and arrogant, it at once picks a fight, declares the matter “settled”, calls any principled dissent “racist” and then apologizes to the world for our entire past.
The problem, of course…with having the Protest Culture Cult in positions of leadership, is that they can’t produce a budget, have no foreign policy plan, don’t listen to our generals on the ground, can’t fix Wall Street, can’t make a tax program and can’t negotiate a contract with unions…because they have been in “anti” mode for 45 years. They know how to gripe and cry and moan and march in perpetual protest…but, they never had to actually MAKE something, they only had to criticize the efforts of others.
There's more. Go read the whole thing.Simply by varying a few features of ObamaCare, the president could guarantee nearly “universal” employment just as ObamaCare has guaranteed nearly “universal” health coverage. He could implement an “ObamaJobs” program as follows:1) Impose a “job mandate” requiring all companies with greater than 50 employees to add 10% new employees to their payrolls. So if a company currently has 50 employees, they would need to hire 5 new workers. If a company has 100 employees, they must hire 10 new workers, etc.
There’s a White House scandal involving favoritism towards a specific company high on President Obama’s political agenda — and it’s not Solyndra.
In this case, the company owner happens to be a big Democratic Party donor. And in the pursuit of giving preference to a specific company, the White House undercut a legendary four-star general and potentially undermined U.S. national security. Adding fuel to the explosive story: at one time President Obama was a personal investor, with $50,000 of his own money.
The Constitution’s Framers knew that there is a human inclination to increase personal power at the expense of law, so they created Congress as a decentralized and internally divided institution, but they granted it ample authority to secure the rule of law in every case. Congress holds the power of the pen as well as the purse. It has the power necessary to address attacks on the rule of law in our executive bureaucracies and even in the courts. The Constitution provides us with the power to solve these problems; what we need, is the will to do it.
One thing you will never hear our president explain is precisely what he means when he uses the word “fair.” The word actually means “free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice.” What Obama means, however, is something quite different. What he is saying is that it is not fair that somebody earns more than another, owns more than another, or has more wealth than another. And he intends to make it “fair.”
According to the National Taxpayers Union, the top 10% of wage-earners — families and small business owners who make over $113,799 — pay an incredibly unfair 70% of all federal income taxes. The top 50% of wage-earners pay nearly all federal income taxes. Is that fair? It seems that our president is not going to allow the half of Americans who pay no taxes to bear the burden of the other half who aren’t paying their fair share [my emphasis]. This is why the vast majority of the half who don’t pay any taxes continue to vote for Barack Obama.
Read the whole thing.There are few articles of faith as firmly fixed in the liberal canon as the belief that Clarence Thomas is, to put it as bluntly as many liberals do, a dunce and a worm. Twenty years of married life have not erased the conventional liberal view of his character etched by Anita Hill’s testimony at his confirmation hearings. Not only does the liberal mind perceive him as a disgusting lump of ungoverned sexual impulse; he is seen as an intellectual cipher. Thomas’ silence during oral argument before the Supreme Court is taken as obvious evidence that he has nothing to say and is perhaps a bit intimidated by the verbal fireworks exchanged by the high profile lawyers and his more, ahem, ‘qualified’ colleagues.
It all comes down to this: Is there an inalienable right to self-defense? If there is, each man has indisputable, inestimable value, value that he may rightly preserve even if the life of another man is forfeit. A man may kill another in lawful self-defense even if the policy preferences of the state would prefer his death. If a right to self-defense actually exists, it is in a very real sense the highest law of the land and all lesser laws must pay it deference. It fundamentally defines the social contract, the nature of the relationship between man and the state.
But if there is no such inalienable right, the entire nature of the social contract is changed. Each man’s worth is measured solely by his utility to the state, and as such the value of his life rides a roller coaster not unlike the stock market: dependent not only upon the preferences of the party in power but upon the whims of its political leaders and the permanent bureaucratic class. The proof of this analysis surrounds us.
Why did the riots in London occur?Irony abounds in that England, the cradle of the common law and of our doctrine of self-defense, has utterly done away with even a government-condescended privilege to self-preservation. Not only have the English allowed themselves to be virtually stripped of firearms, British politicians have made attempts with varying degrees of success to ban knives. Attempting to protect the self or others from brutal criminal attack can and will lead to lengthy jail sentences in jolly old England — for the victims. Attacking criminals often go free, and often successfully sue their victims for daring to harm them in the process of depriving them of property or their very lives.
England has seen riots because the English allowed those who rule them to place what value they choose on the lives of Englishmen. They chose the indolent, the parasites, the criminals, the barbarians over honest, productive Englishmen and denied them their very right to exist when attacked by members of the parasitical class, the class established by the state and the class which perpetuates the state lest its very nourishment be cut off.
And now the Obama administration has revealed its assessment of the value of the life of a Border Patrol officer: Zero. Agent Terry is of no value, for the crime was committed not against him, but the state, which in its wisdom and mercy is far more concerned with protecting feckless bureaucrats and politicians than American citizens.
The Washington Examiner’s Lachlan Markay broke news this week about the appointment of a major liberal donor, Judith Faulkner, CEO of Epic Systems Corporation, to the Health & Human Services Health Information Technology Policy Committee. Markay reports that Judy Faulkner was appointed to a stimulus-created board that is charged with disbursing billions of taxpayer dollars for health information technology adoption despite her opposition to the administration’s interoperability goals, which require that health records be shareable across platforms.
Faulkner and her company oppose the president’s vision for health IT, but Epic employees are massive Democratic donors. They’ve given nearly $300,000 to Democrats since 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Faulkner is also the sole representative for the health IT industry on the committee, which has the power to set industry standards. Does anyone doubt that any adopted standards will work to the benefit of Epic Systems? This is a serious conflict of interest for Epic Systems and the Department of Health and Human Services. It is, however, a fairly predictable conflict of interest, highlighting one of the myriad objections to central planning known as regulatory capture. Simply put, regulatory capture is when government agencies work in the interest of specific commercial interests instead of their original charter, and is extremely common due to the fact that industry has the strongest incentive to assume control of the regulatory process. Given this, why should Americans trust any decision made by HHS on Health IT policy?
Big Government means small citizens: it corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically. Within living memory, the city in flames on our TV screens every night governed a fifth of the Earth's surface and a quarter of its population. When you're imperialists on that scale, there are bound to be a few mishaps along the way. But nothing the British Empire did to its subject peoples has been as total and catastrophic as what a post-great Britain did to its own.
Baseline budgeting says that the budgetary estimate of government spending in any fiscal year is automatically assumed to continue at pre-ordained rates of expansion in all subsequent years. This definition, boiled down to its least common denominator, means that spending never decreases from one year to the next.
Say the federal government has a program to teach self-esteem, motivation and marketable job skills to debutantes. Call it DebSelf. And say that congress has authorized $100 million in 1990 DebSelf funding. 1991 budgeteers would then factor in 5 percent for inflation, not a 10-percent increase in the population of girls who had coming-out parties in the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas' civilian labor force, assume a 10-percent increae in DebSelf program utilization based on Census Bureau surveys of cotillion-ball activity and give DebSelf a $125 million baseline. (Note that using the current services baseline reasoning, DebSelf grows to be a $10 billion program in twenty years.)
Cowboy poetry utterly lacking in metre.Even Sesame Street won't be immune:
Sesame Street descends into Mad Maxian anarchy; Oscar the Grouch fashions shivs out the letter J and the number 4
Liberalism is a sort of parasite that feeds on the wealth that free enterprise creates. Liberalism exists for two reasons: 1) to stuff the pocketbooks of those who have learned to live at the taxpayers’ expense, and 2) to feed the moral vanity of those who can’t resist meddling in other peoples’ lives. When times are good, the economy can drag a fair amount of liberalism along behind it. But when times are hard, liberalism is a luxury we can’t afford.
Many liberals think that the primary purpose of government is to protect them from private industry. I have never understood that. History suggests that it is governments that should be viewed warily, not private enterprise. When has the electric company ever hauled people out of their beds, lined them up against a wall and shot them? When has an automobile manufacturer ever asserted the right to appropriate big chunks of anyone’s income, whether they like it or not? Companies just compete for my business. They supply me with things I enjoy and need, and, with rare exceptions, I like them.
The government, on the other hand, takes close to half of my income by force, drives up the cost of everything I buy with indirect taxes and needless regulations, complicates what should be easy transactions, and will surely do worse the moment we all stop paying attention. So I count on private companies to help protect me against government.
Here’s the position I think we may be in. We’ve been negotiating with the President and The Democrats in Congress on the assumption that they’re sane. It’s okay to play hardball with these guys because eventually, whether they like it or not, reality insists upon itself and they have to cave. It’s a painful process so you expect some tantrum throwing and caterwauling, but eventually they HAVE to accept reality. Except if they’re not sane. If they want five apples and there’s only two plus two but they CAN’T ACCEPT that two plus two equals four. Orwell wasn’t just writing a parable about the eventual end point of IngSoc. He was describing what human psychology can drive Ministers to inflict upon the populace for the sake of “justice”. I’m worried they’ll pull the trigger on default as just one more “political” step in the march towards freedom from want or whatever other principle they’re operating under. They’re playing this game as if they could win, as if taxes in a downturn are a good idea with benign consequences. As if debt equivalent to GDP is survivable for the world’s anchor economy/currency, let alone sustainable.
And so maybe, just maybe, Republican strategy (what little there is of it) has badly misread the opposition. Obama tried to add 400 billion in taxes to a deal he had already agreed with Boehner at the last minute. Boehner walks out cause Obama is negotiating in bad faith and has been all along, but what if Obama is actually incapable of good faith negotiation? I think right now that it’s actually possible we won’t see a deal at all. Because the Republicans are looking at the math and at reality and saying “Okay, Democrat demands can’t be serious because they can’t possibly work” and Democrats are looking at politics and how it works and saying “We don’t have to give in cause that’s not how you win these things. You pin it on the other guy politically and then reap the political dividends.”
Now, to be sure, there are plenty of Americans who are firmly convinced that we would all be better off if we grew our own food, bought only locally, kept firms small, eschewed modern conveniences like home appliances, went back to using only natural products, expropriated wealthy savers, harassed the capitalistic class until it felt itself unwelcome and vanished. This paradise has a name, and it is Haiti.
(8) Many conservative women, in particular, encounter liberal men in social settings who become uncontrollably loud and abusive when a conservative woman fails to nod pleasantly and express respectful agreement with his political views. When this happens, remain as cool as you can. Hold your ground. Let the liberal become apoplectic while you calmly say, “I disagree with your characterization” or “I don’t share your contempt,” “I don’t accept your premises,” or “I see things differently.”
You be the rational one, while the liberal is driven around the bend not only by your views and your knowledgeable statement of facts, but also by your composure and your refusal to be bullied.
Don’t be surprised or stunned into silence or submission when this happens. And it will happen. Expect it. Trust me.
Read the whole thing, of course. Links to parts one and two are here.The trouble and even the tragedy of Al Gore is that he comes at the tail end of this tradition; he is a living example of what you get when a worldview outlives its time. He presses the old buttons and turns the old cranks, but the machine isn’t running any more. The priests dance around the altar, the priestess chews the sacred herbs, but the god no longer speaks. Like President Obama watching a universal healthcare program that he thought would secure his place in history turn into an electoral albatross and a policy meltdown, Al Gore thought that in the climate issue he had picked a winning horse. Judging from his Rolling Stone essay he has no idea why the climate movement failed, and no clue at all about how he could re-think the issue.
“Now who is the Forgotten Man? He is the simple, honest laborer, willing to earn his living by productive work. We pass him by because he is independent, self-supporting, and asks no favors. He does not appeal to the emotions or excite the sentiments. He only wants to make a contract and fulfil it, with respect to both sides and favor on neither side. He must get his living out of the capital of the country. The larger the capital is, the better living he can get. Every particle of capital which is wasted on the vicious, the idle, and the shiftless is so much taken from the capital available to reward the independent and productive laborer. But we stand with our backs to the independent and productive laborer all the time. We do not remember him because he makes no clamor; but appeal to you whether he is not the man who ought to be remembered first of all, and whether, on any sound social theory, we ought not to protect him against the burdens of the good-for-nothing.”
- The Forgotten Man, page 209 from On Liberty, Society and Politics. The Essential Writings of William Graham Sumner, Edited by Robert C. Bannister.
Mr. Gore’s work up to and including his latest Rolling Stone essay has taken a demagogic rather than intellectual approach. His method of arguing is to trumpet the science of climate change and to make ad hominem arguments against its opponents. The science is clear, it is settled, and the opposition against it is funded by people with an economic stake in denial. I am right about the science and my opponents are a bunch of evil opportunists in it only for the money.
That is Mr. Gore’s position, and it is his entire position. He says nothing about the feasibility of the proposed GGCT or its cost effectiveness. That, presumably, we must take on faith. There is nothing to discuss about policy. It is essentially the cry of Chicken Little: “The sky is falling and we must run and tell the king.”
Thus speaketh Al Gore: the world is burning down and so you must immediately follow my plan for fixing what’s wrong. He does not discuss whether his plan is feasible; to anyone who objects to the ponderous, unwieldy Rube Goldberg style green treaty agenda, Gore simply bellows: “What’s the matter you soul-dead, hired flack of the evil oil companies, don’t you believe in Science?”
Al Gore’s logic is exactly like the genealogy of the man who boasted that his line of descent went all the way back to Julius Caesar — with only two gaps. Gore’s ironclad argument has only two gaps: he presents no evidence that the GGCT is either feasible (that it would be efficacious if put into practice and that it can in fact be put into practice in a reasonable time frame) or economical (that it is the cheapest and most effective means of reaching the goal, and that the cost of the fix is less than the cost of the problem).
This is the method of the global green movement as shaped by Al Gore: an ever-crescendoing invocation of blizzards, droughts, locusts and floods aims to stampede the populace into embracing one of the most dubious and unworkable policy prescriptions ever presented to the public eye.
But you cannot be a leading environmentalist who hopes to lead the general public into a long and difficult struggle for sacrifice and fundamental change if your own conduct is so flagrantly inconsistent with the green gospel you profess. If the heart of your message is that the peril of climate change is so imminent and so overwhelming that the entire political and social system of the world must change, now, you cannot fly on private jets. You cannot own multiple mansions. You cannot even become enormously rich investing in companies that will profit if the policies you advocate are put into place.
It is not enough to buy carbon offsets (aka “indulgences”) with your vast wealth, not enough to power your luxurious mansions with exotic low impact energy sources the average person could not afford, not enough to argue that you only needed the jet so that you could promote your earth-saving film.
You are asking billions of people, the overwhelming majority of whom lack many of the basic life amenities you take for granted, people who can’t afford Whole Foods environmentalism, to slash their meager living standards. You may well be right, and those changes may be necessary — the more shame on you that with your superior insight and knowledge you refuse to live a modest life. There’s a gospel hymn some people in Tennessee still sing that makes the point: “You can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine.”
There are none. Only technocratic overseers who wish to give someone else’s money to others as a means of winning capitalist-style lifestyles and power for themselves — in a penultimate cycle of unsustainable spending. When this latest attempt at statism is over, Barack Obama will enjoy a sort of Clintonism, a globe-trotting post officium lifestyle of multimillion dollar honoraria to fund a lifestyle analogous to “two Americas” John Edwards, “earth in the balance” Al Gore, a tax-exempt yachting John Kerry, a revolving-door Citibank grandee like Peter Orszag, or a socialist Strauss-Kahn in $20,000 suits doling out billions to the “poor.”
It is a sort of modern version of Louis XV’s “Après moi, le déluge” – an unsustainable Ponzi scheme in which elite overseers, for the duration of their own lives, enjoy power, influence, and gratuities by implementing a system that destroys the sort of wealth for others that they depend upon for themselves.
This discussion is, of course, a belabored example of why and how socialists do not like socialism. Indeed, statism is not a desired outcome, but rather more a strategy for obtaining power or winning acclaim as one of the caring, by offering the narcotic of promising millions something free at the expense of others who must be seen as culpable and obligated to fund it — entitlements fueled by someone else’s money that enfeebled the state, but in the process extended power, influence, and money to a technocratic class of overseers who are exempt from the very system that they have advocated.
The fact that this isn't self-evident is a crying shame.We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle
- Winston Churchill
Nemesis is always hot on the trail of hubris, across time and space, and the goddess has been particularly busy in destroying the carefully crafted images of Bono, John Edwards, Timothy Geithner, Al Gore, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Anthony Weiner, and a host of others. What do their tax hypocrisies, sexual indulgences, and aristocratic socialist lifestyles all have in common?
Collectively, they represent a self-appointed or elected global elite that oversees, lectures about — in sanctimonious fashion — the ethical responsibilities of the redistributive state. Bono and his ensemble may be the highest paid rock group in the world, the most eager to shake a finger at Western governments on their moral duties to help the less fortunate. He is a pop icon always ready to fault the consumerist Western lifestyle. But Bono and his pals are quite determined to avoid Irish tax laws to ensure more of their hard-won capitalist profits so necessary to support their global lifestyles, at a time when their alma mater is broke and unable to fund its once ample entitlements.
If you pay homage to the leftist propaganda machine, you don’t have to worry about accountability.
You have to worry about karma.
You have to be a complete imbecile to be a leftist and get caught in a scandal. Tony Baloney lied through his teeth, blamed others, said it was a frame up by wingnuts, said he was hacked….
John Edwards lived in “two Americas”, one where honor and integrity were merely trifling things and the other where he lied about them with impunity.
Barney Frank has never been made to come clean about the prostitution ring in his basement or his close ties to Fannie’s internal collapse.
Obama and Rezco, his and Michelle’s law licenses, Ayers, ….there is a pathway from the lack of accountability that leads directly to corruption.
Republicans, being held to a higher standard by BOTH constituencies, fair far worse when exposed.
Leftists being held to NO standard by their own, and, in fact often given great cover…are the new integrity welfare state. They are dependent upon the coverup and corruption in the media and their inner circles. The conspiracy of silence destroys their need for honor.
Nothing they do, say or promote gets examined…and therefore it becomes weak, corrupt and necrotic.
They are the permanent ethical underclass, living in a ghetto of no scruples. And, worst of all…it looks like paradise to them.