About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why Progressives Love Bureaucrats

Imagine the million and one tasks you do each day, from the simple to the sublime. You might buy food, go to work, maintain your car, provide healthcare for your kids, buy flowers for your wife and so on. Each of these tasks requires research, planning, a decision and, finally, action. Now imagine a world of seven billion individuals, each of whom is doing a million and one tasks of his or her own, researching options, planning, making decisions and acting. The scope and depth of this cumulative, daily, human action is truly mindboggling.

Now imagine a world wherein these millions upon millions of tasks are done not by individuals, but by an "authority" of some kind. Imagine a world wherein an "expert" in nutrition is in charge of buying food for every individual, a genius "Surgeon General" is in charge of providing healthcare for your family, a transportation "Czar" is in charge of getting you from here to there and a nature-sensitive ecologist is in charge of deciding where and when particular flowers may be picked and sold. Such a world is almost unimagineable. No one bureaucrat, no matter how smart, could personally act on behalf of seven billion people in the world, or even the mere 300-million people who live in the United States.

So, imagine now that these bureaucrats have assistants and that their assistants have assistants, so many assistants, in fact, that a particular assistant could personally act on behalf of all the individuals and families in a particular neighborhood or on a particular street. Moreover, imagine that these neighborhood assistants had access to the most powerful computers and the pooled resources of all US citizens. Could such a system "work?" Could the economies of scale -- central planning, mass production, bulk buying and so forth -- make such a system more efficient and effective than the "unplanned chaos" of every individual acting on his own behalf?

Although such a comprehensive bureaucratic system is not obviously impossible, reasonable people should still ask: Why attempt such a thing? What's the point? Isn't it obvious that it's far more practical, effective and efficient, when considered from the point of view of each individual, for Americans to do things for themselves rather than to put themselves in the care of some nameless, faceless bureaucrat?

Apparently not.

If it were obvious, a significant portion of the American population would not regularly vote for political candidates who promise to substitute bureaucratic action for individual action.

Socialists, progressives and collectivists -- authoritarians all -- might argue that the scenario I asked you to imagine is designed to be purposedly absurd. No progressive politician wants to put a government bureaucrat in charge of the daily, mundane chores Americans now do for themselves. Progressives want the democratic process to decide only the "big issues," i.e., the democratic process would decide the overall benefit and fairness of particularly broad "policy areas" of human action, such as healthcare, retirement security, education, transportation, the environment, and so forth. The "masses," they say, would remain free to manage their own "personal" affairs within the context of these democratically decided "big issues."

This argument has a certain appeal. Rather than leave life and death decisions and actions regarding these "big issues" in the hands of unknowledgeable laymen, doesn't it make sense to have scientists and academic "experts" in positions of authority to offer guidance on these "big issues?" The cummulative knowledge of these "experts," pooled with the resources of the many, would be certain to benefit each ordinary American far beyond their own individual capabilities and resources.

Here's the rub. Although such a "big issue" bureaucratic democracy may be well-intentioned, it could not be free. Merely passing a "big issue" law or creating a "big issue" rule or regulation does not ensure that all Americans will meekly obey it. Will these "big issue" politicians and bureaucrats be content to allow their political mandates and academic expertise serve as "guidance" only? Or will these authorities insist upon some means by which their "big issue" decisions are enforced as mandatory directives?

I think we know the answer to that question. Experience tells us that federal bureaucrats enjoy having power as well as position. They eagerly appoint assistants, and assistants to their assistants. They mandate that an assistant is assigned to each neighborhood and hamlet in America, there to enforce the authority of the head bureaucrat in Washington.

So we've come full circle. My original, supposedly "absurd" scenario is not so absurd after all. But, when considered from the point of view of each American citizen, can such a "big issue" democratic bureaucracy possibly be more effective and efficient than individuals acting of their own accord?

There are two reasons why individual action is far more effective and efficient than bureaucratic action.  The first reason is what Friedrich A. Hayek called "the problem of the utilization of knowledge." Hayek describes this knowledge problem as follows in his essay: "The Use Of Knowledge In Society:"
The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess. The economic problem of society is thus not merely a problem of how to allocate "given" resources—if "given" is taken to mean given to a single mind which deliberately solves the problem set by these "data." It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only these individuals know. Or, to put it briefly, it is a problem of the utilization of knowledge which is not given to anyone in its totality.
In other words, individuals know more about their own specific circumstances, and their own particular wants and desires than any bureaucrat could possibly know. All the bureaucrat is able to do is gather economic data and form general opinions. It is absolutely impossible for him to know the ends and goals each particular individual chooses to pursue. In truth, bureaucrats are not interested in knowing about the specific dreams of everyday individuals. Bureaucrats are only interested in making sure that individual Americans do what they are directed to do. Therefore, when considered from the point of view of the individual and in the context of the wants and dreams of the individual, the bureaucratic mindset can only result in ineffectiveness, inefficiency and abject dissatisfaction.

Moreover, Hayek recognizes that, even if the bureaucrat could know the wants and dreams of individual Americans, he could not possibly know enough to satisfy these wants and make these dreams come true. Even with the most powerful computers at his disposal, even with the most brilliant academic "experts" at his side, the bureaucrat cannot distill the cumulative knowledge, experience and creativity of every American worker and entrepreneur into a single effective, efficient and satisfying directive. His attempts to do so must inexorably generate futility and frustration.

The second reason individuals are more effective and more efficient doing things for themselves is the incentive inherent in ownership. There is a popular saying: Nobody washes a rental car. Will any reader dispute the truth implied by this saying? It is human nature. An individual invests far more time and energy caring for his own property than for someone else's.

If I own my own home, I will maintain it. Why? Because the consequences of failing to maintain it fall directly at my own feet. If I live in federal, public housing, I will expect the ostensible owner of this housing, the federal government, to maintain it. If the roof leaks, I will call HUD, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and speak to the bureaucrat in charge. The problem is that no bureaucrat at HUD really owns the house. The bureaucrat in charge of HUD is responsible for seeing that the HUD bureaucracy runs smoothly. Yes, there may be an assistant to an assistant to an assistant who is assigned to see that the roofs of public houses do not leak. But the interest this employee has in fixing a leaky roof is limited by his job description and the extent to which he can be blamed if the leaky roof  is not properly and promptly fixed.

Experience tells us that such a HUD employee is likely to think he is overworked and underpaid. He is likely to spend as little time and effort as possible responding to my request to fix the roof. It is absolutely certain this employee will not act like a private landlord who has a real interest in protecting the value of his owned property. Again, the inexorable result of bureaucratic action (or inaction) is ineffectiveness, inefficiency and, ultimately, dissatisfaction for those living in federal housing.

Does any reader disagree with this analysis? If not, then I ask the question once again: Why do Americans regularly vote for political candidates who promise to substitute bureaucratic action for individual action?

I think the answer is obvious. "Progressive" Americans who vote for bureaucratic action instead of individual action are not concerned about the ineffectiveness or the inefficiency, or even the dissatisfaction, inherent in bureaucratic action. Evidently, these progressive Americans favor bureaucratic action over individual action because they dislike or disagree with the actions taken by their follow citizens when these citizens are allowed the freedom to act as they, themselves, see fit.

Evidently, these authoritarian and progressive Americans feel they can control the politicians by their vote, the bureaucrats by the politicians, and the actions of their neighbors by the bureaucrat's edicts.

If I were a progressive, I guess democratic bureaucracy would sound pretty darn effective, efficient and satisfying.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Hallmarks Of Cooperative Society

LD Jackson at Political Realities has written another thought provoking post. Jackson's point is similar to the point I tried to make here, i.e., it's a bad idea to legislate morality. My comment to Jackson's post is as follows:

The quote from Ron Paul is profound. Paul recognizes that the “goal of government isn’t to mold society and mold the people.” I would go further. I would contend that the goal of society isn’t to mold the people. People mold society to fit their purpose. If their purpose is strictly cooperative, society thrives on a large scale and individuals enjoy the benefits of private property, liberty and peace. If, however, their purpose is to proselytize others to some particular moral point of view, society may thrive but only on a small scale. When moral zealots gain control of a large, diverse society, whether by means of politics or culture, that society will either crack up and balkanize or drift into some variation of theocracy.

Despite its predominantly Christian heritage and culture, American society has always been secular, tolerant and cooperative. It’s why America is not Europe. Any effort to change this tradition, whether by Christians, Islamists or militant “progressives,” is in effect an effort to destroy American society as we’ve known it.

My comment begs the question: What are the hallmarks of a "strictly cooperative" society? The answer to this question requires a bit of tedious reasoning.

Man acts, i.e., he uses means available to attain a particular end or goal. This is the premise of the reasoning of Ludwig von Mises and all of Austrian economics. When a man seeks to attain a particular end which he cannot attain or cannot attain to his satisfaction acting alone, he seeks to use the means of cooperative action, which is mutual or coodinated action. He seeks out a potential cooperative partner (or partners), who is like-minded with regard to the end sought. He strikes an agreement to use means available to both himself and his partner in order to attain their mutually desired end.

We may ask ourselves, what type of agreement must be struck by the cooperating partners, to ensure not only that proper means are used to attain the end sought in common, but also that both partners will actually benefit from the end sought once attained?

The first part of this question is largely technical and practical. The partners must agree to an arbitrary set of rules of cooperative action which they believe will attain the end sought, a set of prescribed and proscribed individual actions, if you will, that both agree are appropriate to attaining the end sought. If no agreement can be reached, cooperative action cannot proceed. If an agreement is reached, cooperative action can proceed, but there is no guarantee that the agreed upon prescriptions and proscriptions of individual action will, in reality, attain the end sought. Life is nothing if it is not uncertain.

The second part of the question is most critical. Assume the joint means devised will indeed attain the mutually sought end. How do our prospective cooperative partners ensure that each will benefit from that end, once attained?

It seems clear that each partner could prevent the other partner from attaining the end sought by either killing his partner, once the end is attained, or by simply taking it entirely for himself. Thus, it follows that our prospective cooperators must agree to proscribe two individual actions in order for their cooperative action to commence and be satisfactory to both. The cooperative partners must agree to proscribe murder and theft and all their corollaries (assault, battery, extortion, embezzlement and the like). These proscriptions imply that our cooperative partners have individual rights of life and property guaranteed by the cooperative agreement. It is absurd to believe that a cooperative action could end satisfactorily without such proscriptions because such a notion contradicts the premise that man acts with purpose, i.e., to attain a particular end.

Does such a cooperative agreement require some sort of mutally agreed upon enforcement mechanism to ensure that both parties actually abide by the agreed upon prosciptions? Not necessarily. A final agreement presupposes that both parties are either confident they will attain the end sought or that one or both parties are imprudent. Either way, a cooperative action can commence. Whether it will end satisfactorily for all depends on the means agreed to and the integrity and honesty of the partners involved. The salient point is in order for the cooperative action to commence and succeed, both partners must believe they will attain the end sought in whole or in some agreed upon portion.

It should be clear from all this that cooperative actions do not always succeed. However, excepting the stupidity and naivete on the part of particular partners, cooperative actions cannot commence without proscriptions against murder and theft. All other criteria for cooperative action are secondary and arbitrary. What other conclusions can we draw from all this?

First and foremost, that the title of this post contains a redundancy. Society, by definition, is and must be cooperative. Second, that a society which proscribes or outlaws murder and theft, but little else, will be generally open and intolerant, and will have widespread appeal to prospective cooperators. On the other hand, a society which not only proscribes murder and theft, but also prescribes and proscribes a host of other individual actions for moral, religious, cultural or other reasons, will be generally intolerant and closed and will have a narrow appeal to prospective cooperators.

So what?

So the hallmarks of the closed and intolerant society will be some degree of tyranny, tenuous property rights and conflict, while the hallmarks of the open and tolerant society will be property, freedom and peace.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Skin In The Game

I watched a movie last night that every American ought to watch periodically: We Were Soldiers. The picture graphically presents the horrors of war and the life and death sacrifices made by our military, our soldiers and their families. The movie is heart-wrenching.

My point? War ought not to be a means of foreign policy, but a means of self-defense. War ought to be seriously and deliberately considered by our Congressional representatives before it is waged.

Many conservatives whine about the fact that less than 50% of Americans pay income taxes. "Outrageous," they scream. "If we're ever going to make the tough decisions that need to be made, then every American ought to have skin in the game!"

I just heard a statistic. Today, less than 1/2 of one percent of Americans have a direct connection to Americans serving in our military. Talk about having skin in the game. This statistic is truly outrageous.

How easy is it for Republican candidates to hawkishly rattle their sabre at the amorphous "terrorists" in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and, yes, even our own country. The President gets to surround himself with "experts" and send troops, warships and Cruise missiles into any hotspot hamlet in the world with a wave of his almighty hand. And as these troops go into harm's way, their lives at risk, the rest of us barely notice. Some of us around the watercooler discuss the latest military adventure as if it were a foreign policy video game. Wrong move! Right move! Necessary move! And then we go back to work and to our families feeling good about ourselves and our foreign policy expertise.

Ron Paul is so very, very right. We throw the word "war" around too casually because only 1/2 of one percent of us feel its sting and misery. Rick Santorum insists America is "at war." I beg to differ, Rick. America is not at war. 1/2 of one percent of America is at war. The rest of us are playing video games.

War needs to be redefined in the American psyche. War needs to be defined as the holy hell we ALL raise and sacrifice for when our children's lives are in imminent danger of being taken by enemies domestic or foreign. That doesn't mean we live in fear of every possible threat, or that we terrorize these same children at airports or establish a police state at home because evil exists somewhere in the world. It is impossible to build a protective bubble around our homes and families. We are all soldiers. We all have skin in the game. Therefore, we hold our heads high, keep our eyes and ears open and project the clear and certain message to those who would harm us: "Mess with us and you will soon breathe your last breath."

War needs to be deliberately considered as a 100% effort on the part of all of us. Our enemies need to know that if America "declares war" that "war" is not going to be a few hundred marines landing in Somalia, or a missile launched from an aircraft carrier parked off the coast of Syria, or a bunch of CIA spies riding horses in the mountains of Pakistan. War should mean death and destruction of the enemies who mortally threaten us. If it doesn't, war becomes a cruel joke.

Arm-chair generals mock Ron Paul as they arrogantly pontificate about the necessity of America projecting strength here and there around the globe. Ron Paul knows the truth: that making war has gotten too f*****g easy in this country.

Maybe these blowhards mock Ron Paul because they know that, if the nation ever goes to war with Paul as President, their skin will definitely be in the game.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Last Night's Foreign Policy Debate

I missed it. I'm not sorry I missed it. Frankly, I think these debates are a bad idea. Think about it. The only lasting effect debates have on elections is when a candidate makes a gaffe. Think back on all the Presidential and Vice Presidential election debates you've watched over the years. What do you recall about them? Should we start with Nixon's sweaty upper lip? How about Bentsen's remark to Quayle? How about Ford's Eastern Europe/Soviet gaffe? James Stockdale? Bush looking at his wristwatch? Al Gore's sigh? Dukakis on the death penalty? Refresh your memory here.

I believe cable channels with a liberal bent are eager to sponsor these things because they know that sooner or later these candidates will embarrass themselves with a gaffe or two. So far, most of them have. Rick Perry's gaffe cost him plenty. Cain has had his share. Bachmann and Santorum haven't helped themselves. Gingrich is a ticking time bomb. (In fact, Gingrich has used the debates to his advantage by giving media bashing answers. Good and popular sound bites, but do we really learn something from these responses about Gingrich's fitnesss for being president?) Romney distinguishes himself by avoiding gaffes because of his vanilla responses.

Save the debates for after the field is winnowed down. Having them now, with all the candidates standing in a row with 30 seconds to describe their position on health care is made to order for a disaster.

That said, here's part of the debate I watched. The video is below.

All of the Republican candidates, except Paul and perhaps Huntsman, endorse the retention or strengthening of the Patriot Act and the obnoxious TSA screenings. None see either measure as a threat to individual liberty. Gingrich, Romney and Santorum made a point of saying, in effect, that in a time of war individual liberties must be sacrificed for the public good.

Paul's point, which they all conveniently ignored, is that today a state of war is constant and continuous. President's, not Congress, declare war these days almost on a whim. Ergo, unless Paul is elected, we can never expect these infringements of our liberties to go away. They will always be with us.

This is not the America I signed up for.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bill Press And Sean Hannity Have Something In Common

Bill Press, one of the vilest, most partisan and most liberal radio commentors on earth, and Sean Hannity have something in common. Sodastream sponsors both of their shows. In fact, they both read advertising copy for Sodastream which is, as far as I can tell, word-for-word identical.

I don't know why I find this fascinating, but I do!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Sure Bet!

As most everybody knows, North Dakota is experiencing an oil boom. In the Williston Basin of western North Dakota jobs are available for anyone who wants one. Moreover, wages are sky high due to the scarcity of labor. According to ScrippsNews:
New drilling technology has freed up vast reserves of oil in the Williston Basin of western North Dakota, fueling an economic bonanza. As most of the country desperately tries to skirt a double-dip recession, North Dakota boasts a $1 billion budget surplus and the nation's lowest unemployment rate. Recruits from Minnesota, Texas and both coasts keep arriving, reversing a long population decline. Schools are rushing to hire more teachers. Towns are adding more cops.

Almost 200 drilling rigs are boring 100 new wells a month. The state's recent figures show 16,435 job openings, 48 percent more than a year ago.
So, besides finding a good paying job, what's the sure bet?

That you won't see hoards of leftists Occupying North Dakota any time soon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What's Up With Today's Pop "Music?"

I'm a baby boomer. I grew up listening to Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, the Beatles, Brenda Lee, Aaron Neville, the Rolling Stones and the Supremes. The music was fantastic. The songs were great. They had rhythm as well as beat...melody was king. You'd hear a song, say by Johnny Cash, and it stuck in your mind forever. You whistled the melody. Hell, Lou Rawls, Jack Jones and even ol' Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra were still making recordings of the great American Songbook. It seemed every genre of music -- Pop, Country, Blues, Motown -- were at the peak of their game, churning out the music they're selling now on TV through Time-Life.

Nowadays I can't play the car radio. The music is bland, no melody, repetitive...boring! Lyrics -- if you can understand them for the shouting -- are tedious. Music today reminds me of the folk music of Joan Baez with a faster beat and childish lyrics. Taylor Swift, Katie Perry, Rihanna, Keith Urban...they all sound the same to me, cookie cutter songs written by computer. Every genre nowadays is infected by this melody-less boredom. Of course, I can't claim to be an expert on rap, hip hop, alternative, punk, goth, metal and other nouveau genres that masquerade as music. Sorry, I can't listen to them.

Even considering the great music I grew up with, my favorite music is the music of the Big Band era, the 1930's, '40's and early '50's. To me, this was the golden age of American music. This was the era when guys like Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Harry Warren, Gus Kahn, Rogers and Hart and Cole Porter (to name a few) were in their prime. These were the best composers and lyricists who ever breathed.

Moreover, the music was arranged and presented by musical geniuses, like Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Harry James...too many to name and do them all justice. Furthermore, the singers who sang the music were one-of-a-kind talents, like Frank Sinatra, Vaugh Monroe, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Doris Day, Jo Stafford, Helen O'Connell, Helen Forrest, Vera Lynn...again, way to many to mention them all.

Truly, if this era was the Golden Age of American music, I don't know what today's era qualifies as.

On the other hand, I am occasionally surprised. The 2010 song of the year, "Need You Now," by Lady Antebellum is written in the traditional verse/chorus style and has a great melody. Lady GaGa can carry a tune with the best of them (if she'd cut the crap!). There are others, but, sadly, they are few and far between. Here's "Need You Now."

Here's Nat King Cole singing "Stardust." Note the lengthy verse at the start of the song. The relatively melody-less verse gives way to the high-melody chorus later on. Today's music reminds me of endless verse with no chorus.

Allow me two more. Listen to Peggy Lee singing with Benny Goodman at both the start of her career and the Second World War. I think she was about 20 years old at the time. Note the beautiful dulcit tones of Benny's clarinet. Note also that the first half of the song is instrumental, with the vocalist joining in the second half. This was customary in the times because the bands, musicians and arrangers were so talented.

Lastly, listen to Artie Shaw's rendition of "All The Things You Are" from 1939. The vocalist is Helen Forrest, perhaps the best big band singer of the era. Note how she sings the song purely and honestly without the grandstanding "runs" of modern day exhibitionists like Christina Aguilera. Again, the first half of the song is instrumental, highlighting Shaw's great clarinet and band.


Don't Let Them Play You For A Fool

L.D. Jackson has made another thought-provoking post at Political Realities: "Democrats Do Not Want A Balanced Budget Amendment." I posted a responding comment. As is my custom, I'll reprint it below with some additional commentary that follows:
Larry, I agree that the Democrats don’t want a balanced budget. I suspect they are more comfortable running up federal debt to pay for their ever-expanding redistributionist programs. That way they don’t have to listen to the natives out in the hinterlands complaining about getting taxed to death.

On the other hand, the Republicans are no better. I doubt they are truly interested in passing a balanced budget amendment that would effectively cut spending. After all, the Republican establishment has just as much to gain in political and financial power by an ever-expanding federal government as the Democrats.

Ron Paul said as much in a Hannity radio interview yesterday. Hannity mentioned the futility of the Super Committee cutting spending over 20 years. Paul responded as follows:

“Next year’s budget is the only thing that really counts. And because we defer to a Super Committee which I hope you agree with me is really not the way it’s supposed to be done… Even if they cut a trillion dollars over the next ten years with base line budgeting it means nothing. I’m convinced that the people I know up there including everybody in the administration and, unfortunately, our [Republican] leadership…I don’t think they understand the seriousness of this.

“…Our financial condition around the world, because there’s been a building up, a pyramiding, of debt for this last four years and of course I date it from the time we lost our last link to gold when it’s been pyramiding…This is a debt crisis and it’s international and it’s bigger in scope than anything that’s ever existed before…and if we pretend it’s not serious…

“I think they’re in total denial. Because if they were serious, they would be cutting. They would be cutting back on spending because obviously to just raise taxes to get rid of the deficit is not going to solve the problem. That just compounds our problem because our government is too big already so as far as I’m concerned you have to cut. So far I can’t get very many people in Washington to agree with that.”


The establishment politicians in Washington are sitting in the catbird seat, isolated from the hardship and financial uncertainty the rest of us are facing on a daily basis. They have power, prestige, wealth and constant adulation from an adoring media. Why would they seriously think about doing something that would upset their apple cart?

Unless real reformers, like Tea Party congressmen and Ron Paul, gain control of Washington, any balanced budget amendment will be as riddled with loopholes as a block of Swiss cheese. Take, for example, the so-called Super Committee. It’s a sham, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. The bluebloods in DC will string the process out till the midnight hour for maximum dramatic effect. They’ll strike a deal which means nothing, sit back and congratulate themselves. They’ll tell us rubes in flyover country that they compromised and sacrificed for the good of the republic. Then they’ll pile into their limousines or private Air Force jets and head to their weekend chalets for endless cocktail parties and rounds of golf.

In the meantime, as Ron Paul points out, the rest of us are left to deal with the consequences of decades of irresponsible, profligate federal spending, rising prices due to monetary inflation and an unprecedented world debt crisis spawned by these selfsame shysters…from BOTH parties.

Larry, they’re playing us for fools.

The history of the world has been a continuous, bloody struggle between arrogant aristocrats and we the people. The battle has been fought over our right to own property, have freedom and enjoy peace. The aristocrats believe only they have inalienable rights to such privileges. They believe that they are better than us, that they know more about what's good for us and our children than we know ourselves. For this reason they act as if they own us and everything we produce. They presume to tell us how to live and how to die. They intimidate us into acquiescing to their demands with the very power we grant them to maintain law and order. Not only are they playing us for fools, but we are acting the part.


We have the power of the vote, the absolute power to stop the plunder and pillage, but we refuse to exercise that power. More correctly stated, we misuse that power. We willingly transfer that power to these aristocratic parasites so they can continue unabated in their larcenous ways.

Why do we cede our power to them?

Because some of us actually believe these aristocrats are better than we are, that they are and rightfully should be our earthly shepards, guiding us through life as ignorant, enslaved lambs.

Because others among us are taken in by promises of power and financial favors showered on them by the Machiavellian aristocrats.

Because others are too busy to care and too careless to vote. They have all they can do to support themselves and their families while at the same time paying the confiscatory taxes demanded by the aristocrats. They consider taxation and a dominant aristocracy as inevitable as death. So why fight it.

Because others are taken in by the lies of the aristocrats and their shameless and incompetent allies in the media.

Because others have been educated to believe that property is theft, that freedom is unfair and that peace is only possible in a society wherein property is taken by wise and honorable pseudo-aristocrats from each according to his ability and redistributed to each man according to his need.

Doesn't it stand to reason that peace can only derive from property and freedom? The more a man is left alone to fend for himself and those he cares about, the more he is left alone to keep what he produces, the more he is left alone to trade with his neighbors as he sees fit, the more he is left alone to do as he wishes so long as he does not murder or steal, the more he is left alone by his neighbors. This, ladies and gentlemen, is called peace!

The truth is as plain as day.

Yet we continue to shuffle meekly along, like lambs to the slaughter. We continue to send a larger and larger portion of what we produce to Washington, DC, creating a vast cornucopia of wealth for the good-hearted scoundrels to fight over. Who gets the largest share? Who deserves the smallest?

They argue like children over toys in a sandbox. The more the toys, the more they fight. And we are sucked into the fight. We eagerly choose sides. We vote for the cutthroat aristocrat who promises us the most in return. Why not? Don't we deserve it? After all, wasn't it "our" property that was confiscated in the first place? Don't "we" have the right to get some back? Doesn't poor, crippled Aunt Betsy deserve more than anyone else? Doesn't Donald Trump have enough? Doesn't that homeless guy panhandling on the corner deserve something? Aren't the polar bears dying? Shouldn't something be done? Some people are just intolerant, selfish, greedy, stupid...

And so it goes.

Only the most committed ideologue would call what I'm describing "peace," as they call the Occupy Wall Street spectacle "peace." Community ownership of all the stuff we produce sounds at first like a wonderful and noble idea, but it ends in perpetual bickering and conflict when the stuff is divvied up by Congress...or in bloodshed and violence when the stuff is seized in the streets from storefronts.

So I ask you, if this all makes perfect sense, if private property and personal liberty lead inexorably to peace in society, then why should we continue to play the fool? Why should we cast our votes for meely-mouthed and clueless moderates, compassionate conservatives and socialists -- like Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama -- who want to subsidize and regulate the free market?

Why shouldn't we cast our vote for a candidate like Ron Paul who has spent a lifetime advocating and defending private property, personal liberty and the free market?

Enjoy This

And this.

And this.

And this.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Awesome, Destructive Power Of Lies And Ideology

The social bond of a cooperative society is trust. Yes, cooperators hedge their bets by agreeing upon strictly enforced laws that prohibit theft and murder and all their corollaries. However, honesty which is the companion virtue of trust cannot be legislated. Some individuals, though eager to take advantage of the benefits of a cooperative society, do not hesitate to break the social bond that holds that society together.

No where in our cooperative society is this more apparent than in the free market where goods and services are mutually and voluntarily exchanged.

Have you ever stood face to face with a potential trading partner and had that potential partner lie to you without batting an eye? I have. Most individuals have, but most especially individuals who own their own business.

I've owned a business for almost 20 years. I can usually sniff out the liars, the big talkers who promised what you wanted to hear, who eventually always take themselves too seriously and end up betraying their intentions. Remarkably, liars are few and far between in the business world. Non-business people would be amazed at the amount of business that is done in this country on a handshake. Big business may run by means of lawyers and contracts, but small business operates on trust. My relations with suppliers and customers is virtually all based on trust. Many times I have staked a year's profits, or the future of my entire business, on a handshake and the honesty of the other guy.

However, you do occasionally run into the exception, the pathological liar who is able to fly under your truth radar because of his ability to believe in his own lies. Such men lie with a straight face and get you to believe them. This is the type of person that illustrates the awesome, destructive power of dishonesty and the ideology that often is its underlying basis. Of course, such natural-born liars are not self-sufficient. They depend on the naivete or greed or trusting nature of their "mark" to close the deal. They're really good at what they do, so much so that an honest person is dumbfounded to discover that such people even exist.

Politics is not like small business. Politics trades in lies and liars, except in politics lies are not called lies. Political lies are called spin, or semantics, or shading, or being disingenuous or being inaccurate or not fully forthcoming. I'm sick of it.

Take Occupy Wall Street, for instance. The President has compared Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party.

Surely the President sees what we all can see: that Occupy Wall Street is far different from the Tea Party. Yet he tells the lie. Yet, he repeats the lie, as does Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. In fact, Ms. Wasserman-Schultz has made lying her business and has perfected it to a high art. And the media, let's not forget the so-called mainstream media like the New York Times. They trade in lies. What is amazing is that in this day and age political lies are exposed daily on the internet at sites such as The Drudge Report and Weasel Zippers. Yet, those exposed liars continue to lie with impunity. It boggles the mind. I'm not going to bother citing more examples. They are there for all to see by honestly making a daily review of the sites mentioned.

I'm convinced political liars are enabled by something called ideology, i.e., a pre-conceived mindset of beliefs about how the world works that is written indeliably on a person's consciousness. Ideology is like a religious belief. There is little if any basis for it in reality. It is based entirely on faith, which is predicated on the ability to keep and profess a belief in the very face of hard and real evidence to the contrary.

For instance, it is a waste of breath to argue with a Christian about the existence of God. Belief in God is completely a matter of faith. That something supernatural could be proved by natural means is a contradiction. So it is with, say, Marxism. Don't waste your breath on a Marxist. Maxism is a faith-based ideology. It's tenets fly in the face of reality, but Marxists get around such pesky facts by inventing alternate facts and changing definitions. I won't bother to explain. All anyone who is truly interested has to do is study Marxism in the light of all we have learned about economics. The central tenet of Marxist belief ("From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.) flies in the face of all we know about human action and cooperative society. The tenet presupposes an all-knowing redistributive authority.

In the coming political season surrounding the elections of 2012 it is essential that clear-thinking, honest Americans not be surprised or side-swiped by the existence and words of pathological liars in the press or on the stump. It is essential we question candidates and their supporters -- whether overt in their campaigns or covert in the press -- about their ideological beliefs. And it is important that we are able to distinguish ideology from reality.

In a recent conversation about politics with a long-time best friend I was told that I needed to make an effort to see all sides of every argument and to understand that each side has a valid point of view. I immediately rejected such relativism as an attempt to portray any honest thought or observation as an ideology. There is no validity to the Marxist argument which is premised upon fantasy and arbitrary definitions. Free market principles of economics and the social principles of cooperation, property, freedom and peace, which are firmly grounded in the science of human action, do not constitute an arbitrary ideology based on faith anymore than mathematics does.

Class warfare is an expressly Marxist concept. When the President expounds on class warfare and the measures needed to correct America's mal-distribution of wealth, he is spouting Marxist ideology. The lies and contradictions we catch him repeating on camera do not change his mind or even phase him because his idea of truth is predicated on the Marxist ideology he has accepted as a matter of faith.

The President doesn't understand the destructive nature of the fire he's playing with. By pitting the factory owner against the factory worker, and the 99% against the 1%, he is planting seeds of distrust in a cooperative society that is held together entirely by trust. When he and his Congressional cronies use the law to implement the measures he says are needed to correct free market capitalism, he is introducing institutional distrust into the free market place.

The social bond of trust that glues our cooperative society together, as resilient as it is and has been, cannot long survive such destructive ideological power.

Is Mitt Romney Really Gordon Gekko?

If Mitt wins the nomination, you can bet the mainstream media and Obama are going to say he is.

Consider this article from the Nov. 12, 2011 issue of the NY Times: “After a Romney Deal, Profits and Then Layoffs.”

Nevermind that the last sentence of the article (which is lengthy and filled with heart-wrenching anecdotes about $80,000 per year employees suffering wage cuts of $1 per hour and laid off janitors attempting suicide) reads:

“Bain’s strategy, as painful as it was with plant closings and layoffs, had ultimately worked, executives said. The bankruptcy ‘does muddy the story,’ said Mr. Wolsey-Paige, the former Dade executive. ‘Over all,’ he said, ‘it was very positive.’”
I know little to nothing about private equity financing. The average American voter knows even less. I do know that capitalism is messy and that at Bain Romney played a high risk, high reward game with other people’s money, earning upwards of $250-million in the process.

[This is the guy who is going to lead the Republican fight to renew the Bush Tax Cuts?]

Do you believe the mainstream media will highlight Romney’s successes at Bain (such as growing Staples into an office supply industry leader)?

Or will smear merchants like the New York Times concentrate on the messy parts, painting Romney as another “Greed is good” Gordon Gekko?

The answer is obvious.

Romney is the prototypical poster boy of the evil, Wall Street 1% that class-warring Obama is gearing up to fight with well-funded lies and smears of his own.

Six months from now Occupy Wall Street will be occupying Mitt Romney. Count on it.

[This post was inspired by a post by Prof. William A. Jacobson ("Will We Ever Get Around To Vetting Mitt Romney") at his blog, Legal Insurrection -- one of my must-read favorite blogs. My comment to Prof. Jacobson's post is here.]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Response to: "Should Conservatives Vote for Obama if Romney Gets the Nomination?"

The Country Thinker has written a very thoughtful piece about the 2012 election which is posted at Political Realities. Titled "Should Conservatives Vote for Obama if Romney Gets the Nomination," the Country Thinker essentially argues that there is not a dime's worth of difference between Obama and Romney, that the next President will be blamed for the coming economic collapse, that it would be better for libertarians/conservatives to form a third party, vote for Obama and let him (or Romney) take the rap for the coming fiscal nightmare and that electing Romney would be like electing another George Bush resulting in a backlash against the Republicans and a new era of progressivism.

I responded to the Country Thinker by posting the following comment at Political Realities:

And what of the Congress?

Hopefully, the 2010 trend will continue and voters will send more Tea Party Republicans like Rand Paul and Steve Southerland to Congress. Hopefully, both houses will become more conservative as a result. If this happens, it will be very difficult for Mitt Romney to contradict his campaign rhetoric and pull a “George Bush.”

Moreover, the fiscal health of the United States is huge, but there is more at stake, such as the Supreme Court. Even Bush managed to appoint John Roberts and Sam Alito. They are certainly preferable to Obama leftists Sotomayor and Kagan. I’d rather have Romney appointing Justices than Obama.

Lastly, a third party might not only serve to elect Obama, it might also serve to keep some Tea Party candidates out of Congress, denying Republican control of both houses.

I say vote Republican both locally and nationally. Worry about reforming the party’s internal politics after the fact. I’m confident the Tea Party/Conservative wing of the party will eventually displace the establishment types.

I'll vote against Romney in the primaries. However, for the reasons above, I'll support Romney, if he's the Republican nominee, and the Republicans in the general election.

We can hope for, but we cannot count on, conservative Republican control of both houses of Congress. Indeed, such will be an uphill battle. Therefore, we must acknowledge the truth: another four years of Obama in the White House will do untold harm to the principles of property, freedom and peace in this great nation.

A Critical ObamaCare "Glitch"

According to the Wall Street Journal (h/t to Weasel Zippers) a huge "glitch" has been discovered in The Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare). The controversial law allows "tax credits and subsidies—to households purchasing coverage through new health-insurance exchanges." The problem is that these tax credits and subsidies apply only to health-insurance exchanges voluntarily formed by states on their own. If the states refuse to form these health-insurance exchanges voluntarily, the federal government can step in and form exchanges on behalf of the recalcitrant states. The glitch is that the law does not provide for tax credits and subsidies to be paid to households if the exchanges are formed by the federal government instead of the states.

In other words, if the states refuse to form exchanges voluntarily, and the federal government forms them instead, ObamaCare is effectively gutted of the very tax advantages and subsidies it was created to provide.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the Obama administration is trying to fix this critical glitch by administrative executive action, rather than returning the bill to Congress for the fix. What arrogance!

This glitch and Obama's attempt to fix it without Congressional authorization may be more important to the demise of ObamaCare than a Supreme Court decision.

Patriotic Millionaires Are Big Democrat Donors

Perhaps you've heard about the spectacle in Washington today. According to ABC World News:
Two dozen wealthy members of the group Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength are targeting members of the deficit "supercommittee" to increase their taxes.
Entrepreneur and producer Charlie Fink, said he and other Patriotic Millionaires testified in a congressional hearing and visited the offices of 13 members of Congress on Wednesday, seven of whom are members of the supercommittee, to express their concern for the country's fiscal health.
I wondered who these people were, so I randomly submitted the names of some of the members of the Patriotic Millionaires into the search engine at OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks political donations. Sure enough, virtually every name I checked has donated lots of money to the Democrat Party and Barack Obama. By the way, Charlie Fink wasn't listed as a donor but he is described as an ex-AOL executive and a progressive Democrat here.

Meet Suzie and Mark Buell, Patriotic Millionaires who reside on "47 pastoral acres in Bolinas," California. They've donated thousands of dollars to the Democrats. Hillary Clinton threw an engagement party for them in the White House. According to the Marin Independent Journal, the Buells "fund progressive candidates - among them Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer and Sen. Debbie Sabenow of Michigan. Susie Buell ranked No. 4 nationally in raising funds for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign."

What causes these wealthy Americans to not only become progressive Democrats but to shill for them in Washington. Your guess is as good as mine. The only thing they have in common as an apparent love for big government and powerful, connected politicians. You can draw your own conclusions. I know they don't have my best interests at heart. I doubt they have yours.

A part of me hopes they get their wish and Congress passes a law taxing not only their income, but their wealth, driving them all back into poverty. But I have too much respect for private property rights to advocate such a thing. Even these misguided fellow-travelers have rights.

As an aside (though it's related), I noticed today that Rick Perry is advocating a part-time Congress. Perry says Congressmen are over-paid, overstaffed and away from home way too much. He wants Congressmen's pay, office budgets and time in Washington all cut in half. In addition, if Congress can't agree on a balanced budget by 2020, their pay would be cut in half yet again.

I wonder how the Patriotic Millionaires would feel about Perry's proposal, which would be sure to suck a huge amount of power out of Washington. Would these power-loving, big government millionaires feel the same way if the market were truly free, if Washington's interventions in the marketplace were ended and millionaires and billionaires were forced to compete in that marketplace to keep their money rather than to seek favors and advantage in Washington?

I also find it extremely convenient for these millionaires that the political power of the entire Congress is concentrated in a handful of Congressmen on the Super Committee. It's kind of difficult spreading your donations around to an entire Congress, but it sure is easy targeting you donations on a few.

It makes for great mainstream media spectacle as well.

Monday, November 14, 2011


According to an AP news report, President "Obama called waterboarding 'torture' and said it was 'contrary to America's traditions' during a news conference at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit."

I have a simple question for President Obama: Mr. President, if one of your daughters was kidnapped by a known child murderer and you captured an accomplice who, you presume on good authority, knows the whereabouts of your daughter and her captor, wouldn't you beat the living crap out of the guy until he told you what he knows?

In order to think clearly on the "torture" issue it is necessary to draw some hard and fast lines.

First we must distinguish between torture used within our society and torture used during a time of war. In our society we operate by the rule of law. All US citizens are treated equally under the law. The law clearly forbids torture as a means for authorities to garner information, say, local police interrogators. [In my example, President Obama would be clearly violating the law if he beat information out of somebody. It would be his decision whether or not to violate the law and accept its consequences.]

However, if a state of war exists between the US and a specific enemy, I consider torture as a legitimate means of gaining critical information from the enemy. Obviously, I am not advocating torture, such as waterboarding, as the SOP for all captured enemy combatants. It's use should be limited to life and death circumstances on the battlefield or otherwise.

War is hell, which is exactly why we must be so very careful making war.

Ron Paul is advocating that the US not go to war unless Congress declares war. This is part of our Constitution.

Once war is declared, all means necessary to win the war are legitimate.

If this is the understanding going into a war, Congress might not be so cavalier about declaring war, and our enemies might not be so cavalier about rattling their sabres against us.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The South Carolina Foreign Policy Debate

I tuned in late, was stymied by technical problems on the internet trying to watch the last 30 minutes and, really, could care less. I continue to believe that unless the US solves its economic problems, i.e., cuts spending drastically, reduces its public debt and stops monetary inflation, its foreign policy will be meaningless.

There is not a dime's worth of difference between the foreign policy of the Republican candidates and President Obama -- except, of course, for Ron Paul. Paul's foreign policy is summarized here.

The most important plank in Paul's foreign policy platform is:

"Follow the Constitution by asking Congress to declare war before one is waged."

This plank is radically different from the status quo and all the other candidates' positions. This is a change that a President could implement immediately. The effect it would have on US foreign relations would be incalculable.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Politics Is Not And Cannot Be Our Savior

I have written that the 2012 Presidential election will be the most important Presidential election in American history. Why? Because in 2012 Americans will be presented a choice between two contrary visions of American life: President Obama's vision of a collectivist state wherein individuals labor to enrich the state and the state, in turn, guided by an enlightened elite distributes goods and services among its subjects; and, hopefully, a traditional vision of a capitalist state wherein individuals, guided by their own free will, labor to enrich themselves and their families and wherein government is only a watchman, protective of the natural rights of its individual citizens.

Victor Davis Hanson reminds us that 2012 may not be the most important election in American history (H/T to Maggie's Farm). The election of 1860 was perhaps the most pivotal. Not only did that Presidential election decide the role the new President would play in shaping America's future, but it also literally decided whether America would survive as a nation.

Still, in many ways, politics is not the forerunner of how Americans will act in the future, but the bellwether of what we have become. In politics as in almost everything else, we get what we deserve. Rightly understood, politics is the means by which individuals who wish to cooperate in society set the ground rules which govern their cooperative action. Cooperative action cannot exist without "transparent" and mutually agreed upon rules of order and protocol. Individuals who wish to cooperate in society do not negotiate these rules in order to take advantage of or exploit their fellow cooperators. They negotiate rules in order to facilitate and safeguard their cooperative efforts.

Individuals cooperate in order to attain goals that they either cannot attain or cannot attain as efficiently acting alone. To offer a simple and basic example, an individual acting alone cannot build a bridge across the Mississippi. Cooperative action makes it possible for an individual to attain such a goal. However, cooperative action is not a simple undertaking. Potential cooperators must satisfy themselves that they will enjoy the fruits of their cooperative effort. Using means to attain ends is no longer simply a matter of self-trust. A potential cooperator must trust that his partners will allow him to attain his goals. His fate is literally in their hands.

It is contradictory to believe that a man cooperates in order to attain ends he cannot attain acting alone, but at the same time believe that this same man will cooperate by rules which allow other cooperators to deprive him of attaining the ends he seeks by means of cooperation. Therefore, a cooperative groundrule which allows random theft and murder is unthinkable. Every act of cooperation must include a cooperative agreement -- a politically negotiated and mutually agreed upon code of ethics enforced by some mutually agreed upon governing mechanism -- which makes theft and murder taboo. Without such an agreement, it is absurd to believe that rational men would cooperate.

One cooperative action leads to another and another. As the cooperative arrangement proves mutually beneficial to all concerned, cooperative ties strengthen. The cooperative effort continues for the lifetime of the individual cooperators and extends into future generations. A cooperative effort which began as a mutual pact among a few may eventualy become a pact which orders the cooperative actions of thousands or millions.

As time goes on, understandings of the original cooperative agreement change. Successful cooperative societies develop means of adjudicating such differences in understanding. Disputes are resolved by the same political means which established the cooperative agreement in the first place. So long as these political means work to the satisfaction of all or at least to the satisfaction of the greatest number of cooperators, the cooperative society will continue to thrive. However, if disputes become intractable and unresolvable, or if the political process is somehow corrupted, cooperative societies will (and have) cracked up. If such is the case, cooperative action ceases along with the economic and social advantages cooperative action makes possible. Individuals are relegated to act and survive on their own. It's literally every man or family for himself. The individual's standard of living drastically deteriorates.

I contend that our cooperative American society is flirting with a crackup. Politics is no longer the means by which individuals in our society settle their differences and protect their property and freedom. Politics has become the means by which some individuals in our society seek to gain advantage and exploit others. Seeking the enforcement power which is vested in cooperative government to protect individual rights, these schemers intend to use the coercive and political power of government as a means to extort the property and freedom of others in society. They spout religious and moral imperatives which rationalize their grab for power. They foolishly believe that if they can persuade a critical number of their fellow cooperators to agree with them and support their political efforts, they will ultimately be able to "justly" and "rightly" use government to coerce the rest of society to do their bidding, to act according to their own vision of the proper goals all cooperators should rightly seek.

However, these usurpers forget the essence of society is cooperation and that cooperative effort is by nature voluntary. Once individuals feel that they will not be able to attain the benefits produced by cooperative action, once they understand that they would be better off acting alone or in concert with a smaller, closer knit group of like-minded cooperators, they will cease to cooperate with the usurpers and their political supporters. Slowly and inevitably the cooperative, i.e., the larger society, will crackup, disintegrate and splinter into vying factions. When the usurpers seek to hold the former, larger society together by means of force and coercion, civil war erupts and social peace is ended.

The rancorous American politics of 2012 is indicative of a deep and impassable crevasse which divides American cooperative society. On the one side are Americans who envision government power as the proper means by which they can safeguard their lives, freedom and property. Their ultimate goal is to foster cooperative action between individuals, each with the liberty to seek after their own welfare and happiness. They have the utmost respect for the right of property and the right of liberty of action, all the while respecting the mutual rights of other cooperators.

On the other side of this chasm are those who have long forgot, or who perhaps never really understood, the essential criteria of cooperative action: that theft and murder, along with all their corollaries, must be taboo and against the law of the land. The ultimate goal of these usurpers is to control American society to their own advantage or to mold American society to their own vision of it. By seizing political power they imagine they can seize productive power. They fool themselves into thinking that legitimately imposing rapacious levels of taxation is not theft, and that legitimately passing and enforcing laws that violate individual liberty and then mandating the incarceration of the violators is not a variety of murder. They convince themselves they can do these things without consequence.

Just as the election of 1860, the election of 2012 will settle nothing, will decide nothing. America is already divided along faultlines we know exist. Just as in 1860, the election of 2012 will merely make the divide plain for all to see and make whatever it is that must be done in consequence crystal clear in the conscience of each American cooperator.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Good Hair, Gobbledygook And Brain Farts

On last night's debate between the Republican candidates...  The transcript is here.

Let me confess I was a bit under the weather last night. I watched the debate in a daze. I should have skipped it and got some sound sleep.

First let me say that we all experience now and then what is called in my neck of the woods, a brain fart. So Rick Perry poked his finger in the air and declared he would, as President, eliminate three cabinet level departments of the federal government: the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and the Department of... .... Oops. He couldn't come up with the name of the third Department!

Talk about awkward! I doubt even Herman Cain's accusers experienced that degree of awkward.

But I'll give Perry a pass on that. Like I said. Old guys get brain farts every now and then. Where I can't give Perrry a pass is the cheap imitation he does of a conservative politician. Ron Paul recommends cutting five Departments of the federal government, so Perry decides to cut three (five is too libertarian!).

Bottom line: Even Perry's hair had a bad night.

If this debate is any indication, we conservatives/libertarians are in deep trouble in 2012.

I continue to believe that these frantic debates are hurting the chances of a Republican to unseat President Obama. As the Republican candidates flit around the stage chasing rabbits loosed on them by hostile questioners, Mr. Obama is gadding about the world in private jets and huge limousines acting Presidential, all the while being fawned over by the American mainsteam press. This just can't turn out well.

First, let's discuss CNBC...My God! CNBC is a business news channel, ain't it? Consider these questions:

JIM CRAMER (The host of "Mad Money"): "... I'm on the frontlines of the stock market. We were down 400 points today. We're not going to be done going down if this keeps going on, if Italy keeps -- the rates keep going up. Surely you must recognize that this is a moment-to-moment situation for people who have 401(k)s and IRAs on the line and you wouldn't just let it fail, just go away and take our banking system with it?"

CRAMER (again): "Italy's too big to fail. It's great. I'd love it if we were independent. It would be terrific to say, 'It's your fault. It's your fault. It's your problem.' But if this goes, the world banking system could shut down. Doesn't that involve our banks, too?"

Jim Cramer personifies crony capitalism, that detestable attitude on Wall Street that assumes the stock market is the be all and end all of life in America, that those who work on Wall Street are God's gift to the common man, and that, by God, the federal government better take care of these financial gurus when things go south! It is obvious from his questions that Cramer believes government's function is to use tax money to bailout markets and states that have gotten themselves into trouble by misreading reality. He want's government to prolong their fantasy. Why? Because, of course, Wall Streeters are our modern day Samurai, our glorious and honorable warriors on the front line of prosperity. It's total garbage!

JOHN HARWOOD: "Ronald Reagan raised taxes when the deficit got too big, George W. Bush supported TARP and the auto bailout when he thought we might face a great depression -- second great depression. Does that -- examples like that tell you that good, effective leaders need to show the kind of flexibility that Governor Romney has shown on some issues?"
Even allowing for the fact that Harwood was playing off of his previous question which suggested Romney was a waffler, the question is disingenuous and could have been asked without the pandering preface.
HARWOOD: "Governor Romney, when you were at Bain Capital, you purchased a lot of companies. You could fire the CEO and the management team or you could keep them. Would you keep a CEO -- are you persuaded by what Mr. Cain has said? Would you keep him on if you bought his company?"
More blatant pandering here.
CRAMER: "...I want to talk about a high-quality problem our country has.
I just came back from North Dakota. We have made the largest oil discovery in a generation there. Not only is it a -- the find a big step toward creating energy independence, it stands to create as many as 300,000 jobs. But what the guys tell me up there is that they can't handle the rush without federal help. Would you favor incentives, incentives to get workers and businesses to where the jobs are to support this boom?"
Cramer just doesn't believe we can solve our own problems without government help. After the debate, Cramer criticized the Republican candidates who see no need at all for government intervention in the economy. What rot!

Now to the candidates...

As usual, Santorum and Bachmann were about as exciting as drowning goldfish.

Huntsman was 90% puff. His sensible caution against starting a trade war with China was the other 10%.

Romney was his usual slick, confounding, satisfy everyone self which so frustrates conservatives/libertarians. Consider this exchange:
CRAMER: Governor Romney, do you believe public companies have any social responsibility to create jobs, or do you believe, as Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, the most important, most influential conservative economist of the 20th century held, that corporations should exist solely to create maximum profit for their shareholders?

ROMNEY: This is a wonderful philosophical debate. But you know what? We don't have to decide between the two, because they go together.
Romney went on to do a pretty decent job of explaining what profits are and why they are good for business in particular and America in general. This answer gives me hope that Romney might not be the liberal troll that guys like me like to hate.

On the other hand, why didn't he tackle the question on a philosophical basis? Why didn't he simply say that profits are the reward of successful trades in the free marketplace, that profits are private property and that, as such, any question as to how profits "should" be used is to be answered only by those who own them.

My fear is that Romney couldn't say this because, at his core, he doesn't believe it. My fears were confirmed when Romney embarked on his "punish China" diatribe. China is a cheat, a currency manipulator and all the rest. We ought to report China to the world body that is in charge of keeping the playing field level. And if that doesn't help, we ought to impose a tariff or two or three on China to keep that rogue country on the straight and narrow. More rot!

Ron Paul could have given a philosophical answer to the question on profit. Last night he was his usual steady, libertarian proponent of property, freedom and peace.

Herman Cain was as convivial, engaging and all over the map as usual. The problem is he's got this huge albatross around his neck and I'm afraid the women and the media who put it there are not going to go away.

Which leaves Newt Gingrich. Those of you who believe that good ole' Newt is the smartest candidate and for that reason the best candidate consider the answer below that he gave to Maria Bartiromo who asked: "Would you like to try to explain... ...in simple speak, to the American people, what you would do after you repeal the president's health care legislation?" Newt answered:
Let me just say it very straight. One, you go back to a doctor-patient relationship and you involve the family in those periods where the patient by themselves can't make key decisions. But you re-localize it.

Two, as several people said, including Governor Perry, you put Medicaid back at the state level and allow the states to really experiment because it's clear we don't know what we are doing nationally.

Three, you focus very intensely on a brand-new program on brain science because the fact is the largest single out-year set of costs we are faced with are Alzheimer's, autism, Parkinson's, mental health, and things which come directly from the brain.

And I am for fixing our health rather than fixing our health bureaucracy because the iron lung is the perfect model of saving people so you don't need to pay for federal program of iron lung centers because the polio vaccine eliminated the problem. That's a very short (inaudible).
If you understand what the hell this gobbledygook means and why the hell I should entrust the puddin' head that said it with the office of the Presidency in 2012, kindly inform me. My inquiring mind wants to know.

"Brain science"!  "Iron lung"!!

As I said earlier, we are in deep doodoo come 2012. Lord, shoot me now and get it over with!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Initial Reactions To Lincoln-Douglas II

Is it necessary to point out that this was hardly the format used by Lincoln and Douglas in 1858?

I was hoping for a little more candidate and a little less moderator, as advertised.

Be that as it may, the "debate" was cordial, substantial and non-confrontational, which was somewhat of a problem in that I got the feeling that this was not a debate between men who have honest differences, but an audition of a possible Republican 2012 ticket. Gingrich and Cain agreed on 99.9% of the issues.

If the only primary contenders were these two gentlemen, voters could flip a coin. Although they agree on their general approach to issues, Gingrich still dismays me a bit. He has a lot of Washington policy wonk in him. He recommended that the federal government eliminate waste and fraud by updating the bureaucrat's technology. He wants Washington to track Medicaid recipients and mandate that unemployment recipients receive training. This doesn't sound like a man interested in divesting Washington of money or power. He reminds me of the type of politician who thinks the bureaucracy might run more efficiently if he were there to manage it.

I prefer the Ron Paul approach: cut unconstitutional government handouts, eliminate the federal bureaucracy completely, starting with five Cabinet level departments and allow individuals to keep their money and do what they wish with it.

Herman Cain leaned in the Paul direction and gave me reason to believe he was a true believer in the free market. However, I still suspect there is too much "problem solving" instincts in him. We don't need a President who will help the federal government solve problems. We need a President who will return power to the people by allowing them to keep resources they are now sending to Washington.

Cain did advocate block granting Medicaid and Medicare back to the states. He did advocate privatizing Social Security. I would have preferred that he advocate eliminating these programs. However, if I had to choose between the two "debaters," I'd choose Cain, simply because he truly understands and believes in (I think) the free market. Newt talks a good game, but I'm left wondering.

I do like the format. Eliminate the moderator and replace him (them) with a time-keeper and I'd like it more. Obviously, I like it best if Paul, Romney, Perry and company participated. I'd love to see Ron Paul paired against Newt.

We're Naively Buying Into The Left's Conception Of An Amoral Culture

The Herman Cain debacle is illustrative of the extent to which good, moral individuals in this country are buying into the Left's notion of a public and national policy of amorality.

I haven't been on a college campus for years but I am told that campus life these days is ruled by political correctness, intolerance, factionalism, mandated diversity, and mandated sexual mores that accept homosexuality and promiscuity as the norm. Sound familiar? These are the same ills that plague the broader American culture today. Leftist academe strikes again.

It's time for Americans who believe in and practice traditional, conservative morality to speak out against the amoral trend in our culture. I don't mean accept the Left's morality and then pick at its edges. I mean reject the entire mess lock, stock and barrel. The key to accomplishing this is to return to a culture which understands and respects property, freedom and peace.

How so? Let me try to explain.

The means used by the Left to control our culture is political. Arguing that the personal, moral vices of intolerance, racism, sexism, agism and all the other politically incorrect "isms" are corrupt, the Left elects politicians eager to legislate against these personal vices, making them a matter for public discussion, public law and government mandates based on bureaucratic interpretations of that law. As a result, the very personal, moral vices that are legislated against -- intolerance, racism, sexism and the like -- become in some strange way the norm. By the way, the Right is not innocent of this tact, practicing it with the best of the Left.

Here's an example of what I mean. We all are aware of sordid episodes in American history: slavery, denying women the vote and Prohibition to name a few. Men of good will and sound moral character know instinctively that slavery is evil. Though good Christians held slaves in early America, they understood slavery was ultimately an immoral practice. I'll wager that even Southern Christians, who rationalized the institution on traditional or economic grounds, knew in their heart that enslaving other human beings was against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Eventually, good Christian men decide that such blatant injustices must be outlawed. All men and women born in America must enjoy equal freedom under the law. This principle justifies the 13th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution. The problem is that ideologues on the Left and Right are never satisfied by simply changing the law to guarantee basic human rights for all. They insist on changing people's hearts and minds as well. So they kick it up a notch. They pass tons of laws and bureaucratic rules and regulations designed to regulate individual behavior with regard to the basic principle in question. In doing so they violate property rights and take away basic, individual liberty.

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery and restored human rights to blacks. The politicians should have stopped there. Most Americans agreed in their hearts with the Amendment. The hardheads who didn't would slowly, begrudgingly and inevitably accept the reality of black equality. Societal and cultural pressure would have forced recalcitrant and racist shop owners and restauranteurs to assimilate. Indeed, the profit motive would have worked to ease latent resentments and eliminate outright racism.

But no. The Left couldn't let well enough alone. They passed affirmative action and equal opportunity laws with their attendent jumble of bureaucratic rules and paperwork. The result? The property rights of racist shopowners and restauranteurs were violated. Moreover, the property rights of all businesses and organizations in America were weakened or eliminated as they were forced to comply with racial quotas, hiring guidelines and other such onerous, federal government directives.

The federal government's activism in matters of race encouraged the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to form an entire industry based on race baiting and racial advocacy. These unscrupulous gentlemen, with the help of threats of federal lawsuits, extorted money from businesses and publicity from the media. All of which further diminished individual property rights and liberty. The result? An inevitable backlash.

Middle Americans are basically good people. They are generally quick to admit and correct wrongs. They are generally eager to get over it, to move on. They'd rather wounds scab over and heal on their own. They resent being told to think and act in a certain, politically correct way, especially if those doing the telling are arrogant and obnoxious federal bureaucrats and holier-than-thou political advocates. Consequently, rather than allowing racial tension to dissipate in the normal course of human life and learning, Jackson, Sharpton and the federal government continued to pick at the scab, finding racism virtually everywhere, demanding apologies and reparations. Since the federal government had made racism politically incorrect by rule and regulations, racists were forced to ply their hideous trade undergound. Characters like David Duke and George Wallace thrived.

A similar story can be told about the women's suffrage movement. Politicians passed the 19th Amendment but couldn't leave it there. Americans were mandated to change their hearts and minds not merely about women's right to vote, but also about the proper relationship between men and women in society. Businesses and institutions were forced to comply with the wishes of federal bureaucrats and crusaders by means like Title IX. Women's suffrage led to feminism and women's advocates like Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin set out to redefine traditional American culture and attitudes with regard to women. Now, few if any social differences remain with regard to men and women, putting centuries of deferential attitudes toward women in doubt and disparaging traditional female roles of caregiving and mothering.

Today the Left is pushing the gay agenda down the same path of political and bureaucratic directives, further eroding the property rights and freedoms of individuals in this country.

The point I am trying to make is that Americans need to recognize the difference between correcting inequities in the public system we use to govern ourselves and using that very political system to force individuals to think and act according to a particular morality or amorality. We must make sure that all human beings have an equal right of participation in our political system and that each man is treated equally by the law of the land, i.e., our Constitution, but that's as far as it should go.

Equality under the law does not mean and should not mean that we all think and act the same by government edict and that this edict should be enforced by federal bureaucratic coercion. Americans are above all individuals who must be allowed the freedom to think and act as they wish, so long as they do not tread on the Constitutional rights of others to participate in government. Above all, the right of all Americans to use their property as they see fit, not as the government sees fit, should be protected at all costs. In the long run, these protections of property and freedom will lead to lasting peace. There are no other means available to man to reach a lasting peace.

There is an old saying that you can't legislate morality. Americans know this instinctively. Yet, every day Americans go against their good instincts and support the efforts of politicians to impose their morality -- or amorality -- on the entire American population. Such efforts inexorably result in conflict, disputation, factionalism, social unrest and cultural strife. In the end the price is the crackup of our society.

Given the inevitable consequences of legislating morality, Americans must resist every effort to do so on both the Right and the Left. No matter the extent to which individual Americans sympathize with the personal morality or amorality advocated by a particular political agenda, they must never buy into the idea that there exists a preferred, objective, public morality or amorality that must be imposed by the government equally on all American individuals.