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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Error May Be In Assuming That The Mess We've Created Can Be Cleaned Up

I've been thinking about the post you are reading for quite some time. The catalyst has been a series of posts at Political Realities, probably my favorite website on American politics.

Over the last several days a spirited discussion has taken place at Political Realities over Presidential politics. I've participated with my comments.

This particular discussion began prior to Romney's nomination of Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate. LD Jackson, the proprietor of Political Realities (Yes, he DID build it!), wrote a post recommending Romney nominate Ryan. When Romney did just that, LD wrote a series of posts praising Paul Ryan as a man and a candidate. Reader comments were positive. The energy was palpable. Yes, it may be true after all. Maximum Leader Obama REALLY might be defeated in November!

Then came the splash of cold water in the person of The Country Thinker, Ted Lacksonen. Ted's post, "Paul Ryan as VP Candidate Ends Romney’s Presidential Aspirations" was heretical. My purpose here is not to rehash Ted's argument, but simply to point out that there is a significant difference of political opinion between conservative Republicans and Libertarians, a political difference which may be significant enough in swing states, as Libertarians withhold their votes for Romney, to reelect Obama.

Needless to say, Ted's post generated a lot of heat, heat that probably will not dissipate by November. LD followed Ted's piece with a post: "Why Voting For Mitt Romney Should Be a No-Brainer For Conservatives" to which I made the following comment:

Let me toss out another bone to chew on.

What are the odds that within the next four years there is going to be a severe economic collapse in this country? I’m talking severe! Runaway inflation, for instance. Food shortages. Urban rioting. There are many who believe that the debt the US is carrying is unsustainable no matter who wins the Presidency. What are the odds it implodes? 30%? 50%? 100%?

Which administration is most likely to protect individual property, freedom and the peace during such a crisis? Romney, Ryan, their cabinet appointees and company, who at least mouth allegiance to these principles?

Or Obama, Biden, Holder, Napolitano, Jarrett, Van Jones, various czars and company, who have little or no regard for private property, are committed to getting what they want through coercion, have a track record of pitting one color American and one class of American against another and who have professed and demonstrated their belief that a good crisis should never be allowed to go to waste?

Talk about a no-brainer.
Today, referencing a fine article from John Carey at Sentry Journal, LD posted a thought-provoking piece: "Who Is Willing To Clean Up This Mess?" which states in part:
Consider how far we have came, in what seems to be a relatively short time. In my mind’s eye, the pile of garbage we have to deal with in America is getting deeper and deeper. All the while, its stench is greater and greater. What John Carey wrote has stuck in my mind, so from his pen to mine, and then to you, here is a portion of the post. We would all do well to read it and ask ourselves exactly how we are going to help clean up the mess.
Well, that post crystallized what I had been contemplating throughout the entire discussion. I summed up my feelings with a terse comment:
The error may be in the assumption that the mess can be cleaned up.
LD immediately responded:
Oh, ye of little faith. ;) 
But you see I like to think of myself as a realist. And what I am about to say, in my best judgement, reflects harsh reality as I see it. I don't think the current "mess" we're in can be cleaned up...at least not in the sense LD Jackson and John Carey use their metaphor.

John writes about the current mess we're in and compares it to a childhood camping trip with his father. His father insisted that any mess left at the campsite be cleaned up, no matter who made the mess or who left it behind. LD also uses the garbage metaphor. The problem is the "mess" in which we find ourselves in America today cannot be compared to a garbage problem which can be fixed by simply rolling up our sleeves and policing the area clean. Our mess is more analogous to owning a house that's on fire.

In may ways our nation is ablaze. This is not a case in which our yard is merely spotted with trash and rusting automobiles on blocks. This is a situation in which the ground floor is burning, smoke is pouring from the windows and flames are licking at the roof.

When I contemplate the $16-trillion public debt outstanding, the $62-trillion in unfunded liabilities, the Washington/Wall Street nexus, the vast and deep Washington bureaucracy and entrenched ruling establishment, the millions of pages of federals laws, rules and regulations, the suffocating burden of local, state and federal taxation, the monstrous Homeland Security Godzilla, the military/industrial complex, the efforts to involve our military in domestic peacekeeping and the political climate in which, even among Republicans, token efforts at spending cuts are considered Draconian, I simply cannot see a way to put out the fire.

Attempting to "pay down" our debt is virtually a mathematical impossibility. It is akin to believing one can have his cake and eat it too. To me its like discussing the installation of fire alarms and fire extinguishers in a house half-engulfed in flames. Ditto for measures such as auditing the Fed, "reforming" Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

People, our home is on fire! The fire won't be extinguished by auditing the arsonist. The flames must be extinguished! The welfare state must be disbanded, it's institutions, abolished -- or the statist fire will consume our nation and us with it.


I think this truth is what compels Ted Lacksonen to stick so stubbornly to his Libertarian guns. Do Romney and Ryan really understand that our house is ablaze? They certainly have demonstrated by their words and actions that they think we can coexist with a little smoke and burning embers here and there, that we can comfortably stamp them out if and when they burst into flame.

The reason LD Jackson and most of the rest of us are firmly in the Romney/Ryan camp is that the guy whose running against Romney for the job of fire chief, Maximum Leader Obama, believes you can put out a fire by dousing it with gasoline!

So we have no real alternative but to bet on Romney/Ryan. We must insist that they and our new Congress can be persuaded to listen to the truth: that the time for half-hearted "reforms" is over, that it is time for them to do what is necessary and right.

But do what? Aye, there is the rub. America is still a democracy, and the biggest problem it faces is that almost half of Americans want Obama reelected. Moreover, that half and most of the other half hold philosophical views that set our house afire to begin with.

The vast majority of American children and their parents are/were educated in government schools by teachers that, by and large, buy into leftist, Godless moral relativism and Marxist social and economic ideology. As a result, these misguided Americans no longer believe in property and individual freedom and peace.

To put out the flames that are currently engulfing our nation, i.e., to stamp out the federal policies and programs that result from the incendiary ideas of egalitarianism, collectivism and socialism -- our politicians must first seek permission from a nation of economically illiterate and clueless Pollyanna's who exist on a steady diet of reality TV, pop psychology and food stamps.

The raw truth is that nations have succumbed to the flames of ignorance and indifference in the past. Rome burned while Nero fiddled. What disturbs me the most about our current predicament is the realization that this great nation of ours is most probably doomed to burn to the ground.

"Picking up the mess" will not resemble Boy Scouts policing a campsite or citizens coming together with brooms, dust pans and orange plastic bags after a 4th of July celebration. It will more closely resemble the pathetic firefighters who trudged across the hot embers of The World Trade Center picking at ashes.

45 comments:

LD Jackson said...

Wow, I am blushing. I certainly do not believe Political Realities deserves to be anyone's favorite website on American politics, but I am honored you feel that way. Wait a moment while I go cool my face down and resize my hat.........Okay, that's better.

You raise a lot of good points, Sherman. To be sure, this will be no easy task. I often wonder if the majority of Americans have in them what it will take to right our country. For many of the reasons you state, such as the shape and condition of our society, I can't help but wonder if we are more under the water, than above. Many days, I doubt things will change.

I suppose the reason I try to be optimistic is because I have to. I have to have hope that this mess can be cleaned up, that this fire can be put out. My wife often asks me if I really believe I am doing any good by writing on my blog. My answer is, I have to try, even if it is, ultimately, a losing effort.

Sherman Broder said...

Your comment is an example of what I love about your blog. It's honest.

I hope I'm wrong about the mess we're in. That hope is about as optimistic as I can get. I'm afraid we're in for some hard, scary, dangerous times ahead.

LD Jackson said...

To affect the changes that need to take place, it may take drastic action. If some of our political leaders decide it is time to act and start wielding a chopping axe in a meaningful manner, some of the former benefactors of our out-of-control spending habits may very well have a temper tantrum. If they feel their free ride is being threatened, they could be dangerous.

Sherman Broder said...

Exactly. Look at Greece, Italy and Spain. France is next. I think the biggest danger by far is not the protesters and rioters in the street. It's how the government chooses to react to them. This is probably the only reason I'd like to see Romney/Ryan in charge. I figure their response will be less authoritarian. But one can count on nothing.

Jim at Conservatives on Fire said...

¡Por Fin! I finally figured out how to use Google Chrome so that I can comment here. It's not easy for okd dogs to learn new tricks.


agree with your assessment of our situation, Sherman. Like you, I followed the series of posts at Politocal Realities along with the post at Sentury Journal and Country Thinker's post at Larry's place. Today I watched a Bill Whittle video at America's Watchtower, http://americaswatchtower.com/
Whittle makes the point that of all 535 congressmen and Senators, Ryan is the only one makethe case for the coming Debt Crisis. He also points out the obvious that if Obama wins a second term, the debt bubble will indeed break like nothing we have seen in our life times.He doesn't know if Romney/Ryan can stop it; but, at least if it happens, people will remember Ryan's warnings. Your "no brainer" comment about who we would trust more to portect our property rights is spot onIt matters greatly in a crisis who controls the military and Homeland Security and FEMA.


Our future is very uncertain; but we will be better off with Romney and Ryan in spite of what the Libertarians say.

Sherman Broder said...

I just watched the Bill Whittle video. It's fantastic and so, so true. Thanks for the tip.

I'm glad you figured out what needed to be done to comment, because your comments are always valuable. (When you have a free decade or two, maybe you could explain it to me! ;)

As a personal aside, I noticed you mentioned you're in Venezuela. That country holds a special place in my heart. I spent a few weeks there in the 70's in Caracus. I met a lot of great people there.

Jim at Conservatives on Fire said...

Yes, I have lived in Venezuela for near twenty years. I envy you knowing Caracas in the seventies. I have heard many wonderful stories about how Caracas was in those days. Today, Caracas has to be one of the world's largest parking lots. The traffic is stop and go fro, 6:30am to 8:30pm. In 1993, there were about 4000 murders in the country. Last year were 17,000. Caracas is the worse. I now live near Puerta Cruz about a block and a half from a beautiful beach. Here life is very calm.

Sherman Broder said...

Wow. I envy you. I have so many great memories of the place. Caracas at the time was very cosmopolitan, a strange mixture of upper middle class on the one hand and hillside slums on the other. We traveled around the city and the countryside quite freely and easily in the cabs that were everywhere. The traffic was bad then too. Plenty of gas to burn. Four rush hours a day. Smog sometimes. The drivers paid no attention to the street cops, blowing through lights and intersections. But when the National Guard guys pulled up, the seas parted for them. At night the bad guys came out. You'd hear sporadic gunfire. In the daytime, serene. Wonderful restaurants and shops. Friendly people so long as you tried to get by speaking the native tongue. I stuttered away, calling on what I remembered of high school Spanish. The locals thought I was from Spain because of my Castilian accent and cowboy boots! I'd love to hear your stories.

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