#Obamacare: at last, CNN finds someone thrilled with it!

November 2, 2013

At long last, we’ve found people genuinely excited by our new, state-run healthcare system: strippers, escorts, dominatrices and other sex-workers!

Only in California, my friends, and only in San Francisco:

A burlesque dancer dressed as a nurse taunts her co-performer with a toy syringe, dangling the medicine seductively in an act that’s meant to reflect the cat-and-mouse game of U.S. healthcare. They shimmy and eventually end up topless.

The risqué performance was part of an Obamacare registration drive last week in San Francisco, dubbed the “Healthy Ho’s Party.”

Organized by “Siouxsie Q,” a Bay Area sex worker, the event was meant to encourage other sex workers to enroll in the new insurance exchanges. It was a rousing success: Nearly 40 men and women attended and almost all of them filed enrollment paperwork.

In the all-cash, off-the-books sex industry, workers can be particularly high risk and insurance is often out of reach. Many sex workers — a broad term that can refer to a number of services, including sexual massage, prostitution, and escort and dominatrix work — consider themselves self-employed entrepreneurs who can’t afford to purchase healthcare. But that could all change with the Affordable Care Act.

The article then continues with the usual pro-Obamacare tale: insurance for “Siouxsie” and her partner was too big a chunk of their income, plus, given the risks of their “professions,” coverage was more expensive or often unobtainable altogether. With guaranteed coverage and publicly funded subsidies, plans become affordable. Yay!

Well, not so fast. First, as the article notes, subsidies kick in for incomes under $46,000. Many of these women have “regular jobs” — the sex trade is extra income. The article strongly implies that this latter income isn’t being reported. So, there’s a strong possibility of one degree or another of fraud here. But, hey, Obama doesn’t care; they’re not verifying income, anyway.

Second, before jumping with joy, these ladies and gentlemen would be well-advised to check into co-pays, deductibles, and just who is included in their new network, since all of these are already being recognized as problems. (And, to be clear, Obamacare critics have been warning of this for years.) It’s not for nothing that one person described the low-cost plans as “garbage.”

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Finally, I need to deal with one truly egregious statement that’s indicative of much that’s wrong these days:

“I really do think access to healthcare should be a human right, and I’ve been so brainwashed to think it’s such a privilege,” a sex worker and activist known as “Maxine Holloway” said.

Sorry, Maxine, but healthcare is neither a right nor a privilege: it is a commodity, the fruits of the labor of other people (doctors who have to pay to attend medical school, companies that make the medical instruments, &c.) that is traded for the fruits of still other people’s labor — the money they earn.

Nothing you pay money for is an inherent, natural right. To declare health care a “right” everyone is entitled to, you have to take from someone else, if need be by force, their property, whether it is their time and labor, or the products they produce. Force them to sell something for less than what it is worth or to provide it “free,” and you are effectively stealing from them, even enslaving them. For the government to demand that taxpayers pay far more than they need to for insurance in order to subsidize your medical procedures is no different than a medieval lord taking a farmer’s grain crop and giving it to his favorites.

Look at it from another point of view: assume that one day sex is declared a human right, and that you, as a sex-worker are required to provide it at less than what you think your services are worth, which is analogous to what happens to a doctor under Medicare. (1) Would you be happy with that, Maxine? Would you think it right? Or would you feel oppressed and used?

Put it this way: What the government gives you, it can easily take. Or force you to provide.

PS: For the record, I have nothing against the “sex trade,” as long as all participants are adults engaging in it of their own free will. I suppose this is one place where the “libertarian” part of my self-description as a “conservative with libertarian leanings” comes into play — individualism, liberty of contract, free enterprise and entrepreneurialism, &c. Or, put another way, within broad bounds, it’s none of government’s (or my) business. In fact, I suspect that Siouxsie and Maxine and their friends are far more honest about what they do than the Obama and his team have ever been about their intentions. Given my choice of people to hang around with…

via ST

Footnote:
(1) This is a mistaken analogy on my part, for practices aren’t required to take Medicare and Medicaid patients. Doing so is voluntary on their part, much like pro bono work by attorneys. For a Democrat proposal that would change this, though, see this…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Personal Retirement Accounts Are Great…but only if You Can Stop Future Politicians from Confiscating the Accumulated Wealth

September 8, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

Let’s not give Obama any ideas, shall we?

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Most Western nations have huge long-run fiscal problems because of unfavorable demographics and misguided entitlement programs.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that dozens of nations have fully or partially shifted to mandatory private savings as a pro-growth way of modernizing bankrupt tax-and-transfer Social Security systems.

But good news in the short run doesn’t mean good news in the long run if greedy politicians decide to loot the wealth accumulated in personal retirement accounts.

That’s already happened in Argentina and Hungary, and now it’s happened in Poland. Here’s part of a Financial Times report about the government stealing money from private pension funds.

Poland’s government on Wednesday took an axe to part of the country’s pension system in a bid to bolster public finances. Premier Donald Tusk said that part of the country’s obligatory pension system run by private funds would be dramatically revamped, with 120bn zlotys ($37bn)…

View original 546 more words


Hide your IRAs: Obama admin. — “We think you’ve saved enough!”

April 12, 2013
"Shakedown"

“We’re here for your fair share.”

Or maybe it’s the off-ramp to Cyprus.

Over at lefty blog Talking Points Memo (h/t Joel Gehrke), Brian Beutler has noted an interesting item in the White House’s latest budget proposal: a cap on the amount one is allowed to save in tax-deferred accounts. Anything over that is open to the taxman.

Per the budget, “Individual Retirement Accounts and other tax-preferred savings vehicles are intended to help middle class families save for retirement. But under current rules, some wealthy individuals are able to accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”

But how would they close this loophole?

One way experts believe financial managers avoid the current annual contribution limit to IRAs is by using IRAs to participate in investments and assigning those investment interests a nominal value vastly below fair market.

Obama wouldn’t curb this practice directly. Instead his budget calls for an overall cap of about $3 million on the net balance across all of an individuals’ tax-preferred accounts. Only have one IRA? It can hold $3 million. Have three? Their holdings must sum to $3 million or less.

The $3 million figure is approximate. A formula would set the cap at a level just high enough to finance an annual distribution of no more than $205,000 per year in retirement for someone retiring this year.

Now, I can imagine TPM is just thrilled with this; it just reeks of class warfare disguised as “fairness.” We’ve got “reasonable levels” (Defined by whom? Oh, wait…) and the ever popular “loophole,” with its scent of someone getting away with something, cheating the rest of us.

What the administration is talking about, I believe, are self-directed IRAs  and other retirement vehicles that allow you to invest your money where you see fit (1). When you sell the stock and withdraw the funds, under the rules you’re taxed at a much lower rate. It’s a great vehicle for wealth creation and the encouragement of saving for retirement.

And that’s what they can’t stand. The rules as written prevent them from taxing this sheltered wealth to fund their bloated spending, so they’re going to change the rules. Oh sure, they say this is aimed the the “Romneys” of the world, those rich people who have sheltered more the $3 million, but how long do you think that barrier will last? About as long as it takes them to realize they need more.

Rocco always wants more.

This idea to tax sheltered money isn’t new; FDR, to whom Obama acolytes compare him, has his own undistributed profits tax, to punish businesses that were holding on to cash. (Look out, Apple!) That scheme blew up in Roosevelt’s face as business investment collapsed and the nation entered a new recession in 1937-38. You can bet a move like this would have its own unintended consequences, which the social engineers at Team Unicorn would blame on anyone but their own ham-handed, grasping, greedy policies.

This is progressivism showing its face as Leviathan. Forget that it was your skill and acumen and good habits that accumulated that wealth (and, through investing it, helped others by creating jobs, &c.); forget that this is, in the end, your money, yours to dispose of as you see fit, beyond that portion needed to fund the basic functions of government.

Forget all that.

The administrative state beloved by progressives knows what’s best. It has its plans and goals for us all, because it has divined the national will. Thus all the resources of the nation are at its disposal to meet those goals.

Including your retirement accounts.

This budget is dead on arrival, thank Heaven, but don’t think this scheme is going away. Oh, no. Once broached, it’s out there, waiting.

PS: I wonder if this is where Obama got the idea?

Footnote:
(1) You know: your money, your property, your liberty.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Eurozone Chief: Cyprus was just the start

March 26, 2013
"Obama loan officer at work."

“EU bureaucrat at work.”

Hoo, boy. I just had a feeling that, once the the EUrocracy learned it could take depositors’ money at will without a total meltdown, the temptation to do it again (and again and again and again…) would be too great to  resist. Thus we read in the Telegraph:

Cyprus bail-out: savers will be raided to save euro in future crises, says eurozone chief

Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe’s single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.

The new policy will alarm hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who live and have transferred their savings, proceeds from house sales and other assets to eurozone bank accounts in countries such as France, Spain and Italy.

The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, told the FT and Reuters that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe.

“If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’,” he said.

“If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders.”

Ditching a three-year-old policy of protecting senior bondholders and large depositors, over €100,000, in banks, Mr Dijsselbloem argued that the lack of market contagion surrounding Cyprus showed that private investors could now be hit to pay for bad banking debts.

Don’t you just love how Dijsselbloem puts it? “We’ll ask them to contribute.” As if Manuel the Madrid taxi driver, who’s put his life’s savings into a bank he thought he could trust, will get any chance to say no. If he’s lucky, he’ll wake one morning to discover that his masters in Brussels have left him anything at all.

This is just immoral. Depositors in Cyprus are being robbed to cover for the bad borrowing decisions of governments and the equally stupid lending decisions of bankers, and now Dijsselbloom and his fellow mandarins are casting their gaze across Europe and seeing a smorgasbord filled with tasty accounts waiting to have a bite taken out of them.

Let’s review an old principle of (real) liberalism that’s more and more forgotten these days: your bank account is your property, as it represents the fruits of your labor. Security in your right to property is essential to your liberty; if you do not have the first, then you lack the second. If some bureaucrat can come and take your property via a diktat dressed in legal finery, then you are not a free human being.

Desperate to save their precious Euro at all costs, the Eurocrats and the national governments are all but guaranteeing a future bank run and financial panic as frightened people take their money and try to put it beyond the reach of grasping, blundering officials and quite possibly creating the very crash they’re trying to avoid.

With establishment politicians like these, is it any wonder people turn in frustration and anger to radical politics?

PS: And I wish the EU would stop giving Obama ideas…

via Bryan Preston

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Quote of the day: Message to Obama from Cicero

February 13, 2013
"Time for a lesson, Barack."

“Time for a lesson, Barack.”

And I don’t mean Cicero, Illinois, but the great Roman lawyer and orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero (1):

“Whoever governs a country,” Cicero wrote in On Duties,  “must first see that citizens keep what belongs to them and that the state does not take from individuals what is rightfully theirs. . . . Indeed, the chief reason we have a constitution  and government at  all is to protect individual property. Even though nature led people to come together into communities in the first place, they did so with the hope that they could keep what rightfully belonged to them.”

Smart people, those Romans.

via Roger Kimball

Footnote:
(1) And whose prose tormented me in Latin classes. Caesar, Livy, Tacitus, Virgil… no problem! But Cicero? That man broke every rule of grammar you ever learned and made you thank him for it. That’s probably the real reason Marc Antony had him killed.


This is why California can’t have nice things: idiotic local governments edition

July 6, 2012

The new flag of California?

There are so many levels of “dumbass” in this, I scarcely know where to begin. If encouraging banks to issue unsafe mortgages that are then bundled by the US government and sold into the securities market lead to a national financial crisis, how much stupider is it to seize underwater mortgages under eminent domain and leave the public holding the bag?

Answer: Lots.

Eminent domain allows a government to forcibly acquire property that is then reused in a way considered good for the public—new housing, roads, shopping centers and the like. Owners of the properties are entitled to compensation, which is usually determined by a court.

But instead of tearing down property, California’s San Bernardino County and two of its largest cities, Ontario and Fontana, want to put eminent domain to a highly unorthodox use to keep people in their homes.

The municipalities, about 45 minutes east of Los Angeles, would acquire underwater mortgages from investors and cut the loan principal to match the current property value. Then, they would resell the reduced mortgages to new investors. …

For a home with an existing $300,000 mortgage that now has a market value of $150,000, Mortgage Resolution Partners might argue the loan is worth only $120,000. If a judge agreed, the program’s private financiers would fund the city’s seizure of the loan, paying the current loan investors that reduced amount. Then, they could offer to help the homeowner refinance into a new $145,000 30-year mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which has a program allowing borrowers to have as little as 2.25% in equity. That would leave $25,000 in profit, minus the origination costs, to be divided between the city, Mortgage Resolution Partners and its investors.

“Investors.” As if anyone is going to buy a devalued mortgage that was seized by the government in an utter ravaging of private property rights? What’s to guarantee the government won’t seize it from the next investor latest sucker in the name of “helping people?” Only a fool would buy one of these, and, since successful investors aren’t fools, that means the public will be left on the hook when the inevitable defaults occur.

In the linked post (1), Ed Morrissey describes some of the many problems with this:

Furthermore, it will hand a carte blanche to local politicians looking to curry favor with residents — and we can expect them to use it as often as they think they can get away with it.  Nothing sells like populism, and nothing in populism sells better than “sticking it to the banks,” even when the “banks” really means lots of investors, large and small, who bought mortgage-based securities for retirement funds and the like.  On top of that, the process heightens the moral hazard of government intervention, which then encourages people to take irrational and damaging risks by expecting private gain with public loss.

Ed’s right, this is the spawn of the Supreme Court’s horrid Kelo decision, which ruled that a city could take real property from one private citizen and give it to another private citizen in the hope of higher tax revenue under a twisted notion of “public purpose.”  Now the county of San Bernardino and the cities of Fontana and Ontario want to extend that perverse principle to financial instruments –private property nonetheless– and shaft one set of citizens in favor of another, because the latter are voters.

I’m sure, at some point in the process of coming up with this bright idea, someone invoked the Orwellian magic words “fairness” and “social justice,” which makes it all better.

Respect for property rights is essential to ordered liberty and the economy’s well-being. All this will really do is drive troubled city and county finances further into train-wreck territory as real estate lending comes to a halt or investors demand sky-high interest rates to compensate for the risk. Hiding behind the emotional blackmail of “helping people,” these schmucks are instead going to salt their own economic fields, crippling any chance of real growth. It is a stupid, stupid plan that should never see the light of day.

Which means Sacramento will likely love it and adopt it for the whole state.

Footnote:
(1) The original article is behind a subscriber pay-wall.

PS: Graphic courtesy of The Open Clip Art Library.

UPDATE 7/27/2012: Naturally, California’s “progressive” Lieutenant Governor, Gavin “Brylcreem” Newsom, just loves this idea.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


America’s fork in the road: the Tea Party vs. the Occupy Movement

December 1, 2011

Here’s a good video from Encounter Books and narrated by Bill Whittle on the choice the US faces in 2012 between two populist movements: the largely classical-liberal Tea Party and the progressive-and-further-Left Occupy movement (1). The video provides a clear and succinct summary of the deep philosophical differences between the two groups, and I think you’ll find the five or so minutes it takes to watch is time well-spent:

Every four years it seems people call the approaching election “the most important in our history,” and I admit I’ve become somewhat jaded to those claims. But there’s no doubting that the sequence of elections beginning in 2008 and perhaps climaxing in 2012 is very significant. In a process that began in 1980 with Reagan’s election and that continues to this day, the two parties are developing genuine (2) and serious ideological differences, as illustrated in the video.

It may not be the “most important election in our history,” but the choice is real and the repercussions will last for a long time.

Footnotes:
(1) Although I kind of hesitate to call Occupy “genuinely populist,” given the heavy backing from Big Labor.
(2) And, in the interests of authenticity, may I suggest the Democrat Party stop holding their Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners? You’ve gone so far down the Social-Democratic road that Presidents Jefferson and Jackson would run screaming in horror. (Well, Jackson might draw a sword, instead…)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The forgotten lesson of Thanksgiving

November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day, everyone.

I remember in grammar school we used to be taught the “lessons of Thanksgiving,” including such wonderful things as sharing and gratitude. It seems one lesson never gets taught, though, and so reporter John Stossel wrote to remind us of it in this 2010 article:

Had today’s political class been in power in 1623, tomorrow’s holiday would have been called “Starvation Day” instead of Thanksgiving. Of course, most of us wouldn’t be alive to celebrate it.

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn’t happen.

Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That’s why they nearly all starved.

They nearly starved because too few people were willing to work hard to make the land productive enough to feed everyone, knowing they could still draw from the communal pot regardless of their (lack of) effort. Hence, not enough food was produced and the Colony nearly died.

But it didn’t. Having seen the failure of communalism and a planned economy, the colony’s leaders decided to divide the land into plots of private property and make each family responsible for their own livelihood. The results, as reported by Governor Bradford were amazing:

“This had very good success,” Bradford wrote, “for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many.”

In other words, private property and a free market made prosperity possible, while Socialism nearly got everyone killed.

Read the rest before you settle down to turkey and football (and the inevitable food coma), and let’s keep this forgotten lesson in mind.

Enjoy the day, folks!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Occupy Oakland: never bring uptwinkles to a gunfight

November 4, 2011

I think Oakland has just met its next mayor, who knows how to handle rioters:

“We had people who attempted to break into our building,” the landmark Rotunda Building on Frank Ogawa Plaza outside City Hall, [Oakland developer Phil] Tagami said Thursday. He grabbed a shotgun that he usually keeps at home, went down to the ground floor and “discouraged them,” he said.

“I was standing there and they saw me there, and I lifted it – I didn’t point it – I just held it in my hands,” Tagami said. “And I just racked it, and they ran.

Clint would be proud:

Compare Tagami’s action to the pusillanimous whines of appeasement coming from Oakland’s elected “leaders:”

City Administrator Deanna Santana apologized to business owners for the “chaotic events” that enveloped the city. Mayor Jean Quan called the rioters “a small and isolated group.”

“It shouldn’t mar the overall impact of the demonstration and the fact that people in the 99 percent movement demonstrated peacefully and, for the most part, were productive and very peaceful,” Quan said.

Neville Chamberlain is alive and well in Oakland’s city hall.

Citizen Tagami, however, isn’t buying it:

Tagami disagreed, calling the Occupy Oakland encampment “basically concealment and cover for anarchists who are doing this to our city.”

“We’re very concerned that a group of people can be allowed to do this type of destruction to our town and to our image without any repercussions,” Tagami said. “They need to be held accountable.”

Exactly.

In all seriousness, this is what happens when muddleheaded governments break the social contract and fail to protect the rights of all people equally, as they are supposed to.  The right to have one’s livelihood and possessions secure from violence is as fundamental and natural to liberty under the rule of law as freedom of speech. When government officials such as Mayor Quan vacillate and refuse to do the job for which they were elected, it is left to citizens such as Frank Tagami to defend their rights themselves in a state of nature.

Again, no one is saying the Occupiers don’t have a right to protest — they most certainly do. But our very open, very tolerant society provides wide-open avenues for protest that don’t require the logic of violence that lies at the heart of the Occupy movement.

In contrast, witness the myriad, often huge rallies held by the Tea Party: all done within the law, everyone’s rights respected, and the movement’s point forcefully and effectively made through freedom of speech and association.

And not a broken window in sight.

Meanwhile, it’s time for the mayors of the various “Occupy” cities to do their duty by their residents and taxpayers and put an end to the camps, with their lawlessness and their squalor.

Enough is enough.

PS: Tagami for Mayor in 2014!

LINKS: More from Hot Air.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


“Red” Jan Schakowsky: “You don’t deserve to keep all of your money”

September 14, 2011

I’ll give Comrade Congresswoman Schakowsky this much: she’s at least honest, although I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. On the Don Wade & Roma Show on WLS-AM this morning, the host tried to tie her down on the question of how high the tax rate should be:

“I think you need to pay your fair share for things we’ve decided are our national priorities,” Schakowsky added.

Host: So Jan Schakowsky, out of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think I deserve to keep?

Schakowsky: What is really your question here? Do you think you should not contribute to firefighters?

Host: No, no, it’s a very simple question. Out of every dollar I earn, how much do you, Jan Schakowsky, think I deserve to keep?

Schakowsky: No, it’s not a simple question. No, it is not a simple question. I’ll put it this way. You don’t deserve to keep all of it.

Host: Why?

Schakowsky: It’s not a question of deserving. What government is, is those things we decide to do together.

That last line is probably garbled. I think she meant to say:

“…those things we, your betters who are so much wiser than you, decide you want.”

However, the congresswoman committed the cardinal sin of modern American Socialism: she forgot to be stealthy about her intentions. Having failed to provoke revolution in the 60s and early 70s, mainstream American Socialism coalesced around the idea that it was better to disguise their true intentions behind the honeyed words of “communitarianism” and “shared values,” while working for incremental, instead of revolutionary change. They were supposed to be open just amongst themselves, at conferences only they paid attention to and journals only they read. (Because they’re too turgid and abstruse for most folks. And bloody dull.) But Schakowski, an open member of the Democratic Socialists of America, probably forgot she wasn’t on wholly safe ground.

Shouldn’t blame her too much, though. Even her party leader couldn’t hide his inner Socialist completely.

Remember, your money is not your property, peasant. It is at the service of the State.

SEE ALSO: Big Government and Power Line.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Plant a garden, go to jail

August 4, 2011

Oh, the evil of people trying to be self-sufficient, and the obscenity of doing it in public — in front of the neighbors!!

Presenting Reason.TV‘s Nanny of the Month: Oak Park, Michigan, official Kevin Rulkowski, whose objection to Julie Bass’ front-yard garden might cost her 93 days in jail.

Now, I’m not wholly without sympathy for Mr. Rulkowski; I was taught in real estate classes that uniformity in look helps maintain house prices, and I’m sure many of us have had to suffer with neighbors who park junk vehicles on their front lawns or paint their houses garish, eye-hurting colors. (Such as the bright orange house with black trim near me.) So I can see some reason to sensible zoning regulations.

But a garden? Really? Jail time? Seriously??

Rulkowski should leave Ms. Bass and her garden alone and concentrate on a real problem — such as rogue lemonade stands.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama: Your “unneeded money” belongs to the government

July 13, 2011

And “unneeded,” of course, is defined by Obama. Historian John Steele Gordon noticed this appalling assertion during the President’s news conference two days ago:

And I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am asked to do nothing, in fact, I’m able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don’t need, while a parent out there who is struggling to figure out how to send their kid to college suddenly finds that they’ve got a couple thousand dollars less in grants or student loans.

(Emphasis added.)

That is just awful. I’m surprised he wasn’t wearing a red “Che” shirt.

Gordon scores a quick TKO when exposes Obama’s economic folly. Here are the key paragraphs, but do read the whole thing:

There is, of course, nothing whatever stopping Barack Obama, taxpaying citizen, from donating his excess income to the United States Treasury. But his statement demonstrates an astonishing economic illiteracy. To be sure, someone earning a great deal of money has an income greater than what he spends. You can only spend so much on luxurious living however hard you try, a reality so rich with comic possibilities that a 1902 novel called  Brewster’s Millions has been made into a movie no fewer than nine times.

But, unlike Scrooge McDuck, the rich do not put the excess in a vast money bin and frolic about in it. They invest it. What a concept! Where does Obama think new capital comes from, the tooth fairy? It’s nothing more than the excess of income over outgo. Take away the income the rich “don’t need” and spend it on social programs, and capital formation in this country drops to zero.

Along with economic growth, productive new jobs, and a growing middle class. All in the name of a childish, envy-based definition of “fairness.”

But it’s not just revealing of the President’s boneheadedness in economics; it’s also a probably unintentional reminder of his true politics, which are deeply rooted in New York and Chicago’s Socialist communities. This is another “spread the wealth” moment that shows Obama is much more concerned with redistribution than with wealth-creation and that government is the proper vehicle for arranging that redistribution. It fits like a glove with the Progressive notion that boards of government experts are better able to decide how an individual will run his life than is the individual himself, and that includes how to dispose of his own money. And as one’s money is one’s property, it strikes at the very idea of property rights.

And it’s not just “excess money.” If the government can say how much money you don’t need, why not for other forms of property, too? If I have enough money to buy a truck to go with my small car, can Obama say I really don’t need it, and thus take it and give it to someone “in need” out of fairness? What about land? If I own two acres of land and someone less successful has none, can the government take half of mine and give it to the other guy, so we’re both equal? (Hello, Kelo)

Thus we come back to Obama’s “additional income I don’t need.” The income is no longer mine to dispose of as I wish, it is the government’s first and it is the government that decides what I am allowed to keep. This point of view necessarily entails a fundamental denial of individual liberty, of which property rights are a cornerstone, and turns the freeborn citizen into a creature of the State.

Every four years, it seems, we hear “this is the most important election of our lives.” In 2012, I think that may well be true.

PS: I don’t have a problem with government taking money in taxes to fund its necessary and proper functions, though folks can argue about just what those are. But the view held by Obama and the DSA crowd that dominates the Democratic Party in Congress is an utter inversion of everything we were founded on and needs to be called out for what it is — Statism.

PPS: I like Scrooge McDuck.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Giving thanks for private property

November 25, 2010

Sure, that sounds pedantic and dull – who needs a lesson in the value of property rights to a free and prosperous society, especially on a day when we celebrate turkey and football… oh, yeah, and family, too?

We do.

In an era when government feels more and more able to take your property and do with it whatever it wants, and when one of our two major parties is dominated progressive leftists and the president himself is a socialist, when all the currents of our society seem to be pushing us against our will toward collectivism (and collective penury), we need to be reminded of the lessons our ancestors learned about the value of private property and free markets. And yes, there’s a direct connection to Thanksgiving. First, a video from Reason.TV, via Big Government:

Reporter John Stossel takes the story of the near-tragedy and eventual salvation of the Plymouth Colony further, explaining for us the lost lesson of Thanksgiving:

What Plymouth suffered under communalism was what economists today call the tragedy of the commons. The problem has been known since ancient Greece. As Aristotle noted, “That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it.”

If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free-rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty.

What private property does — as the Pilgrims discovered — is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there’s a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.

(…)

Secure property rights are the key. When producers know their future products are safe from confiscation, they take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible.

So there you have it, folks. When you sit down to that big turkey dinner and pass the potatoes, think back to the real lesson of Thanksgiving and give thanks for what made it possible: private property and free markets.

LINKS: Power Line quotes extensively from Professor Paul Rahe on Plymouth: America’s First Socialist Republic. Allahpundit cites some liberal rebuttals at Hot Air.

PS. I also want to give thanks to my blog-buddy, ST, who’s been gracious enough to let me play in her sandbox these past few months. It’s been a lot of fun, and I look forward to even more.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Nanny-stater of the month

October 4, 2010

Reason.TV’s “Nanny of the Month” award has turned a year old, and this month’s winner has a bit of an ironic twist to it. Remember how Mom (or Nanny, for those who had one) would always tell you to eat your vegetables, often invoking starving children somewhere to whom we would have gladly given our portion? Well, in this case, a man in Georgia is in trouble with DeKalb County not for refusing to eat his greens, but for growing too many of them:

I have to admit, this one strikes me as a little bit questionable. The zoning laws were in place before the gentleman in question started his organic garden; couldn’t he have sought a variance beforehand? Sure, zoning regulations can be arcane and picayune, but in a residential area, they exist to protect the value everyone’s properties from people who would use their land in ways that would harm that value, such as installing a home tannery or putting up a 90′ neon-green Elvis.  Much as I sympathize with and support the rights of property owners, they do have a responsibility to check the laws before they do something unusual.

Still, it seems more than a little vindictive for the county to try to punish him after he got the necessary permits. He’s acknowledged the law, no harm was done, so what’s the point? Other than a bureaucrat’s game of “mine’s bigger than yours,” that is.

PS: Now that I think of it, wouldn’t the Oregon officials who made a little girl cry be a natural for this? They’d win the year-end award in a runaway.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


It’s not a crime if it’s against Israel

July 5, 2010

Just appalling:

Q: Suppose there are seven people in England who break into a factory and cause £180,000 ($275,000) of damage. They admit their crime of criminal damage. What would be their sentence?

A: It depends. Usually they would be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison. But if the factory is making goods that help Israel to defend its citizens, the seven walk free.

This is British justice?

(via The Jawa Report)


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