North Korea: all men must now wear Kim Jong Un’s hairstyle?

March 26, 2014
x

Bah! You call that a “haircut?”

When you’re the boy god-king of the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation, you can get away with weird, petty stuff like this:

If you are a man in North Korea, we sincerely hope you have a round face. It’s the shape that will work with your new haircut.

That new haircut is reportedly called the “Dear Leader Kim Jong Un,” modeled after—you guessed it—North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s impenetrable block of black hair atop his chubby cheeks. The style reportedly became a state-mandated guideline about two weeks ago, though experts familiar with the country have said there’s no evidence a new hairstyle rule has gone into effect.

According to the article, this isn’t something new for North Korea: Kim’s father, the late, demented Kim Jong Il, launched a state campaign against long hair on the grounds that it sucked the nutrients from one’s brain.

Really.

Anyway, a TV campaign was launched and “journalists” would go to people’s homes to confront them about their overly lengthy locks. This being North Korea, I suppose they were lucky not to be shot or fed to the dogs.

Back to Kim III, and regardless of whether this is true, it’s another illustration of why limited, constitutional government is best; when there are no limits to the powers of the rulers, there are also no limits to what they will do the the ruled. North Korea is just the extreme example that clarifies the point.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sweden, Spending Restraint, and the Benefits of Obeying Fiscal Policy’s Golden Rule

March 16, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

It’s really kind of embarrassing to admit the world’s most successful capitalist nation in history could learn a thing or two about sound public fiscal policy from what was once the poster-child nation of Social Democracy. But useful, like many such humblings. One hopes our leaders in DC will learn it well.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

When I first started working on fiscal policy in the 1980s, I never thought I would consider Sweden any sort of role model.

It was the quintessential cradle-to-grave welfare state, much loved on the left as an example for America to follow.

But Sweden suffered a severe economic shock in the early 1990s and policy makers were forced to rethink big government.

They’ve since implemented some positive reforms in the area of fiscal policy, along with other changes to liberalize the economy.

I even, much to my surprise, wrote a column in 2012 stating that it’s “Time to Follow Sweden’s Lead on Fiscal Policy.”

More specifically, I’m impressed that Swedish leaders have imposed some genuine fiscal restraint.

Here’s a chart, based on IMF data, showing that the country enjoyed a nine-year period where the burden of government spending grew by an average of 1.9 percent…

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Whether You Call it Socialism, Statism, Fascism, or Corporatism, Big Government Is Evil and Destructive

March 15, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

In one sense, it’s just arguing over terms, but I do think proper nomenclature is important to understanding. But Mitchell has a point that “Socialism” and “Fascism” are too emotionally charged and may instead impede understanding. “Statism” is a good, neutral noun to use in their place, though I also like Goldberg’s (from H.G. Wells) “Liberal Fascism.”

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Regular readers may have noticed that I generally say that advocates of big government are “statists.”

I could call them “liberals,” but I don’t like that using that term since the early advocates of economic and personal liberty were “classical liberals” such as Adam Smith, John Locke, and Jean-Baptiste Say. And proponents of these ideas are still called “liberals” in Europe and Australia.

I could call them “socialists,” but I don’t think that’s technically accurate since the theory is based on government ownership of the means of production. This is why I’ve been in the strange position of defending Obama when some folks have used the S word to describe him.

I could call them “fascists,” which Thomas Sowell explains is the most accurate way of describing the modern left’s economic ideology, but that term also implies racism. But while leftists sometimes support policies that hurt minorities

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A “Human Right” to Other People’s Money

January 29, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Your money. It’s my right.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

One of the many differences between advocates of freedom and supporters of statism is how they view “rights.”

Libertarians, along with many conservatives, believe in the right to be left alone and to not be molested by government. This is sometimes referred to in the literature as “negative liberty,” which is just another way of saying “the absence of coercive constraint on the individual.”

Statists, by contrast, believe in “positive liberty.” This means that you have a “right” to things that the government will give you (as explained here by America’s second-worst President). Which means, of course, that the government has an obligation to take things from somebody else. How else, after all, will the government satisfy your supposed right to a job, education, healthcare, housing, etc.

Sometimes, the statists become very creative in their definition of rights.

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To Deal with the Problem of Incompetent Government, David Brooks Wants to…Make the Executive Branch More Powerful?!?

December 15, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

Patient says to his doctor, “Doc, it hurts when I do this!” Doc replies, ” Well, stop doing that!” Brooks obviously didn’t listen to the doctor.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I sometimes get irked when I read columns by David Brooks. He’s sort of the token Republican at the New York Times, so he has a very important perch that could be used to educate an important audience about the harmful impact of excessive government.

And Brooks often does a good job of highlighting important and worrisome social trends, but what rubs me the wrong way is that he frequently thinks the right answer is to give government even more power.

He wrote a column back in 2011, for instance, that nailed the problem of growing dependency and declining workforce participation. But then he proposed more government intervention.

And he correctly worried about the social costs of family instability in 2012, but then bizarrely decided that the right response was subsidies to make men more marriageable.

So it won’t come as much of a surprise that I’m perplexed…

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#Obamacare, socializing doctors, and Reagan’s warning

November 4, 2013
"Perceptive"

“Perceptive”

Via Steven Hayward, consider this a follow-up to the Virginia Democrat’s suggestion that doctors be compelled by law to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients:

Today, the relationship between patient and doctor in this country is something to be envied any place. The privacy, the care that is given to a person, the right to chose a doctor, the right to go from one doctor to the other.

But let’s also look from the other side, at the freedom the doctor loses. A doctor would be reluctant to say this. Well, like you, I am only a patient, so I can say it in his behalf. The doctor begins to lose freedoms; it’s like telling a lie, and one leads to another. First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors aren’t equally divided geographically, so a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him you can’t live in that town, they already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go.

Or forcing him to take patients at the State’s direction.

The Left regularly attacked Reagan as a dummy, an “amiable dunce.” But, in this quote, as in so many other cases, he was actually a lot smarter than his critics.


Libertarian political humor

October 18, 2013

This passed through the Public Secrets inbox today. Already shared it on Twitter, but I thought I’d post it here. Not only is it funny, but it catches the Classical Liberal/modern Libertarian mindset nicely while poking gently at both progressives and (some strains of) conservatives. Enjoy:

satire Libertarians

 

As they say, “Heh!” Smiley Laughing Maniacal Clown


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.


Presented for your approval: Marco Rubio and Rand Paul school Barack Obama

February 13, 2013

So, last night was the State of the Union address. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t watch. First off, Obama’s a tedious, hackneyed speaker, and listening to him for an hour would be painful. If you did, you’re made of sterner stuff than I.

Second, we know what he’s going to say. As I posted on Twitter yesterday morning:

And, from what I can see in the transcript, he mostly lived down to my expectations. (1)

But I was interested in the Republican response. For one, prior response speeches have ranged from indifferent to outright flops, but, as this was the first speech of Obama’s second term, there was a chance to begin anew and to lay the first paving stones on the road to 2014 and 2016. Also, the speakers were two men whose careers I’ve followed with interest: Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fl)  and Rand Paul (R-Ky). Both, I think, gave very good responses, concentrating on philosophy over wonky policy details and providing an excellent contrast between our vision of limited government, liberty, and free markets, on the one hand, and Obama’s progressive dream of limitless government, statism, and dependency on the other.

First, Marco Rubio (2):

And then Rand Paul:

While I have points of disagreement with both men, I could comfortably, happily vote for either for president. Along with Governor Jindal of Louisiana, I think we have at least three strong candidates for 2016, and a great improvement over the last group.

Footnotes:
(1) About that proposed $9 per hour minimum wage, indexed to inflation. I suggest anyone who thinks that’s a good idea look up the words “inflationary spiral.” Government should have no role in setting prices or wages, period. It’s just bad policy.
(2) You probably noticed the awkward moment when Rubio reached for a bottle of water. According to actor Adam Baldwin on Twitter last night, that was a sign that the producers screwed up and left the room too warm, which, when combined with the hot lights, left Rubio dying of thirst. He handled it well that night and this morning, though, making jokes about it and disarming the inevitable “OMG!! He drank water!” attacks from the Left.  (Really, guys. Is that the best you’ve got?)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: We’re the best worst state! Yay? Updated.

November 28, 2012

The new flag of California

Now here’s something to be proud of. Thanks to nearly 50 years of  Democratic control of the legislature and the legislators’ kowtowing to public unions in return for donations and  support, the state of California –the Golden State, the land that inspired untold millions of dreams and created unheard of prosperity for its people– is officially the worst-run state in the nation:

50. California

Debt per capita: $4,008 (18th highest)
Budget deficit: 20.7% (17th largest)
Unemployment: 11.7% (2nd highest)
Median household income: $57,287 (10th highest)
Pct. below poverty line: 16.6% (18th highest)

California is 24/7 Wall St.’s “Worst Run State” for the second year in a row. Due to high levels of debt, the state’s S&P credit rating is the worst of all states, while its Moody’s credit rating is the second-worst. Much of California’s fiscal woes involve the economic downturn. Home prices plunged by 33.6% between 2006 and 2011, worse than all states except for three. The state’s foreclosure rate and unemployment rate were the third- and second-highest in the country, respectively. But efforts to get finances on track are moving forward. State voters passed a ballot initiative to raise sales taxes as well as income taxes for people who make at least $250,000 a year. While median income is the 10th-highest in the country, the state also has one of the highest tax burdens on income. According to the Tax Foundation, the state also has the third-worst business tax climate in the country.

The best run state? North Dakota. In fact, the top five are run by fiscally conservative Republican governments, while the three worst of the bottom five are dominated by liberal Democrats.  I detect a pattern here, and it has much more to do with governing philosophy than with the letter after the politician’s name.

The analysis given after the data is horse feathers, though. Yes, California did suffer heavily from the economic crisis that hit in 2008 and the resulting recession. But that does not explain the slowness of our recovery. That, instead, is explained by the poor policies followed by the government in Sacramento, which has done everything right — if the objective was to choke of economic growth and job creation. Borrowing too much money, then spending it on on padded public pensions and useless projects like high-speed rail; raising already-high taxes on the very people who create the jobs we desperately need, thus leaving no money for reinvestment and driving those people out of the state or out of business; and a regulatory environment that can only be described as miserable. Our “leaders” have taken us straight into the pit and they show no sign of changing course.

Well done, California. Well done!

via Legal Insurrection

RELATED: Other measures of our success: California now leads the nation in poverty, or, as my friend Teach puts it, we’re “Brokefornia.”

UPDATE: Walter Russell Mead explains far better than I did why California’s recovery is so weak:

The problem with California has never been that bad policies put the state in a permanent recession. Rather, bad policies have meant that the state and its residents suffer more than average when recessions come, and that they benefit less than they should when the good times return. Some of the world’s most dynamic people and industries are found in California, but poor governance means that the state as a whole keeps losing ground when compared with the country as a whole. That is California’s real problem, and the Times would serve its readers better by analyzing the forces holding California back from achieving its magnificent potential instead of hailing a modest and cyclical economic recovery as some kind of proof that the state’s model ‘works’.

Left unspoken: We keep electing those responsible for the poor governance.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Secession? No, try federalism

November 20, 2012

In the wake of the presidential election earlier this month, a lot of people expressed their disappointment with the results by submitting petitions for secession at the White House web site. Petitions were received from all 50 states, and there were several counter-petitions from progressives urging the government to let them go.

To be honest, and even though I signed South Carolina’s to support my friend Gay Patriot, I looked at these as just blowing off steam after a disappointing election loss, just as liberals fantasized about secession in 2004. I didn’t and don’t take them seriously.

My mistake, in at least one respect. As Prof. Glenn Reynolds points out in an op-ed in USA Today, petitions such as these and more serious secession movements in Scotland, Catalonia, and elsewhere arise from anger at a central government from which they feel alienated for various reasons. While the petitions themselves may not be serious, the resentment and irritation caused by being forced to obey one-size-fits-all laws you hate is very real. And, if left to fester, it can lead to more serious problems.

What’s the answer, if secession isn’t it? Reynolds looks back to the handiwork of a very smart group of men who came up with a solution suited to a large, diverse republic, and suggests we give federalism a try:

So what’s a solution? Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do — national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights — and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don’t like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that’s more to your taste. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.

Sound good? It should. It’s called federalism (1), and it’s the approach chosen by the United States when it adopted the Constitution in 1789. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

Surely Reynolds wrote this with a wink and a smile, for federalism is the way were are supposed to operate, and our problems have grown as the federal government has usurped more and more of the states’ proper role, turning gradually from a government of limited powers to Leviathan. Consider it another way: the more the federal government tries to do everything, the less it can do anything well.  The national economy and health care systems are too large and too diverse, and there’s too much information coming in, for them to be directed top-down by a few hundred (or even a few thousand) pols and bureaucrats in D.C. The needs of people differ in various parts of the country, and the resources needed to even try to manage everything nationally wind up being diverted from those things only the federal government can do well, such as national security.

The solution, as Reynolds writes, is to recognize those spheres of competence and respect them, something that’s happened less and less since the progressive era. This isn’t to say that the enumerated powers of Article 1, Section 8 are the end all and be all; the Founders themselves recognized that the Constitution would sometimes need amending (2) –including granting the federal government more power– and put in place procedures for doing just that. It’s through ignoring those limits and procedures that we’ve reached a point whereat so many think, with some justification, that the United States Government is becoming a threat to their liberty and prosperity.

Change won’t be easy, and the genie of the progressive administrative state probably can’t ever be wholly put back in the bottle. But for the health of our body politic we have to keep trying.

Footnotes:
(1) Also “states’ rights,” but that term was forever tainted thanks to defenders of slavery and Jim Crow hiding behind it, back in the day.
(2) And I do think several are needed to deal with the progressive-statist tendency to grab more and more power. Professor Randy Barnett’s Bill of Federalism is a great starting point for discussion. Oddly enough, in the wake of their defeat in 2004, progressives themselves were arguing for federalism. Bipartisanship!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Pension crisis hits Oregon, collapse of progressive model continues

November 18, 2012

From the sound of this post by Walter Russell Mead, it looks like whoever manages Oregon’s state pension fund made the same mistakes we made here in California: expecting the extraordinary returns on investments enjoyed during the boom years to continue forever and then making big commitments based on those faulty expectations.

And now, as with their neighbors to the south, Oregon finds itself choosing between pensions or schools:

Oregon’s pension fund for public employees is now in a $16 billion hole caused by the failure of its investments to come anywhere close to the 8 percent rate of return the state was predicting. Now lawmakers are forced to choose between contributing billions of taxpayer dollars to close the pension gap or fully funding the state’s school system.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has the details on exactly how the state got itself into this mess. The main culprit, as usual, is a set of overly generous benefits that actually allowed some state employees to earn more in retirement than they did during their working days…

Details may vary from state to state, but the pattern is the same: public employee unions treating the taxpayers as a never-ending golden goose, and politicians (Democrats and Republicans who act like them) handing out ever more golden eggs of benefits and salaries in return for campaign contributions and election help from those same unions.

In short, it’s a mutual kickback game played with our money, and the losers are We, The People.

But, it’s not just California and Oregon. Wherever you see states and cities that have had long-term liberal dominance in government, you find the same problems with obligations that can no longer be met. New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Detroit, Los Angeles… And all of them being lead by Illinois.

The progressives may have won the presidential race and kept the Senate, but it’s a hollow victory. As Oregon is the latest to show, their model is, in the lingo of the Greens, no longer “sustainable.”

UPDATE: Linked by Instapundit. Welcome, visitors!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


October 8, 2012

Phineas Fahrquar:

Statist, Alinskyite Obama; statist, Alinskyite Hillary. There really isn’t much of a difference.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Every so often, I come across some statement by President Obama that is either jaw-droppingly misguided or unintentionally revealing, and I place it in my is-this-the-worst-thing-he-ever-said file.

His “spread the wealth” comment to Joe the Plumber is the most famous example, but that was before I started this blog. Previous entries on my list include.

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September 9, 2012

Phineas Fahrquar:

A lot of people forget the Constitution puts limits on majority rule, when it’s convenient for them.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Thomas Sowell, George Will, and Walter Williams have all explained that the Constitution imposes strict limits on the powers of the federal government. This means, for all intents and purposes, that it is a somewhat anti-democratic document.

And by anti-democratic, I mean the Constitution puts restrictions on democracy (not restrictions on the Democratic Party, though in this case…).

More specifically, it doesn’t matter if a majority of people want Obamacare or a Department of Education. We live in a constitutional republic, a system specifically designed to protect individual liberties from tyranny.

The Founding Fathers obviously didn’t want our freedoms to be subject to the whims of a king, but they also wanted to protect us from the tyranny of the majority.

This is one of the reasons why I’m so happy to share this short video from the folks at the Institute of Humane Studies. The Supreme Court…

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Barack Obama: Can we call him a Socialist now?

May 25, 2012

Oh, my. Take a look at this:

It’s a reminder that the President presented himself as much more progressive during his time in Chicago. In this little-seen advertisement that ran in the Hyde Park Herald in 1996, Obama was listed on a panel sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), University of Chicago Democrats, and University of Chicago DSA. He also supported gay marriage back then.

Click through to see the image of the flyer.

Of course, long-time readers know that I’ve been certain Obama is a Socialist of one form or another for quite a while. Stanley Kurtz did the CSI: Politics work, and I found the argument convincing. Moreover, there’s never been a whit of evidence that Obama has abandoned or renounced his Socialist politics. At most, he’s given up the revolutionary radicalism he favored in his college years and migrated to an incrementalist, gradualist Socialism that seeks to change the system from within.

But, regardless, he’s still a Socialist.

PS: For those wondering if this really matters, it does. Understanding Obama’s political core gives us an idea of where he would like to take the nation in a second term, and forms a handy point of contrast to Mitt Romney. Also, Socialism has never worked wherever it’s been tried, something to keep in mind to tell people who say they don’t care about ideology, they just care about “what works.”

via Jim Hoft

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) The love of theory is the root of all evil

April 29, 2012

In one of the best segments of Afterburner in recent memory, Bill Whittle explores the dangers of dogma, that obsessive devotion to a theory that leads one to ignore all evidence to the contrary, and the consequences be damned:

The genius of Bill’s proposition lies in its simplicity. Look at the Hell wrought on the world by some fools’ single-minded devotion to Marxist-Leninist-Maoist economics — how many hundreds of millions have died in Europe, Asia, and Africa?

Look at the trillions of dollars being wasted –the impoverishment of previously wealthy nations, such as Great Britain– because of the obsession with global warming, a problem that does not exist.

Look at our own nation, where secular priests demand we spend more, borrow more, and create more bureaucracy, in spite of all the evidence showing that, far from making things better, it’s only more of the same poison.

This battle is a fight between empiricism and intellectual honesty, on the one hand, and the emotional attachment to a cherished theory, on the other. For the sake of all that we hold dear, we must take that love of false theory, rip it out of the hands of those who cling to it like a soft blanket, shoot it dead before their eyes, and force them to face the empirical truth.

For their (and our) own good.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Has Romney read Bastiat?

April 15, 2012

Frederic Bastiat

Republican nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney spoke recently at a meeting of the National Rifle Association in St. Louis, where he gave a powerful speech attacking the Obama administration’s insults to our economic liberty. IBD’s Andrew Malcolm posted excerpts from the speech (and the whole thing), and I recommend reading it.

One part in particular jumped out at me, however, wherein Romney explains the hidden costs of Obama’s tax-and-regulate binge:

“The real cost isn’t just the taxes paid and money spent complying with the rules. It’s the businesses that are never started, the ideas that are never pursued, the dreams that are never realized.”

That could come straight from the thinking of Frederic Bastiat, a 19th century French (1) classical liberal and economist. In his essay “That which is seen, and that which is not seen,” Bastiat attacked the idea that government spending could create wealth, arguing instead that such spending, while it would pump money into the economy, came at the expense of the citizen’s ability to spend that same money on those things that would improve his life. To illustrate his point, he used the parable of the broken window:

Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade – that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs – I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.

But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.

Let us take a view of industry in general, as affected by this circumstance. The window being broken, the glazier’s trade is encouraged to the amount of six francs; this is that which is seen. If the window had not been broken, the shoemaker’s trade (or some other) would have been encouraged to the amount of six francs; this is that which is not seen.

And if that which is not seen is taken into consideration, because it is a negative fact, as well as that which is seen, because it is a positive fact, it will be understood that neither industry in general, nor the sum total of national labour, is affected, whether windows are broken or not.

Now let us consider James B. himself. In the former supposition, that of the window being broken, he spends six francs, and has neither more nor less than he had before, the enjoyment of a window.

In the second, where we suppose the window not to have been broken, he would have spent six francs on shoes, and would have had at the same time the enjoyment of a pair of shoes and of a window.

In other words, no wealth was created. The glazier may be a bit richer, but the shopkeeper is poorer. (He may have his window, but he’s out six francs.) Worse, his economic liberty to make his life better was infringed, since the breaking of the window forced him to spend money only to put things back the way they were.

The quote from Romney’s NRA speech indicates he understands (2) what Bastiat was talking about: that government spending only moves wealth from one pocket to another (via taxation); that regulations are a form of taxation (through compliance costs); and that both entail hidden opportunity costs (those things we would like to do but now cannot) by restricting economic liberty.

A president who takes Bastiat to heart is far preferable to one who embraces Alinsky.

Footnotes:
(1) A Frenchman advocating limited government? How times have changed.
(2) Yeah, I know: “Romneycare.” Let’s hope he learned from that.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


How De Tocqueville foresaw Obama and the progressives, part two

April 7, 2012

Early nineteenth century prose isn’t easy reading (meandering to the point, it seems, was an art form, then), but I’m going to have to knuckle under and read De Tocqueville’s works; the man was obviously  a political Nostradamus. Here he is describing one of progressivism’s defining characteristics to a “T:”

“A man’s admiration of absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.”

Wilson. Obama. This condescending attitude toward the ordinary man and faith in government experts reeks from the two men who bookend the last century of the transformed presidency.

via Steven Hayward

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


How to undo ObamaCare? A problem of philosophy

April 2, 2012

There’s an interesting article at The Weekly Standard, by Jeffrey Anderson, looking at the difficulties the Supreme Court faces as it decides what to do about ObamaCare. As Anderson describes it, there are five choices:

  1. Upholding the law in its entirety;
  2. Minimally overturning it by striking down just the individual mandate;
  3. Go a little further by overturning the mandate, plus the closely related “community rating” and “guaranteed issue” clauses;
  4. Go through the law page by page deciding which part survives and which is overturned;
  5. Voiding the whole law.

Obviously the first is unacceptable to anyone who cares a whit about the Constitution and the principles on which it was founded. It’s also, thankfully, the least likely result if the questions asked by the Justices during the three days of the hearings are any indication.

But options 2-5 pose problems for conservative justice inclined to overturn the mandate: When dealing with a law this huge in both size and scope, which approach best hews to the principles of judicial restraint/judicial modesty, while still adhering to the Constitution? Options 2-4 pose a couple of problems. The first is that, by picking and choosing among the various parts of the bill, the Court may well leave behind a clanking wreck that does even more harm. The other is that, in doing so, especially in the absence of a severability clause (1), the COurt would wind up acting like an unelected super-legislature and usurping the roll of the elected Congress, something that should give any constitutionalist serious pause. As Anderson points out, none of these choices (except the first) are clear-cut and without question.

My own preference to to void the whole bill; it cannot work without the individual mandate, which itself is clearly unconstitutional. And policy decisions about health-care reform, which is what choices 2-4 amount to, are the duty of the elected legislature, not the Court.

But even these arguments raise a deeper issue; the Court would not find itself confronting these issues if not for the progressive penchant for comprehensive legislation, one bill “to bind them all.” Anderson sums it up neatly:

But we shouldn’t miss the larger point here. The predicament in which the Court finds itself is plainly a product of President Obama and his party’s preference for massive, unwieldy, impossibly complicated legislation—the kind that you have to pass first to “find out what is in it.” Such legislation, as the oral arguments revealed, does not fit within our system of limited government. That’s because, as Charles Kesler has observed, Obamacare violates the basic notion of law in a free society. Kesler writes, “Sometimes the most obvious derangements of our politics are staring us in the face but we don’t see them”—like “calling this voluminous monstrosity a bill. Can you have a bill, a single law, that is almost 3,000 pages long? In the old days, that would have constituted a whole code of laws.”

In other words, it’s not just Obamacare that must go, but rather the whole liberal and progressive notion of “comprehensive” legislation for a nation of 300 million people. Obamacare is the epitome of that confidence in central planning by experts. Whether the Court strikes down Obamacare, or President Obama is defeated and Obamacare is repealed, or the Court strikes down part of Obamacare and a new president and Congress repeal the rest, last week’s historic hearings have made one thing clearer than ever: Attempts at “comprehensive” legislation compromise the very notion of limited government, in which the people’s representatives try to accomplish attainable goals in a free society. Comprehensive legislation is what happens when you have unlimited government. It is that effort, and the attitude underlying it, that need to be repudiated—by the Court and, more important, by the voters this November.

(Emphasis added.)

And that points a way forward for conservatives in the coming months: not only concentrating on sending Obama off into retirement , but electing as many limited-government conservatives as possible to Congress who understand a principle related to judicial modesty, but rarely mentioned — legislative modesty. (2) That is, recognizing what the federal government’s proper role is and doing only enough to fulfill that role, not trying to solve every problem (3) that comes down the pike when they’re better left to the states or the people.

Right now, we’re seeing what havoc  legislative arrogance can wreak. It’s time to put a stop to it before the harm is incurable. As Marco Rubio said, “If we don’t win this election in November — and we get four more years of Barack Obama — I don’t know what that means … But I know it ain’t good.”

He was speaking of Obama, of course, but it applies as much to the progressive influence on Congress.

Footnotes:
(1) Severability is a clause Congress usually inserts to allow the courts to strike down provisions of a law without having to kill the whole thing. There was such a clause in an early draft of the bill, but it was removed, indicating the Democrats were betting the Court wouldn’t strike down the whole law because there was no severability. I’m beginning to think they’ll regret that.
(2) Hence Operation Counterwight.
(3) Or any not-problem, something that isn’t their business, but lets them pander to the voters. Such as the BCS.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


One picture is worth a thousand words on Critical Race Theory

March 20, 2012

This is the fruit of the intellectual handiwork done  by President Obama’s Harvard mentor, Derrick Bell:

And here’s the explanation:

The nation’s premiere voting rights museum—the National Voting Rights Museum—now sits at the foot of the bridge [in Selma, Alabama]. The museum is an inadvertent monument to the civil rights movement’s degeneration. Its outlook is neatly captured in ten words that begin its timeline display of the civil rights movement. There, we find a replica of John Trumball’s iconic depiction of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with the caption, “1776. The Declaration of Independence signed by wealthy white men.”

The original civil rights giants would never have tolerated this historically false assertion. They were patriots, driven by love for their fellow countrymen and a burning desire to make America a better place for all its citizens. They repeatedly and vehemently rejected hatred. But the nasty caption captures the bitter spirit of much of the civil rights movement today and of numerous race-based activist groups around the country.

According to Bell’s Critical Race Theory, which not only the president, but several members of his administration and the Supreme Court and the media admire, the structure and philosophy of the United States is inherently, irrevocably racist. Hence, the caption to Trumball’s famous painting.

It’s hard for me to describe how offensive I find that, let alone dead wrong.

So I’ll let you discuss it.

RELATED: What is the Pacific Educational Group?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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