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)


So ignorant, it’s scary: the sequel

January 19, 2011

Last summer I wrote a post about the mind-numbing witlessness of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX).  Now, on top of her ignorance of History and Science, she’s shown herself to be devoid of any understanding of the Constitution*, too, by declaring that a repeal of ObamaCare would be unconstitutional:

Arguing that the Commerce Clause provides the constitutional basis for ObamaCare, Jackson Lee said repealing the law by passing Republicans’ H.R. 2 violates both the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.

“The Fifth Amendment speaks specifically to denying someone their life and liberty without due process,” she said in a speech on the House floor moments ago. “That is what H.R. 2 does and I rise in opposition to it. And I rise in opposition because it is important that we preserve lives and we recognize that 40 million-plus are uninsured.

She continued, “Can you tell me what’s more unconstitutional than taking away from the people of America their Fifth Amendment rights, their Fourteenth Amendment rights, and the right to equal protection under the law?”

Jackson Lee mentioned the names of several people who she said would be helped by the national health care law, including a schizophrenic, a dialysis patient, and somebody whose mother cannot otherwise get dental care. “I know they would question why we are taking away their rights,” she said.

Actually, I should think they would more likely question whether she has two firing synapses in her head. And does anyone seriously think she’d even be giving constitutionalism a passing glance, if her party hadn’t been massacred in the last election by voters sickened by the Democrats’ cavalier disregard for the Constitution?

She won’t understand it, but I’ll try.

Dear Sheila,

The US Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. That means –try to keep up, now– it limits what the federal government can do, assigning it specific powers and reserving the rest to the people and the states. It does this to protect the individual liberty of Americans from tyrannical power-grabs by a distant government. (If you had paid attention in History class, you’d recall we fought the Revolution for that very reason.) This is why the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, the Second the individual right to bear arms, and so on.

What the Constitution does not do, regardless of what Franklin Roosevelt and Cass Sunstein say, is mandate that the government give you stuff. It is not required to give you food, clothing, a place to live, a new TV, gas for your car, a pony on your birthday, or insurance coverage. Your twisting of the Fifth Amendment to say that the government must mandate insurance coverage lest someone’s life be taken from them is… bizarre. If that’s the case, then the government should buy everyone a gun, too, since otherwise someone might lose his life and property in a robbery. You know what happens when you rely on the government to give you everything you could want? The citizen becomes an infantilized servant.

And “due process?” I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean. Are you really saying that the government cannot deny someone insurance coverage without a court hearing? Wait. I don’t want to be giving you any ideas…

Sigh. What’s the use? She’s a progressive through and through, dedicated to the proposition that all Men are to be made equal by the government and are endowed by the government with whatever rights the government makes up that week**. And it’s not a coincidence that handing out goodies and calling them “constitutional rights” is a good way to bribe her constituents*** into reelecting her, which they seem quite willing to do.

But it doesn’t change the fact that she’s dumber than a box of rocks.

*Of course, that’s a common problem among Democrats. Some Republicans, too, but it’s pandemic on their side.

**I’d suggest she read the original, but why bother? It’s over 100 years old and probably too confusing for her.

***Can’t wait to see what reapportionment does to her district. Schadenfreude, baby!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Restraining Leviathan II: spending limits

December 22, 2010

A few weeks ago I wrote about the proposed Repeal Amendment, a change to the Constitution that would allow the states to repeal any federal law or regulation on approval of two-thirds of the state legislatures. The idea would be to allow another avenue of pushback against bad legislation, such as ObamaCare, and regulations that threaten our individual liberties, such as the recently announced assumption of regulatory power over the Internet by the FCC.

In an article at The Weekly Standard, Jeffrey H. Anderson uses the example of ObamaCare to argue that the Repeal Amendment isn’t enough, for several reasons: first is the difficulty of getting enough legislatures to agree on repeal. Even after the sweeping Republican victories in state elections last November, enough state legislatures remain in Democratic hands to block repeal, even if just in theory. To be honest, I consider this a feature, not a bug, since the pwoer to overturn federal law should require an overwhelming consensus. And, I suspect, that consensus exists in this case.

The other problem he mentions is more serious: that, to prevent a repeal, Congress and the administration could, in essence, bribe state legislatures with federal money in return for voting the right way. We saw examples of this during the debates over the health care law, as Senators Nelson and Landrieu, were (and let’s be blunt here) bought off with the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase. If it can be done to a US senator, it can happen with a state senator.

Anderson’s proposed solution is a amendment that caps spending at the federal level. He explains it thusly:

While we do have a federalism problem (as in too little of it), what we mostly have is a spending problem — and, thus, what we really need is a spending amendment. Such an amendment should limit spending based on 2008 figures and then prevent Congress from increasing real (inflation-adjusted) spending by more than 2 percentage points annually. Exceptions should be made for defense spending or if three-quarters of the state legislatures grant an exception requested by two-thirds of both houses of Congress. Over time, such a Limited Government Amendment would dramatically reduce federal spending as a percentage of our gross domestic product.

In the process, it would also greatly reduce the federal government’s ability to buy off the states. Thus, a spending amendment would not only do a great deal to check federal spending, it would also increase the effectiveness of a repeal/federalism amendment. In combination, these two amendments would profoundly limit federal spending and control, while helping to reestablish the federalist system that’s so essential to securing our rights.

It’s an interesting idea; Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has argued that simply limiting spending growth to two-percent would balance the budget by 2020. (Presumably surpluses beyond that could be used to pay down our debt.) And one could reasonably argue that a constitutional amendment is required, given Congress’ natural propensity to spend more of our money (or borrow it) regardless of need.

Perhaps it’s odd, but I’m more wary of this proposed amendment than I am of the Repeal Amendment, since I’m wary of tying the government’s hands in a time of emergency. While military spending would be exempted, what about a natural disaster that devastates a whole region? Time would be of the essence for any response, yet the two-thirds/three-fourths provision for an exception to the limit strikes me as too cumbersome.

Still, there’s no doubting the federal government has grown too powerful and needs to be restrained and pared back. Anderson’s proposal is at least worthy of serious debate.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Restraining Leviathan: allow the states to repeal federal law?

November 26, 2010

The US Constitution has not been amended very often in its history – just 27 times since 1789. It’s a document that’s generally functioned well and Americans are rightly leery of monkeying with it. The 18th amendment, establishing Prohibition, is an example of a mistake that was later repealed.

However, in times of national ferment, Congress and the states have amended the document to fix serious problems: the 12th amendment reformed our method of electing presidents and vice-presidents, which had come to a crisis in 1800 under the original system. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were passed to eliminate the evil of slavery and protect the rights of newly freed African-Americans. The 17th amendment took the election of senators away from corrupt or deadlocked legislatures, while the 19th recognized the right of women to vote.

And so it is today, with so many people concerned about an expanding federal government, that proposals are being floated to amend the Constitution in order to bind Washington within its limits. The Daily Caller has an article about one, the Repeal Amendment, that seems to be on the rise thanks to voter anger:

Rapidly growing support for the “Repeal Amendment” –  a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow a vote by two-thirds of the states to repeal an act of Congress —  symbolizes the intense level of anger Americans have with Washington, according to observers.

In September, Virginia stood alone as the only state where leaders in the state legislature had shown an interest in passing the amendment, but that number has now grown to nine states.

State legislators in South Carolina, Florida, Utah, Indiana, Texas, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Georgia have since expressed interest in the amendment.

Hits on the RepealAmendment.org website have mushroomed over the past month, and the amendment has garnered support from Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and soon-to-be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, according to “Repeal Amendment” executive director Marianne Moran.

Moran also sees future opportunities for legislative support in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Dakota, among others.

“It just restores the balance of government between the states and the federal government as the founding fathers had originally intended,” Moran said. “The fact we have nine states already onboard shows the momentum, and I think the groundswell [of support] is the Tea Party.”

One might also call this the “10th Amendment Protection Act,” since it’s aimed squarely at defending the rights of the states and the people against federal encroachment.

The constitution makes the amendment process difficult, as it should when dealing with something so fundamental and important: passage by a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress and approval by three-fourths of the states, or by a specially called convention, whose proposed amendments would also require three-fourths approval. And not every amendment proposed has been approved. The article rightly points out that the Repeal Amendment would have to clear this same hurdle, made more difficult by the fact that Congress would have to agree to give up some of its power.

But, it can be done. The 17th Amendment was passed after a national consensus in its favor arose and pressure was put on Congress in the form of state calls for a constitutional convention. By 1910, nearly two-thirds of the states had issued such calls and the Senate, which had resisted reform, realized it had better act before the Article V threshold was crossed. The same kind of national consensus, represented in the various Tea Parties and the recent election results, could put similar pressure on Congress to act before the states do it for them. As the article points out, state legislators would have a direct interest in seeing this amendment passed, as opposed to many others that cross their desks.

So, what do I think of the proposed Repeal Amendment? After initially being highly skeptical, as I think any conservative should be, I’ve come to favor it, especially since the Democrats and their Big Labor and other leftist allies have laid bare their progressive-statist souls for the world to see over the last few years. Their program threatens a fundamental transformation of the United States into something never intended.

Another check and balance is needed.

My one reservation is that I believe the two-thirds limit is too low. Allowing states to repeal federal law is equal in my mind to the power to approve amendments to the Constitution and should meet the same standard: consent by three-fourths of the states. (This is the same standard Professor Randy Barnett uses in his proposed Bill of Federalism, of which the Repeal Amendment is a part; I commend the whole document to your attention.) That disagreement aside, I now think this is a good and necessary change.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if, under a president who thinks the Constitution is fundamentally flawed, the people agreed and fixed the flaw by hogtying DC?

It would be amusing, to say the least.

UPDATE: More at Big Government.

UPDATE II, 12/5/2010: Ed Morrissey is very skeptical of the proposal for a repeal amendment. My reply. Moe Lane takes on liberal lunacy over the proposed amendment.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Castro: Tea Party means fascism for America

November 18, 2010

Call it a contrary endorsement: if this bloody-handed dictator is against the Tea Party movement, it must be a good thing:

Speaking to a group of students visiting Havana, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused the Tea Party of leading the United States towards “fascism.”

In his comments, Castro chided the United States as a “ruined nation” and derided the Tea Party as “extreme right.”

Forgetting for a moment that fascism is a product of the Left and is the opposite of everything the Tea Party stands for, I just have this sneaking feeling that, given their choice, many Cubans would prefer a Tea rather than a Communist Party, right about now.

(via Mark Hemingway)


Voting with our feet

November 17, 2010

One of the functions of the decennial census is to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives.  While this doesn’t enable us to determine  in detail who is moving where and why, one can make a few broad generalizations with some confidence based on the likely apportionment.

And one of the chief among them is that people are fleeing high-tax, heavy government states like the plague:

Migration from high-tax states to states with lower taxes and less government spending will dramatically alter the composition of future Congresses, according to a study by Americans for Tax Reform

Eight states are projected to gain at least one congressional seat under reapportionment following the 2010 Census: Texas (four seats), Florida (two seats), Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington (one seat each). Their average top state personal income tax rate: 2.8 percent.

By contrast, New York and Ohio are likely to lose two seats each, while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will be down one apiece. The average top state personal income tax rate in these loser states: 6.05 percent.

The state and local tax burden is nearly a third lower in states with growing populations, ATR found. As a result, per capita government spending is also lower: $4,008 for states gaining congressional seats, $5,117 for states losing them.

The article also draws a correlation between states that require the payment of union dues (losing seats) and right to work states (gaining seats).

There are some obvious lessons to be drawn here about tax competition and free labor: first, businesses and wage-earners will be attracted to states that let them keep more of their own money and not burden them with excessive regulation.  The second and related point is that granting unions a monopoly over labor (or access to taxes disguised as “representation fees” for those who don’t join the union) drives up the cost of labor to such a point that businesses will look to relocate elsewhere. It’s no coincidence that businesses (and their jobs) are fleeing high-tax, big government California, while low-tax, light-regulation Texas accounts for half of all the jobs created in the nation over the last year.

Will job-killing states learn this lesson? But maybe, like so many addicts, not until they hit rock bottom.

UPDATE: A timely example, via Heliogenic Climate Change.

-ANAHEIM, R. Frautschy: (…)

A recent discussion with my accountant determined that in order to comply with AB32 it will cost me almost the same amount as my yearly payroll. Now add in all the new or raised business taxes, and I must more than double the company income to make ends meet.

I received an offer from the state of Nevada. If I move my company to Nevada, my taxes will be 83 percent lower, no AB32 complications. Lower health care costs and more. It’s a no-brainer. I am laying off my entire staff and moving to Nevada. So, as of Dec. 31, 2010, the state of California will have 32 highly skilled workers on their unemployment hands. The unemployment rate is high in Nevada, so I can hire all new employees for much less.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Quote of the Day, evening edition, Reagan special

November 14, 2010

From Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address, via Gay Patriot:

Our Government has no power except that granted by the people.  It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people.  All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states.  The states created the federal government.

History may not repeat itself, but it sure likes to reuse themes.


Red States Rising

November 4, 2010

The news has been full of talk about the smashing Republican victories at the federal level Tuesday, taking control of the House with the largest gain since 1948 and capturing at least six Senate seats. But I think one of the great under-reported stories of the election is the absolutely massive gains made by Republicans in both state legislatures and governorships. Just look at this map:

Follow the link for a larger, interactive version courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Like I said yesterday with regard to the House races, this is nothing short of a bloodbath for the Democrats, with Republicans winning an all-time high in state legislative seats. An article at Stateline describes the statehouse carnage:

Republicans won smashing victories in state legislatures yesterday, capturing an outright majority of the nation’s legislative seats and the largest majority for the party since 1928.

As of noon Eastern Time (11/3/10 -PF), Republicans had taken about 18 legislative chambers from Democrats, with more statehouses hanging in the balance. Democrats hadn’t picked up a single chamber from Republicans. So Republicans will have the upper hand when it comes to shaping state policy in the coming years. They’ll also be in charge in most states as policymakers redraw legislative and congressional district lines next year.

In historical terms, the most dramatic wins for the Republicans were in the South. As recently as 20 years ago, long after the region had begun voting Republican in presidential elections, Democrats held every Southern legislative chamber. After last night, Republicans will control a majority of the region’s legislative chambers for the first time since Reconstruction.

The GOP took both the North Carolina Senate and North Carolina House from the Democrats, winning the Senate for the first time since 1870. The party won both houses of the Alabama Legislature from the Democrats, which will also give the Republicans control there for the first time since Reconstruction. In Oklahoma, Republicans retained their control of the Legislature, which, coupled with their win in the governor’s race, will give the GOP complete control of state government for the first time ever. In Tennessee the story was similar: Republicans won the governorship and solidified their control of the Legislature, putting them fully in charge of the state for the first time since Reconstruction.

Check out the article behind the link for a region by region description.

Gubernatorial races were a similar story:

The fortunes of Republicans in state government improved dramatically Tuesday night, as the Grand Old Party’s nominees for governor reclaimed vast swaths of territory that Democrats staked out for the last decade. The most striking gains came in the West and the industrial Midwest. In several contests, Republican women and minorities made history by winning in their states.

With 29 governorships under their control and several more still up for grabs, Republicans appeared close to their goal of winning the top office in 30 states. The Republican dominance came even as they lost small states such as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Hawaii, along with population-rich California.

(…)

Republican victories included ousting the governors in Ohio and Iowa; wresting away open seats currently held by Democrats in Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming; and successfully defending Republican seats in Arizona, South Carolina, Florida and Texas.

One obvious impact this will have is on redistricting, as touched on in the first article quoted,  and one can expect the legislatures controlled by the Republicans -especially when the governor is also a Republican- to draw lines favorable to their own party. Yes, I’ve said before that I’m opposed to gerrymandering, but also that we might as well take advantage of the rules while they’re in place.

Aside from redistricting, though, this sea change in state control may have several other significant effects:

First, there’s the likelihood of better governance. While I don’t have hard data, I suspect many of these new legislators and governors arose from the Tea Party or won with Tea Party support, which means a committment to limited government, low taxes, and sound fiscal practices as a foundation for prosperity. I expect we’ll see several states with bloated governments start to seriously pare them back. Justice Brandeis once said that the states are the laboratories of democracy; if, as I expect, state economies fare well as a result of this pruning, that will put pressure on other bloated states (Hi, California and New York!) and the federal government to do the same.

Also, control of legislatures and governorships will act as a training ground for promising politicians to move up to the federal level, much like a farm league in baseball. Particularly for legislators, being in the majority will provide experience in bearing the real responsibilities of governance, instead of just sitting in the minority and hectoring the other side. This will be invaluable in training the next generation of federal leaders.

Finally, it’s possible that, with a majority of states under the control of a conservative party wary of federal intrusion, we may see more demands for Washington to respect the 10th amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

I’m not expecting a revolutionary change, of course, but more likely incremental efforts that slow federal expansion and start to roll it back; we can expect that the federal bureaucracy, the Democrats, and their progressive allies to resist this, devoted as they are to one-size-fits-all statism. I do believe we’ll see more states join the anti-Obamacare lawsuits that, at last count, had 18-20 states joined in one suit, with Virginia pursuing its own. As someone who firmly believes that a decentralized federalism is the best way to govern a nation as vast and diverse as the United States, I’d call this a good thing.

So, while I’m sorry (so sorry) that California bucked the national trend, I’m more than ever convinced that November 2nd, 2010, was not just a good day, but a great day for Republicans, conservatives, and the nation.

LINKS: More from Moe Lane.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Americans to bossy government: “Shut up and go away!”

October 24, 2010

Michael Barone looks at the President’s recent theory of why his party is about to get an unholy beating at the polls next month and offers his own three theses: First is that the Progressive theory of History, that it inevitably moves leftward and toward bigger government is demonstrably untrue. After the vast expansions of government under Wilson and FDR (and statist Republicans like Nixon), for example, there were corresponding periods of moving toward deregulation.

Second is the realization among most Americans (if not left-liberals) that government that grows too large becomes a danger to the real engine of wealth creation, the private sector. The electorate is drawing a connection between the anemic job creation numbers in most of the nation (except Texas) and the statist, interventionist, regulation-happy policies of the (Social) Democrats, and they’re moving to correct things.

The third reason, the one perhaps that’s felt most viscerally, is that voters are becoming sick and tired of being bossed around by government and are going to remind the “public servants” just who the boss is here:

Voters who have learned to navigate their way through life may not believe that they need Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to set the terms and conditions of their health insurance policies, as Obamacare authorizes her to do. “Don’t tread on me,” read the flags at Tea Party rallies. That’s not a contradiction of “facts and science.” It’s an insistence that the Obama Democrats’ policies would strangle freedoms and choke off growth. You may disagree. But if so, it looks like you’re in the minority this year.

Call it a revolt against the nanny state or a revival of Americans’ traditional suspicion of government, but it looks like “Get out of my face!” is one of the big messages the voters are sending to Washington this year.

LINKS: I wrote about the President’s comments a few days ago. At Big Government, Robert Bonelli looks at what’s at stake in the midterms and asks “Are we citizens or subjects?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


What we believe, part 2: the problem with elitism

October 17, 2010

Bill Whittle continues his series on what American* conservatives believe, this time dealing with the problems caused by a self-appointed ruling class:

Part one is worth reviewing.

*I specify “American” conservatism, since there are significant differences with conservatism as understood in Europe. Conservatism in the US tends strongly toward limited government and free market economics, which no one would associate with, for example, the UK’s Conservative Party.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


What we believe: conservatism and the Tea Party

October 9, 2010

Bill Whittle has long been one of my favorite PJTV commentators; his video essays are incisive, uncompromising, and closely reasoned, all done in sincere, good-natured, and polite style. He’s not a firebreather; he doesn’t have to be, because he knows what he’s talking about.

Bill has a new video on his own YouTube channel (ht: Hot Air) in which he provides a clear, simple statement of the essential tenets of American conservatism: a belief in limited government and free enterprise. It’s well-worth the ten minutes of your time to watch:

While I think “classical liberal” is more accurate than “conservative,” that’s an argument over terminology that just isn’t all that important these days. What truly is important is the message: limited government versus the all-powerful state and individual liberty versus tyranny. Whittle introduces our side of the argument beautifully, and I’d like to see this video posted widely across the blogosphere.

And I dare any progressive to post as simple, clear, and honest an explanation of their beliefs in response. No emotional appeals to being “for the children” allowed.

It would be illuminating.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


You can have your paycheck when we’re done with it

September 20, 2010

It’s annoying enough to have the government force employers to withhold money from one’s paycheck, but the new government in the UK wants to take it one step further. Under a new proposal, employers will send employees’ paychecks to the government, first. Then, when they’re done with it, the government will give what’s left to the employee:

The UK’s tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.

The proposal by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)  stresses the need for employers to provide real-time information to the government so that it can monitor all payments and make a better assessment of whether the correct tax is being paid.

Currently employers withhold tax and pay the government, providing information at the end of the year, a system know as Pay as You Earn (PAYE). There is no option for those employees to refuse withholding and individually file a tax return at the end of the year.

If the real-time information plan works, it further proposes that employers hand over employee salaries to the government first.

And this from a Conservative government? Obviously the word means something different on the other side of the Atlantic than it does here.

Fausta points that this is how foreign employers pay their workers in … Cuba. The company gives the government the check, and Havana gives the campesino what’s left. Some may wonder what the substantive difference is between this and normal withholding. In my opinion, the difference is huge: while the government takes a cut under the withholding system, the check is still a matter between the employer and the worker. Under the Cuban-British model, the worker becomes dependent on the central government for his money, no matter where he works – or if he works at all, given welfare. It’s another way of turning a free citizen with his own property -in this case, a paycheck- into a ward of the state.

I can sympathize with the desire to make tax collection more efficient in order to get the money the government is owed, but maybe HMRC should consider something radical, such as a low-rate flat tax that will leave more money in the hands of the citizen, who will then use it to generate economic activity and, in turn, increased revenue for the government. That pesky little Laffer Curve in action, again:

But that kind of logic is alien to the statist, whose answer to every problem is the expansion of government power and its further intrusion into every aspect of one’s life, inevitably hobbling individual liberty. What next? Simply declaring everyone to be an employee of the State Crown?

LINKS: Ed Morrissey points out the many practical problems of this proposal, such as giving government access to everyone’s bank accounts. Power Line asks “Whose money is it?

UPDATE: Dan Mitchell calls it “Orwellian.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) I want your money!

September 2, 2010

From (oddly enough) IWantYourMoney.net, a trailer for their forthcoming documentary on government spending and the role of the federal government. Trust me, it’s much more entertaining than it sounds:

From the movie’s description:

Set against the backdrop of today’s headline – 67% of Americans don’t approve of Obama’s economic policies, the film takes a provocative look at our deeply depressed economy using the words and actions of Presidents Reagan and Obama and shows the marked contrast between Reaganomics and Obamanomics.

The film contrasts two views of the role that the federal government should play in our daily lives using the words and actions of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Two versions of the American dream now stand in sharp contrast. One views the money you earned as yours and best allocated by you; the other believes that the elite in Washington know how to best allocate your wealth.

One champions the traditional American dream, which has played out millions of times through generations of Americans, of improving one’s lot in life and even daring to dream and build big.

The other holds that there is no end to the “good” the government can do by taking and spending other peoples’ money in an ever-burgeoning list of programs. The documentary film I Want Your Money exposes the high cost in lost freedom and in lost opportunity to support a Leviathan-like bureaucratic state.

The movie releases October 15th, just in time for midterms. Quite the coincidence, that.

I’ll be looking for it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Abusing the Constitution: health care and the case of the Commerce Clause

August 26, 2010

While we rightly agree to abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of what is and isn’t constitutional (barring changes via amendment), that doesn’t mean all its decisions are correct, or that its errors are without consequence. Among the more famous errors of the Court, consider Dred Scott v Sandford, which upheld fugitive slave laws; Plessy v Ferguson, which upheld segregation in state law; Buck v Bell, which upheld state laws mandating forced sterilizations; Korematsu v United States, which permitted the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII; and the recent Kelo v City of New London, which made a mockery of the 5th Amendment’s takings clause.

So, it should come as no surprise that another bad Court decision, Wickard v Filburn, is at the heart of the Federal government’s vast expansion of its power via an upside-down interpretation of the Commerce Clause. In the following short video essay, Reason.TV looks at the Commerce Clause, the expansion of federal power its abuse enabled, and frames it via interviews with two legal scholars: Erwin Chereminsky, Dean of the UC Irvine Law School and an advocate of the “living Constitution,” and John Eastman, Professor of Law at Chapman University and a constitutional originalist. I think you’ll find it worth the ten minutes:

I think for anyone who understands that the Constitution is a document intended to limit the Federal government’s powers, Chereminsky’s arguments are almost frightening. (Side note: Professor Eastman ran for the Republican nomination for state attorney general in the last election; I voted for him and I’m sorry he didn’t win.)

This debate isn’t just academic, as the video points out: rather, it is of immediate urgency as  Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration try to justify their statist health care plan and its individual mandate under the Commerce Clause. It also shows why Wickard, the foundation of Congress’ metamorphosis into Leviathan, needs overturning, whether through the Court in upcoming cases, or via a constitutional amendment that refines the meaning of the Commerce Clause.

If limited government is to have any meaning at all, this hole the Left has exploited must be plugged.

LINKS: More from Hot Air. Justice Scalia criticizes the theory of the living Constitution.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A young person’s guide to the Constitution

August 13, 2010

Today’s Klavan on the Culture provides a youth-oriented lesson on just what the Founders were trying to protect America from way back then … and right now:

Oh, and some laughs, too. 

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Congratulations, San Francisco!

August 3, 2010

Not only have you captured both runners-up spots for Reason.TV’s Nanny of the Month, but you won the blue ribbon, too!  Tito, roll tape!

.

Well, done. Most impressive!  Applause

I can’t wait for the season finale: the thrilling showdown between Gavin “Brylcream” Newsom and New York City’s mega-nanny, Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


Meet Congressman Pete Stark (D-Oligarchy)

August 2, 2010

What is it with Democrat politicians, lately? They’re not even trying to pretend they’re public servants anymore; challenge them, and you get some variant of “How dare you, peasant?” A few weeks ago it was Representative Bob Etheridge (D-NC) taking offense at a young man who dared to ask him a question; Etheridge assaulted him in return. Then there was Texas Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, who was so angry at being challenged by a constituent that he smacked a newspaper on the table. (Was he going to swat her on the nose for being a bad doggy, next?) Here in California, our Democrat-dominated palace of the mandarins legislature is trying to slip past the voters a ballot measure that would reclaim for the legislature power the voters took from it just two years ago. Time and again, when talking about citizens expressing their grievances at tea parties or directly to them at town-hall meetings, Democrat politicians have revealed utter contempt for the voters.

Now it’s contempt for the Constitution and the foundational principles of our government, too, as “Representative” Pete Stark (D-CA) proclaims in response to a citizen’s question about how the Federal government can declare health care a “right:”

The federal government can do most anything in this country.

Watch and learn as an oligarch, not a representative of the people in a constitutional republic, bares his soul:

Wrong Pete, dead wrong. The Constitutional Convention, in its creation of a general government, agreed that it would be a limited government of specifically enumerated powers.  The Founders certainly did not create one that can ignore the Constitution at will and do whatever the Hell it wants. That, “Representative” Stark, is called “tyranny.” Please reread (or read for the first time) Article 1, section 8 for your job description. Note that nowhere does it give Congress the power to declare something a “right” in the way Americans understand rights, because natural rights are something we are born with, you moron.

And here, folks, we see crystallized in a moment of time, like an insect (or a congressman) trapped in amber, much of what is wrong with the American polity: representatives who do not represent, but instead rule; who have a greater connection to each other and to their big donors than to the people who elect them; and who see the greatest, most successful governing document ever devised by Man as something to which one just pays lip service, something that’s outdated.

It’s time to throw them out, folks, any and all who harbor the same kind of ignorance or disdain for the Constitution and the citizen as Pete Stark or Ciro Rodriguez. They may act like an oligarchy, they may think of themselves as a ruling elite, but they still need us to keep their jobs. Did they vote for ObamaCare? Then you have your answer. Are they in favor of card-check, which will take away the right to a secret ballot in union elections? There’s another clue for you.  Look your representative and senator over, check their record, their words. They can’t hide their attitudes anymore. You have the power to throw them out and put better men and women in their places.

I’ll leave you with the wise words of James Garfield, spoken in a speech he gave years before he became President:

Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. …

If the next centennial [of the Declaration of Independence] does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Let’s send the oligarchs home.

LINKS: Blue Crab Boulevard and Big Journalism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Identity Quest: conservative, liberal, or libertarian?

July 14, 2010

Moe Lane comments on a debate at Reason about whether libertarians should ally with conservatives or liberals (or no one) in our continuing political free-for-all. While I’m uncomfortable with labels because people rarely agree on definitions, Moe provides a good example of why I consider myself a “conservative with libertarian leanings,” rather than a “Big L” doctrinaire libertarian:

When asked whether the government should be involved in something, the libertarian will default to “No;” the liberal, to “Yes;” and the conservative to “I don’t think so.”  What a lot of conservatives forget is that their answer and the libertarian answer is not quite the same; once a conservative is convinced that government intervention is acceptable or even laudable he will enthusiastically support it*.  And what a lot of libertarians forget is that while “No” and “Probably not” are not quite the same, “No” and “Yes” will never be the same; even in places where the results would be the same the process is significantly different**.  In other words: to a libertarian, a conservative is an ultimately unreliable ally (and vice versa).  But a liberal’s just going to be somebody who’s only right by accident.

Click through to see the reasons for the asterisks.

I don’t reject all government actions, programs, or regulations by any means, but I do have a healthy suspicion of them and a bias toward a) thinking the free market will often but not always do the job better and b) do so without running the risk of unduly restricting an individual’s freedom. To my mind, any action by government should be forced to answer the old question from WWII gas-rationing days, “Is this trip really necessary?”


By Obama, you’ve made enough money!

April 29, 2010

Wrapped up as I was in the desperate efforts to protect the President from terrorist grannies, I missed this gem from his speech in Quincy, Illinois:

Excerpt via Ed at Hot Air:

We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.

That was not in his prepared remarks, and I’m sure TOTUS wasn’t happy.

Is there any clearer expression of the statism at the heart of this administration? Not only do Obama and the (Social) Democrats claim the power and the requisite wisdom to regulate broad swathes of the economy, but the President himself claims to know better than you when you’ve earned enough money, beyond which, we assume, one enters the realm of “unfair.”

It also shows (again) that he just doesn’t “get” capitalism or market economies. The promise of possibly earning more money is what encourages people to start a business, hire more people (Remember jobs, Mr. President?), and take risks. That incentive system, coupled with a relative lack of government interference,  is why our economy has been phenomenally successful. By saying “you’ve made enough,” you take away any incentive for people to work harder. Why should I or anyone risk capital in an investment, or take a job that eats up most of my time, if you are going to tell us we can only make so much from it? What’s next, wage and price controls a la Diocletian and Nixon?

And the arrogance! That a man who has never worked in private business, whose whole adult life has been in academics, non-profit, and government work should think that he knows how much a businessman or an investor should make in return for their effort and risk? A man who knows next to nothing about economics? How is this even in Washington’s purview?

How about trying to do the jobs the federal government is assigned, rather than everything it isn’t?


The problem is the spending

December 15, 2009

Dan Mitchell of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity (associated with the Cato Institute) explains that the government’s fiscal problems are not so much a function of deficits or debt, but of politicians’ uncontrolled spending:

Best line: “You don’t cure an alcoholic’s drinking problem by giving him more beer, and you don’t fix a politician’s spending problem by giving him more money.”

(via Hot Air)


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