We had to hear about Sweden from lefties all through the 70s. It is only fair that we now tell the story of Ireland. Stephen Moore in Political Diary:
The other day Paul Krugman of the New York Times once again attacked supply-side tax cutting ideas and snarled that "Reaganomics was oversold" and its successes were "shortlived." We won't fight that fight again, but it is interesting that for all their attacks against supply-side economics and all their prophesies that high tax rates don't hurt, the one thing economists and politicians on the left cannot explain is the Irish Economic Miracle.
In the 1970s and '80s Ireland had one of the highest percentage of its citizens on welfare or collecting unemployment benefits, and the country of four million people was losing population each year. An estimated one million Irish-born immigrants were living in America -- many of them illegal aliens, and many of them their country's best and brightest.
Starting in 1989, Ireland's politicians began cutting tax rates, and now its corporate tax rate is 12.5% -- by far the lowest in Europe. The highest personal income tax rate came down to 41% from 58%. In the following years, Ireland's growth rate soared to 8% per year, more than twice the U.S. growth rate and nearly three times Europe's. Ireland is now the continent's third-richest nation on a per capita basis. Over the last 18 years the nation's employment has increased by an astonishing 75%.
A key element of John McCain's platform is cutting taxes on corporate profits to 25% from 35% -- bringing America's corporate tax rate closer to the average of our European and Asian competitors. In selling his plan, Mr. McCain might talk not only about what Ireland has achieved, but what it means for U.S. competitiveness. An Intel executive confided recently that his company builds most of its new plants offshore because of the high U.S. tax on corporate profits. According to Barry O'Leary, head of the Investment and Development Agency of Ireland, a U.S.-based plant would have to grow profits by 45% a year "to achieve the same [after-tax] income available in Ireland. He adds: "Our tax cutting has made Ireland the highest growth nation in Europe over the last decade. We are importing firms and workers."
Meanwhile, Senators Clinton and Obama are peddling the idea that the U.S. can tax its ways to prosperity in the competitive global economy. If one of these two wins in November, Ireland is going to get richer than ever.
And, for the record: Sweden seems to have learned more than her apologists. Henry Olsen, writing in The American Magazine:
So Americans might be surprised to learn that “Old” Europe is actually ahead of us in tackling many of the most vexing domestic policy challenges. Without much fanfare, Sweden, Holland, and other countries known for their social-democratic welfare states have adopted innovative, market-based reforms on issues such as pensions, transportation, and education. What’s more, while U.S. politics remains paralyzed by partisanship, European parties on the left and the right have teamed up to implement free-market policy ideas that are criticized by the American left as extreme.
The start up I was involved with headquartered in the Republic of Ireland for tax purposes. Sadly, we did not take advantage on the 0% rate on IP-generated capital gains. But before we ran out of Euros, we provided several man-years of employment to Irish software developers, plus frequent travel to and entertainment in Dublin, and the contracting of Irish accountants and legal counsel. Incentives matter.
I love to bash the Democratic front runner as much as the next guy, but I did not think that the CTV story had legs. CTV had claimed that an Obama advisor told the Canadian Government to ignore Obamagoguery as campaign rhetoric, just a workin' man tryin' to pick up a few Buckeye State delegates.
Today, the chatter is that it is Austen Goolsbee, the Chicago wunderkind and Obama economic advisor. If this is true, this story is serious. People in the know were all wondering when or whether Goolsbee was going to reign in Senator Obama's protectionism. If he was complicit in an orchestrated lie, this will not go away.
Unless Goolsbee does. And Goolsbee is the Senator's last tether to real economics. A lot of centrist bloggers threw their support to Obama early on, based on the Goolsbee connection. The nutroots are not gong to leave him, but center left libertarian types will lose their comfort.
HotAir is on this story without really appreciating who Austen Goolsbee is (they don't collect Economist Trading Cards over there). Jake Tapper has ABC confirming a refusal to deny:
ABC News' Jennifer Parker spoke to Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economics professor, Thursday who would not confirm or deny that he had a conversation with Georges Rioux, the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago. Rioux, in meetings this week in Ottawa, would also neither confirm nor deny any conversation took place. Both men did say that they know each other.
Both Obama and the Canadian Embassy have denied that the CTV story is true.
If you're not having fun, you're not paying attention.
(Like everything else, barely distinguishable from Senator Clinton's)
1) Bomb sovereign allies without approval;
2) Abrogate commitments in the Middle East;
3) Piss off trading partners;
4) "Restore America's Standing in the World!"
Daniel Drezner notes that Canada and Mexico are not so keen on "renegotiating" NAFTA, and links to an FT story:(WARNING: British spelling)
Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s ambassador to the US, told the Financial Times that the US, Canada and Mexico had all benefited from Nafta and warned against reopening negotiations.
“Mexico does not support reopening Nafta,” he said. “It would be like throwing a monkey wrench into the engine of North American competitiveness.”
Mexican diplomats believe a renegotiation could resurrect the commercial disputes and barriers to trade that the agreement itself was designed to overcome.
Jim Flaherty, Canada’s finance minister, also expressed “concern” about the remarks by the Democratic candidates.
“Nafta is a tremendous benefit to Americans and perhaps the [candidates] have not had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the benefit to Americans and the American economy of Nafta,” he said.
Senator Clinton assured, in a recent debate, that "the world will breathe a sign of relief when George Bush leaves office." I'm not sure that's as universal as her health care mandates.
A new play by William Beckett: fractious and zealous thinkers fight each other like Monty Python's "Judean People's Front vs. People's Front of Judea" while collectivists accrue more money, power, and influence.
In the shadow of the New Deal, Godot did show. The WSJ Ed Page remembers "When liberalism was dominant but hidebound in the second half of the last century, [William F. Buckley] pioneered a new direction that transformed American politics."
These achievements might not have happened without Buckley, who was uniquely suited to preside over the often-feuding factions of the early political right. He liked arguments over principle, but he also had an uncommon talent for adjudicating disputes and building coalitions. And though Buckley had bedrock beliefs, he had a conservative's distrust for systems and grand theories; his politics were pragmatic. His thinking and prose were governed by a critical-deliberative style that emphasized contingency and complexity. More than anything else, Buckley wanted to promulgate what he often referred to as "a thoughtful conservatism."
America has lost one of its finest writers and thinkers. Bill Buckley was one of the great founders of the modern conservative movement. He brought conservative thought into the political mainstream, and helped lay the intellectual foundation for America's victory in the Cold War and for the conservative movement that continues to this day. He will be remembered for his principled thought and beautiful writing — as well as his personal warmth, wit, and generous spirit. His legacy lives on in the ideas he championed and in the magazine he founded — National Review.
He jovially countered his opponents with ideas and language. The conservative movement’s greatest years were under his active vision. He brought the movement out of the crazies and I fear it will lapse back to them in his absence. RIP, Mr. Buckley.
Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.
No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.
Obviously, we're all going to die. I love the two assertions that it is "anecdotal," obviously it is. I'm just struck that a tornado, hurricane, or the meteorological phenomenon known as "a really hot day" are never caveated as anecdotal.
Hat-tip: Instapundit. And I must point out it is beautiful on the Colorado front range today.
As the likelihood of a Hillary presidency slowly fades into the abyss, she has revealed her true self -- bitter, antagonistic, and elitist. At tonight's debate, Hillary saw fit to reference the SNL skit I tried to post earlier (it's now below the fold...). There is nothing that I enjoy more than watching the Clintons complain about the media (what goes around, comes around).
Politics is so full of stories of pressure groups tearing elected officials down or trying to defeat an idea or bill, it's noteworthy when a large group of activists spontaneously join to try to keep a good person in the public arena. It's even more noteworthy when they succeed.
That's what happened last week when Rep. John Shadegg, a noted conservative from Arizona, reversed his decision of ten days ago to retire from Congress. Instead, he announced he will stand for re-election.
Instrumental in his decision was a letter from 146 of his GOP House colleagues urging him to stay, along with a similar letter from the heads of 33 conservative organizations echoing the need for him to continue to provide a voice for smaller government and individual empowerment. As we noted in PD last Tuesday, his friends in the House especially look to him for leadership on entitlement reform.
But Mr. Shadegg said there other voices that meant as much in his rethinking. Literally thousands of conservative voters contacted his office urging him to stay and fight for their cause. When he arrived at the Phoenix airport at 5:30 one morning last week, a security guard suddenly turned to him and simply said: "Run again." A shocked Mr. Shadegg could only respond: "Thanks."
One advantage of having Mr. Shadegg remain in Congress is his expertise on health care, where he is the lead author of a bill to allow people to purchase individual health care policies across state lines, opening that market to needed competition. Should either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton end up in the White House, you can bet that those fighting a government takeover of health care will be glad to have the Arizonan on their side in that debate. -- John Fund, Political Diary
That right wing rag, the New York Times, has published an article that is clearly designed to slow the adoption of universal health care. It seems that a 47 year old British Woman would like to purchase Avastin.
One such case was Debbie Hirst’s. Her breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologist’s support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment.
By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down. Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor.
“He looked at me and said: ‘I’m so sorry, Debbie. I’ve had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,’ ” Mrs. Hirst said in an interview.
“I said, ‘Where does that leave me?’ He said, ‘If you pay for Avastin, you’ll have to pay for everything’ ” — in other words, for all her cancer treatment, far more than she could afford.
Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.
Patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,” the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament.
I remember the original HillaryCare's having a $1,000 fine to people who paid for private treatment. I watched the debate the other night and she still assures the Democrat faithful that her plan was killed by the HMOs and special interests. I seem to remember the $1000 fine.
Speaking of health care utopias, I hope everyone looks at Michael Stastny's pictures from Cuba.
UPDATE: Samizdat Philip Chaston links to the Inter-Faith Gown. The NHS cannot provide or allow the purchase of modern medicine -- but they can cater to 7th Century sensibilities "to preserve the modesty of patients whose culture or religion requires them to be more modestly clothed."
That's not my headline, that a bylined story in the Washington Post.
Blasting "companies shamelessly turning their backs on Americans" by shipping jobs overseas and railing that "it is wrong that somebody who makes $50 million on Wall Street pays a lower tax rate than somebody who makes $50,000 a year," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton increasingly sounds like one of her old Democratic rivals, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina.
Not to kick a dolly when she's down, as Drusilla would say, but this woman has planned to run for President for decades, and she is now on her sixth theme. I am not amazed at pandering, that's the nature of the beast. But I am surprised at the "throw it all out there and see what sticks" message creation.
Now I’m no psychiatrist, far from it, but I think a simple answer is that Senator Clinton could be depressed. She seems deflated. Down in the dumps.
Look, depression is a serious problem. It’s also a multibillion-dollar business. Three of the more popular drugs in the market today to treat it are Pfizer’s Zoloft, Eli Lilly’s Prozac, and GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil. Maybe Hillary’s taking meds, but they’re just not working for her? Could that be why she’s always attacking Big Pharma?
I hope you all got a chance to see Ezra Levant's defending himself from the Alberta Human Rights Commission. It's entertaining to see a pugnacious instead of submissive response to a tinhorn bureaucrat.
Blog Brother Cyrano emails a recommendation too support Levant against lawsuits.
Over the past month, the public’s reaction to seeing their government interrogate a journalist has snowballed into a national discussion about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the separation of mosque and state. What started out as an issue reserved to the blogosphere and talk radio has jumped into the mainstream media, and even into Parliament. To my delight, the Canadian public – across the political spectrum – has been overwhelmingly supportive of free speech and critical of these Orwellian commissions, and groups like the Canadian Association of Journalists and PEN Canada have recently weighed in, too, and very vigorously.
We’re winning in the court of public opinion – and I say “we”, because it was the blogosphere that moved this story from the “undernews” to where it is today.
Well, now I’m being threatened with a lawsuit because of our campaign for freedom.
Not a bad way to spend a few bucks, if you can. The way I see it, you're either with Levant or you're with the 7th Century fanatics who cannot weather a cartoon.
I applauded the FDA last week, I might as well give a shout out to Archer Daniels Midland Corp. ADM is a private company, but I always smell their filthy corn-infested hands behind farm subsidies and ethanol mandates. Rightly or wrongly.
There was a fun story in the Wall Street Journal today on Steve Bytnar who develops more effective compounds for melting ice on roads. He uses byproducts from ethanol distillation. He was launched by some forward thinking by ADM:
Mr. Bytnar, 37 years old, plunged into the field of de-icing in the mid-1990s after Minnesota Corn Processors, a cooperative where he worked as a researcher was acquired by Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., gave him free rein to experiment.
"I saw it as a way to separate myself from everyone else," he recalls. "They said don't lose $2 million and blow the plant up, but otherwise do what you want to do."
One of his first projects: finding a way to turn the Hungarian discovery into a commercially viable product. The result was "Ice Ban," a brown blend of magnesium chloride and residue from ethanol distillation. It attacked the ice-and-pavement bond more effectively and at lower temperatures than sodium chloride did, he says, allowing highway managers to cut their salt use.
Isn't it ironic that, just as Cuba is on the verge of freedom after a half century of brutal Communist dictatorship, it has become illegal virtually everywhere in the United States to smoke cigars in public?
I like Megan McArdle's writing in the Atlantic. That's one big name blogger they were wise to pick up.
She's guest blogging at Instapundit this week, and she's still leaning toward pulling the lever for the Junior Senator from Illinois.
In the general? I might not vote for Obama; I will not vote for McCain. There are some things more important than the economy, and free speech is among them. Yes, I don't like Obama's stance on the Second Amendment, but the difference is, the president has little wiggle room right now on the second, while McCain might do serious further damage to the first, or the fourth. I dislike the steps Obama is willing to take in order to achieve his goals of economic equality. But these are as nothing to the notion that citizens have to be protected from information because Big Daddy John thinks we'll get bad ideas in our heads.
I conclude that Ms. McArdle is not a Prosperitarian. She gives this paragraph in response to an absolute thrashing of Senator O by Michael Tanner at CATO.
And it's not just businesses that would feel the regulatory hand of an Obama presidency. Consumers too will have to pay, as he imposes new costs on products ranging from homes to automobiles and appliances. In almost everything we do, Obama sees a need for the government to intervene.
A President Obama would mean a much bigger, more intrusive, and costlier government. Indeed, when considering his policies, one searches in vain for any break with liberal orthodoxy. Personal accounts for Social Security? Entitlement reform? School choice? Obama rejects them all, calling such proposals, "Social Darwinism."
I'm not too keen on McCain-Feingold, but it pales in comparison (read the whole CATO piece).
There's a headline you were not expecting in ThreeSources. Certainly not from me.
But they passed -- mirabile dictu -- the moral test I linked to the other day.
Going against the recommendation of its advisory panel, the Food and Drug Administration cleared Genentech's Avastin, which is already approved for treating lung and colon cancer, based on findings that it slowed tumor growth.
The agency has traditionally approved drugs for late-stage cancer if they extended, or improved the quality of, patients' lives. Avastin showed neither, according to Genentech's application.
This is excellent news. Too bad all three major candidates still in the running consider the biotech and pharma sectors to be evil.
I beat up on the FDA enough, however, I owe them some public approbation when they get one right. Well done, gang.
"Be wary of giving advice," begins an old saying, "wise men don't need it and fools won't heed it."
There are not too many wise men or women in the race for President this (or any) year, but John Stossel offers them all some advice, cribbed from Hayek: Presidents Can't Manage the Economy
The candidates see the global economy as an arena in which countries compete against one another -- an economic Olympiad with winners and losers. Politicians love to promise they will keep America No. 1, as if that matters in a worldwide marketplace.
America as a nation does not compete against China or South Korea or Japan. American companies compete against companies in other countries, but that's something else. The purpose of production is consumption, and American consumers prosper when foreigners compete successfully with American companies.
A president who sees the global economy as a competition among nations will be tempted to intervene on behalf of the "United States" and create "good American jobs." That's how governments mess up economies.
The wise man here is Rep. Ron Paul (who says I never say anything nice about him?) and the fools are, well, everyone left who has a chance, and Governor Huckabee.
The company borrowed a 13-year-old Budd RDC3, a self-propelled diesel commuter coach, from an Eastern line and towed it to Cleveland, where its motors and passenger seats were removed and replaced with more than 50 instruments to measure speed, stress, bearing temperatures, and ride characteristics. Small radio transmitters were affixed to the front axles and electronic sensors studded other parts of the locomotive. Real-time data was written to magnetic tape, displayed on oscilloscopes, and recorded by direct-writing oscillographs. Remote-controlled cameras made a visual record; track irregularities were recorded digitally.
While this may seem very high tech for 1966, the basic idea for such a real-time rolling laboratory had been used by the New York Central since the 1930s, when instrumentfilled baggage cars tested locomotive and track performance. No other changes were made to the Budd RDC3; the axles, wheels, and frame were the ones the commuter car had been born with. The total cost of the experiment was officially $35,000; the actual figure was probably several times that. (The company boasted that the project did not use a cent of government funds.)
Read that last line again.
Now they'd be looking for a check from the government (any government) before anything even got started.
I never tire of that promise from our Democratic friends. President Bush has inculcated such antipathy for our blessed nation. The world hates us. And Obama/Clinton/Edwards will repair the damage.
I'm sure your average BBC reporter or Guardian columnist will be happier on Day One, but this argument is specious on so many levels, anybody who says it -- or listens uncritically -- has just not been paying attention. Even Bob Geldof likes him!
The WSJ Ed Page brings up a good point as well. In addition to wooing the chattering classes on the European Continent and deciding whom and whom not to bomb, it seems that the President of the US has some pretty significant effect on foreign policy through trade. And Senator Obama will not be using this tool to "bring us together." At least not when the Union vote is up for grabs.
President James Hoffa bestowed the powerful union's [Teamsters'] blessing on Mr. Obama yesterday, not so coincidentally only days after the Senator declared his opposition to the pending U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. In a statement inserted in the Congressional Record last week, Mr. Obama said he believes the pact doesn't pay "proper attention" to America's "key industries and agricultural sectors" like cars, rice and beef. Opposition to free-trade deals is now a union litmus test, especially for the Teamsters and Service Employees International Union, which endorsed the Senator last Friday.
To be fair, I don't think anybody campaigning on "repairing the damage" has any more liberal view on trade. But that's how you make friends.
Some 40,000 women died from breast cancer in 2007. Almost unbelievably, the federal government may block one of the disease's more promising therapies for no other reason than the Food and Drug Administration's obsolete, even antimodern, regulations and approval models.
You can -- and I do -- complain about marginal tax rates, tariffs, free trade, and civil liberties. But at the end of the day, no intrusion on our freedoms matches that of the FDA. Locke and Jefferson both put life first when enumerating our birthright liberties.
These 40,000 might have wanted to try Avastin. Certainly the people at Genentech would have loved to sell it to them. Yet our government, with the thinnest Constitutional purview, forbids the sale of lifesaving drugs. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page calls it "A Moral Test for the FDA"
In February, Genentech also released the preliminary findings of a more rigorous follow-up study, including the FDA's "gold standard" of randomized and placebo-controlled clinical trials. It again confirmed that Avastin improves progression-free survival, though the full results have not yet been made public.
In other words, dying patients live nearly twice as long on average before their disease gets worse, and maybe longer. It translates into an improvement in quality of life by delaying the onset of symptoms. But only in a few isolated contemporary cases has the FDA deemed progression-free survival as a relevant "end point" for approval. There's no reason besides the FDA's complacency and archaic procedures; a recent review by the agency's own Science Board concluded that "evaluation methods have remained largely unchanged over the last half-century."
Extending life is the FDA's acid test for any anticancer agent, but studies designed to prove it take years and thousands of patients to get large average effects. In the Avastin study, women lived slightly longer, a median of 26.5 months compared with 24.8 with Taxol alone. But those results weren't proved statistically significant to FDA satisfaction.
It works. It helps. It just doesn't work they way we like it to work well enough. So we will proscribe its sale. Next year's 40,000? Drop dead.
My first hope for a bitter Democratic race and convention, and my second hope for the less charismatic Senator Clinton to prevail, were dealt severe blows on the icy tundra of Lambeau Field last night. John Fund wraps it up in Political Diary:
Exit polls in Wisconsin paint a grim picture for Hillary Clinton. Some 53% of Democratic voters thought she engaged in unfair negative campaigning, and fully 35% said they would be unhappy if she were the Democratic nominee. Such findings will certainly have an impact on the superdelegates who are likely to ultimately to decide the Democratic nomination and who believe electability is Job One for any nominee.
Almost as disturbing for Mrs. Clinton was her collapse among key demographic groups that supported her in earlier primaries. She only tied Mr. Obama among white women in Wisconsin, while losing white men 59% to 38%. She lost voters without college degrees and lost every age group except senior citizens. Mr. Obama won a staggering 71% of voters under the age of 30, a group that turned out in record numbers for a primary.
Apply that template to the upcoming March 4 contests in Ohio and Texas: Mrs. Clinton looks likely to lose both of those states, which would severely diminish her chances of swaying superdelegates into her corner with an argument that she can win the crucial big states in the fall.
Even if Mrs. Clinton recovers and does well from here on out, she would have to win 65% of the remaining delegates in order to regain the lead from Barack Obama. That near-impossibility effectively means that any superdelegates who ultimately support her would have to do so in full knowledge that they are voting for the candidate who was not the first choice of Democratic voters.
Barack Obama made a rousing speech in front of 20,000 Houston supporters last night. It went something like this:
'This is a crucial moment in the history of mankind!' Gerald Starnes [Barack Obama] yelled through the noise. 'Remember that none of us may now leave this place, for each of us belongs to all the others by the moral law which we all accept!'
Well, not really. That is a passage from the collectivization of the Twentieth Century Motor Company in Part 2, Chapter X of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
We had just voted for the new plan and we were in an edgy sort of mood, making too much noise, cheering the people's victory, threatening some kind of unknown enemies and spoiling for a fight, like bullies with an uneasy conscience. There were white arclights beating down on us and we felt kind of touchy and raw, and we were an ugly, dangerous mob in that moment.
This is today's Democrat party, at least amongst the Obamaniac youngsters.
What he really said was more like,
"We're spending nine billion dollars a month for a war in Iraq we should never have been in. (...) We are at a defining moment in our history. (...) We can't afford to wait. We cannot wait to fix our schools, we cannot wait to fix our health care system, we cannot wait to put an end to global warming, we cannot wait to bring good jobs with good benefits back to the United States, we cannot wait to end this war in Iraq, we cannot wait. (...) Every child is our child. (...) I'll do whatever it takes to defend this country."
Anything? Really? What if, hypothetically of course, it really DOES take a war in Iraq to defend this country. [Everyone knows it doesn't, of course, but just "what if" - would you spend 9 billion dollars a month to do it? Yeah, OK, maybe "anything" is too strong.
But this one really pissed me off...
When a CEO makes more in ten minutes than a good worker makes in a year there's something wrong in this country!
Because being a CEO is just another job, right Mr. Obama? And being President of the United States is just another exercise in "organizing."
Listen carefully and you'll hear that Barack is asking us to accept the same moral code that Gerald Starnes did. "I am my brother's keeper," says Barack. What does that code get us? Continue reading.
"Well, there was something that happened at that plant where I worked for twenty years. It was when the old man died and his heirs took over. There were three of them, two sons and a daughter, and they brought a new plan to run the factory. They let us vote on it, too, and everybody—almost everybody—voted for it. We didn't know. We thought it was good. No, that's not true, either. We thought that we were supposed to think it was good. The plan was that everybody in the factory would work according to his ability, but would be paid according to his need. We—what's the matter, ma'am? Why do you look like that?"
"What was the name of the factory?" she asked, her voice barely audible.
"The Twentieth Century Motor Company, ma'am, of Starnesville, Wisconsin."
"We voted for that plan at a big meeting, with all of us present, six thousand of us, everybody that worked in the factory. The Starnes heirs made long speeches about it, and it wasn't too clear, but nobody asked any questions. None of us knew just how the plan would work, but every one of us thought that the next fellow knew it. And if anybody had doubts, he felt guilty and kept his mouth shut—because they made it sound like anyone who'd oppose the plan was a child-killer at heart and less than a human being. They told us that this plan would achieve a noble ideal. Well, how were we to know otherwise? Hadn't we heard it all our lives—from our parents and our schoolteachers and our ministers, and in every newspaper we ever read and every movie and every public speech? Hadn't we always been told that this was righteous and just? Well, maybe there's some excuse for what we did at that meeting. Still, we voted for the plan—and what we got, we had it coming to us. You know, ma'am, we are marked men, in a way, those of us who lived through the four years of that plan in the Twentieth Century factory. What is it that hell is supposed to be? Evil—plain, naked, smirking evil, isn't it? Well, that's what we saw and helped to make—and I think we're damned, every one of us, and maybe we'll never be forgiven.…
"Do you know how it worked, that plan, and what it did to people? Try pouring water into a tank where there's a pipe at the bottom draining it out faster than you pour it, and each bucket you bring breaks that pipe an inch wider, and the harder you work the more is demanded of you, and you stand slinging buckets forty hours a week, then forty-eight, then fifty-six—for your neighbor's supper—for his wife's operation—for his child's measles—for his mother's wheel chair—for his uncle's shirt—for his nephew's schooling—for the baby next door—for the baby to be born—for anyone anywhere around you—it's theirs to receive, from diapers to dentures—and yours to work, from sunup to sundown, month after month, year after year, with nothing to show for it but your sweat, with nothing in sight for you but their pleasure, for the whole of your life, without rest, without hope, without end.… From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.…
"It didn't take us long to see how it all worked out. Any man who tried to play straight, had to refuse himself everything. He lost his taste for any pleasure, he hated to smoke a nickel's worth of tobacco or chew a stick of gum, worrying whether somebody had more need for that nickel. He felt ashamed of every mouthful of food he swallowed, wondering whose weary night of overtime had paid for it, knowing that his food was not his by right, miserably wishing to be cheated rather than to cheat, to be a sucker, but not a blood-sucker. He wouldn't marry, he wouldn't help his folks back home, he wouldn't put an extra burden on 'the family.' Besides, if he still had some sort of sense of responsibility, he couldn't marry or bring children into the world, when he could plan nothing, promise nothing, count on nothing. But the shiftless and the irresponsible had a field day of it. They bred babies, they got girls into trouble, they dragged in every worthless relative they had from all over the country, every unmarried pregnant sister, for an extra 'disability allowance,' they got more sicknesses than any doctor could disprove, they ruined their clothing, their furniture, their homes—what the hell, 'the family' was paying for it! They found more ways of getting in 'need' than the rest of us could ever imagine—they developed a special skill for it, which was the only ability they showed.
"God help us, ma'am! Do you see what we saw? We saw that we'd been given a law to live by, a moral law, they called it, which punished those who observed it—for observing it. The more you tried to live up to it, the more you suffered; the more you cheated it, the bigger reward you got. Your honesty was like a tool left at the mercy of the next man's dishonesty. The honest ones paid, the dishonest collected. The honest lost, the dishonest won. How long could men stay good under this sort of a law of goodness? We were a petty decent bunch of fellows when we started. There weren't many chiselers among us. We knew our jobs and we were proud of it and we worked for the best factory in the country, where old man Starnes hired nothing but the pick of the country's labor. Within one year under the new plan, there wasn't an honest man left among us. That was the evil, the sort of hell-horror evil that preachers used to scare you with, but you never thought to see alive. Not that the plan encouraged a few bastards, but that it turned decent people into bastards, and there was nothing else that it could do—and it was called a moral ideal!
"But his sister Ivy was worse. She really did not care for material wealth. The alms she got was no bigger than ours, and she went about in scuffed, flat-heeled shoes and shirtwaists—just to show how selfless she was. She was our Director of Distribution. She was the lady in charge of our needs. She was the one who held us by the throat. Of course, distribution was supposed to be decided by voting—by the voice of the people. But when the people are six thousand howling voices, trying to decide without yardstick, rhyme or reason, when there are no rules to the game and each can demand anything, but has a right to nothing, when everybody holds power over everybody's life except his own—then it turns out, as it did, that the voice of the people is Ivy Starnes. By the end of the second year, we dropped the pretense of the 'family meetings'—in the name of 'production efficiency and time economy,' one meeting used to take ten days—and all the petitions of need were simply sent to Miss Starnes' office. No, not sent. They had to be recited to her in person by every petitioner. Then she made up a distribution list, which she read to us for our vote of approval at a meeting that lasted three-quarters of an hour. We voted approval. There was a ten-minute period on the agenda for discussion and objections. We made no objections. We knew better by that time. Nobody can divide a factory's income among thousands of people, without some sort of a gauge to measure people's value. Her gauge was bootlicking. Selfless? In her father's time, all of his money wouldn't have given him a chance to speak to his lousiest wiper and get away with it, as she spoke to our best skilled workers and their wives. She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil, you should have seen the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who'd talked back to her once and who'd just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance. And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who's ever preached the slogan: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'
"This was the whole secret of it. At first, I kept wondering how it could be possible that the educated, the cultured, the famous men of the world could make a mistake of this size and preach, as righteousness, this sort of abomination—when five minutes of that should have told them what would happen if somebody tried to practice what they preached. Now I know that they didn't do it by any kind of mistake. Mistakes of this size are never made innocently. If men fall for some vicious piece of insanity, when they have no way to make it work and no possible reason to explain their choice—it's because they have a reason that they do not wish to tell. And we weren't so innocent either, when we voted for the plan at the first meeting. We didn't do it just because we believed that the drippy old guff they spewed was good. We had another reason, but the guff helped us to hide it from our neighbors and from ourselves. The guff gave us a chance to pass off as virtue something that we'd be ashamed to admit otherwise. There wasn't a man voting for it who didn't think that under a setup of this kind he'd muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn't a man rich and smart enough but that he didn't think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his better's wealth and brain. But while he was thinking that he'd get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who'd get unearned benefits, too. He forgot about all his inferiors who'd rush to drain him just as he hoped to drain his superiors. The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss's, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own. That was our real motive when we voted—that was the truth of it—but we didn't like to think it, so the less we liked it, the louder we yelled about our love for the common good.
Sen. Hillary Clinton took a swipe at her daughter's profession today at an economic roundtable discussion at a restaurant in Parma, Ohio, suggesting wealthy investment bankers and hedge fund managers on Wall Street aren't doing real 'work.'
The former first lady's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, works for New York-based hedge fund Avenue Capital Group. She previously worked in New York for McKinsey & Company, her first job after graduating with her master's degree from Oxford University.
Amusing. Well, Chelsea has stated that she isn't happy with her health care plan, maybe she can look for a "real" job with a better plan.
William McGurn has a guest editorial in the WSJ today, recounting his experience on both sides of the Press Corps vs. White House contretemps. McGurn says in three years "You see who's a straight shooter, and who's full of snark. You see who's smart, and whose outrageous behavior would have made its way to Drudge had it involved White House staffers instead of White House correspondents." He chooses three things where President Bush was right and persevered.
Of course, if you are one of those experts who reassured us that a "well managed defeat" in Iraq was the way for America to go, you don't like hearing the president use plain words like "win" and "victory." Then again, you're not the audience George W. Bush worries about. During one of my first meetings in the Oval Office, the president told me and my fellow speechwriters that we must always be mindful of how his words would sound to the enemy -- and how they would sound to the young Marine risking his life against that enemy in some dusty town in Afghanistan or Iraq.
President Bush hasn't always been right. But he's been right on the things that matter most, and he's been willing to take the heat. I, for one, admire him for it.
I have had my differences with W over the years (fewer than most around here) but think we will all recognize, as Jay Nordlinger said, we are going to miss this guy.
Okay, okay. I know that the title of this post will provoke laughter from fellow ThreeSourcers, however, wonkish liberals love to paint their candidates as the real libertarians in that they are for individual rights by ignoring issues such as economic freedom and the right to bear arms. Jeffrey Rosen is the latest to attempt to paint Obama as the libertarian.
Of course, David Weigel looks at the evidence and concludes:
Obama is a civil libertarian, except when he is not.
CNN is reporting the Fidel Castro has resigned as president. While I am a bit surprised that this announcement precedes that of the announcement of his death, I sincerely hope that this will result in a free Cuba in the near term.
MILWAUKEE -- So what did Michelle Obama think of the United States before her husband decided he wanted to run the place?
“For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” she told a Milwaukee crowd today, “because it feels like hope is making a comeback.”
By being proud of this country, is she not endorsing slavery, the propping up of foreign dictators, and the genocide of the indigenous population? No doubt life has completely sucked for the Obamas up 'till now, but let's not go overboard, Michelle.
What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa's heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston -- where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support -- could yield three or four times as many delegates.
"What it means is, she could win the popular vote and still lose the race for delegates," Hinojosa said yesterday. "This system does not necessarily represent the opinions of the population, and that is a serious problem."
The disparity in delegate distribution is just one of the unusual aspects of Texas's complex system for apportioning delegates. The scheme has been in use for two decades but is coming under increased scrutiny because the March 4 presidential contest is the first in years that gives the state a potentially decisive voice in choosing the party's nominee.
Drinking bottled water should be made as unfashionable as smoking, according to a government adviser.
"We have to make people think that it's unfashionable just as we have with smoking. We need a similar campaign to convince people that this is wrong," said Tim Lang, the Government's [natural] resources commissioner.
Bottled water generates up to 600 times more CO2 than tap water
Phil Woolas, the environment minister, added that the amount of money spent on mineral water "borders on being morally unacceptable".
Their comments come as new research shows that drinking a bottle of water has the same impact on the environment as driving a car for a kilometre. Conservation groups and water providers have started a campaign against the £2 billion industry.
A BBC Panorama documentary, "Bottled Water: Who Needs It?", to be broadcast tomorrow says that in terms of production, a litre bottle of Evian or Volvic generates up to 600 times more CO2 than a litre of tap water.
Y'know breathing outputs quite a bit of CO2. These are the people Karl Popper warned us about. They want to send us back to the caves.
Hat-tip: Samizdata. Perry DeHavilland says "Very telling, no? People deciding to spend their own money on something 'borders on being morally unacceptable'. Let me what you what is morally unacceptable: that force addicted control freak tax parasites like Phil Woolas have the gall to tell people how to spend their own damn money. 'Immoral'? You do not know the meaning of the word, Woolas."
I thought it was just me. I was watching Senator Chuck Schumer on Meet the Press yesterday. And he used the word "internecine" about 11 times in three paragraphs. And he pronounced it funny.
Today I see Ann Althouse noticed as well. She found his sudden use of less-than-common words more nefarious than benign.
Clearly, he came to Tim Russert's table ready to use the word "internecine" to fend off efforts to get him to debate what the right rule is about the superdelegates and the Florida and Michigan delegates. I'm suspicious of people who suddenly start using and reusing a word that people don't normally say. Schumer didn't even know how to pronounce it.
To be fair, Miriam Webster gives five different pronunciations and the oleaginous Senator's is on the list. All the same, I found myself expecting Senator Durbin to say "stunning exegesis."
More important than language, it represented two contentious -- dare I use it -- ˌin-tər-ˈne-ˌsēn debates on two Sunday talk shows. Schumer and Durbin are apparently housemates (I am hoping not in the James Buchannan - William Rufus King sense) but they were offering little quarter. Unless either Senator Obama or Clinton can run away with the Democratic race here, there will be 49% dispirited Dems after Denver.
Less civil was FOX News Sunday's square off between Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. They were civil, but both were drawing lines and preparing for a fight. I don't want to make fun of a man with a disability -- but is Governor Strickland okay? He appeared to be having a seizure during the more acrimonious parts of his debate. (I'm really not kidding. Here's a YouTube of the interview. The whole thing is worth a watch, but Gov. Strickland seems to have problems starting around 4:00 crescendoing at 6:00.)
Obama's forces (Durbin and Doyle) are saying that votes should count; Clinton's (Strickland and Schumer) that you can't change the rules in the middle of the game. This could be fun.
On "Super Tuesday" johngalt and dagny caucused in Weld County, CO for Mitt Romney since Fred Thompson had previously abandoned the campaign. At that caucus jg threw his name in the ring as a delegate to the district meeting 2 weeks later and was elected as one of 4 alternates to our 4 delegates. That district meeting was held yesterday morning and although jg was only an alternate he was still eligible to stand as a delegate nominee for the Colorado GOP State Convention. After nominating himself he stood in front of the 27 assembled neighbors, said a few kind things about John McCain and Fred Thompson, disparaging things about Boulder County and the Democrat candidates, and got himself elected again - this time as a full fledged credentialed delegate.
Having been caught flat-footed at the caucus when policy ideas were solicited for consideration as planks to the party platform, and in support of HB's lament that 'The Republican Party Has Left Me,' johngalt hereby creates a new subcategory to 2008 race called "GOP Planks." He invites suggestions from all corners. The first idea on the list has to be jg's comment from 'Let the Libertarians Go' earlier today:
Huckabee and his staff are not conservatives, because they do not hold private property rights as an absolute. His Christianity-inspired egalitarianism and altruism tell him it is morally justified to take one man's property and give it to another, as long as the first man has more to start with. That puts him on a par with the Edwardsesque rhetoric we all tired of through the early primary campaigns.
As an "economic libertarian" I appeal to my Christian brothers to examine the teachings of their faith and recognize the difference between two like intentioned but fundamentally different processes: One one hand, individuals (and their voluntary congregations) doing charitable works and on the other hand, the heartless, soulless, ignorant servants of government attempting to be charitable with the conscripted wealth of others.
Governor Huckabee doesn't seem to recognize any distinctions between these two methodologies, but economic libertarians do.
Charles Barkley believes that all conservatives are "fake" Christians because they pass judgement on others. This is true, if conservatives read the Bible, they would realize this right is reserved for God and Charles Barkley.
As the "O-mentum" rolls on approaching Hillary's "firewall" states of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania I'm taking this opportunity to reveal the secret to derailing Barack Hussein's support amongst the affluent white Democrats he so famously holds in his spell. While Barack shrewdly disclosed the vast majority of his personal shortcomings and past indiscretions in his own autobiographical book prior to seeking national political office, there's one important skeleton in his closet that none of his opponents has yet capitalized on. I can only conclude that they aren't aware of it for it is so completely devastating, without being a "negative personal attack," that it could make Obama's campaign literally go up in smoke. You see, Democrats pride themselves on their tolerance of the personal choices made by others but there are exceptions, and this is one of them. It is understandable that Mrs. Clinton's campaign is not yet aware of it since the story appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Should Hillary fail to secure the nomination by properly employing this critical information against Obama we can count on John McCain doing so in the general election campaign. The source of the scoop was not anonymous, it was the candidate's wife Michelle Obama. Perhaps it was her political naivete that kept her from realizing she should never let something like this slip - but she did. And now, to Barack's personal detriment but possibly also preventing an international embarassment for the United States, we know that a leading candidate for President of the United States is ... shhhhh ... a smoker. From the February 11 WSJ, page A1 (above the fold):
With the Democratic presidential race wide open, Mrs. Obama, a 44-year-old Princeton- and Harvard Law-educated hospital executive, is assuming the same dominant role in Sen. Obama's public life that she has in his private life. At home, she expects a lot of every family member, from having her 6- and 9-year-old daughters set their own alarm clocks to insisting her husband pick up his dirty socks. Her most recent directive to him: Stop smoking.
It's a Democrat political ad makers dream!
I also found something to be personally concerned about in this article:
On a conference call to prepare for a recent debate, Barack Obama brainstormed with his top advisers on the fine points of his positions. Michelle Obama had dialed in to listen, but finally couldn't stay silent any longer.
According to Joe Carter, who has worked for the Huckabee campaign, lower taxes no longer attract voters. What they really want is (and I am paraphrasing) mythological government-created and facilitated growth and good schools. To me, that sounds more like the message of many Democrats. Similarly, he could care less about those of us lonely libertarians:
“If you let the libertarians go over to the Democratic Party while the Republicans win the votes of entrepreneurs,” he says, “you’re talking about a new majority party.”
The Reagan coalition has worked for almost 30 years. Economic libertarians have been a strong part of that coalition. Why do the Republicans insist on fixing something that isn't broken?
Hillary chose "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey after it was featured on the Sopranos. It fits. The Clintons are sort of like the mob of the Democratic Party, so it makes sense to pay homage to the Sopranos. Also, the song is outdated and overplayed, which sufficiently summarizes Hillary and her campaign.
However, the greatest theme song for any candidate would be if Barack Obama chose "Candy Man" by Sammy Davis Jr. I admit I got this idea from Rush Limbaugh when I was stuck in traffic, but nevertheless check out the lyrics and tell me they don't fit:
Who can take a sunrise,
Sprinkle it with dew?
Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two
The candyman, the candyman can,
The candyman can 'cause he mixes it with love
and makes the world taste good
Who can take a rainbow,
Wrap it in a sigh?
Soak it in the sun and make the stra'bry lemon pie
The candyman? The candyman can
The candyman can 'cause he mixes it with love
and makes the world taste good
The Candyman makes
everything he bakes
Satisfying and delicious.
Talk about your childhood wishes.
You can even eat the dishes!
Who can take tomorrow,
Dip it in a dream?
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream,
The candyman? The Candyman can, the candyman can
The candyman can 'cause he mixes it with love
and makes the world taste good
And the world tastes good
'cause the candyman thinks it should
Utter nonsense, just like his campaign.
We are all for hope. We are all for the future. We are all against the idiots in Washington. Try some substance.
Free market deity, T.J. Rodgers, is bringing Moore's Law to Solar Power. He wants to save the world and make a pile of cash. What a guy!
I had a brief and very unsuccessful stint in my younger days selling ad space for "Photovoltaics Magazine." My problem was that I was not a good closer; the PV industry's problem was that it competed for Silicon with the likes of Intel and Texas Instruments. One sold a square inch for $300 and one sold 4 x 8' sheets. You get the idea.
Rodgers saw a similarity others did not: Moore's Law. It was a semiconductor industry and the advances in chip fabrication would pay off in solar power. He bought a power company with his own money when his board would not go along and now "SunPower is rapidly becoming a more important business to Cypress than semiconductors themselves."
So, it goes without saying that when the word "green" comes to mind, T.J. Rodgers, the ultimate free market libertarian, is probably the last person you'd ever think of. And yet, here he is, at the absolute epicenter of the Green Revolution, helping lead the charge that will likely very soon make solar power as inexpensive as other sources of electricity.
The story of how T.J. got to this point is one of the great untold business stories of the new century. And it should serve as an object lesson to those who wish to change the world by fiat, rather than by market forces.
The husband of a woman I grew up with has worked for T.J. for many years in international sales. It's been a good job, so when I heard a few years ago he was being transferred to SunPower, I felt sorry for him, figuring it was a demotion. These days he's adding new wings to his house
These are from a great piece by Michael Malone on abc.com. Read it all and send a copy to your favorite Democrat.
Hillary loves to talk about how President Bush has ruined our reputation in the world and is far from diplomatic. She talks about it so much, she must have come to like W's alleged attitude, as she claimed a month ago (how did I miss this?) that Vladamir Putin "doesn't have a soul." It's great to see that our diplomatic relations will not succumb to the cowboy flippancy any longer.
Oh, and for the record, this was Putin's response:
Now that the GOP primary contests are settling down (even though Governor Huckabee could close that 4-1 delegate gap anytime...) I am getting my partisan, pragmatic mojo back.
Like other ThreeSourcers, I am wedded to ideas over party. There is nothing special about the letter 'R' to me except that, for my adult voting life, those with the R brand were at least a little bit better at keeping the freedom we enjoy. It is dammed easy to enumerate a dozen things President Bush did that you don't like, but I cannot imagine any ThreeSourcers would like to turn back the clock and elect President Gore or President Kerry.
I am told that America cries out for post-partisanship and I see examples at the margins. But our structure of government (Madisonian Democracy, 2,010 have called it) fosters (mmm, Foster's...) two-party conflict. Right now, the game is about Democrats vs. Republicans. And today, we see the stakes:
Democrats voted yesterday, for the first time in decades, to hold two White House officials in contempt of Congress. Hours later it emerged that Ms. Pelosi has apparently decided not to vote on the warrantless wiretap bill passed by the Senate days ago. This means that the Protect America Act -- which conferred Congressional support to wiretapping suspected al Qaeda terrorists -- will expire at midnight today.
We admit to wondering earlier this week whether Congress's interrogating Roger Clemens was the best use of the Representatives' time. On the evidence, the country will be safer if the House takes up tilting at windmills.
This is from a WSJ editorial. The bill has passed the US Senate and everyone knows that it has the votes to pass the House.
Yet Speaker Pelosi will not bring it up for a vote. Everyone who voted for a "Blue Dog" Democrat because that particular candidate was good on guns and reasonable on security -- this is what you get. You may have voted for a great person, but you put a San Francisco lefty in charge of the House and a Searchlight Socialist in charge of the US Senate.
Leader Reid came around, but Speaker Pelosi is willing to let this bill expire. Thanks, Blue Dog voters. There are not too many days that I am proud to be a partisan hack. But today is one.
There is a lot of talk that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will run as a third-party candidate. However, I have a different theory: Bloomberg may be the vice presidential nominee of Barack Obama. They had a highly publicized meeting a couple months ago and despite his harsh criticism of the goverment's stimulus packages, Bloomberg has recently praised Obama for his plan to rebuild infrastructure.
ThreeSourcers have tended toward being Mopar-heads. AlexC has his Hemi, JohnGalt his 'Cuda, and I have fond memories or ripping out the "tiny" 318-cubic inch V8 in my 1968 Sport Satellite in favor of a 440. You could pretty much pin global warming on me.
But now, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz tells a few journalists that Global Warming is a "Total Crock of S**t"
I am stupefied! Next thing you know, BP will stop apologizing for selling us fuel. It could happen.
Anyhow, this doesn’t mean that GM isn’t serious about building the Volt, of course—just that global warming isn’t the reason. And that’s fine. GM doesn’t have to have noble intentions as long as it delivers the fuel-efficient cars it’s been promising. According to D, Lutz says he’s excited about the Volt because “it’s the last thing anybody expected from GM.” But you have to wonder how statements like this affect public perception of the Volt project. Because right now, if you ask a car geek about the Chevy Volt you’ll get one of two responses. The most predictable: “Total vaporware, it’ll never happen.” A cautiously optimistic few, however, will admit that General Motors really does seem serious about building the Volt. After all, they’ve staked the reputation of the company (which lost $38.7 billion dollars last year) on their ability to start producing this extended-range electric car by the end of 2010.
Amen, Bob. Build a car because people might want to buy it. Let Hollywood save the world.
A little comment fodder: Does anybody in ThreeSources Land think Congressional investigations of Roger Clemens are valuable or legal? I know that you can make an anti-trust argument. But I think it is insane if not illegal.
Larry Kudlow has some strong feelings on drugs and last night "crossed the aisle" to side with Secretary Robert Reich over Steve Moore. But I am with Moore. I think it is an embarrassing waste of time. Let Major League Baseball sort it out.
No fair pointing out that wasting Congress's time keeps them from doing more damaging things. It may indeed be true but I'd counter with "First they came for the Hall of Fame pitchers..."
Speaking of Hucksterbee, here is a heartfelt essay about his "conservative principles" from my dear valentine, dagny:
"This is the greatest country in the world. This is true because of IDEAS. The ideas of our founding fathers enumerating in our founding documents are the greatest invention that mankind has managed to date.
Chief among these ideas is the concept of individual liberty and all else flows from that. Anybody have any questions on where I stand?
Now, I have realized for all of my adult life that politicians of both parties in this country wish to infringe my individual liberties. Most of this stuff is included right in their platforms. The Democrats wish to:
1) Take my money (most people call this theft) and give it to those who haven’t earned it.
2) Tell me whether to smoke.
3) What to eat
4) What to drive
5) Indoctrinate me and my children in the ways of Multi-culturalism and Eco-nazism, both of which infringe individual liberties.
6) Refuse to defend the US from foreign threats due to their belief in above doctrines.
7) And perhaps most importantly, TAKE MY GUNS. The second amendment to the constitution is the ONE that is necessary to defend all the rest when times get tough.
The Republicans wish to:
1) Take almost as much of my money as the Democrats (this is known as compassionate conservatism)
2) Trade liberty for security (the Patriot Act). Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY, deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY.
3) Spend tax money on, “faith based initiatives.”
4) Include religion in the public schools. Did you know that, “Under God,” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 and was not part of the original?
5) Define marriage.
6) Tell me and my Doctor and my husband whether I can have an abortion and which birth control methods ought to be allowed.
7) Indoctrinate me and my children in the ways of God and faith.
Based on the above, you will note that I am what is normally called fiscally conservative and socially liberal. In fact, my philosophy is internally consistent and based on individual Liberty and the philosophies of both the Democrats and the Republicans are a mish mash of conflicting ideas.
I have always felt like the greater threats to, and successful infringements of my Liberty have come from the Democrats and working on the, “lesser of 2 evils,” theory, I have almost universally voted Republican. I find it extremely sad that I never remember having representatives that I wanted to vote FOR but always many, many, that I wanted to vote AGAINST. Under this theory I can probably cast a ballot in favor of John McCain.
This year, however, the Republicans have in the race and are talking about as a possible Vice President to McCain, Governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee is wrong on at least 12 and maybe 13 of the points I outlined above (many more than Obama.) He represents the WORST ideas of both the Republicans and the Democrats and I will not vote for any ticket that has his name on it. As I believe it is important to vote, I will go and cast a ballot for a Democrat if Huckabee is our nominee.
At least if the disastrous collectivist economic policies of a Democrat throw us into a recession or a revolution, the blame will be placed on the real problem. If the collectivist economic policies of a Republican throw us into a recession, or worse, we will be told that, “capitalism doesn’t work.”
And so…Obama for President."
While I see where she's coming from I can't quite say I'm with her on voting for Obama (or Hillary) even in the extremely unlikely event of a McCain/Hucksterbee ticket.
A blog from the self-proclaimed netroots of the Green Party proclaims:
The business conservatives are screaming for a corporate income tax cut. They claim that the tax rate that US corporations must pay is far higher than their overseas competitors. They are right...kind of. Some are screaming for the rate to be dropped to 25%. We should publicly agree and take it to the extreme by calling for the rate to be cut to 0%.
I say that we act now before they change their minds.
Besides being the greatest two-for in GOP history, Rice brings other huge pluses to the old admiral. Indeed, she may be enough to elect the venerable hero/naval aviator.
McCain's troubles with the religious wing of his party could well evaporate with the churchgoing Rice at his side. She solidifies that part of his base overnight.
With Rice on the ticket, the GOP would have somebody to get enthusiastic about. The Secretary of State is immensely popular with Republicans. For a party that up to now has been clueless about how to run against either a woman or a person of color, Condoleezza Rice is pure political gold.
Woe to any Democrat who thinks taking her on in a debate is a sure thing. The woman is tough, fast on her feet and able to give better than she gets. Anyone who has seen her in action testifying in front of a hostile House or Senate committee knows that she will be able to wipe up the floor with a plodding, ordinary pol of a Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Take Rice lightly at your peril.
It would deflate some of the "historic" aspects of the Democratic nominee as well. I think that she has been poisoned by the striped-pants set at the State Department, but she is awesome on guns and freedom issues. And The Nation does not lie about her debating skills.
The Junior Senator from Illinois rolls out his economic proposal. $210,000,000,000 over ten years. $60,000,000,000 for infrastructure and $150,000,000,000 for "'green collar' jobs to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources."
That's a lot of zeroes, you might say. "Where will that money come from?" you might ask. "Aren't you supposed to spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence?" you might chisel. Well, Yup, You, and Yup.
"This agenda is paid for," Mr. Obama said as the Republican National Committee promoted an "Obama Spend-O-Meter" online to track his proposals and portray him as a tax-and-spend liberal. Mr. Obama explained that the money for his spending proposals will come from ending the Iraq war, cutting tax breaks for corporations, taxing carbon pollution and raising taxes on high income earners.
To recap: we're going to exercise more government control of the private sector and in the States' ambit. We're going to expand the scope, size, and cost of government in unconstitutional areas. And we will pay for it by abdicating the true, constitutional, government responsibility for national defense, and by enacting further wealth redistribution, taxing productivity, and by invoking the phantom call for less corporate welfare which sounds very good but will never materialize the way our government is constructed.
Senator Barack Obama is riding pretty high these days. Regular readers know that, while there is nothing more fun that watching Senator Clinton lose, I am more concerned when I think of "the most liberal member of the Senate" seated at 1600 Pennsylvania with a filibuster proof majority.
Prof. Greg Mankiw -- like the rest of the country -- has been trying to figure out where Sen. Obama stands. Mankiw calls trade a "key litmus test," and finds that the news is not good:
We can't keep playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expect a different result – because it's a game that ordinary Americans are losing....
It's a game where trade deals like NAFTA ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wage at Wal-Mart.
I join his supporters in one thing: that speech really does make me cry.
But even as he dominated the Potomac Primary, McCain lost conservatives in Virginia, as he has across the South and parts of the Midwest -- trailing Huckabee among that group and evangelicals as he attempts to unite a fractured Republican Party behind his candidacy.
He can be President of the Virginia Conservatives!
I think it is moronic that the Governor has stayed in long after far more formidable rivals have dropped out. There is a school of thought that says that he helps McCain by keeping the GOP in the news. I certainly don't think he is hurting the Senator much. But I look forward to his ByeKu.
I was called on my use of a term I frequently use (No, ac, it was not "stunning exegesis.")
The term was "Madisonian Democracy." And Perry pointed out that is was not consistent with Madison's beliefs. In Federalist #10, James makes quite clear his preferences against majoritarian rule.
I considered the term pretty common usage and a Yahoo Search yields several examples including this:
A composite democracy that blends a majoritarian democracy in some areas with protection of minorities and individual rights in other areas. Checks are placed on majoritarian power in order to minimize the possibility of abuses or tyrannical uses of power.
That is exactly what I meant, though I must admit I overestimate the currency of the phrase. "Madisonian Democracy" gets 183,000 hits on Yahoo, but when you include the quotes, it drops to 2010.
The roll call on the FISA Bill shows two profiles in courage: Senators Obama and Clinton, when asked to decide important issues about the balance of civil liberties with homeland defense -- well, they continued with their campaigns of course!
The NYTimes calls it "a major victory for the White House," and Senator McCain made it to vote Yea. But the Democratic candidates did not vote. Lindsey Graham was the only other Senator not voting [insert punchline].
The Senate rejected a series of amendments that would have restricted the government’s surveillance powers and eliminated immunity for the phone carriers, and it voted in convincing fashion — 69 to 29 — to end debate and bring the issue to a final vote. That vote on the overall bill was an almost identical 68 to 29.
The House has already rejected the idea of immunity for the phone companies, and Democratic leaders reacted angrily to the Senate vote. But Congressional officials said it appeared that the House would ultimately be forced to accept some sort of legal protection for the phone carriers in negotiations between the two chambers this week.
Is this what they mean by change?
UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page points out that Senator Obama did make it in to vote Yea on Sen. Dodd's Amendment to deny immunity from lawsuits to companies that cooperated with anti-terrorism efforts.
It says something about his national security world view, or his callowness, that Mr. Obama would vote to punish private companies that even the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee said had "acted in good faith." Had Senator Obama prevailed, a President Obama might well have been told "no way" when he asked private Americans to help his Administration fight terrorists.
Barnacle's Resort in Lake Mille Lacs turned its normal Saturday night business into a play, testing a loophole in Minnesota's smoking ban. The production included programs and buttons that said "Act Now!"
"You are looking at a stage. You are looking at a playhouse," said Mark Benjamin, a nonsmoking lawyer who worked the bar dressed in Shakespearian garb. "Those are not cigarettes -- those are props."
The law allows actors and actresses to light up in theatrical performances -- but it doesn't define what that means. The idea of stretching the definition came to Benjamin at the Renaissance Festival, an annual event where people dress up in costumes.
This is no longer about past preferences or differences. It is about what is best for our country and for me that means that Republican should close ranks behind John McCain," Thompson said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.
Thompson's endorsement was expected. The two men were colleagues for years in the Senate and shared what associates called a friendship. But while he was in the race, Thompson had bristled at the idea that he was going to drop out and endorse McCain.
The endorsement now may help McCain to coalesce the factions of the party around him. Thompson, who represented Tennessee in the Senate for eight years, is thought of well in the South, an area that McCain has not done well in.
Hugh Hewitt wrote a book called “If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat" in which he claimed that Republicans needed to win decisively to overcome shenanigans by the Democrats.
I purport that the Clintons have far better access to those levers that tip close elections than do Senator Obama's people. I watch the young people weeping at the magnificence that is the Junior Senator from Illinois and I cannot help but think "those people will soon learn the difference between hope and audacity ."
If Obama can run up the delegates than Hugh's Law will take effect. But if it is close when they head to Denver, Senator Clinton will be the nominee.
Chris Bowers at the Open Left Blog says that he, like Donna Brazille, is not going to take it:
If someone is nominated for POTUS from the Democratic Party despite another candidate receiving more poplar support from Democratic primary voters and caucus goers, I will resign as local precinct captain, resign my seat on the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee, immediately cease all fundraising for all Democrats, refuse to endorse the Democratic "nominee" for any office, and otherwise disengage from the Democratic Party through all available means of doing so.
So I dream last night that I am participating in a "man in the street" interview. A young lady asks me to "describe -- in one word -- why I would not vote for Senator Clinton."
"Dirigisme," I say.
My interviewer is not familiar with the term and asks me to spell it. With perfect, Leno-Letterman timing, I look at the camera and say "Oh, I have other Hillary words that are much easier to spell."
Wow, dream jk is much funnier than real jk or perhaps the writers’' strike is over.
Senator Clinton is the perfect foil for that joke, but I was thinking of the word because I watched Senator Obama speak last night. His speeches have been more about rhetorical flourish than polity, but last night he let some of his leftist ideas leak out.
Quoting from memory, he said that the fight for Universal Health Care will not be easy because the pharmaceutical firms will not give up their profits; a new energy policy will be tough to enact because Exxon-Mobile made $11 Billion last quarter.
Ah, yes, the failures of the free market. Had pharmaceutical firms discovered thousands of wonderful compounds that lengthened and enriched people’s lives, and had the energy companies kept this nation supplied with ample fuel and electricity for a lower and lower portion of GDP in the face of world instability and increasing regulation, no doubt Obama would have --- wait a minute, all of that did happen!
This is the President who is going to transcend partisan politics and bring us together. Well, I guess Lenin brought people together in a way...
According to one academic, the problem with the response to global warming lies at the feet of those of us who believe in democracy and freedom:
We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions. It is not that we do not tolerate such decisions in the very heart of our society, in wide range of enterprises from corporate empires to emergency and intensive care units. If we do not act urgently we may find we have chosen total liberty rather than life.
"...chosen liberty rather than life"? This is the evil that we as advocates of a free and prosperous society face. Environmentalist whackos are starting to reveal themselves for what they truly are: authoritarians who believe that their knowledge and opinions trump all. Of course, they are advocating this for your own good. Just read this excerpt from the description of his new book:
Nevertheless, the authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power.
Of course those who are authoritarians are by definition those who seek power.
Don Luskin (a frequent recipient of Three Sources links) signed on as an economic advisor to Ron Paul at the end of January. He even appeared on the new Fox Business Channel to promote Dr. Paul. However, it has been brought to my attention and now confirmed on Paul's website that Luskin has abandoned the Paul campaign exactly two weeks after the day he joined in order to sign on with Sen. McCain. Luskin has long been an advocate of Paul's candidacy even before becoming an official policy advisor. I am a bit perplexed at his abrupt departure (especially after promising Neil Cavuto in front of tens of FBC viewers that he would vote for Ron Paul even if he had to write him in).
I know that blog friend and frequent commenter Perry Eidelbus has regular correspondence with Don. Any scoop Perry?
Rep. Tom Tancredo is back. His Presidential campaign is over, he is not seeking reelection, he can now worry full time that somewhere an illegal alien is happy.
I get emails from the Center for Individual Liberty. I think I signed a pro war or support-the-troops petition once and I have been on the mailing list for some time. I guess we see eye-to-eye on the war, but I haven't agreed with anything they've included in their emails. Today's subject is "Warning Illegals May Still Get Rebate Checks Under Stimulus Plan" And it seems Rep. Tancredo is unhappy. Even though they amended the bill to not purposefully send checks to illegals, there might be a slip up or two:
Here's what else Tancredo has said of the Ensign Fix:
"Unless language is added to the package that both expressly prohibits the issuance of rebate checks to illegal aliens and directs the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to share information and work together to prevent these payments from being made to illegal aliens, we will not address this glaring deficiency in the stimulus legislation."
I will shock and astound ThreeSourcers when I say that I am not seeking direct subsidies to the undocumented. But this stimulus bill is nonsense on stilts. In quicksand. With a plate-balancing monkey on your back.
The depreciation provisions may actually help a little, but the rebates are bad from every angle. They won't help, and the deficit they exacerbate will preclude extending tax cuts that do help. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
But to single out immigration as the problem with this legislation highlights the depravity of the Tancredo crowd. It's like worrying whether burning your house down is an efficient use of matches.
Barack Obama appears in front of St. Peter at the Golden Gates.
St. Peter asks, "Name, please?"
Obama replies, "Barack Obama."
St Peter checks his Admissions list and says, "Sorry, Mr Obama, I don't have your name here"
Barack says, "It must be there. I am Barack Obama, President of the United States, and Hillary Clinton is my Vice President"
"When were you inaugurated?" asks St.Peter.
"About 30 seconds ago" replied Barack.
I was going to post this yesterday but it is more germane today. Even before Governor Romney left the race, his übersupporter, Hugh Hewitt, was reminding his readers about the stakes. Hugh gives seven reasons to support the nominee, I'll excerpt one:
Folks who want to take their ball and go home have to realize that even three SCOTUS appointments could revolutionize the way elections are handled in this country in a stroke, mandating the submission of redistricting lines to court scrutiny for "fairness."
John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign.
"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney will say at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
"This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters... many of you right here in this room... have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country," Romney said.
Don't expect Senator McCain to tack to the right anymore.
I am linking to a one hour and 35 minute video. It's a huge investment. But I know we have some geeks around here and I encourage each to ignore politicians and pundits and spend some time with a true genius. (Hat-tip: Samizdata. Dale Amon says "For those who have not spent a lifetime watching the world of Physics, Dr. Bussard is one of the elders of the field. He is no outsider and no crank. He is one hell of a serious physics dude."
The talk is all Physics, but quite a bit of politics and economics unwittingly enters.
ABSTRACT This is not your father's fusion reactor! Forget everything you know about conventional thinking on nuclear fusion: high-temperature plasmas, steam turbines, neutron radiation and even nuclear waste are a thing of the past. Goodbye thermonuclear fusion; hello inertial electrostatic confinement fusion (IEC), an old idea that's been made new. While the international community debates the fate of the politically-turmoiled $12 billion ITER (an experimental thermonuclear reactor), simple IEC reactors are being built as high-school science fair projects.
Watching the returns come in on Not So Super Tuesday, I was struck by a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realized that I am a man without a party (not even a lesser of two evils party). The returns, of course, favored John McCain. And as I contemplated a McCain nomination, I was struck by the fact that I was rooting for the lesser of two evils within the Republican Party in Mitt Romney. Why should I be rooting for the lesser of two evils in the very party to which I reluctantly belong? As I began to try and delude myself that Romney would indeed be a good candidate and not simply "Not McCain", the results from the south began rolling in. I heard the most devastating combination of syllables imaginable emanating from Wolf Blitzer's* mouth:
"Huckabee wins Georgia."
Huckabee wins West Virginia."
Huckabee is neck-and-neck with McCain in Missouri."
Huckabee wins Arkansas."
I frantically turned the station. Chris Matthews and Brit Hume were saying the same thing.
How could it be that Gomer Pyle was winning? I may not be comfortable with any of the candidates, but I have made no bones about where I stand on Comrade Taxabee. Suddenly, the Pat Robertson of 2008 had done something that I thought was impossible. He won in states other than Iowa. It was at that moment that it hit me.
The Republican Party has left me.
The talk of limited government, free trade, and low taxes was what drew me to the party. In certain times, like under the current president, some (and at times all) of the talk about these issues was merely lip service. However, the present crop does not even provide lip service to the issues that I am interested in. Instead, there are folks like Mike Huckabee (who I never believed could draw a single vote after Iowa) that are out on the trail painting populist dream worlds for the economically ignorant. Gomer has no knowledge of anything not contained in the Bible or Neal Boortz's book on the FairTax -- and I don't think that he even understands those two books. He has yet to locate Pakistan (when they had the debate on MSNBC and the candidates had to ask questions to one another, I was secretly hoping someone would pull out a globe and ask Huckabee to identify Pakistan). He makes up false claims about Mormonism in the New York Times to damage Romney and pretends that they are innocent mistakes. He doesn't understand his own tax proposal. He repeatedly states that finally drug dealers and prostitutes will not be exempt from taxation (ignoring the fact that their customers will because I doubt that type of consumption will be reported).
And yet Republicans are voting for this man over McCain and Romney in several states.
The GOP isn't all that grand anymore. It has become a desolate wasteland of broken promises, empty rhetoric, and now populist nonsense.
I am not leaving the Republican Party. The Republican Party has left me. I'm sure that I will be persuaded to vote for a GOP candidate from time to time, but I can no longer consider myself a member of this broken party.
* Just as a side note, as my troubled mind tried to contemplate what in the world was going on, I couldn't help but wonder if "Wolf Blitzer" is the greatest name ever? If only he were a linebacker or military general...
He remains one of my favorite writers, but I used to trust him as an arbiter of pop culture.
In Super Bowl Thoughts Updated he makes some wise comments about football, namely that the Patriots have not been playing their best football in the last part of the season and playoffs.
But then, he compliments the halftime show:
Another great halftime show. Maybe it's just me, but the halftimes I remember from my youth were nothing but empty spectacle with some Top 40 Act of the Moment. Having Prince last year and Tom Petty this year was brilliant and actually very entertaining.
I agree that the shows have gotten better, I even liked Prince last year and he is not my cup of tea. But the Tom Petty Borapalooza this year had no redeeming factor -- no, I was glad there were no wardrobe malfunctions. Other than that, I wonder how many people missed a very good second half of football because they were comatose from his stringyvoiceness.
Blog Brother jg suggests "Well, if a few gub'mint jobs fall by the wayside I won't lose any sleep. How 'bout you?" Sleep easy. Stephen Moore says, in political Diary, that the dark jobs report has a couple silver linings:
Friday's lousy jobs report of negative growth wasn't all that bad -- since one of the new unemployed Americans was John Edwards. But economists assure us that there's another reason not to panic just yet. The 17,000 jobs losses in January overshadowed a revision upward to 82,000 new jobs in December. Job growth has certainly slowed dramatically but private employment growth has still not turned negative.
One piece of overlooked good news in the January report is that the net decline was entirely accounted for by government. The public sector had 18,000 fewer workers on its payrolls last month. Folks, that's not an economic downer, but cause for celebration. We should be thrilled to see many more such pink slips issued in Washington, D.C. and state capitals. Fewer government bureaucrats is one of the best economic stimulants we can possibly think of.
Overall, today's 4.9% unemployment rate is hardly a measure of job scarcity for those searching for work. That number underscores the folly of the Democratic proposal to extend unemployment insurance benefits -- a policy that increases joblessness by giving people an incentive to sit on the sidelines rather than aggressively seeking the private-sector jobs that continue to be created.
One refuge I've found in my defense of Senator McCain has been his stance on free trade. David Ranson, head of research at H.C. Wainwright Economics Inc., has a guest editorial in which he grades the candidates on their approach to trade. The bar is pretty damn low, but Senator McCain shines:
During their debates, some of the Republican candidates expressed more ifs, ands or buts about free trade than others. John McCain says: "Free trade should be the continuing principle that guides this nation's economy." Mitt Romney's position is: "I strongly support free trade, but free trade has to be fair in both directions." According to Mike Huckabee: "I believe in free trade, but it has to be fair trade." But elsewhere he has said: "I don't want to see our food come from China, our oil come from Saudi Arabia and our manufacturing come from Europe and Asia."
Hillary Clinton has taken an even stronger stance against free trade, suggesting that the economic theories underpinning it no longer hold. To support that she cited economics Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson, but he was only making the long-understood but sometimes forgotten point that, even in the long run, free trade does not benefit everyone.
When you hear "fair trade," "smart trade," reciprocal trade," you are always hearing a euphemism for protectionism. Free trade is fair, smart, and reciprocal -- without any help from bureaucrats.
If you read the whole piece, McCain gets a well deserved whack for some nonsense about compensating senior workers and some good old bromides about retraining. But even if enacted, a few stupid gub'mint programs will be much less of a drag on the economy than protectionism
Mitt Romney 6
John McCain 5
Mike Huckabee 3
Ron Paul 2
It was just like the Super Bowl. Romney had a surge in the last few votes. I was disappointed that my candidate lost but I had a blast. My Republican neighbors are awesome. We voted on some resolutions after and the discussions were top notch. I did not agree with all of them, but I have a ton of respect for all.
Okay, they won't be the last if he stays in. But some have politely questioned my ability to go lower and lower down the GOP evolutionary ladder -- I'll soon be singing the praises of worms! Time to take another look at a man of boundless principle, Representative Ron Paul?
No, thanks. (Worms really are underappreciated...)
Hegemony makes the argument I have made, without invoking the name of Deepak Lal. The type of modern, global trade I want (Lal's Liberal International Economic Order) simply cannot prosper without somebody playing World Police. I don't see anybody else stepping up. Kling ends with a pretty thoughtful rebuttal of the anarcho-capatalist claims that iPod's 47 different countries' parts will come together just as freely under protection of pirates than of the USMC.
If I am correct, then the markets in ancient Rome were filled whenever the legions came home with loads of plunder. Otherwise, the markets would have been relatively empty.
What I suspect is that over the past several hundred years, the production/plunder ratio has increased dramatically. That is, in a typical ancient market, most of the goods for sale were plundered by the imperial armies. Only a few goods for sale were produced voluntarily by citizens. In a modern economy, the ratio of production to plunder is far higher.
Bret Stephens's piece speaks to my other concern with Paul. His insistence that we are broke, we cannot continue, we're borrowing too much, we're...
Stephens traces the roots of this line of thought:
In 1788, Massachusetts playwright Mercy Otis Warren took one look at the (unratified) U.S. Constitution and declared that "we shall soon see this country rushing into the extremes of confusion and violence." This, roughly, is the origin of American declinism -- and it's been downhill ever since.
And follows with some modern statistics which belie it:
Yet each of these assumptions collapses on a moment's inspection. In his 2006 book "Überpower," German writer Josef Joffe makes the following back-of-the-envelope calculation: "Assume that the Chinese economy keeps growing indefinitely at a rate of seven percent, the average of the past decade (for which history knows of no example). . . . At that rate, China's GDP would double every decade, reaching parity with today's United States ($12 trillion) in thirty years. But the U.S. economy is not frozen into immobility. By then, the United States, growing at its long-term rate of 2.5 percent, would stand at $25 trillion."
Now take military expenditures. Yesterday, the administration released its budget proposal for 2009, which includes $515.4 billion for the regular defense budget. In inflation-adjusted dollars, this would be the largest defense appropriation since World War II. Yet it amounts to about 4% of GDP, as compared to 14% during the Korean War, 9.5% during the Vietnam War and 6% in the Reagan administration. Throw in the Iraq and Afghanistan supplementals, and total projected defense spending is still only 4.5% of GDP -- an easily afforded sum even by Prof. Kennedy's terms.
We're not broke because the world wants to invest in US Securities. But we would be considerably poorer if we did not hold up our oversized but necessary portion of the defense of worldwide, liberal trade.
I said I was making my last persuadin' try yesterday. But -- like the debates -- when one is brutally savaged in the comments, the moderator grants a 30 second rebuttal. Read Fast.
Commander-in-Chief -- the Democrats may be lulled into ignoring the war against Islamofascism. Let's not follow them. McCain will be loved by our troops and feared by our enemies.
Spending Hawk -- Great Kudlow last night. Every sane, sentient member of the panel (all but Secretary Reich and Jared Bernstein) agreed that the deficits are not a big deal except that they will be used to prevent the Bush tax cuts from renewing. Belief in limited government and any hope for the continuation of the GOP right now requires tough focus on spending.
Free trader -- free trade is under assault. It has been completely abandoned by the Democrats and the GOP are "weak as water" these days. A resolute advocate in the White House is important.
Commander-in-Chief gets two.
I will likely climb down my list to Numero Cuatro if Governor Romney prevails, but his campaign's phone calls are getting worse and worse. They are the rankest populism and assume the lowest intelligence: "Did you know McCain teamed up with liberal Senator Ted Kennedy to write an Amnesty bill" a voice asks? Well, I'm glad he specified which Senator Ted Kennedy he was discussing. No need to worry about any nuance (unless we're discussing Romney's signature on an assault weapons bill, you see he was guiding the legislation...). Then it plays a clip of President Bill Clinton saying that a Hillary-John race would be "civil." The narrator intones gravely that "you can tell a man by the company he keeps..."
Frozen, frikken' NED on a stick! I am going to find it hard to support this man if he gets the nod. It will signal that the talk radio populists really have taken over the GOP. As the Weekly Standard would say, the Country Club will have lost to Sam's Club.
(Though if the weather does not improve, perhaps we might make a Faustian bargain to both stay home).
"I would have supported the original assault weapon ban," Romney said. "I signed an assault weapon ban in Massachusetts governor because it provided for a relaxation of licensing requirements for gun owners in Massachusetts, which was a big plus."
Asked Tim Russert: "So the assault ban that expired here because Congress didn’t act on it, you would support?"
"Just as the president said, he would have, he would have signed that bill if it came to his desk, and so would have I," said Romney.
In the last few hours, Romney contradicted that in a podcast interview with Glenn Reynolds and Helen Smith of Instapundit fame.
"I know that a lot of the gun rights folks aren’t sure about your position on gun rights," asked Smith. "Would you pledge to veto any new gun control bills that come across your desk as President?"
"Yeah," Romney said. "Yeah, I don’t support any gun control legislation, the effort for a new assault weapons ban, with a ban on semi-automatic weapons, is something I would oppose. There’s no new legislation that I’m aware of or have heard of that I would support. In regards to guns, I think we have enough legislation and should enforce the laws as they exist. I was pleased that when I ran for Governor that I received the endorsement of the NRA and I hope to receive their support now."
I don't expect that the Massachusetts chapter of the NRA can be too picky but I suggest that this is another example of Romney's being driven by making the best choice at the time rather than from deep beliefs.
I also wonder if you have enjoyed your phone calls this weekend. Senator Santorum's pitch for Romney didn't excite me. Each Romney call (about five) drove me farther away. Governor Romney is content to be the talk radio candidate. That's not where I live but I suggest that is not where the Governor lives either. I have no idea what he will believe in when the election is over.
Gregory Mankiw has some good weekend posts and a superb article in the NYTimes. The good professor is 50 and realizes "My welfare now falls within the mission statement of AARP."
My birthday wish is for all of us to stop asking what the government can do for us today. Instead, we should focus on what we can do together to prepare the economy for our children and grandchildren. That means getting ready to care more for ourselves in old age, perhaps by retiring later, perhaps by saving more. I hope that when I celebrate my 100th birthday in 2058, my descendants won’t look upon Grandpa and his generation as the biggest economic problem of their time.
It's well worth a read in full. Happy Birthday.
Sadly, the dark side of Mankiw rears its ugly head in the previous post, "Welcome to the Club, Jay." Jay is Astronaut-Physician Jay Buckey, who is running for the US Senate in New Hampshire in 2008. Jay wants to levy a tax on Oil and emailed Mankiw asking to be in his damned "Pigou Club."
The professor's heart swoons. If you want to tax oil, you've got the Mankiw Vote! (He can sneak across the border and vote in Nashua.) It doesn't seem to matter what else you believe -- as long as you believe the government has a duty to change our behavior through capricious taxation. I look at Buckey's Web Site, and I fear for the party and the Republic. The party, because this Democrat has a compelling biography, the pretty political, photogenic family, the works -- anybody running against this guy will look like Nixon after a four day bender.
And fear for the Republic because his ideas are conventional, Democratic Party boilerplate. He opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, though he served in the Air Force (thank you, Jay); global trade is swell and all "But the risks involved in global trade (outsourcing, closed businesses, wage competition) are hitting our middle class hard and the benefits are not reaching everyone;" "Despite the enormous wealth of our nation and the highest quality healthcare available anywhere, many of our citizens are not receiving any care and many more are not receiving good care."
These are not my ideas -- nor are they Mankiw's but wait! He wants a National Security Levy on Oil. <ericcartman voice>He's the most awesomest candidate ever!</ericcartman voice> And he has a declaration of energy independence:
Over the course of the last century, we have lost the freedom to choose our energy supply. Today we depend critically on petroleum. This dependency means we are no longer free to make choices. Instead we have no choice but to do whatever is necessary to maintain the flow of oil. If we don’t, our economy will suffer greatly.
We, the undersigned New Hampshire voters, are deeply concerned about our freedom and the future of our planet. To fight global warming, protect our economy, and preserve our freedom we are resolved to:
[insert Democratic party Boilerplate here...]
Does he believe for one minute that a Senator Bucky, mellifluous as the name sounds, would contribute one thing to his birthday wish? I do not.
The purpose of this petition is to condemn the resolutions of the City Council of Berkeley, California which declare that United States Marine Corps recruiters are "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" within Berkeley city limits and applauds those who choose to "impede" the Marines in their recruiting mission.
The petition text includes a boycott I would prefer were left out, but I am proud to take a stand against the Berkeley City Council on this outrageous incident.
So they're probably not about to sign a lease together, but U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter and Ted Kennedy are getting along swimmingly these days, notes William Fisher, a former reporter who spent more than 30 years managing economic development programs for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development.
"So it's both rare and refreshing when two titans from opposing political parties actually come together to do something important," says Fisher on The Huffington Post.
(emphasis added above -ed)
Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment. (tm)
Oh! ... and he wants to investigate the NFL.
For cocking up the "evidence" of the Patriots stealing the Jets' defensive signals.
"That requires an explanation," Specter said. "The NFL has a very preferred status in our country with their antitrust exemption. The American people are entitled to be sure about the integrity of the game. It's analogous to the CIA destruction of tapes. Or any time you have records destroyed."
OK, we gotta throw the yellow flag on that one. 15 yard penalty. Unsportsmanlike conduct of an analogy. Specter compares the Patriots spying compared to the CIA destruction of tapes? What’s next for the great conspiracy mind: a single bullet killed John F. Kennedy? Thank goodness the Zapruder film wasn’t shot by a professional athelete.
My biggest complaint about Governor Romney has been that he sells himself as a manager and a tactician. He does not talk about core beliefs -- he talks about competence.
The Wall Street Journal lead editorial says it far better than I do. To be fair, I think I stole the thought from Kim Strassel to begin with. President Reagan had strong principles that he could rely on to make difficult decisions. President George Herbert Walker Bush was a tactician/manager. When the data said he must raise taxes, he did. I think President Bush pere was one of the finest human beings to occupy the office, and I've little doubt that Governor Romney is decent and honest and patriotic as well. But I don't see core beliefs. And neither does the WSJ Ed Page.
Washington's problem isn't a lack of data, or a failure to calibrate the incentives as in the business world. Congress and the multiple layers of government respond exactly as you'd expect given the incentives for self-preservation and turf protection that always exist in political institutions. The only way to overcome them is with leadership on behalf of good ideas backed by public support. The fact that someone as bright as Mr. Romney doesn't recognize this Beltway reality risks a Presidency that would get rolled quicker than you can say Jimmy Carter.
All the more so because we haven't been able to discern from his campaign, or his record in Massachusetts, what his core political principles are. Mr. Romney spent his life as a moderate Republican, and he governed the Bay State that way after his election in 2002. While running this year, however, he has reinvented himself as a conservative from radio talk show-casting, especially on immigration.
The problem is not that Mr. Romney is willing to reconsider his former thinking. Nor is it so much that his apparent convictions always seem in sync with the audience to which he is speaking at the moment. (Think $20 billion in corporate welfare for Michigan auto makers.) Plenty of politicians attune their positions to new constituencies. The larger danger is that Mr. Romney's conversions are not motivated by expediency or mere pandering but may represent his real governing philosophy.
Governor Romney told reporters that he had made a targeted "seven figure" media buy for Super Tuesday. I have received three automated calls from the Romney Campaign: one poll asked me how likely I was to vote and who my first and second picks were; one with the Governor's voice and a positive message; and one telling me that Senator McCain had teamed up with Senator Ted Kennedy (!!!!) to write an immigration that gave amnesty and social security benefits to illegals. "Not the kind of immigration reform we need."
Three calls from the Gov, none from anybody else. The caucuses are next Tuesday.
Jonah Goldberg takes to the NRO Corner to say that Senator John McCain is not the antichrist. I'd have somebody else taste your food in the editorial meetings for the next few weeks, Jonah.
I think I should just be on the record that I disagree with the tone, tenor and substance of much — though certainly not all — of the anti-McCain commentary around here. It's not that I object to a single post or comment — though there've been a few. It's that I disagree with the overwhelming impression that supporting McCain is some kind of lunacy. I have serious disagreements with McCain. I think it is entirely right to disagree with him on all sorts of issues and entirely legitimate to think he would be bad for the party, bad for conservatism or bad for the country to have him as the nominee or the next president. I agree with some of those sentiments, disagree with others.
But this disaster talk leaves me cold. McCain wouldn't be my first pick. Then again, none of the candidates were really my first pick. But I think the notion that, variously, conservatism, the country or the party are doomed if he's the nominee or the president is pretty absurd.
If Barack Obama chose Phil Gramm as one of his economic advisors, would you vote for him? I may be wrong, but I anticipate that the answer would be 'no'. So why does John McCain get a free pass? McCain is out there spewing the economic rhetoric often reserved for the likes of John Edwards, but as long as Gramm and Kemp are by his side, all is supposedly well.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was close to leaving the Republican Party in 2001, weeks before then-Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) famously announced his decision to become an Independent, according to former Democratic lawmakers who say they were involved in the discussions.
In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist.
Democrats had contacted Jeffords and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) in the early months of 2001 about switching parties, but in McCain’s case, they said, it was McCain’s top strategist who came to them.
If McCain is the nominee, you may be voting for a Democrat either way.