July 16, 2014

What the Hell is Administrative Law, and Where Did it Come From?

That is the question which is, by every account, answered brilliantly in a new book by Professor Philip Hamburger of the Columbia Law School: Is Administrative Law Unlawful?

Amazon reviewer Ross Huebner wrote last month:

Professor Hamburger outlines the fact that administrative law (outside of very limited circumstances) is not only unconstitutional, but it is anti-constitutional as well. I recommend this book as a worthy legal history of administrative law and state simply that it should be in every serious scholar's library for both historical and legal purposes.

In a radio interview this morning the author explained that administrative law, essentially the rules and regulations of Administrative Branch agencies, crept into our government after its founding as a holdover from the pre-Constitutional era and do not have any justification under the Constitution. To the contrary, Article I Section 1 begins: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States..." therefore any legislative powers exercised outside of Congress are illegal.

And not just legislative, but judicial powers are wrongly exercised under color of "administrative law." Who may lay his finger on the Constitutional passage that enumerates that? Article III Section 1 begins: "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." No mention of EPA or FDA that I could find.

A timely tome it doth seem to be.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:11 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Dothn't it.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2014 6:46 PM

April 22, 2014

McCarthy

That Jenny with her anti-vaccination, hysterical, junk-science bullpuckey!

Nope -- I mean Tailgunner Joe, the Senator from Wisconsin. If Helen launched a thousand ships, Senator Mac launched a thousand preening Hollywood films.

Jesse Walker lists Four Great Myths of the McCarthy Era. And it is very good.

It may be tempting to put all the madness of the early Cold War on the shoulders of one Wisconsin senator, and then to cheer as Joseph Welch ritually exorcises him on the floor of the Senate and the TV screens of America. The truth, alas, is much messier and uglier than that. When it comes to the Red Scare, there's plenty of shame to go around.

Underappreciated in the discussion is the perfidy of the 17th Amendment (oh, man, here he goes...). In "Master of the Senate," Robert A. Caro details Sen. McCarty's fundraising prowess. He and Johnson pioneered the habit of raising prodigious amounts of money to fund the campaigns of those who would play along. To hear Caro tell it, there were quite a few members of that august body who tired of McCarthy's tactics, but incumbency always comes first, and the difference between his financing your campaign or your competitors -- or his besmirching your name in campaign materials -- kept those in line who may have normally calmed him down a bit.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2014

Plunder Thy Neighbor

Plundering the wealth of one's neighbor is a mean of survival as old as time, or at least as old as ancient Athens.

And, as the Romans learned, it is not merely a vocation for individuals. It can be done, legally and effectively, by government.

Many people believe the "rich" can afford to pay higher taxes since they command a disproportionate share of the nation's income. However, the current amount of redistribution already takes 21% of the top quintile's income. That would have to soar to 74% to make every family in America "average."

These are the missing pieces of the current inequality debate. To recap: Current federal tax-and-spending policies combine to redistribute $1.5 trillion each year from the top 40% of Americans to the bottom 60%. To close the income gap to zero would require $4 trillion.

The questions to those who say we should do more to narrow the income gap are: Where on that continuum should we aim, and what policies would achieve these goals without bringing the economy to its knees?

So writes Scott Hodge, President of the inestimable Tax Foundation, which plays these issues non-partisan. As for "what policies would achieve these goals without bringing the economy to its knees," Art Laffer, call your office. As for "where on that continuum should we aim," paging Hank Rearden and Ragnar Danneskjold. (And Jefferson, Madison, Franklin ...)

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2014

Obama Makes Mid-Sized Company Employees "Job Slaves"

In an article about the adminstration unilaterally revising the PPACA - again - those right-wing hacks at CNN embed a video bashing the President's signature legislation.

"Joe Biden said this is a big fucking deal. This is a big fucking disaster."

Next thing you know they'll be reporting that an American diplomat was murdered by terrorists in the middle east on the anniversary of 9/11.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 7, 2014

Guaranteed Basic Income 'Blows'

My flirtation with the idea of a "mincome" or "Uncle Sam's Allowance" is well chronicled here but, in that same post, fellow Objectivist Craig Biddle explains how, despite my unbeknownst Platonic impulse to smooth over social divisions, the path to respecting individual rights is not embarked upon merely by violating those rights with more efficiency, transparency and less waste.

JK pragmatically concluded, "If the mincome were popular, I'd enjoy its strengths and accept its weaknesses as the pragmatic price of reform." Unfortunately, in pursuing popularity of a mincome, Republicans and Democrats would most surely find a "balance" more in line with the conditions enumerated by one entitled little twerp called Jesse A. Myerson. I won't link to his Rolling Stone piece - Jonah Goldberg did it so that I wouldn't have to - but to Jonah's deconstruction of it, which commences thusly:

"In America," Oscar Wilde quipped, "the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience." And they often do it in the pages of Rolling Stone.

While I sought to establish a safe level of capitalist subsistence for every man such that he could pursue pleasurable and profitable pursuits, the young Myerson wants everyone to be paid for nothing because "jobs blow." Other things "blow" in Myerson's estimation, including "hoarding" or what my parents used to call "saving for a rainy day." Millenial Myerson's Rolling Stone Rant is essentially the Grasshopper's Manifesto Against the Ant. Tsk... winter is here, silly insect. To bad you failed to "hoard."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:00 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the link to Jonah's column. My Twitter feed erupted on the Rolling Stone nonsense, the major thesis being that this says a whole lot more about Rolling Stone's faux hipster chic than anything else.

Fair to discard the mincome (which at least sounds smaller than BIG) on slippery slope grounds. Demands are pretty much insatiable as Yaron Brook said. Those demanding $15/hour for a kid filling burgers are probably not going to be happy with a five-figure mincome.

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2014 4:09 PM
But dagny thinks:

In response to Mr. Myerson, Megan Kelly found this bright millennial advocating a moral defense of capitalism as antidote to today's problems.

http://foxnewsinsider.com/2014/01/06/rolling-stone-article-tells-millennials-push-communism

He says, "This is how the Occupy Wall Street movement thinks. This is a group of people who graduated with degrees in lesbian dance theory and then were surprised when they didn’t get a six-figure paycheck out of college.”

and “You have to be productive in a capitalist society in order to earn anything.”

Guess he doesn't consider Lesbian Dance Theory productive. I recommend the whole interview.

Posted by: dagny at January 7, 2014 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Kelly reading from the RS Piece: "Imagine a world, where people could contribute the skills that inspire them, like painting murals, rather than whatever stupid tasks that bosses need done." (~2:05)

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2014 4:23 PM
But dagny thinks:

Not sure I have ever put 2 comments in a row before. So much for lunchtime. Also of interest (to local Objectivists at least) in Mr. Shapiro's comments are his use of the terms selfish and altruistic.

Posted by: dagny at January 7, 2014 4:27 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Rolling Stone basically advocated communism.

I don't know if that has enough support to say that it would be part of the 'balancing' equation.

The slippery slope point is well taken. I can understand it, though after thinking about it I think I still disagree. As long as we have democracy the slippery slope is there. The only difference is that by collapsing all of our federal programs into one payment movements along the slope are unmistakable, apparent and seen by all.

I think I would prefer that to the behind the scenes creep of our current government.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 9, 2014 3:33 AM
But jk thinks:

I think we all agree that it is an improvement in transparency and efficiency.

To enact it would be a huge hurdle and would engender the full panoply of "you hate the poor" and "throwing granny off the cliff" responses expected of any reform effort.

I won't presume to speak for brother jg (but yes, he will have another vanilla porter...) but who wants to start a difficult fight for something they really do not believe in? It is indeed better, but it is actually less worse.

The same effort toward privatizing social security or rescuing the bleeding nation from the ravages of the PPACAo2010 would be more fruitful.

Larry Kudlow points out that eliminating the Corporate Tax would do more for the poor than most social programs. That's a tougher sell. Yet I can make a principled case for it that is consistent with my beliefs and the general advancement of liberty.

Posted by: jk at January 9, 2014 11:13 AM

December 30, 2013

The Great Game of Government

December 2009 were heady days for those intent on reining in the "abuses" of "big business." Just ten days prior to the midnight passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by a straight party line vote of Democrat US Senators, Springfield, MO CEO Jack Stack started a blog page with a topic of 'Open the Books.'

Why would business owners want to open the books to their employees?

Because doing so has the power to change the way the company operates and to change the way employees think about their work. Let me quote former Representative Richard Gephardt, whom I introduced to open-book management and who has dedicated much of his time since leaving office to spreading the word: Open-book management, Mr. Gephardt wrote in his book, "An Even Better Place," represents "an overall approach to corporate governance that treats the employees like co-owners of the business who have to make sacrifices and take on the burdens that any owner assumes."

The idea is to get employees to start approaching their jobs as if they owned the place, which in fact they might.

This may or may not be a great idea for corporations, which must compete with other corporations in a marginally free market. But it sounds to me like a fantastic idea for government.

It's also a great idea according to Chicago's Adam Andrzejewski, who has invested considerable time and money on a project called Open the Books...

which allows users to see spending figures in their areas across multiple levels of government, going back 12 years in some cases. Shining light on such data is the means, but the primary goal of the site and app is to put pressure on governments to reduce wasteful spending, and it's already been downloaded more than 5,000 times in the Google Play store. It's also available in the Apple app store.

"There are no easy conversations in America anymore about spending and debt," Andrzejewski told me, "So everyday people have to start holding local officials accountable."

It is here that I learned that over three thousand Illinois government employees have higher salaries than the state's governor. And on the openthebooks.com page where I ran a search to discover how many federal employees earn over $300,000 per year (and that those at the top of the list all work for the VA or VHA.) In another search I found the names and addresses of Colorado farmers receiving multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in "supplemental farm income" from the federal government!

Our goal was to teach our employees to think and act like owners. We started by trying to improve their financial literacy by turning topics like accounting into a game. We played this game with real money, however, and the games pieces were each and every employees quality of life. We called it The Great Game of Business.

Visit openthebooks.com. Run some searches. Make a donation. Share results on Facebook. Let's help Adam spread The Great Game of Government, and turn as many as possible of the current winners into the losers they really are.

HT: Last evening's John Stossel show.

UPDATE: [jk here, don't blame jg of I booger this up] Here is a widget (works for me in Chrome but not IE, your mileage may vary...):

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:07 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Nice job on the widget! Here's a fun test for everyone: Under Federal click "checkbook" then "zip code" and "farm subsidies" then pick a modest radius and enter your zip code. Find out how many of your neighbors are pulling down 20, 50, $60k per year or more in "Supplemental Assistance Program" or "Biomass Crop Assistance" or "Emergency Assistance Livestock; Honeybee; Fish."

Posted by: johngalt at January 1, 2014 12:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Direct Payments" is another fun category. The major recipient in my area seems to be housing projects and, Pell Grants. Notably $3.7M from the Education Department in 2010 for Park College in zip code 80229, 2nd Congressional District, a "profit organization", which was paid from, hmmm, the "Appalachian Regional Commission" Program Source? Way to go Representative Polis!! Bacon, bacon, bacon!

This reminds me of the Pell Grants to an Illinois cosmetology college with annual tuition of $20k.

Posted by: johngalt at January 1, 2014 12:48 PM

November 22, 2013

"Congressmen" Udall and Bennet Vote to Discontinue US Senate

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

NYT- "Democracy Returns to the Senate"

For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the presidents nominees.

Part of the Times' defense of this headlong rush to make the Senate indistinguishable from the House is that it only applies to Presidential appointment nominations, not including the Supreme Court.

But now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures, the precedent set on Thursday will increase the pressure to end those filibusters, too.

"A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

"Keep it? From what?"

"From becoming a democracy."

Yesterday, Colorado's two Democrat Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet joined 50 other Democrats to resolve that the United States Government shall henceforth have two majoritarian chambers with little difference between them. In the process they essentially "demoted" themselves from Senators to Congressmen, and I for one shall refer to them as such.


UPDATE: Investors Business Daily, on the other hand, says this is the furthest thing from democracy.

Appearing as himself in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," then-CBS radio commentator H.V. Kaltenborn called the filibuster "democracy's finest show: the right to talk your head off, the American privilege of free speech in its most dramatic form."

Of the excitement surrounding Stewart's fictional senator taking a stand against a majority deluded into believing the slanders spread against him, Kaltenborn said: "In the diplomatic gallery are the envoys of two dictator powers. They have come to see what they can't see at home: democracy in action."

Thanks to Reid and his power-hungry liberals, Americans can no longer see it either.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:13 PM | Comments (5)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, look on the bright side. There's no more basis for me to fret about the need to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment anymore. If they're going to be mere Congressmen, there's no point in having them elected as if they were actually Senators - REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF STATES.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 22, 2013 10:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I actually had something brighter in mind. This anti-constitutional power grab creates the necessity of not only reinstituting the filibuster, but provides a stonger basis for repealing the 17th Amendment.

Posted by: johngalt at November 23, 2013 10:33 AM
But jk thinks:

Dark days, freedom lovers. But I'll run my Blog Optimist Award certificates through the shredder (I've already exercised the accompanying Starbucks gift cards). This will not be walked back and this will not lead to a revival of interest in repealing the 17th. This is a ratchet click toward the majoritarianism that Progressives have seeked for more than 100 years.

Not with a bang but a whimper.

Posted by: jk at November 23, 2013 2:12 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Hey, while we're at it, since the states really are no longer sovereign and have become nothing more that vassal fiefdoms of the Federal leviathan, let's do away with the Tenth as well...

I fear that JK is right, and with every day that passes, I become more persuaded that this will end with a whimper if it doesn't get ended by a bang. We're in Fourth Box territory.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 23, 2013 4:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I hope my blog brother never gets a job on the Suicide Hotline. "Yeah, that's terrible -- and let me tell you something else..."

Posted by: jk at November 24, 2013 11:43 AM

November 7, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

PPACA Edition - (I regret to admit that I misnamed the "Horror Story of the Day" category for Obamacare. I left out the P P.)

This difference in reactions to failure dramatically highlights the primary reason for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with market-based reform. As the Edsel flop demonstrates, businesses in the free market are quite capable of making colossal mistakes. However, when they do so and the customer rejects their products, they make the necessary adjustments. And, despite the widely believed myth that the market fails to work for health care, any private enterprise that had produced an unpopular mess like Obamacare would by now have shut it down. But the President wont even consider delaying it. Why? Because his customers are required by law to avail themselves of his third-rate services.

From 'Obamacare and the Edsel: A Tale of Two Lemons' in American Spectator

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2013

Open for Redistribution!

After a lengthy "government shutdown" in which the greatest public sacrifices were borne by visitors to America's National Parks, Congress appears poised to "re-open" the federal government. One cannot truthfully say "for business" but for whatever it is that the federal government, particularly the "nonessential" portions of Leviathan, normally does.

I support this "surrender." Important points have been made:

1) Fully 43% of federal civilian employees are non-essential, and could likely be let go, gradually and humanely, of course.

2) Republicans, at least a handful of them, have warned Americans loudly and clearly that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will make most of them worse off than they were before. They are on record as having tried to stop it before it did whatever damage is sure to come.

3) By the way, did we mention that federal government spending is out of control and we really can stop it if enough voters send us enough principled house members in '14? Toward this end, every vote between now and then adds to the ideological war chest in coming primary battles.

Now, fellow Lilliputians, it is time to step back and let Leviathan stumble along his predictable path. There are triplines in place, put there not by the Administration's partisan opponents, but by the selfish interests of millions of Americans. "I work for a living, and I vote."

One point of caution I can think of now is to be prepared to deflect calls by the Administration to "fix" or "rework" or "tweek" Obamacare as a cover for its failings. The proper rebuttal will be, this law is flawed in its premise and must be replaced with a system that delivers cost-effective care as demanded by a customer base that is free to make purchasing choices at the point of care. You know, like iTunes.

Best of all, since the "reopening" is only for 2-3 months, we get to do this all over again soon... with myriad Obamacare horror stories betwixt. What a country!

UPDATE: ACAHSOTD

"I am canceling insurance for us and I am not paying any f**king penalty. What the hell kind of reform is this?

Oh, ok, if we qualify, we can get some government assistance. Great. So now I have to jump through another hoop to just chisel some of this off. And we don't qualify, anyway, so what's the point?"

ht: Terri

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:55 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Shorter version: "Let it burn."

The only downside to all this is that when Obamacare - and one fine day not long after that, Leviathan himself - crashes, there are going to be people on the other side saying that it was doomed because we didn't cede enough authority or enough resources to it. That we tried it only halfway, and didn't go big, and it was the fault of the conservatives. Some - true believers of the left and a large posse of voters with room-temperature IQs - will buy that.

All that being said, we are going to see in our lifetimes Carthage salt itself. That's going to be both historic and spectacular.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 16, 2013 6:38 PM

October 10, 2013

CU Boulder votes on the Shutdown

Wow; less than 3 min. worth seeing, and more and greater kudos to Prof. Hayward!

Posted by nanobrewer at 12:17 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Buncha right wing FAUXNEWS viewers up in Boulder...

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2013 10:13 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Awesome! TEA Party Youth. I wonder if they even know they agree with the TEA Party?

Posted by: johngalt at October 10, 2013 4:52 PM

October 7, 2013

Steyn: That Which Shall Not Be Discussed

John Stossel took a peek into Nancy Pelosi's "bare" cupboard last night to see if she was correct in saying there is nothing left to cut. Brilliantly, he placed Social Security, Medicare and military spending on top of the cupboard since "those are so big they don't even fit in the cupboard." Mark Steyn takes on the same issue today saying, Too Much of the Federal Government Can't Be Shut Down.

"Mandatory spending" (Social Security, Medicare et al.) is authorized in perpetuity -- or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress' so-called federal budget process.

That's why you're reading government "shutdown" stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady's ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.

He segues from there to what passes for a spending prioritization process in the capitol of our national, nee federal, government.

Pace Sen. Reid, Republican proposals to allocate spending through targeted, mere multi-billion-dollar appropriations is not only not "irresponsible" but, in fact, a vast improvement over the "continuing resolution": To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, but continuing power corrupts continually.

America has no budget process. That's why it's the brokest nation in history. So a budgeting process that can't control the budget in a legislature that can't legislate leads to a government shutdown that shuts down open areas of grassland and the unmanned boat launch on the Bighorn River in Montana.

I've been Tweeting and Facebooking that we're witnessing day whatever-it-is of "Essential Government." In reality, what's still steaming ahead full is well beyond what is essential.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:51 PM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:

How's about we put all the mandatory items in Al Gore's lockbox?

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 8, 2013 12:21 AM

October 2, 2013

Keep it Shut

A talk radio caller made a prescient comment this morning. We're not in the midst of a "government shutdown" or even a "partial government shutdown." Instead we're witnessing a "non-essential government shutdown." What a perfect opportunity for Americans to experience life without non-essential government! The longer it goes on, the less it will be missed as individuals take the initiative - much like several Republican congressmen who moved arbitrary barricades closing the WWII Memorial in D.C. yesterday - to solve problems and make things work. You know, that "land of the free" business.

Investors runs an editorial this morning that says not just that the "shutdown" was a good idea, but that Republicans should "own it" and keep it going as long as possible. Read the whole thing, but here is the lede, to whet your appetite:

The Republican Party didn't blink, and as a result non-essential aspects of the federal government are shutting down. Republican politicians and members should cheer, as the "Stupid Party" actually revealed a political and economic savvy that will serve it well in 2014 and beyond.

The Republican Party now has a brand that says it's willing to stand athwart the obnoxious growth of Leviathan. Its decision to allow a shutdown of the federal government, and ideally let it remain shut through the 2014 elections absent substantial concessions from the Democrats, is both good politics and economics.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:34 PM | Comments (4)
But dagny thinks:

I was listening to the radio this morning and Congressman Perlmutter was on. He stated that the reason that the government shut down was a bad idea was because he had a single mother government employee in his office crying because she had been furloughed and didn't know how she was going to make ends meet. So my question is this: Why is her situation any worse than millions of others who have been laid off or furloughed as non-essential in private industry during the recession?

Posted by: dagny at October 2, 2013 1:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Stop it, dagny! I'm cryin' my eyes out...

Larry Kudlow asked the same thing last night. Cisco just laid off 1300. The fed workers will likely be back to work and will probably get back pay for stuff they did not do. Laid-off Cisco workers? A free pocket-protector with John Chambers's picture on it.

I should not have been flippant. A friend at work just had a baby and her husband is furloughed -- I am wrong to make light of it. But while individual worker's plights are tragic, fed workers qua fed workers have a lot of stability compared to the private sector (or as some call it real life). As a collective, they are pretty incapable of engendering sympathy.

Posted by: jk at October 2, 2013 6:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A "recession" is when your neighbor loses his job.

A "depression" is when you lose your job.

The "apocalypse" is when government workers have to be fired. (Or when the Air Force-Navy game is canceled.)

There have been several depressions and many recessions in the history of the American economy, but I'm not aware of even a single apocalypse.

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2013 6:22 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

A caller this AM (same day as other post - lots of driving) when from KHOW to KNUS nearly as fast as I could change the channel encouraging Mandy and then Peter Boyles to start cheering the:


...wait for it.....


2nd day of ESSENTIAL GOVERNMENT !!

Obam-uh's worst nightmare. Someone please start tweeting the heck of out this: I love it!!!!!!

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 2, 2013 11:40 PM

October 1, 2013

If a government shut down in Washington D.C., would it even make a noise?

It's Shutdown Eve and there's a fun meme trending on Twitter: #ObamaShutdownHitSongs



Posted by JohnGalt at 12:31 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

These are pretty awesome. I retain my sense of humor.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2013 11:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"I, like, big, cuts and I cannot lie." LOL

Did you see my original one, Monty Python inspired? I was actually humming it on my way home, before I ever discovered #ObamaShutdownHitSongs

"I'm a Democrat and I'm Okay, I Sleep All Night and I Fib All Day."

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2013 6:39 PM

August 29, 2013

An Article V Convention

There have been several awesome speakers at Brother Bryan's Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons and it is a fool's errand to pick a favorite. But fools we may be.

Rob Natleson would clearly be in the running. He spoke about the Article V process to amend the Constitution by the States' calling for a convention. It was a superb talk and the depth of his Q&A answers still astound.

Amendments are cool again with Mark Levin's book on the bestseller list (anybody read it? Correctly or not, I dismiss him as a "talk show host." But the book does sound interesting). Natleson addresses concerns -- as he did in his LOTR-F talk -- about a "runaway convention." This time, raised by Phyllis Schlafly.

As was true of earlier interstate gatherings, the convention for proposing amendments is called to propose solutions to discrete, pre-assigned problems. There is no record of any federal convention significantly exceeding its pre-assigned mandate -- not even the Constitutional Convention, despite erroneous claims to the contrary.

The state legislatures' applications fix the subject-matter for a convention for proposing amendments. When two-thirds of the states apply on a given subject, Congress must call the convention. However, the congressional call is limited to the time and place of meeting, and to reciting the state-determined subject.

In the unlikely event that the convention strays from its prescribed agenda (and the commissioners escape recall), any "proposal" they issue is ultra vires ("beyond powers") and void. Congress may not choose a "mode of ratification," and the necessary three-quarters of the states would not ratify it in any event.

Contrary to Mrs. Schlafly's claim that "Article V doesn't give any power to the courts to correct what does or does not happen," the courts can and do adjudicate Article V cases. There has been a long line of those cases from 1798 into the 21st century.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

No, no, for the love of God, Montresor, NO.

The Constitution was already have - minus a number of double-digit amendments, of course - is fine, FINE. The solution is not to change the Constitution, it's to practice the Constitution we already have, AS IT'S GORRAM WRITTEN. Which hasn't happened since, I dunno, about 1933, but that's another story.

I'd fret a mite about the mischief that could be done by people with an ax to grind, volunteering as delegates to an Article V. Who do you want to see begging for a seat - Rick Santorum? Cindy She-hag? Who controls who gets to have a say? Precisely how much say in the process do you want to allow California have?

Here's a modest proposal: let Texas write it, and I'll stop complaining. Or Northern Colorado. Or me.

Nota bene to my favorite Coloradans: miss you all, and good luck. When you secede, Cecile and I might be booking a U-Haul. Sorry 'bout my long absence...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 29, 2013 8:33 PM
But Jk thinks:

I was not completely clear, Keith. Was that a "no?"

Natelson described the process, and there is a pretty tight procedure around it. Delegates are limited in scope. Certainly a point on what new amendments are worthwhile.

I'm going to suggest that of 27 amendments, 18 and 21 cancel, 16 and 17 are evil, 23 is iffy,14 and 11 have been misinterpreted. Not so bad to end slavery, get the bill of rights, and expand the franchise.

Posted by: Jk at August 29, 2013 10:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'd sooner consent to KA (welcome back!) writing a Constitution than the North Colorado bunch. I back their, secession?, effort but not just to see them replace leftist statism with Christian moralist statism.

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2013 11:33 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


When is Steven Hayward going to speak to LotR? He's local this year! I'll book long in advance for that!

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 31, 2013 9:07 PM

August 13, 2013

On Religion in Government

The infamous Internet Segue Machine brought this page to my screen today, offering a hand of friendship to Ralph Benko, who asks the GOPs libertarians to "bend a bit." I read it as the author counseling the faithful to keep Truth and law in their separate and proper stations.

Throughout his work, Lewis infused an interconnected worldview that championed objective truth, moral ethics, natural law, literary excellence, reason, science, individual liberty, personal responsibility and virtue, and Christian theism. In so doing, he critiqued naturalism, reductionism, nihilism, positivism, scientism, historicism, collectivism, atheism, statism, coercive egalitarianism, militarism, welfarism, and dehumanization and tyranny of all forms. Unlike progressive crusaders for predatory government power over the peaceful pursuits of innocent people, Lewis noted that "I do not like the pretensions of Government - the grounds on which it demands my obedience - to be pitched too high. I dont like the medicine-mans magical pretensions nor the Bourbons Divine Right. This is not solely because I disbelieve in magic and in Bossuets Politique. I believe in God, but I detest theocracy. For every Government consists of mere men and is, strictly viewed, a makeshift; if it adds to its commands 'Thus saith the Lord,' it lies, and lies dangerously."

Yes, "Lewis" is indeed C.S. Lewis, a thinker and author I had previously dismissed as an overt religionist. It appears the waters of his writing run deeper that that, and I am eager to go for a swim. I have made glacial progress in the winning of hearts and minds with the teachings of Rand. Perhaps I can have more success, in a practical endeavor, quoting Lewis and others who admire him. A good starting place may well be the founder and president of the C.S. Lewis Society of California, David J. Theroux.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 5, 2013

Human Ichneumonidae

I'm quite sure blog brother jk linked the George Will piece on Detroit already, but I just got around to reading it today via a still prominent position on the IBD Ed page. It contains an analogy just as apt as Starnesville.

The ichneumon insect inserts an egg in a caterpillar, and the larva hatched from the egg, he said, "gnaws the inside of the caterpillar, and though at last it has devoured almost every part of it except the skin and intestines, carefully all this time avoids injuring the vital organs, as if aware that its own existence depends on that of the insect on which it preys!"

Detroit's union bosses and "auto industry executives, who often were invertebrate mediocrities" were not, however, quite as intelligent as the lowly ichneumonidae. They knawed right through the alimentary canal. Why did the executives go along? Did they not know the lavish compensations were unsustainable? This matters little, for government followed the private-sector lead:

Then city officials gave their employees - who have 47 unions, including one for crossing guards - pay scales comparable to those of autoworkers.

Thus did private-sector decadence drive public-sector dysfunction - government negotiating with government-employees' unions that are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself to do what it wants to do: Grow.

And grow it did, in Detroit and in cities and states as far and wide as union influence stretched.

Detroit, which boomed during World War II when industrial America was "the arsenal of democracy," died of democracy.

Yet democracy lives on, an unnoticed and unindicted threat to the life of all American cities, states, and nation.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:01 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The Ichneumonidae Appreciation Society is suing Will for this scurrilous comparison...

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2013 5:06 PM

August 2, 2013

Trust in Government

Charles Murray writes about the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations, when three-quarters of the governed "trusted the federal government to do the right thing most or all of the time."

Among the nations of the earth, the ties that bind Americans to their national government have been uniquely idealistic. We have been in love with the idea of being American citizens, free and independent, equal before the law with every other American, living our lives as we see fit. The national government validated that celebratory view of ourselves, and we loved the government for doing it. We and our government maintained this happy state of affairs by observing three tacit compacts.

First, from the founding through the early 1960s, citizens did not expect much from the federal government. Running the daily life of society was the job of "we the people." It is one of the pleasant side effects of limited government: the government doesnt get blamed for failing to solve problems that are none of its business. And more: when we did solve our own problems, we gave credit to the political system that left us free to do so, the system embodied in the federal government.

Second, the federal government tried hard to avoid taking sides in specific moral disputes that divided Americans. The moral battles that arose -- slavery, suffrage for women, and prohibition, for example -- were resolved via constitutional amendment. The whole nation had to take a stand, and the federal government didnt get too far out in front.

Third, the national government made it easy for us to pride ourselves in being good citizens. If the ordinary Joe did nothing more than make an honest living and take care of his family, he was as good an American as the highest in the land. Presidents, senators, and congressmen constantly said so. And in practice as well, the federal government didnt ask much more than that -- through the 1950s, remarkably few federal laws affected individuals or businesses.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:59 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Well worth noting that this was written in December, 1997. Before the TEA Party. Before 9/11 and the PATRIOT Act. Before Presidents Obama and Bush the younger. (But not, coincidentally, before President "I did not have sexual relations with that woman.")

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2013 5:20 PM

June 7, 2013

Headline of the Day

IRS apologizes for lavish conference spending, plastic fish -- Susan Ferrechio
Or, as Douglas Adams would say "So long, and thanks for all the fish!"
Posted by John Kranz at 9:09 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2013

Quote of the Day

It's instructive to view ourselves through a Russian mirror. The term "paranoid Russian" is a pleonasm. The fact is that all Russian politicians are clever. The stupid ones are all dead. By contrast, America in its complacency promotes dullards. A deadly miscommunication arises from this asymmetry. The Russians cannot believe that the Americans are as stupid as they look, and conclude that Washington wants to destroy them, -- David Goldman
Posted by John Kranz at 1:03 PM | Comments (0)

February 4, 2013

And One Dark Day

On February 3, 1913, Delaware became the 36th state to ratify the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In 30 fateful words it read, "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."
What could possibly go wrong?

Great backstory from John Steele Gordon at AEI.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2013

Internet Knights Templar?

From ZDNet article Anonymous hacks US Sentencing Commission, distributes files:

However, in order for there to be a peaceful resolution to this crisis, certain things need to happen. There must be reform of outdated and poorly-envisioned legislation, written to be so broadly applied as to make a felony crime out of violation of terms of service, creating in effect vast swathes of crimes, and allowing for selective punishment. There must be reform of mandatory minimum sentencing. There must be a return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused, and consideration of motive and mens rea. The inalienable right to a presumption of innocence and the recourse to trial and possibility of exoneration must be returned to its sacred status, and not gambled away by pre-trial bargaining in the face of overwhelming sentences, unaffordable justice and disfavourable odds. Laws must be upheld unselectively, and not used as a weapon of government to make examples of those it deems threatening to its power.

For good reason the statue of lady justice is blindfolded. No more should her innocence be besmirked, her scales tipped, nor her swordhand guided. Furthermore there must be a solemn commitment to freedom of the internet, this last great common space of humanity, and to the common ownership of information to further the common good.

We make this statement do not expect to be negotiated with; we do not desire to be negotiated with. We understand that due to the actions we take we exclude ourselves from the system within which solutions are found. There are others who serve that purpose, people far more respectable than us, people whose voices emerge from the light, and not the shadows. These voices are already making clear the reforms that have been necessary for some time, and are outright required now.

It is these people that the justice system, the government, and law enforcement must engage with. Their voices are already ringing strong with a chorus of determined resolution. We demand only that this chorus is not ignored. We demand the government does not make the mistake of hoping that time will dampen its ringing, that they can ride out this wave of determination, that business as usual can continue after a sufficient period of lip-service and back-patting.

Not this time. This time there will be change, or there will be chaos

In the vernacular of the posting, my voice emerges from the light. I ask those who would denounce hacking as a tactic to explain how else these alleged abuses of official justice could be effectively challenged?

Hat tip: Drudge

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:41 PM | Comments (3)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Brother Ellis is alive, okay and in HI...more info soon.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at January 26, 2013 7:25 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm pretty sympathetic as we have a common enemy. justice qua justice and Justice as the DOJ are major league broken.

Tactics...

My Internet cocoon world was 100% in favor of Aaron Swartz and 100% opposed to the prosecutorial overreach that tipped him toward suicide. My hero, Kim Strassel, interrupted the party to remind me -- and the rest of the WSJ Editorial Board -- that he stole private property (the intellectual property in the JSTOR database) to distribute it as he saw fit and not how its owners chose to dispose.

So a DoS attack on the DoJ has symmetry, but I am going to have to come out as anti-revolutionary. Sorry Comrades, I think we have an "Occupy Wall Street" phenomenon where we can appreciate their passion, and agree that their targets deserve a bit of unpleasantness.

But real people in pursuit of real justice were inconvenienced by the website's being down. And if we're to throw a tradition of law that extends from the Magna Carta to Aaron Swartz away, I want to know a little more about the new regime.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2013 10:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Your concern was the one that required a "?" at the end of my headline. Examine this particular demand:

"...and to the common ownership of information to further the common good."

This was where I became... squeamish? Perhaps more like disheartened. I do believe the goals are mostly noble, but eliminating private property crosses an unacceptable boundary. I reconciled by interpreting it as "free access to public knowledge." A tenet of free speech, and a catalyst to prosperity and peace.

If there is one thing Anonymous may be lacking it is a moral, philosophical base to fully justify its efforts. Seek Objectivism lads: Force only in self-defense; full individual liberty within the personal sphere, for every man is an end in himself; consistency with physical reality. Private ownership of property is consistent with the second of these. However, government secrecy is not.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2013 12:01 PM

January 2, 2013

Republicans: WINNING!

I supported John Boehner's Plan B. I did so because it had so many income tax fixes and made them permanently.* I didn't follow the holiday-lawmaking closely but what I did hear and read was depressing. The "millionaire's tax rate hike" was lowered from $1M to $400,000 ($450,000 for couples [marriage penalty anyone?]) and the ratio of tax revenue increases to spending cuts was forty-three to one. But dagny emails an article that looks at the full portion of the glass.

Yesterday, the government voted to extend almost all of the Bush Tax Cuts permanently.

Not temporarily, as a stimulus measure.

Permanently.

Ever since the Bush Tax Cuts were first enacted in 2001, one goal of the Republican party has been to "make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent."

For most of the last decade, this goal has seemed like an extremist view: Making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent would drastically reduce the federal government's revenue. It would also increase inequality and balloon the national debt and deficit--so how could we possibly justify doing that?

And yet now, suddenly, almost all of the Bush Tax Cuts are permanent.

(...)

The Republicans also got another good deal for America's investor and owner class, making the Bush dividend tax cut permanent. This saves a lot of money in tax bills for America's wealthier investors.

(...)

It's true that the Republicans have not yet won much ground on the other front that the party claims to be fighting on--namely spending cuts on programs that primarily benefit low-income and middle-income Americans (food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and so forth).

But the key word there is "yet."

This is not to say our market economy is in the clear but as far as the legislative action taken yesterday, it could have been much worse.

* "Permanently" only means without an expiration date, but it is still important because significant political capital must be expended before it changes again.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2012

Exit, Stage Right

A few days back I posted a link to Part I of Brit philosopher Nick Land's crushing take on democracy and liberty, "The Dark Enlightnement." Strangely enough, the orignal entries disappeared from the "That's Shanghai" website shortly after the piece began to be extensively linked...

Fortunately, a Tumblr named Matt Leslie had posted it in full back in September. At over 27,000 words of reading neither easy or light, it's not everyone cup of tea, but I present it for your consideration.

I know that not everyone here agrees completely, but we are entering interesting times. It is not the end of civilization or a return to the Dark Ages, but it is indeed the kind of inflection point that has been seen before, many times, in human history. Things that cannot go on, will not. Reality is not subject to a filibuster in the Senate.

I wrote before that I am dead to national politics now, though I am still involved at the state and local level. Some states and locales will be much better to live in than others, when the New WoMen really get their program in place.

It's now about Flight, or Exit. Since there is no new frontier on Earth, and space isn't quite ready yet, it's going to be an internal exit. In the next few years a lot of the best people we've got are going to quit working so hard, quit trying to deal with DC, quit trying to make the world "better." Just for awhile.

Rand's vision was awesome, because it relied on the reality of human beings qua human beings, and the reality of this earth. "Is Atlas Shrugging?" articles have been written periodically for over 50 years. Maybe I'm wrong; but I hear it coming, like the faint low staccato of a distant stampede, that no one can stop. One can only get out of its way.

I'm not "depressed" (what a typical modernism!) by this, not at all. Again, interesting times! I'm with author Sarah Hoyt (of Colorado):

And then theres the fact that in the rest of the world, if things get unbearable, you can always go to America. But we dont have an America to go to. Which will only make us more determined to ignore the order, buck the directive, roll up our sleeves and do for ourselves.

This is why statists of any stripe so often throw their hands up and call us ungovernable. Not that this gives them the idea they shouldnt try. No. Instead, they try to devise more cunning ways of governing us. You have them to give credit for dreaming the impossible dream. Its the one proof we have that the sons of beetles are Americans.

So after sixty years of creeping statism, theyve now captured the flag they have actually got all of the important systems sewn up: news, entertainment, education, government.

They think can you blame them? that they won.

I wont say they cant hurt us. They can. The mechanisms theyve seized hold of are important and they are natch misusing them.

Im not saying that this will be easy. It wont. Our economy is likely to be an incredible shambles, and Ive said before I think well lose at least one city.

But, listen, the problem with these sons of Babel is that they might be American, but theyre not American ENOUGH. If they were, theyd understand ungovernable and this willingness for each of us to go it alone (often for common benefit, but on own recognizance, nonetheless) is not a bug. Its a feature. And that its baked in the cake of a people who came here to escape the top-down spirit of other places. Some of the black sheep (or as one friend of mine calls it, the plaid sheep) attitude is genetic, hereditary, inborn. And enough of us have it.


I'll tell you what's really funny; I've basically returned to where I was back in '75 when I read Harry Browne's How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. If you haven't read it, I recommend you do. No spoilers here.

But the title says a lot.

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 4:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 5, 2012

Reconsidering 2016

It seems to me that most of us Three Sourcers had a pretty good idea that the election of Mitt Romney was not going to "solve" America's problems. We didn't talk about it much, explicitly, but deep in our hearts I think this extraordinarily bright collection of humans knew that this is the way things really are.

He gives it the catchy title "The Dark Enlightnement" but I might just call it reality. If you have a few minutes, read the piece and let us discuss our next move. I don't think mine will be to research whether Rubio, Ryan or Jindahl is the best choice for 2016...

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 3:16 PM | Comments (8)
But Bryan thinks:

My God that was depressing. And Awesome!

Posted by: Bryan at December 5, 2012 4:50 PM
But Steve D thinks:

The endarkenment

Posted by: Steve D at December 5, 2012 4:56 PM
But jk thinks:

...and I just crawled back off the ledge where I was going to jump after the election.

Every word of the linked piece is true (I suspect the authenticity of the Franklin quote as well) and yet what a Hoppe never concedes is the great run of Constitutional Republicanism in the United States. It took us almost two hundred years to break the fine machine that Madison et all constructed -- and we can still use it to assert rights of speech and self-defense unfathomable in other modern and free Democracies.

The rise of the United States from backwoods colonies in the 18th Century to Argentina's economic equal in the 19th to a superpower in the 20th to hegemon in the 21st makes me think that there might be something to that Constitution thingy.

I love reading Hoppe and Lysander Spooner and Lord Acton. Their beliefs reinforce many of the things I hold true. But what I strive for is attention to the US Constitution, accepting its warts Even accepting the 16th and 17th Amendments which ruin it.

On this day, dear friends, we repealed prohibition and ratified the 21st Amendment. Hope lives.

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2012 5:01 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Brother jk, I love your optimism, which mirrors my own natural inclination. But the inexorable logic of the situation seems well, inexorable.

I will be out of touch until tomorrow, when I hope to get more into the "what should be done" of the situation.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 5, 2012 5:15 PM
But jk thinks:

I am calling for tempered pessimism. No, the United States is unlikely to return to its pre-progressive, lasseiz faire liberty. But we've seen Canada, Finland and Sweden roll back government. It can be done.

Consistent with Reason 40th Anniversary: yes, government is going to hell, but freedom advances in other spheres. We have the TSA, but we have the Internet. In the heat of an election -- or after a disastrous one, I know that sounds like the consolation prize, but it's a vector as certain as democracy -- and it points the right way.

Removing self-directed rule in fear of democracy is tossed around pretty cavalierly by the anarcho crowd. I really don't want to move to Singapore, Dubai, or Hong Kong in spite of high economic freedom.

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2012 6:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I got me this cabin in the woods...

KIDDING!

Posted by: johngalt at December 5, 2012 6:31 PM

October 8, 2012

1 tank equals 100,000 votes

Last week I endorsed the Venezuelan Model for challenging and ultimately defeating a corrupt and dishonest leftist president - namely, fiercely denounce the crime, corruption, inflation and fiscal incontinence of the regime.

But a sad and predictable thing happened on the way from the polling places to the official results.

According to the Associated Press, Venezuelas electoral council has declared that Hugo Chavez beat Henriques Capriles in Sundays presidential election with about 54 percent of the vote, despite exit polls showing otherwise.

The independent exit polls showed the challenger won 51.3% to 48.06%. [No word yet from President Carter.] The result: Tanks in the streets.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that in the North American version of this tale.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2012

Foreign policy marker

The Refugee would like to humbly put forth a simple way to make sense of world politics. Foreign governments should be placed into at least one of three categories:

1. The country is an ally of the United States.
2. The country respects the United States.
3. The country fears the United States.

Any combination of the above is OK and leads to stability. However, "none of the above" is not an option and portends violence. Unfortunately, too many counties in the Middle East fall into this last category. When it comes to Islamic extremism, (paraphrasing President Kennedy), "To make violent confrontation acceptable makes peaceful dialog impossible."

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 8:26 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

On ThreeSources I see Machiavelli, Caligula, and Sun Tzu. On the news I see Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and Maya Angelou.

Little disconnect somehow...

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2012 12:30 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I'll second that approval! Also, as North America steams toward energy independence is the next 8-10 years we will increasingly be able to just ignore most of the Middle East countres as irrelevant, which to my mind is even better than ensuring their alliance, respect or fear.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 13, 2012 12:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the news in 2003 we saw a manifestation of this three-pronged approach, did we not? And I was fully behind it. In retrospect I wonder how we would be worse off if Saddam were still the Iraqi dictatator. Seriously. I was convinced by the same argument that got Secretary of State Powell on board. Yet despite eliminating that threat, to the extent it ever was, we face the same exigency today in Iran. Yes we benefited the citizens of Iraq, but at what cost to ourselves and our brave soldiers who signed up to defend God and Country?

I assure you I have not gone wobbly on national security. But by purchasing a liberation for Iraqis, our government normalized a huge deficit spending that the current administration points to as both a template and, as the troops come home, a budgetary "spending cut." I'm not afraid to admit that supporting the Iraq war was a mistake, because I suspect history will recall that for America and her citizens, it was.

Three cheers for Ellis' energy independence strategy. And Sun Tzu is welcome in my cabinet. Machiavelli and Caligula (and Napoleon and Hitler) however are all contemptable tyrants, or at least proponents of such. Apology, "understanding" and pacifism are not any sort of alternative though, as today's forthcoming Heinlein Quote of the Day will demonstrate. What is needed is an ideological foreign policy based on the ideology of individual rights, freedom and capitalism. And nations or movements which threaten any of these ideals are to be opposed by every peaceful means. At such time as those opponents become non-peaceful, loose the dogs of [declared] war.

We do need a policy based on long-range principles, i.e., an ideology. But a revision of our foreign policy, from its basic premises on up, is what today’s anti-ideologists dare not contemplate. The worse its results, the louder our public leaders proclaim that our foreign policy is bipartisan.

A proper solution would be to elect statesmen—if such appeared—with a radically different foreign policy, a policy explicitly and proudly dedicated to the defense of America’s rights and national self-interests, repudiating foreign aid and all forms of international self-immolation.

[attributed via the hyperlink]

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2012 3:32 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JG, thus far, our attempts to thwart radical Islam has been "surgical" in nature. When The Refugee says that we're going to have it out with them sooner or later, he means radical Islam regardless of borders. The Refugee predicts a regional war (unless China uses the opportunity for an Asian power grab, in which case it could be a world war.) Regardless, it will be one of necessity, not our choosing.

EW, we will never be able to disengage entirely from the Mid East for one reason: Israel. If we disengage, it is under siege.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 13, 2012 5:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Have it out with them sooner or later?" Probably so. I don't see them liberalizing their beliefs anytime soon. To the contrary, the muslim youths of 9/11 are now angry young twenty-something Madrassa graduates. Kinda makes American public school indoctrination look tame by comparison.

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2012 7:40 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great idea... Let's unionize the mullahs!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 13, 2012 9:45 PM

July 27, 2012

What's That Got To Do With The Price of Tape in America?

For five minutes recently, the floor of the US House of Representatives turned into a TEA Party rally. Rep. Mike Kelly (TPD-PA) courtesy of Breitbart.

"But we don't use red tape." "Oh yes we do. It costs one point seven five trillion dollars."

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:42 PM | Comments (4)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Note to Mitt: Can you please talk like this once in awhile?

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 30, 2012 12:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm, yes that sounds good but aren't we in the electoral phase where he needs to "run to the middle" to achieve a plurality? Not that getting government boots off of employers' necks isn't a winning issue but the POTUS' demeanor needs to be more warm, friendly and reassuring. For example, I would have preferred Mitt to congratulate the British people for "what I'm sure will be a fabulous and memorable Olympics" rather than nitpicking - validity notwithstanding - a failing or two of some organizing committee.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2012 1:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Wow, I lose the ecletic music title yesterday and today brother jg out-pragmatists me. I'm clearly a worthless appendage on this blog -- oh, wait the hosting fees are due!

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2012 1:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the contrary brother, one of your responsibilities is to keep me grounded in realpolitik. Your cause is aided by two particular single-white-male individuals now interacting with me on a regular basis. Specific identities are unimportant but they don't make thirty-somethings the way they used to. (Or maybe I just don't remember what it was like to be a single 30-something male.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2012 4:38 PM

July 18, 2012

The cost of government "help"

I finally made a cogent point out of a post I put up day before yesterday:

Government tax revenues as a percentage of national GDP:

China - 17%
USA - 26.9%
France - 44.6%

Doing much to explain why manufacturing [of Olympic uniforms and other necessities] is less costly in communist China than in "free" America. Also revealing why leftists think Americans are whiny losers for claiming we are Taxed Enough Already.

Even so, wouldn't France be much better off if they didn't waste so much tax money on smart bombs and aircraft carriers?

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:29 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2012

International Tax Misery Index

Well aware that I'm risking graphic chart overload here, I couldn't resist posting the graph below showing the combined total, in percentage points, of corporate income tax rate, personal income tax rate, employer SS tax rate, employee SS tax rate, VAT/sales tax rate and wealth tax rate for the countries that have such a thing. Sixty-one countries are listed, including China. Since both corporate and personal taxes are listed I suppose the theoretical maximum index score is 200, or 100 percent of personal income plus 100 percent of corporate income. But this is no justification for US federal government confiscation of 42.65 percent of both personal and corporate income. (61.6% and 53.9% in NYC when state and local taxes are included.)

Tax%20Misery%20Index%202009.bmp

Of sixty one nations, four have a TMI below 52 points: Qatar, UAE, Hong Kong and Georgia. The rest start at 70 points and go up from there. I find it mind boggling that Americans take to the streets to protest taxes that approach 50 percent, while Frenchmen sit still for tax rates of 79.4% on corporations and 86.7% on individuals. I realize these are top marginal rates, paid only by evil "one percenters" and corporations. Nonetheless...

And despite the second highest Tax Misery Index in the world, China is still better disposed to make American Olympic Team costumes. (Perhaps this is better explained by an average US hourly compensation cost of $34.74.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:57 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

After posting I realized that while this chart is eye-catching it doesn't really give much information. The figures listed are tax rates, not revenues, and top marginal rates at that. The chart shown at this Wikipedia page can be sorted by 2012 Heritage Foundation tax revenue as percent of GDP thus revealing:

China - 17%
USA - 26.9%
France - 44.6%

And thus proving my original thesis, that manufacturing in the USA is more difficult because of government imposed costs.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2012 7:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Take a look at the countries with tax revenue less than 15% of GDP. They include:

Dominican Republic, Philippines, Singapore, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Guatemala. A who's who of country-of-origin tags I've seen on clothing goods.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2012 7:26 PM

July 1, 2012

Google Gun Ban

A Tweet from Doug Giles alerted me to this story posted yesterday at a blog called Freedom Outpost. It includes the original text of a written notice from Google Shopping (Mountain View, CA) to weapons parts and accessories vendor Hamlund Tactical.

We do not allow the promotion or sale of weapons and any related products such as ammunitions or accessory kits on Google Shopping. In order to comply with our new policies, please remove any weapon-related products from your data feed and then re-submit your feed in the Merchant Center.

So glad I'm already practicing a "boycott Google" policy. For those inclined to join me, just say no to:

Google search
Gmail
Android phone
Chrome browser
Google Docs

and one I just learned -

YouTube

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:47 AM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Boycott is a big word: smaller than dirigible, but big.

I remain disturbed by Google, and I use many inferior and less popular platforms, not purposely but just because. I have had a Yahoo portal home page since Clinton was President. I like the photos on Bing® I moved The Virtual Coffeehouse to Vimeo in search of better audio and more control over player parameters (yet these require a "premium" membership which I let lapse).

This is another disappointment, but I cannot call this a boycottable offense. I believe in more trade more trade more trade and need steeper transgressions to stop.

Compounded that all the services you list are free. If I controlled an ad budget, I might ponder some punishment. But one fewer guy on GMail®? I dunno....

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2012 10:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Fewer people than that bought a Chevrolet Volt, and that was purportedly to "save the planet."

My disdain for Google is at least as much for their one-party loyalty as for the gun ban. I won't blacklist anyone who uses a Google product - I merely wanted to educate readers what the Google [lefties do know that it is a corporation, right?] is up to and what are the consequences of using their "free" stuff. Red pill/blue pill.

Posted by: johngalt at July 2, 2012 12:48 PM
But jk thinks:

No. Google, Apple and Target are good corporations. I'll never understand it if I live to be 100. I once watched a visiting sister-in-law cower in revulsion when I suggested Walmart* for something she needed. We drove a few extra miles to go to K-Mart. Ah, yes, K-Mart - the gentle savior of mankind. I internally reasoned that retailing is honorable if you completely suck at it.

My most anti-corporate niece (stiff competition) is the most Google obsessed person in existence. In fairness, she has turned me on to some cool Google stuff (their translation is light years beyond Yahoo or the old Alta Vista babblefish).

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2012 1:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Some years ago I read a piece by Robert Tracinski called "The Tall Poppy Syndrome." The premise is that any individual in a group that outpaces the pack becomes a target to be "cut down to size." This syndrome manifests in human behavior in places like employee unions. Also wherever government is involved such that "opportunity" can be "equalized."

Posted by: johngalt at July 2, 2012 3:07 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Rand certainly described "The Tall Poppy Syndrome" well. It's practically the whole book...saddest is when Dan Conway gets his railroad seized. Creepiest is when Lillian Rearden talks about how when you have a powerful horse and you pull back on the reins (or something like that). The "Equalization of Opportunity" bill is already drafted in DC...

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 2, 2012 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

No doubt that is a part of it. But Apple? Google?

I laud both of those corporations for innovation, productivity and wealth creation. Yet both have a secretive side and habit of playing a bit loose with customer privacy. And are now #1 and #2 market cap in the world (that's from memory, correct if wrong). Starbucks bad, Target good.

It's almost as if these people are driven more by emotion than reason.

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2012 3:28 PM

May 27, 2012

Eschew Sanguinity

On last week's post criticizing the City of Boulder's "Climate Change Preparedness Plan" brother JK glibly (sarcastically?) quipped that "if things get too warm here [in Weld County] I can drive right over the line [into Boulder County]" where presumably he'll be "saved" from the "deleterious" effects of global, or regional, umm county-wide climate change. Not so fast, dear friend. There's big trouble in little Nirvana.

Seems the CCPP is part of a larger Climate Action Plan (CAP) that is enabled by a voter-approved tax that expires next March. The tax collects $1.8 million annually for the City of Boulder's pet enviro projects. Apparently Boulder County thinks the city is on to something and they are contemplating a "sustainability tax" of their own. Boulder Daily Camera:

"I'm very concerned that if the county goes ahead, our CAP tax will stand a very good chance of losing," Mayor Matt Appelbaum said. "And that will just kill us. That will set us way back. It would be a huge loss for us if we lost the momentum. There are many programs that are just getting going."

Councilwoman Suzy Ageton said the programs will "crash" if the tax is not renewed.

"We're going to go off a cliff if this doesn't pass," she said.

One wonders if Boulder County's "sustainability tax" will be more sustainable than Boulder City's CAP tax.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2012

Cool Econ Graphs

Reagan famously asked, "Are you better off than you were four years ago" to defeat incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Mitt is using a similar strategy against today's incumbent president. This graph shows why it might be a winning play. Substantially more people are at a diminished income than there were at any time in the last 50 years, and there's a long way to go back to the baseline.

There are many more excellent graphs in the graph gallery of the Calculated Risk Blog.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:38 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2012

Support ALEC

A story on Investor's Ed Page today introduced me to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Seems the organization has a process by which individual legislators from many states work together to craft model legislation, for potential implementation in state governments, that promote limited government, free markets, and federalism. Evidence of their effectiveness is the all-out campaign by Progressive groups to silence them.

So what's got the left so agitated? Is ALEC involved in organized crime? Has it stolen money from state treasuries? Bribed officials? Polluted the environment? Clubbed baby seals?

Nope. The left is targeting ALEC for the simple reason that it's been effective in promoting pro-business, free-market ideas and policies, mainly by drafting model legislation that lawmakers can use as a template in their own legislatures.

Those bills, mind you, still have to make it through their states' representative bodies, and then get signed by their governors.

In other words, it's democracy at work.

ALEC answers its critics directly on its FAQ page.

Q: What does ALEC have to say about its detractors, including Common Cause?

A: ALEC encourages all Americans to actively participate in the public policies of this country. As legislatures and governors pursue the best solutions for their states, ALEC understands and expects that some groups may oppose solutions that emphasize free markets and limited government. ALEC respects these disagreements. It is disappointed, though, that some have chosen rhetoric over honest discussion by attacking and distorting ALECs nature and record to advance their own political agendas.

ALEC is proud of its work and its limited role. It provides a venue for earnest discussion on important economic issues. ALEC does not lobby in any state. Its model bills and resolutions are public policy resources for state legislators. To the extent any ALEC model bill is successful, it is because it provides legislators and their constituents with the kind of free market, limited government solutions they want.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:10 PM | Comments (0)

May 1, 2012

Paul vs. Paul

Bloomberg television carried this 20-minute debate live yesterday. Drudge linked it with the headline: Ron Paul staying in race, may not support Romney. But I don't think I would have pitched it that way. I had already seen the story as a hit on my Google Alert for "Liberty Dollar." Andrew Kirell via MEDIAite wrote:

Krugman, grinning through Rep. Pauls answers, responded that if you think you can avoid [the government setting monetary policy], youre living in the world that was 150 years ago. Predictably, Krugman continued on to defend our monetary policy as a response to free market economy gone amok, and explain why he thinks government is necessary in order to prevent future depressions.

When discussing the topic of inflation (something Krugman wants more of), Rep. Paul hit back that [Krugman] wants to go back 1,000 years to the Greco-Roman times when inflationary monetary policy was a common practice. Paul explains how the Roman empire eventually destroyed their currency through inflation, implying that Krugmans desire for the federal government to print more money could lead to similar consequences.

Krugman chuckled and responded: I am not a defender of the economic policies of the emperor Diocletian. So lets just make that clear.

Well, you are. Thats exactly what youre defending, Paul insisted.

Mitt Romney, take notice: When you're opponent says, "I'm not _________" the correct reply is, "That's exactly what you're doing."

When co-host Trish Regan questioned Paul on whether he wants to abolish the Federal Reserve entirely, he explained that he wants to legalize private currencies to compete with the government monopoly on currency. As it stands today, if people use a private currency, they can go to to jail (as we saw several years ago with the federal raid on the Paul-inspired Liberty Dollar).
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:10 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"you’re living in the world that was 150 years ago."

We should greatly appreciate Krugman's admission that it WAS possible since it was done. This country had minor panics when it used gold- and silver-backed currency (but not the free coinage of silver that William Jennings Bryan advocated).

Enter a great centralizer of power, Abraham Lincoln, who started printing dollars, and then the Federal Reserve. Our country had never had such busts.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 1, 2012 6:31 PM

March 6, 2012

What if?

This clip is about much more than just Ron Paul.

Hat tip: M4GW

And then there's this Whittaker Chambers-esque rebuttal.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I wondered where the Judge went, I have not seen him in some time.

Put me in the Occam's razor group: bad ratings. (I don't have much other truck with in your rebuttal link. The Founding Fathers were horrified at the development of "Factions," not proud developers of the first parties. Rep Paul's spending record is better than Senator Santorum...)

I did get itchy fingers because I have seen several lefty Facebook friends post this -- with approbation. I guess half bashes Republicans, it must be 50% okay. But I was still surprised. My favorite comment was "How did they slip this past the FAUX censors???" Umm, he does this about every night, people.

In the end I have to put the Judge -- entertaining as he can be -- in my "Libertario Delenda Est" camp. I may not be overwhelmed with Governor Romney's liberty bone fides, but the idea that he's "just like Obama" will go a long way to giving us a second Obama term.

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2012 5:26 PM

February 22, 2012

Otequay of the Ayday

"What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable & tremendous! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & falacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend." --George Washington, Letter to John Jay, 15 August, 1786
Posted by JohnGalt at 1:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2012

Not Taxed Enough, Yet

dagny shares a financial "article of the day" via email. "The interesting thing about this is the comments" she writes. "The majority of commenters seem to think that reducing business taxes (i.e. letting business keep the money they made) is a, 'handout,' or, 'corporate welfare.' Betcha they don't think that about refundable tax credits like the EIC."

And why wouldn't commenters such as Chicago's own "gsdfhdgjhfdhjjjjjkgkjgjks" believe that accelerated depreciation and an R&D tax credit are handouts to corporations. President Obama and groups like Clean Energy Works are turning the entire English language upside down:

A memo circulating from Clean Energy Works, an alliance of about 60 groups, outlines a strategy of framing tax benefits the industry receives as corporate welfare. The memo calls the messaging plan a "line of attack" to counteract the description of climate legislation as a national energy tax.

(...)

"What they don't want anyone to know is that the American people already have a national energy tax -- The Big Oil Welfare Tax -- in the form of billions of dollars in subsidies to the wildly profitable big oil companies," the memo adds.

So first, "subsidies" to specific corporations equate to a "tax" on individuals. Well, I can see the logic here if the effects of economic growth spurred by a larger (and cheaper) energy supply and continued government spending on unrelated programs are ignored. But this misses the real point that taxing something less than it might be taxed can not in any sense be considered a subsidy. The government is taking wealth from wealth-producing companies. In English this is known as "taxation."

But even if one believes, as I do, that "Big Oil" should be taxed just as much as any other industry it is erroneous to examine a few specific tax categories where rates may differ and proclaim preferential treatment.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the industry's effective federal income tax rate is more than two-thirds higher than the average for all manufacturing industries.

Furthermore, those throwing stones at the oil industry over corporate welfare would do well to first look in the mirror, for the vast majority of them are vocal proponents of so-called "renewable" energy.

Another EIA study shows renewable energy industries enjoy double the incentives of those for oil and natural gas."

But punitive taxation is nothing new in America or anywhere else where wealth is produced and standards of living have been raised. And despite taking one-quarter or more of the freely created wealth of for-profit corporations and individuals, they still manage to keep working and producing and, getting the shaft. Our commenter from Chicago put it succinctly in the comments to the original article. In reply to a previous sarcastic comment which read:

"Nice. kick businesses in the teeth--the ones who hire the most-- and increase gov spending and deficits. Now THAT'S the way to make jobs!"

gsdfhdgjhfdhjjjjjkgkjgjks wrote:

Still works so far
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:28 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, as long as our government is kicking job-producing business in the teeth:

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/02/not-from-atlas-shrugged.html

The text from the bill now in Congress (or is that, "incongruous"?) includes the following text. Where have I read something like this again?

"(4) REASONABLE PROFIT.—The term ‘reasonable profit’ means the amount determined by the Reasonable Profits Board to be a reasonable profit on the sale."

And people think Rand wrote fiction...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 17, 2012 4:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Keep in mind, you'd be grouchy too if your parents had named you "gsdfhdgjhfdhjjjjjkgkjgjks"

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2012 5:32 PM

February 14, 2012

A Flight Manual for PIGS

A companion post.

mrzFNL021512_color_jpg.jpg

Investors' Ed Page today.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:43 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

All Hail Ramirez!

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2012 8:25 PM

JK's really really smart budget idea

I have seen these piles of blue books on TV and in the Wall Street Journal. They make great "B-Roll" and news illustrations.


Beyond that -- who the hell wants hardcopies? PDF anybody? Searchable XML? Kindle? Lots of money, fuel and paper for a photo op. You're welcome!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:35 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Whaddaya wanna bet the document runs 2000-some odd pages?

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2012 5:25 PM

February 7, 2012

JG's Bi-Annual Exhortation to Resolutions

The non-binding Presidential Preference Poll is getting all the Publicity but for my money, the most important way for individual caucus-goers to be influential in party politics is to help shape what the party stands for. A significant part of this is the party platform. We're familiar with this at its completed stage but it has its origins at the most basic level of self-governance: the individual party member.

The process begins with individual "resolutions" being submitted tonight at each neighborhood precinct caucus meeting. Each and every resolution is accepted and, after a process of aggregation and distillation, voted upon at each county's party convention. Approved resolutions are advanced to the state convention, re-aggregated and re-voted, with the approved resolutions going on to the national convention for their final votes.

If one of your aims in "getting involved" is to help shape the values and positions of the party then this is your most urgent action item: Draw up the ideas that are important to you and hand them to your precinct captain tonight. If your idea is clear and compelling and popular with your fellow party members it could make its way to the national convention and help guide the thinking of current and future office holders. (I'll promise you more influence than possible from your single vote on election day. How much more I shall not promise.)

The formulation is usually, "The _________ county Republican Party resolves (or supports, affirms, opposes, etc.) ...

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:39 PM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent kickoff. And I add my offerings, borrowing heavily from JK's comments to the TEA Party Platform.

Everyone please borrow from everyone else. These should all be submitted in every one of our precincts. Resolutions appear higher on the list in their rank of precincts submitting them.

The Weld County Republican Party resolves that the United States Constitution remains the best example for a self-governing people in the history of mankind.

The Weld County Republican Party affirms that Constitutional limits upon government powers are sacrosanct and if not respected by the various branches and agencies of federal government must, in turn, be protected by the people and the governments of America's individual states.

The Weld County Republican Party will not tolerate political favoritism or "crony capitalism" on the part of any of its elected or appointed members, and exhorts those members to oppose and defeat such favoritism when exerted by members of any other political party.

The Weld County Republican Party resolves that The US Constitution and all ratified Amendments must be followed scrupulously by all branches of the Federal Government.

The Weld County Republican Party resolves that any federal legislation that exceeds Constitutional purview is to be voted against or vetoed by every elected Republican.

The Weld County Republican Party resolves that Executive actions that exceed Constitutional purview shall be investigated and censured by Republican legislators in Congress.

The Weld County Republican Party resolves that Judicial decisions that exceed Constitutional purview will be swiftly met with clarifying and remedial legislation by Republican legislators.

The Weld County Republican Party resolves that Judicial nominations will receive Senatorial consent from Republican legislators only after demonstrating a full understanding and willingness to adhere to a strict reading of the Constitution.

The Weld County Republican Party resolves that all elected or appointed Republican officials shall voluntarily swear to craft and approve all future legislation expressly to restore and protect our rights as granted in the Bill of Rights.

The Weld County Republican Party affirms that the term "right" or "rights" does not apply to the involuntary redistribution of the property of one or more Americans from their ownership to others.

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2012 3:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nearly missed this one: COEXIST

The Weld County Republican Party reaffirms, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, that peaceful coexistence among free peoples requires a fastidious respect for the religious freedom and the property rights of each and every citizen.
Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2012 4:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Wow. Blog readers who know me from my big talk may be unaware of the depth of my shyness in person.

Do you really intend to present that many? I can see myself doing two. Three if I have Scotch.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2012 4:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Sure! They'll all fit on one page. With yours it's an even dozen, or just one per quarter since The Otastrophe began.

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2012 4:56 PM
But jk thinks:

One suggest: I would roll your #4 and #5 into a single planque:

The Weld County Republican Party resolves that The US Constitution and all ratified Amendments must be followed scrupulously by all branches of the Federal Government and that any federal legislation that exceeds Constitutional purview is to be voted against or vetoed by every elected Republican.
Posted by: jk at February 7, 2012 5:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Copied from a later post: Our composite resolutions were quite popular in Boulder and Weld counties:

My brother co-opted our 11 3Srcs resolutions for his Boulder County precinct. They voted also - all 11 (and loads more from the Longmont 9/12 and Boulder County TEA Party) passed unanimously.

I showed my preprinted list to a few voters as an example. They wanted to read them. Then their neighbor, and their neighbor. Two copies made it around the entire table. The comments I received were universally favorable. A pastor in my precinct asked if he could keep a copy! "You wrote these," he asked? "You really wrote them?" As I recall, he agreed with every one.

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2012 2:06 AM

January 26, 2012

Corporations are not people!

After watching a large part of this David Stockman interview with Bill Moyers I'm about ready to adopt the dirty hippies #Occupy meme. When they villified "Wall Street" and "Greedy Corporations" I always had a mental image of Fidelity Investments and WalMart. But if I replace that with Goldman Sachs and General Electric I think we would agree on more than we differ.

This also magnifies my distrust of the GOP establishment and, by association, the Romney candidacy.

David Stockman on Crony Capitalism from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:15 AM | Comments (12)
But jk thinks:

Made it through. Clearly I'm going to have to change brother jg's password. It's one thing to hack somebody's account for personal gain, but this character assassination borders on libel.

Okay, he doesn't like Jeff Immelt -- thus 50% as reliable as a broken clock.

What what what did you like? A constitutional amendment to keep corporate money out of politics -- a $100 limit on contributions? Government dictating the size, structure, and allowed transactions of banks (my largest disagreement with Gov Huntsman)? Or did you just dig the repudiation of Reagan's economic vision?

If I may quote In Living Color's "Men on Film" segement: "hated it!"

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2012 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If memory serves, I came in at about 21:30 when I switched on PBS last night. Anything before that I'll defer to a future debate.

I liked the expose of GE's bailout and how it should have been done through a dilution of shareholder value and not by a FED bailout.

I liked the assertion, "Free markets are not free. They've been bought and paid for by large financial institutions."

I liked the identification of the "entitled class" of "Wall Street financiers and corporate CEOs" who "believe the government is there to do whatever is necessary ... whatever it takes to keep the game going and their stock price moving upward."

And most of all, I appreciated Stockman's correction that "it is important to put the word crony capitalism on there, because free-market capitalism is a different thing. True free-market capitalists never go to Washington with their hand out. True free-market capitalists running a bank do not expect that whenever they make a mistake or whenever they get themselves too leveraged, or they end up with too many risky assets that don't work out, they don't expect to be able to go to the Federal Reserve and get some cheap or free money and go on as before. They expect consequences, maybe even failure of their firm. Certainly loss of their bonuses, maybe loss of their jobs. So we don't have free-market capitalism left in this country anymore, we have everyone believing that if they can hire the right lobbyists, raise enough political action committee money, spend enough time prowling the halls of the Senate and the House and the office buildings arguing for the benefit of their narrow parochial interests then that is the way things will work out. That's crony capitalism and it's very dangerous. It seems to be becoming more embedded in our system."

What's not to like with any of this? We can argue about causes and solutions, but can we agree on this particular problem?

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2012 7:40 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee listened to all 34 scintillating minutes and can't quite see what sent JK 'round the bend. Yes, Moyers is an insufferable nincompoop, but we knew that going in. The irony, of course, is that the far left and the fiscal right have finally found common ground in deploring crony capitalism.

The most objectionable part of Stockman's comments was his assertion that we need to change the First Amendment to deny corporations the right to lobby and give political contributions. (Why corporations should be muzzled but not unions or enviros remains a mystery.) Nevertheless, his comments against crony capitalism and in support of pure capitalism seemed to make a lot of sense.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 26, 2012 9:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, at least our ratings are up. I got an email from a good friend of the blog who is enjoying this argument very much.

You know, brothers, Governor Howard Dean doesn't like bailouts and crony capitalism either. I'm sure I can find a clip of his discussing it with Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Rachel Maddow. I'll post it and we'll all agree how very swell it is.

I do not trust either of these men. Both have done extreme damage to this great nation and our concept of liberty and personal achievement. Just because we all agree Jeff Immelt is a dickhead, I am not going to embrace them.

When Stockman longs for the Republican Party of his youth, he is longing for Eisenhower and Ford. Moyers, of course, never came to grips with the idea of a Democrat Party without LBJ.

"Free markets aren't really free" does sound like ThreeSources and I'm sure he'd like to sell us each a copy of his book. But when it comes from a guy who wants to dictate banks' size and business practice, propose extreme campaign finance rules, and has an, ahem, history of government expansion -- I do not accept that he is now calling for lasseiz faire.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2012 10:47 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I must say my first reaction to this recording was one of excitement over the fact that it could lead to a bridge between left and right so wide and so strong as to absolutely overpower the entrenched crony establishment with a popular laissez-faire revolution. After a second viewing I remain hopeful, and as long as my password continues to function I will strive to advance the topic. (Yes, I know yer just joking about yanking it.)

Let me ask that we seek a point of agreement before we debate whether Stockman is the GOP antichrist or Phil Gramm precipitated TARP. I'm sure we're all on board with "crony capitalism is very dangerous" so how about, this:

When the net worth of a collection of six financial services conglomerations and their six boards of directors approaches the annual GDP of the entire United States private sector, and the members of those boards of directors have unprecedented influence throughout the depth and breadth of the federal government, our principled free-speech rules may no longer be sufficient for preventing this "entitled class" from manipulating the government for their own narrow interests to the detriment of individual liberty and property, particularly in a mixed economic system with fiat currency.

In my youth, "Ma Bell" was deemed "too big" and was broken up. Today, "Wall Street" is deemed "too big to fail" and is instead propped up - by devaluing the net worth of every dollar-denominated individual. Cui bono?

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2012 12:44 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

While The Bad Guys and Three Sourcers can agree that crony capitalism is bad, our reasons for believing so are very different. The Bad Guys view capitalism, in toto, as undesireable. Thus, anything that props it up in any form is a bad thing. Three Sourcers, on the other hand, view crony capitalism as a misuse of taxpayer funds, misallocation of resources and questionable ethics. Because The Bad Guys believe that all things good emanate from the government, when crony capitalism falls capitalism will fall with it. Three Sourcers believe the opposite, and that a lack of crony capitalism will lead to better allocation of resources and therefore economic expansion. Thus, we are willing to accept this deal with The Bad Guys (all other things being equal).

We don't have to embrace them, we just have to outmaneuver them.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 27, 2012 12:46 PM

October 5, 2011

Otequay of the Ayday

The other day Cornel West showed up at the Occupy Wall Street protest with a sign reading, "If only the war on poverty was a real war, then we would actually be putting money into it." Funny. But the premise is flat-out wrong. In 2009 alone Washington spent $591 billion on means-tested anti-poverty programs. (Others, such as Medicare and Social Security, are not means-tested.) By comparison, 2009 federal appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were $130 billion. Since the War on Poverty began, Americans have shelled out more than $13 trillion to fight it.

A. Barton Hinkle in The Poverty of Nations

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:05 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

War on poverty? Quagmire.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 5, 2011 3:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Support the troops - send them home!"

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2011 4:47 PM
But jk thinks:

No blood for government cheese!

Posted by: jk at October 5, 2011 4:53 PM

September 16, 2011

What Motivates President Obama?

Hint: World Socialism.

Much of what Dick Morris says is interesting. Some of it, like this, is also important.

Posted in June, but played live on Mike Rosen's radio show today.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:38 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the segue. Morris is a bright guy but he always goes one step too far up the black helicopter ladder. I think ascribing motives is dicey business. My father warned me that "you can't look into a man's heart." (Followed by "get a haircut" as I recall, but it's kinda fuzzy...)

I'm a strange choice for the President's defender but I am as good as he's going to get around here. I looked at this headline today from the superb demographer Joel Kotkin:

Declining Birthrates, Expanded Bureaucracy: Is U.S. Going European?

I think that a lot of my lefty and moderate friends see that as feature, and that we see it as a bug. David Mamet's Rabbi asks that we be able to articulate our opponent's argument. Here goes: "I was just in <insert European country here> and it's fine. Lovely scenery, happy folks, <insert one or two items in which they're superior>. What is so bad about being Europe?"

Now I have some answers, but the Disneyland vacation destination that Americans see does not frighten them about Socialism. As Democratic politicians improve, that is the argument we'll be having. Just another European nation is fine for the Obamas and a big step up for a Thomas Friedman or Paul Krugman. No hidden agenda, just a lack of American Exceptionalism.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2011 6:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

To summarize: It's dicey to conclude (at present) that Obama wants America to join the One World Socialist Government, but when Democrat politicians improve their messaging that is precisely what they'll advocate.

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2011 7:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Another "mixed" economy -- I think the suggestion that Ireland and Canada are in collusion for a world Marxist order is overwrought.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2011 9:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think Morris' point is that, like a lot of your lefty and moderate friends, President Obama sees Euro-socialism as something to aspire to as well. After all, "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." When the World Socialists saw capital flight from socialist France it's doubtful their conclusion was, "Gosh, if we could only establish a socialist system in Ireland and Canada the entire world would follow." Having a man like Barack Obama in the White House must have been beyond their wildest dreams thirty years ago.

But particularly in the wake of NY9 it appears that America is inherently different. The socialists may call it "selfish" or "greedy" when individuals protect their wealth from a socialist government, but those who dare make a claim on the productive gain of others are the truly selfish ones.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2011 11:26 AM

August 29, 2011

GREAT NEWS!!!

The austerity message has really gotten through. The USPS is reducing the amount of money paid to workers to do nothing.

The U.S. Postal Service, expecting about $9 billion in losses this year amid slumping mail volume, is still paying thousands of its workers millions of dollars each year to do nothing.

But it's paying tens of millions of dollars less for "standby time" than it did just two years ago, according to a new report.

Long-standing labor agreements with two major postal unions prohibit the Postal Service from laying off or reassigning workers because of broken equipment or periods of low mail volume. Instead, idled employees show up for work, sit in a break room or cafeteria and do nothing.


It's like Ron Paul has already been inaugurated or something. Tens of millions less!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2011

When Cash is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Use Cash

This might explain why it feels like people think I'm a drug dealer when they see my money clip.

Bankers see cash the way government does. Theres always going to be some people, for good or nefarious reasons, who want to use cash, Doug Johnson, vice president for risk management policy at the American Bankers Association, tells the Times.

So while Keynesians see cash hoarding as evil, government and bankers believe those using cash are up to no good.


Posted by JohnGalt at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2011

Social Security's Magical Unicorn Guarantee

I must admit that my darling baby sister recognized this one before I did. Now I've found a nice writeup on it in IBD Editorials:

Wait! What happened to Social Security's "guarantee"? You know, the iron-clad assurance of Social Security benefits in exchange for paying into the program your whole working life? It's something Democrats constantly talk about, particularly when attacking Republicans who propose privatizing the program.

As Nancy Pelosi once put it: "Social Security has never failed to pay promised benefits, and Democrats will fight to make sure that Republicans do not turn a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble."

The AFL-CIO warned in 2005 about "President Bush's plan to replace Social Security's guaranteed benefits with risky private accounts." The AARP describes Social Security as "the guaranteed part of your retirement plan." Etc., etc.

Turns out, this "guarantee" is a lie.

And the close...

Whatever happens, the fact remains that Obama has accidentally made a pretty good case for Social Security reform by revealing the program for what it really is.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:26 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Debt deal or not, they can always just pull some money out of the lockbox, right?

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 3:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Dang, beaten to the punch on my lock box joke: Insty

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 3:58 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Carnak says:

(1) Your check is in the mail.
(2) The cake.
(3) Social Security Trust Fund.

"Name three things that are a lie..."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 14, 2011 6:01 PM
But jk thinks:

May a thousand unfunded liabilities infect your camel...

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 6:17 PM

July 13, 2011

Leftist Democrat cites Laffer; Calls for Tax Cuts to Grow Government Revenue

First-term Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, representing Colorado's second congressional district including the very left-leaning city of Boulder, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal today that among other things suggested lowering tax rates "to more reasonable levels" in order to "make revenues increase." He calls it Raise Revenues, Not Taxes.

In my home state of Colorado, and in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, local revenues have increased by millions of dollars since lawmakers decided to legalize and regulate medical marijuana. By reducing the current 100% confiscatory tax on marijuana to more reasonable levels, we can make revenues increase. If we were to nationally legalize, regulate and reduce federal taxes on marijuana, we could receive as much as $2.4 billion in additional revenue annually, according to a 2005 study conducted by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron.

If true, this could be the tip of a very large iceberg of new government funds. If lowering tax rates on the relatively small market commodity marijuana can bring in upwards of two billion dollars the results would be even more substantial when applied to mainstream commodities such as tobacco, transportation, communications, and even coal, oil and other fuels. And there's no reason to limit this new principle to excise taxes. Income taxes, capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes are all ripe targets for this simple approach to replentish the government's coffers.

Please call or write your congressman today and urge them to give their full support to Representative Polis' plan to pay off the debt and grow the economy buy cutting tax rates wherever they may be found. Congressman Polis is brilliant and his idea could be the bipartisan breakthrough we've been waiting for! And if his plan is implemented he deserves to be re-elected for as long as he remains its champion.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:58 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

At the risk of contravening the gag rule...

I think the point is that the Feds currently have a ridiculous fake tax on marijuana that exists only to provide the enforcement community with an Al Capone prosecution play: "Your honor, Mister Dogg failed to purchase tax stamps for that illegal stuff he was caught with." A bona-fide tax similar to liquor, collected by legal vendors would create an actual revenue source where none exists now.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2011 6:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not very well versed in marijuana law or taxation, but if Congressman Polis says reducing the tax rate on it will increase tax revenues I'm willing to take him at his word. Let's do it! Reduce the tax rates on marijuana and every other excise, income, capital gains, inheritance and any other tax across-the-board. I'm sure such a bill could easily be written within the 2000-page scope that has become fashionable since January of 2009. Then we can avert a budget crisis and consider omnibus goverment spending reform without fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2011 9:15 PM

June 27, 2011

A "balanced approach" to the deficit problem

Senator Jon Kyl went on Fox News Sunday yesterday to explain why he withdrew from deficit reduction negotiations over the President's conditional requirement that government revenues be raised as part of a "balanced" solution. "But isn't one dollar of new taxes for every three dollars of spending cuts a fair deal" asked Chris Wallace?

But you don't want to pile taxes on at a time when companies don't have the ability to invest and hire people. That's the primary reason we are opposed to raising taxes right now.

Treasury Secretary Geithner explains the real reason for insisting on tax hikes.

"If you don't touch revenues," Geithner said, "you have to shrink the overall size of government programs, things like education, to levels that we could not accept as a country."

What do you mean "we" Kemosabe? Investor's Business Daily opines:

Some factions just won't accept shrinking the size of government. Most in them run in the same tight circles as Geithner. Never hearing anything other than support for increasing the size of government, they assume that's what Americans want.

But quite a few Americans have been wanting to cut government for decades, and that number is growing as the almost intractable problems created by overspending have become more obvious.

From Social Security and Medicare to housing assistance and farm subsidies to, yes, even education, federal programs need to shrink or be eliminated. There's not a single item in the budget, including defense, that can't use some judicious trimming.

No Tim, America's economy has shrunk. Americans' net worth has shrunk. It's well past time for America's government to shrink.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2011

EPA: "Employee salary is our highest budget priority"

On his radio show today Mike Rosen read a copy [2:00 to 4:55] of an internal memo from EPA Regional Administrator James Martin to all Region 8 EPA employees. Subject: Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Decisions.

I want to update you on the status of Region eight's budget. The most important thing to tell you is that we continue to protect salary for our on-board EPA employees. It is our highest budget priority and that has not and will not change.

Our OCFO has been able to provide us with some relief for our payroll shortfall. This will allow us to maintain our support services at the current levels as we work to meet our agency's mission. We are continuing to work with headquarters for additional relief. In the meantime, to meet the remaining payroll needs we'll be reducing our programmatic funds by 30 percent, as well as some regional support funds.

A distinct difference, to be sure, from EPA's stated policy on private sector jobs.

EPA: Jobs Aren't a factor when making new regs

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:29 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2011

Ignorant Laws Have No Excuse

I set out on the internet this morning to find support for a personal premise: The existence of unenforced laws undermines respect for those laws that are enforced. The experience caused me to recognize an unacknowledged subsequent premise: Individual liberty is enhanced in a law-abiding society. For some time now I have thought the first premise was a call to action in furtherance of the second premise but then I questioned the validity of that objective, and of the second premise itself.

Slate magazine published, in October 2007, a rather wide-ranging compendium of unenforced law discussion by Tim Wu.

He addressed the drug war, illegal immigration, copyright, polygamy and more. Wu seems to conclude that non-enforcement is good for America. Not, as I would attempt, in furtherance of greater liberty but of "the economic interests of the nation."

Immigration policy is perhaps the strongest example of the ways in which tolerated lawbreaking is used to make the legal system closer to what lies in the economic interests of the nation but cannot be achieved by rational politics. All this is why the Bush administration faces an uphill battle in the course of trying a real internal enforcement strategy.

I tend to agree with this conclusion but I attribute as cause the very American attitude of individual liberty amongst voters who won't tolerate a heavy hand against individual workers and employers. More to the point is what this does to our representative government. Since our legislatures cannot achieve rational laws our judiciaries and our executives, at both state and federal levels, exercise discretion in which laws are enforced and to what extent. This appears, at first, to be a good outcome since the forces that guide the police and the courts are those of public opinion which derive, in turn, from individuals. We effectively have 300 million citizen legislators. However, this system has (at least) two major flaws.

First is the disparate influence on the legal system from concentrated versus individual interests and the tyranny of the majority. Allowing the trial lawyers lobby, the AARP and SEIU to dictate which laws are left to wither (and which to be bolstered) is no boon to liberty.

But worse yet, the ability of government to "get" any individual on some trumped up charge whenever it is "necessary" is a hallmark of totalitarian states.

At the federal prosecutor's office in the Southern District of New York, the staff, over beer and pretzels, used to play a darkly humorous game. Junior and senior prosecutors would sit around, and someone would name a random celebrity--say, Mother Theresa or John Lennon.

It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict him or her. (...) The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the toughest sentences. The, result, however, was inevitable: "prison time."

It's one thing when government lawyers make selective prosecution into a drinking game, but quite another when used as a tool of coercion and intimidation. In the name of liberty, laws to prevent "injuring a mail bag" have no place in a just society. Liberty is enhanced when laws are obeyed, but said laws must first be not just objective and knowable but also justified in the cause of protecting individuals from others and not from themselves.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:47 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Three Words: Bastiat, The Law.

Looking the other way at drugs invites discrimination against the statistically minority poor. That has been one of my big objections. Rightly or wrongly, minority youths feel that they are hassled by law enforcement, increasingly under the rubric of suspected drug possession.

Taken to its logical conclusion, unenforced law is no law, but rather rule by police and prosecutors.

Excellent post. The undermining of voluntary enforcement is a powerful point as well.

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2011 1:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Love the link. Six stars! If you've posted it before I was delinquent in following it.

"The Desire to Rule Over Others" is a good reply to your current FB tilt.

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2011 3:19 PM
But gd thinks:

Agreed. Great post and response. Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.

Posted by: gd at June 12, 2011 9:31 PM

May 11, 2011

On, Wisconsin!

550 CEO's recently surveyed by Chief Executive Magazine rated the several states as the best/worst for business. Wisconsin's ranking rose 17 places from 41 to 24. This was the largest gain of any state, and likely attributable to Gov. Scott Walker's pro-business, smaller government changes. Illinois, in contrast, has dropped 40 place in five years to 48 overall.

Of other note to Three Sourcers, Colorado dropped from 8 to 12, Pennsylvania fell from 32 to 39 and California remained steady at 50th. (Sorry, Brother Keith. The good news is that it can't get worse, at least ranking-wise.)

Texas remained #1.

Hat tip: Fox and Friends morning show

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 9:48 AM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Illinois is described as being in a "death spiral," but is ahead of California. Which means California has pretty much augered in, huh?

Texas and my childhood home of North Carolina are running one-two, making my choices so difficult. I see Texas is contemplating a law to rectify the "sanctuary cities" problem. Whichever one of the two my bride and I choose when we flee the coming implosion, I promise I don't have a Californian's voting habit or entitlement mentality. Really, we'll fit right in.

Seven of the top eight were part of the Confederacy; the next two, or course, weren't even states during the War of Northern Aggression. Coincidence? I've been saying the South will rise again.

The bottom five (California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Michigan) - oh heck, let's throw in my birth home of Massachusetts, since they were just pushed out of last year's bottom five by the Illinois Death Spiral - what do these six states have in common? Hmmm, lemme think about this...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 11, 2011 11:49 AM

April 26, 2011

'Mother of Exiles'

This is the name that Emma Lazarus gave to the Statue of Liberty when it was gifted to America from France in the 19th century. The poem she reluctantly wrote to aid in raising funds for the building of a base to place it upon came to be the statue's meaning put into words:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

One analysis of the poem published by the University of Virginia errs in its characterization of an irony:

"As political propaganda for France, the Statue of Liberty was first intended to be a path of enlightenment for the countries of Europe still battling tyranny and oppression. Lazarus' words, however, turned that idea on its head: the Statue of Liberty would forever on be considered a beacon of welcome for immigrants leaving their mother countries."

I disagree with this conclusion. The statue and Lazarus' words were, in fact, symbols of enlightenment and freedom and did stand in contrast to European tyranny and oppression. However, the fault for European emmigration was not America's new statue but the fecklessness and intransigence of Old Europe's governments.

Is this germane again, today? Do the words in the great statue's base beckon to a new generation of American Patriots to strive for not just "democracy" but liberty?

It is true that much progress toward liberty has been made in America's 19th and 20th centuries, but in many other ways the once "golden door" of America has become as tarnished as the oppressive societies to whom she once showed the way. From the U of VA's concluding paragraph:

Just as Lazarus' poem gave new meaning to the statue, the statue emitted a new ideal for the United States. Liberty did not only mean freedom from the aristocracy of Britain that led the American colonists to the Revolutionary War. Liberty also meant freedom to come to the United States and create a new life without religious and ethnic persecution.

Yet this means little if economic persecution remains. Let not the New Colossus be transformed from the Mother of Exiles to the Mother of Equals, nor let our "tired" our "poor" our "huddled masses" once able to breathe free, succumb to the persecution of "shared sacrifice." Some lecture us that "cutting programs that help those who need them most is morally wrong" and "when Jesus talked about how God will judge nations, he said that God will focus on what we did or did not do for the neediest among us." And yet, how do government policies which violate the eighth and tenth commandments advance Jesus' word?

God's judgement, and liberty itself, are things reserved only to individuals and not to the abstract form we call "nations." Our government "overlords" would do well to remember this important distinction, as would voters.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:06 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great post, JG!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 26, 2011 6:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, what he said!

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2011 6:25 PM

April 14, 2011

"Net Reduction": Two Definitions

Obama on spending in the debates:

Obama's record on spending:


Using numbers from the U.S. Treasury, we see that the debt during Bush's eight years in office increased from $5.7 trillion to $10.6 trillion, or $4.9 trillion over eight years. That's bad; that's basically $610 billion per year. But in the less than three years Obama has been in office, the debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to $14.2 trillion, a $3.6 trillion increase in about 27 months. In other words, Obama is increasing the debt by $1.6 trillion per year, three times as fast as Bush.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 1:07 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

We should count ourselves lucky when the President takes only two opposite positions on an issue. His modus operandi is to give multiple platitudinous statements with absolutely no regard for compatibility or consistency, and then count on the listener to remember only what he wanted to hear. It is Schroedinger's Cat with a teleprompter. President Obama is truly the first Quantum President in U.S. history.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

It's almost as if he said these things just to get elected...

Posted by: jk at April 14, 2011 3:23 PM

April 12, 2011

Sales Taxes and the Internet

"Why should out-of-state companies that sell their products online have an unfair advantage over Main Street bricks-and-mortar businesses?" Durbin said in a speech in Collinsville, Ill., in February. "Out-of-state companies that aren't paying their fair share of taxes are sticking Illinois residents and businesses with the tab."
Exactly. Let's abolish the regressive sales tax. Oh wait, he has a different idea.
Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 3:45 PM | Comments (0)

April 6, 2011

Colorado Dems Choose Unions over Schools

When news of a 2011-12 budget compromise between Colorado's Republican House and Democrat Senate was announced this week the big story was that cuts to state funding of K-12 education would be $82 million less than our Democrat Governor had recommended - $250 million instead of $332 million. Despite this change and that Democrats are largely in control, the house majority leader's insistence on some relief from last year's new $60 million per year tax on local businesses earned him the blame of at least one house Democrat, Pueblo's Sal Pace:

"I think it's disappointing that a greater reduction in cuts to K-12 didn't materialize, and it could have if the speaker didnt insist on corporate special-interest tax cuts," Pace told members of his party during a caucus meeting immediately after the budget compromise was announced. "We could have minimized the cut to schools to around $200 million if (McNulty) wasnt protecting his (campaign) donors."

But Pace and his fellow Democrats had an opportunity to save far more than $40 million in cuts to schools by agreeing to another Republican proposal that was scuttled:

McNulty also pressed to allow local government agencies like school districts to raise the employee contribution rates to the Public Employees' Retirement Association.

In the end, McNulty got it all, except the local PERA hike.

No figures were given for what kind of savings could have resulted but PERA costs are counted in billions, not millions of dollars. So the Democrats had a choice to cut funding to schools or ask unionized teachers and state employees to pay a slightly larger share of their own retirement costs. Judging by which way they went it is clear that McNulty isn't the only one who can be accused of "protecting his (campaign) donors."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:05 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

We need a Captain Renault category, for when we are "shocked, shocked..."

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2011 6:33 PM

March 11, 2011

No, it really is over.

A NY Times editoral yesterday squeaked, "It's Not Over in Wisconsin." But I'm quite happy to correct them - as the WSJ notes, it really is. But what most interested me in the execrable Times piece was it's opening line:

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have reversed half-a-centurys middle-class progress in the state by erasing collective-bargaining rights for public employees.

First of all, this explains why Progressives are so agitated - issuing death threats - calling for "class war" - with the democratically enacted legislation in Wisconsin. It took them fifty years to achieve the present state of their glorious people's state, yet in a few weeks a handful of Republican politicians have pulled out one card and the rest of the house-of-cards came tumbling down.

But what else does this seethingly indignant sentence say? Middle-class progress over the last 50 years is to the credit of - unions? Then why are unions such a minority presence in the private sector? But I digress. To fully understand what "progress" means for the middle-class one must first consider how the middle class has changed in five decades. The graphs at this Tax Foundation post show that the 1960 middle class consisted mostly of married couples, a large portion of whom had children. Fast forward to 2007 and that demographic is mostly represented in the top two quintiles of taxpayers. (You know, the "rich.") Today's middle class is single filers.

These demographic shifts have no doubt contributed to the perception of rising income inequality. When the so-called rich are increasingly couples with two incomes, they will naturally look wealthier than the vast number of single taxpayers who now populate the statistical middle.

But those single taxpayers aren't poor. They're now the middle class!

As for the nuveaux "upper class"...

Because of the progressivity of the federal tax code, these couples end up facing the highest federal income tax rates even though they live distinctly "middle-class" lifestyles.

(...)

As lawmakers look for solutions to the economic challenges facing today's "middle-class" but upper-income families, they would do well to consider the way in which taxes--federal and local--are contributing to the problem.

And that, boys and girls, is what is driving the events in Wisconsin. To borrow from the SEIU mob vernacular, "This is what middle-class progress looks like!"

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:43 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

FB friend posts "If you live in Wisconsin, don't forget to set your clock back 50 years this weekend!"

Wrong-as-pants-on-a-trout, but a funny line.

Posted by: jk at March 12, 2011 12:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, but even funnier if it were autumn. In the spring, we set the clocks, forward. Fifty years seems a bit optimistic but it does feel like a huge leap. Maybe 50 is about right.

Hey FB friend, remember when you were singing drinking songs and we were carping about the Constitution and the end-of-America-as-we-know-it when Stimulus and Obamacare got ramrodded through? Well, UP YOURS this time. (I usually try to stay above this level but I just can't help myself when I see all these able bodied young people running around with their palm outstretched.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 12, 2011 4:19 PM

January 26, 2011

One Person, One Vote, Er, Something Like That

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:15 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The interview with Archie and Edith notwithstanding, I can imagine making arrangements with a colleague to vote for each other when we know what the other's vote would be. These are record votes. Any member whose vote is recorded differently than he intended should stop leaving his key in the voting console.

No mention was made of the vote being taken - a near unanimous resolution in moral support of gulf coast shrimp boat light bulb changers, perhaps?

This isn't members of the public stuffing ballot boxes. Nonetheless, either revise the rule or live by it. Yes, that's my final answer.

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2011 12:13 PM

January 20, 2011

Honesty and Morality in Taxation

I didn't do so well in yesterday's effort to find a potent list of federal regulatory reforms for our ersatz "pro-business" president. Fortunately, blog brother JK was there to bail me out with the Armey/Kibbey article. But today I think I've done better.

Anyone who's been here more than a week knows that I believe taxation is moral issue, i.e. taking money from people against their will is theft, even if done by our "democratic" government. If I'm right, thinks I, then there's probably a high proportion of taxpayers who do whatever they can to lower their tax burden and consequently, limit how badly they are robbed.

This Freakonomics Quorum from 2009 includes some data related by University of Michigan economics professor Joel Slemrod:

About two-thirds of all underreporting of income happens on the individual income tax. Of that, business income -- as opposed to wages or investment income -- accounts for about two-thirds.

(...)

The I.R.S. estimates that the net misreporting rate is 53.9 percent, 8.5 percent, and 4.5 percent for income types subject to "little or no," "some," and "substantial" information reporting, respectively, and is just 1.2 percent for those amounts subject to both withholding and substantial information reporting.

So when taxpayers know they are being watched, they are honest, and when they know they are not, 53.9 percent of them are not. But how can this be? In the next paragraph Slemrod wrote, "In a recent survey, 96 percent of people mostly or completely agreed that 'It is every Americans civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes;'"

So 96 percent of us believe that paying "their fair share" is his duty but only 46 percent report all of the income that isn't traceable. Is there a better case to be made that roughly half of American taxpayers don't consider their tax rate to be representative of "their fair share?"

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:11 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Thought-provoking article, and an even more thought-provoking post. My contributions:

(1) 96% of people agreed that it is our civic duty to pay our fair share of taxes, but nearly half of Americans pay no income tax. Translation: at least half of America thinks it is everyone else's duty to pay their fair share of taxes, but not theirs.

(2) In light of your observation that "roughly half of American taxpayers don't consider their tax rate to be representative of 'their fair share'" and in tandem with point 1 above, the half that thinks their tax rate is too high is the half that is paying the taxes. Ergo, everyone actually paying taxes believe their taxes to be too high.

(3) We're all familiar with the respective levels of taxation of America, broken down by decile of income. I'd love to see that survey broken down by decile.

(4) Something not addressed is a discussion of how much of that underreporting is taking place in the margins of the shadow economy. This would appear to be more a function of the lower strata of our socioeconomic ladder, rather than the higher.

(5) None of the experts in the article propose as a solution simply doing away with the income tax system entirely, and relying instead on business taxes or a national sales/consumption tax.

Thoughts?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 20, 2011 4:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Milton Friedman is correct that the real tax rate is the rate of government spending. Looked at that way, I think more would consider their taxes too high.

Yet perhaps Professor Reynolds's words may be more germane than any economist's. Even though Brother Keith's #5 will bring in more revenue, more fairly, with minimal compliance and maximum growth: "there isn't enough chance for graft."

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2011 6:11 PM

January 14, 2011

Waste? What Waste?

From the Sacramento Bee:


New Gov. Jerry Brown today ordered the collection and return of 48,000 state government-paid cell phones - half of those now in use - by June 1.

The Democratic governor estimated that cutting the use of cellphones by state employees in half will save the state $20 million a year.

"It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones," Brown said in a written statement.


But remember, there is no waste to be cut. < /sarcasm >

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:13 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

According to http://www.sco.ca.gov/ppsd_empinfo_demo.html there are nearly a quarter million California state employees. It is difficult for me to believe that we have a bureaucracy that bloated and the cellular phones are the most significant waste they can find.

I find it difficult to believe it takes that many civil service slugs to keep this state functioning (such as it is, I mean).

I find it difficult to believe that we put this toad back in the Governor's Mansion.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 14, 2011 12:27 PM

January 9, 2011

"America's Gun Culture," Driven by TEA Partiers, "Claims It's Latest Victims"

It was predictable that frustrated gun-grabbers would leap at the opportunity to villify handguns provided by the tragic shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and numerous bystanders yesterday. But they're making it a two-fer by blaming the TEA Party movement at the same time. The first such conclusive leap I saw was posted on the same day as the shooting - 'Lock and Load and Lost in Tucson Today: What's the Matter with My Arizona?' Wherin Jeff Biggers cites Gregory McNamee-

"What is clear to me, at this chaotic moment, is that no one should be surprised by this turn of events. The bullets that were fired in Tucson this morning are the logical extension of every bit of partisan hatred that came spewing out during the last election, in which Gabrielle Giffords---a centrist, representing well and faithfully a centrist district---was vilified and demonized as a socialist, a communist, a fascist, a job-killer, a traitor, and more.

Anyone who uttered such words or paid for them to be uttered has his or her name etched on those bullets."

And Biggers himself-

Now in Arizona--and the nation--do we have the courage and wisdom to deal with our gun laws? To stop the hatred from finding its all-too-easy expression through the barrel of the gun?

The Huffpo headlines are even more inflammatory today:

'Giffords Shooting Is an American Tragedy We Need to Urgently Address' by Paul Helmke (President, Brady Campaign)-

"While we are all still learning details about this shooting, and particularly the 22-year old responsible for this horrendous act, we should find it unacceptable that when Americans and our elected leaders are assembling in public places, their lives are at risk from gun violence."

'Congress Must Rein in Gun Industry in Response to Giffords Assassination Attempt' by Josh Sugarmann (Exec. Dir., Violence Policy Center)-

"America's gun culture claims its latest victims."

(...)

"If the attempted murder of one of their colleagues does not force Congress and President Obama to face the gun issue, what will?"

Perhaps worst of all is this, from former Colorado Senator Gary Hart who I have to believe truly knows better: 'Words Have Consequences'-

"Today we have seen the results of this rhetoric. (...) We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

So long as we all tolerate this kind of irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric (...) so long will we place all those in public life, whom the provocateurs dislike, in the crosshairs of danger.

That this is carried out, and often rewarded, in the name of the Constitution, democratic rights and liberties, and patriotism is a mockery of all this nation claims to believe and almost all of us continue to struggle to preserve. America is better than this."

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:03 PM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

If Gifford is a "centrist" or "moderate," then what does "liberal" mean anymore? I shed no tears.

Leftists decry any availability of guns, but it's their desire for disarmament that made Gifford a sitting duck. If this had been a conservative gathering, the shooter had a 100% risk of leaving in a bodybag after firing just one bullet, and a high probability of getting blown away just for drawing his gun?

Killer's rants on a social network page, check. "Semi-automatic" weapon, check. "Extended clip," bonus! Innocent bystanders were killed, check. But the intended victim survived...

Getting "close" to Gifford, the killer still managed no more than a non-fatal head wound. This couldn't have been better for leftists if they had done it all themselves. And I wouldn't put it past them.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 9, 2011 2:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If we come to learn that the killer had a liberal political motivation I will be just as completely shocked as if he is proven to be a TEA Partier. The act was the sick manifestation of an incoherent mind.

You make an excellent point about conservative crowds though. If Giffords had attracted any such citizens to her event they might have stopped the shooter before he emptied his first magazine, at the very least. Perhaps she's not as centrist as some want to believe.

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2011 4:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Glenn Reynolds nails it in a guest WSJ editorial today:

To be clear, if you're using this event to criticize the "rhetoric" of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a) asserting a connection between the "rhetoric" and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2011 10:32 AM

December 7, 2010

The Obama Buck

Some creative Englishpersons have suggested a fresh look for US currency, and it includes replacing the image on the one dollar bill of America's first president, stodgy old white guy George Washington, with America's hip and worldly celebrated "First African American President."

Obama%20dollar.jpg

As for the "reason" to redesign America's money:

Fast Company's Suzanne LaBarre praised the Dowling Duncan design, writing, "The Obama bill anchors their sweeping concept for redesigning U.S. banknotes ... The impetus: The greenback has an image problem. It has come to represent everything that's wrong with the American economy, and worse, with its cartoonish graphics and vaguely sinister styling, it actually looks the part."

That's right. The image above certainly isn't "cartoonish" is it? The president's ears can't possibly be as big as those in this caricature.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:20 AM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Ummmmm, I don't want to end up as an example of right wing hate on Kos or anything, but isn't that usually for *ahem* dead presidents?

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2010 12:04 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The campaign theme look has a nice tie-in to buying votes with other people's money.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 7, 2010 12:47 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Holy hell. Money printed in that same shade that Crayola will soon be calling "Obama Campaign Blue"? They all but added the seal of the "Office of the President-Elect" to this. That hope-and-change graphic outline doesn't help, either.

BR, looks like you and I had the same destination on this one: permanent campaign mode. JG, take note: the dollar sign does not seem to appear anywhere on the new bills, nor the word "dollar"!

And the Bill of Rights appears on the ten-spot. This audience could run up a dozen comments just on that delicious bit of irony.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 7, 2010 1:27 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Just to add fuel to the fire: since Obama is our post-racial President ushering in a messianic period of ethnic harmony, can we expect that we will no longer refer to our currency as "bucks"? JG, you may have to edit the title of the post; many genteel Southerners will recognize the obvious reference...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 7, 2010 1:37 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Ohhh, KA, don't even go there...

Since the color would change, should be go from call them "green backs" to... nope, not goin' there, either...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 7, 2010 2:23 PM

November 10, 2010

Political Salesmanship of the Income Tax

New commenter "PoppaGary" (welcome!) explains that Washington State's defeated "income tax for the rich" was distrusted, in part, because "in Washington, most initiatives can be changed after 2 yrs by a simple majority of the Legislature" and "based on their past behavior, in 2 yrs they would have forced it on everyone." This reminded me of the way the federal income tax was foisted upon Americans in 1913. It was justified as a tax "only on the rich."

I did some crude analysis based on data for income tax rates and brackets [Table 1.] and using an inflation calculator:

Beginning in 1913 the income tax was levied against "adjusted gross income" as it is today. Considering just the personal exemptions the tax was zero on the first $3000 of earnings for single persons or $4000 for married couples. Adjusted for inflation from 1913 to 2010 these tax floors are equivalent to $66,193.64 and $88,258.18, respectively.

The tax on adjusted incomes up to $20,000 ($441,290.91) was just 1 percent, or a maximum of $200 ($3,750.97).

The top tax bracket was for adjusted incomes over $500,000 ($11,032,272.73) and was just 7 percent.

These numbers make today's argument that individuals earning over $200,000 are "the rich" pretty da_n laughable: $200,000 today is equivalent to $9,064.32 in 1913 dollars, resulting in a tax of $90.64 ($1999.93.) I don't make anywhere near 200K but I'd gladly trade my tax burden for that of 1913's version of "the rich."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2010

Voters for Property Rights

In last Tuesday's election 1,339,522 Washington State voters chose not to "demand the unearned" when they rejected Initiative 1098 by a whopping 2-1 margin. What did this Democrat-leaning state find so objectionable? I-1098 proposed a new state income tax on people making $200,000 per year or more (adjusted gross income.) A chief advocate for the proposal, Bill Gates Sr., said "Our tax code is unfair" and "Poor people and middle-income people are paying too much to support the state and rich people aren't paying enough. That's the starting point for me." Is it also unfair that poor people get exactly the same number of votes as rich people - one per person? Why then is it unfair that everyone pay an equal share of the cost of running the state?

Michelle Malkin uses the Washington result to urge "outing" the White House's "war on wealth."

I-1098's promoters tried to disguise their wealth-suppression vehicle as tax "relief" by tossing in a few stray targeted cuts. But they were called out by a judge and slapped with a court order to make the income tax burden explicit in the ballot title.

If only the taxmen in Washington, D.C., were required to do the same. Obama's budget proposal is a soak-the-rich scheme adorned with a few business tax breaks that would -- for starters -- impose nearly $1 trillion in higher taxes on couples making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000. Some "relief."

Now a few words on those who did attempt to "demand the unearned." The I-1098 campaign was naturally supported by donations from Bill Gate's Sr., in the amount of $600,000, but also by many thousands of unwitting supporters who are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the National Education Association (NEA.) These two unions were the measure's 1st and 2nd highest donors, respectively giving a combined $3.3 million. And they committed a moral crime by using union dues to lobby for this new tax against the wishes of doubtless thousands of members. In essence, the unions used unearned dues from coerced members to buy the megaphones they used to demand unearned tax dollars from productive Washingtonians.

But they failed. For their effort, however, I will thank them for the referendum that proves the unpopularity of their "fairness" scheme. Hope for liberty still flickers.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:46 PM | Comments (4)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Now there's an idea - let's get someone to sponsor a Constitutional amendment whereby each citizen gets one vote per dollar of federal income tax paid. It would go nowhere, but the resulting uproar from the left would graphically highlight our inequitable tax system.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 8, 2010 4:01 PM
But jk thinks:

For a mere thirty pieces of silver, you can read a good piece in the WSJ Ed Page today as well:

So what's the matter with Washington? Clearly, its middle-class residents understand an economic reality that eludes Mr. Gates and many other already-rich advocates of higher taxes: The absence of an income tax has been Washington's greatest comparative advantage over its high-income tax neighbors in California and Oregon. Texas Governor Rick Perry even sent a letter to Washington state's biggest employers, inviting them to move to no-income-tax Texas.

The larger message, which also eludes the nation's leading proponent of soak-the-rich tax ideas--the fellow in the Oval Office--is that the average person simply doesn't believe that the taxers will stop with the wealthy. To protect both themselves and the greater economy outside their windows, voters prefer a tax system whose rates aren't rising--on anyone.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2010 4:27 PM
But PoppaGary thinks:

Part of the reason we voted this measure down was the fact that in Washington, most initiatives can be changed after 2 yrs by a simple majority of the Legislature. Based on their past behavior, in 2 yrs they would have forced it on everyone.
We had to re-implement the law requiring a super majority to pass tax increases after they repealed it once the 2 yr window was up. Their reason?: it was a fiscal emergency! BUT, if so, then they should not have had any problems getting a super majority (60%) to pass the increases as the PEOPLE wanted.
Gary

Posted by: PoppaGary at November 10, 2010 1:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you for bringing that up, PG. (And welcome to our commentariat.) As I read about I-1098 I couldn't stop thinking about my father's explanation of America's first federal income tax: "It was a small percentage on only the highest earners and was gradually revised to soak the middle-class." It is no great conspiracy theory to suspect that I-1098 backers in Washington State had similar intent.

(See above soon for a post on the original income tax.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 10, 2010 2:44 PM

October 26, 2010

But, what if it does?

I may have embedded this before, but it's in vogue thanks to the upcoming "Government Doesn't Suck" Rally:


Posted by John Kranz at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2010

Statism on the March in Colorado

JK recently wondered aloud why the job creation success in Texas doesn't constitute "Game, Set, Match for pro-growth policies" over the tax and spend statism models of Michigan, New York and California. The answer, of course, is that leftists don't want growth.

Today a radio ad tipped me to the existence of a website that explains the historical accomplishments of a Liberal Cabal in Colorado and warned of what they have in mind for the future. Not only do they oppose the tax limiting Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101, they plan to hike future taxes by $1.5 to over $5 billion in our state... anually. They call their three models, "Go Medium, Go Long, or Go California."

The impetus for the Colorado Reform Roundtables formation is the states mounting structural spending shortfall: in round numbers, Colorado government has about $1 billion more in permanent programs than it does in permanent revenues.

[Keep in mind that this is a recent phenomenon. See the graphs here, particularly state debt since 2000.]

From this sending off point, many of the left-leaning organizations that make up the Colorado Reform Roundtable contend that there is no way to balance the budget without significant tax increases. While many argue that the state should reduce spending to align its budgets, liberal advocacy groups scoff at the notion that spending cuts are the answer.

The fundamental belief that state government is starved forms the foundation for the formal tax hike plan that will likely emerge from the Colorado Reform Roundtable sometime in the months after the November 2010 election.

Now where have we heard this before?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2010

End State Borrowing?

This may be the first mention of Colorado's three restraint-of-government ballot initiatives - Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101. Opponents (governments and pro-government groups) have dubbed them "the ugly three."

Is there enough anti-government spending sentiment in the current climate to pass any of these three tough measures? Do any other states have similar limits? Let the discourse begin.

Here's a pro-61 web ad:

There are some well written comments here.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:52 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2010

The Ruling Class

"America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution"

I suspect the more libertarian Sourcers will like this. Interesting and provocative nonetheless.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:38 AM | Comments (6)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This is a very good piece. However, the dangers of group-think apply more to the media than the politicians, IMHO. Journolist defenders have called it no big deal, but when the media conspires (literally) to push a agenda and cover up the truth, our liberty is in greater peril than when Democrats and Republicans agree on an issue.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 27, 2010 11:35 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, hb. I had heard a lot of discussion about this article but needed a little push to read it. (The font and margins of the Spectator are nearly impossible for me somehow.)

Much to love in it

The 2010 medical law is a template for the ruling class's economic modus operandi: the government taxes citizens to pay for medical care and requires citizens to purchase health insurance. The money thus taken and directed is money that the citizens themselves might have used to pay for medical care. In exchange for the money, the government promises to provide care through its "system." But then all the boards, commissions, guidelines, procedures, and "best practices" that constitute "the system" become the arbiters of what any citizen ends up getting. The citizen might end up dissatisfied with what "the system" offers. But when he gave up his money, he gave up the power to choose, and became dependent on all the boards and commissions that his money also pays for and that raise the cost of care. Similarly, in 2008 the House Ways and Means Committee began considering a plan to force citizens who own Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to transfer those funds into government-run "guaranteed retirement accounts." If the government may force citizens to buy health insurance, by what logic can it not force them to trade private ownership and control of retirement money for a guarantee as sound as the government itself? Is it not clear that the government knows more about managing retirement income than individuals?

Yet -- and maybe it's anti Spectator bias that goes well beyond graphic design -- I am disturbed by a wrapper of fierce social conservatism. The pragmatist of the blog will join in the fight for liberty shoulder-to-shoulder with Codevilla, but the "more libertarian Sourcer" in me bristles at the call to defend God and family values.

Perhaps that is not a fair critique. I cheered though most of it as he put fact against all the established wisdom I have to read in my Presidential biographies. I am in the middle of Robert Caro's awesome "Master of the Senate" (the 1400 pg Vol III of his LBJ bio. It is great but there is no way I am touching I, II, or IV). Caro asserts that intransigent Senators like Lodge and Harding are to blame for WWII because they obstructed Wilson's League of Nations. Codevilla takes a nice whack directly at that.

Next time copy and paste it into an email and tell me it ran in Reason. We'll see if I approve.


Posted by: jk at July 27, 2010 4:14 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

This article has been popping up all over my feed as well. Yet despite my well documented belief that America is ruled by a rentier elite I have some serious reservations concerning it. Codevilla lets his rhetoric get ahead of him, and his claim that Texas oil men and their comrades are not part of this elite or that the GOP are but junior partners strikes me as quite silly. One cannot simply make a list of all the people one doesn't like and then call them a tyrannous elite.

*sigh*

I imagine I shall have to devote a post to the article.

Posted by: T. Greer at July 27, 2010 6:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Of course not, tg, you make a list of the people you don't like and call them racists -- it's the American way.

I'm tempted to defend Codevilla on that. His point was that neither income nor wealth define the tyrannical elite. Perhaps T. Boone Pickens is in, but there are some oilmen who are not as close to the levers of power as the 100 college [professors they could buy and sell.

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2010 6:43 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

JK-

Let us pull up the paragraph in question:

Other explanations are counterintuitive. Wealth? The heads of the class do live in our big cities' priciest enclaves and suburbs, from Montgomery County, Maryland, to Palo Alto, California, to Boston's Beacon Hill as well as in opulent university towns from Princeton to Boulder. But they are no wealthier than many Texas oilmen or California farmers, or than neighbors with whom they do not associate -- just as the social science and humanities class that rules universities seldom associates with physicians and physicists.

Now you may be right, with this he might just be trying to point out that wealth isn't the real deciding factor - government crutches are. However, if this is true he chose three horrible examples to make the point. That California farmer? He is nothing but the beneficiary of one of the largest - and long standing - subsidies the U.S. government gives out. The Texas oil man is hardly better; the oil industry gets some of the biggest royalty reliefs offered by the federal government. And those evil humanities professors? Show me one university in this nation whose humanities and social science departments have not been downsized in favor business, science, and tech - and look, their funding comes from the government too!

This comes to the crux of my problem with Mr. Codevilla. His piece does not give us a clear picture of our rentier elite. All he has done is collect the traditional conservative target list and declared these to be enemies of the "country class." This gets us no where. I cry for an America whose people cannot defend their liberties without first shoe-horning every challenge and threat through the lens of social conservatism.

Posted by: T. Greer at July 27, 2010 11:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Agreed and well said. I guess that I am more comfortable considering the enemies of social conservatism as enemies of liberty. A year's immersion in the output of Slessingerian history profs has made me wonder how we'll ever be free.

Posted by: jk at July 28, 2010 11:13 AM

April 21, 2010

Unavoidable economic catastrophe? Not quite

In the first of what is sure to be many linked articles from Independent Women's Forum, Nicole Kurokawa cites a Heritage Foundation report explaining how easy it would be to balance the budget with spending cuts-

Instead of finding new ways to take money from American's pockets, government should focus on cutting spending. And there is plenty to cut. The Heritage Foundation's Brian Riedl notes, "Simply bringing real federal spending back to the $21,000 per household average that prevailed in the 1980s and 1990s would balance the budget by 2012 without raising a single tax on anyone.

"Never let a crisis go to waste," even if you have to create it yourself.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2010

'Leave Us Alone' -

'Getting the government's hands off our money, our guns, our lives.' The 2008 Grover Norquist book by this name posited a future politics driven by the "Leave Us Alone Coalition" on one side and the "Takings Coalition" on the other. This dovetails nicely with our recent discussion and Norquist apparently addresses the social values schizm toward the end of the book [Craig Matteson review]:

If I disagree with Norquist on anything it is his rough dismissal of social conservative issues towards the end of the book. However, I understand his emphasis on economic issues and their rough correlation with social conservative issues. That is, if you look at all economic conservatives in the Republican party, they will also include almost all of the social conservatives and some of those who are more liberal on social issues. So, we get more voters to help us win our issues with economics. This ignores the reality that for social conservatives, some issues are so vital that sitting home or creating a new party would be better alternatives than letting them slip out of the public debate.

If there is anything that religious leaders can do to help save America and the American way of life it is to disabuse their flocks from keeping social issues in the public political debate. Take them back to the public moral debate where they rightly belong.

And "Freedom Nationally, Virtue Locally" is a good place to start.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 2, 2010

Random Thought

When I hear politicos refer to the country as ungovernable, it makes me smile. Why? Because it usually means that some type of government expansion has failed.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2009

Elections Matter

Sprint showed us what it would look like "If Firefighters Ran the World."

Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Richard Durbin and Christopher Dodd show us what would happen "If the Mafia Ran the World."

Problem is, the Sprint ad was hypothetical and the Senate's actions are all too real. It can legitimately be argued that the Democrat party has become a full-fledged criminal syndicate. Just listen to Judge Napolitano.

Is what we are seeing today much different than if a majority of Mafioso had been elected to Congress?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:02 PM | Comments (5)
But Keith thinks:

jg: that's SO not true. If the Mafia ran the Federal legislature, they'd be running it at a profit.

Ha.

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not to mention that whatever you kick up would be far less than current taxes...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2009 2:54 PM
But Keith thinks:

Perry: great point. I hear that, since Red China is no longer buying our T-bills, one of the administrations went down to the docks last night to borrow a few trillion dollars from a guy. The guy turned him down, saying that Uncle Sam couldn't afford the vig.

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You think congressmen aren't profiting from their activities? Why else you think they do this "thankless" job - benevolence?!

I know you were joshin' but all kidding aside, the analogy fits like a glove.

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2009 4:07 PM
But jk thinks:

If the analogy fits, you must aquits...

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2009 4:28 PM

October 22, 2009

Quote of the Day Redux

Blog Brother PE is on a roll with today's comments:

A government who (sic) robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul. A government who robs Peter and is swindled by Paul won't care as long as it still has the support of Paul.

That's beautiful. The Refugee is going to remember and oft quote that one.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:40 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Good point on the grammar. Even for the state, the word by itself is a bit too anthropomorphic. Feel free to quote it as "that."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 22, 2009 9:49 PM

September 24, 2009

Democrats want to explain to them, "Shut up."

Andrew Klaven on Pajamas TV - "Today I'd like to explain the liberal argument: "Shut up."

All around the world as leftism has failed everywhere, shut-upery has been called to its defense. The full-blown leftists, the communists, say "shut up" with prisons and guns. But western leftists, laboring under traditions of freedom, are subtler.

(...)

So now, the left is in charge of America and "shut up" is on the march.

4.5 minutes of acuity.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2009

Give Local Gov'ts More Power or Face Secession

That's the warning given by Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vincent Cable regarding the powerful central government in ... the United Kingdom.

He told delegates that the party was committed to "generally federal solutions" that would let the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish gain more revenue-raising powers to create "much more genuine home rule but within the UK".

"Unless we grapple with this, it will lead to conflict and possible secession. We have to start raising the warning here and now about what could happen."

Apparently they have some Limey Glen Beck over there raising his own rabble. Another common theme between UK and US governments was also mentioned:

He also called for electoral reform to stop the practice of "rotten boroughs", where MPs felt under no threat due to their large majorities. Making votes count was crucial to improving the behaviour of MPs, said Cable.

I'd like to co-opt that term for the congressional districts of Jared Polis and Diana DeGette of Colorado, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Charles Rangel of New York, and at least a hundred other congressmen across the land. Can I get a hell yeah?

(And 10 bonus points to the first who can explain what an "unelected quango" is.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:27 PM | Comments (2)
But T. Greer thinks:

The UK is ten steps worse than we are here... I can understand where the secessionist sentiment might come in. They are a true nanny-state. More surveillance than East Germany, a greater social net than France, and no difference at all between the two parties.

The U.S. is not this bad yet.

This also explains, in part, why we do not have our own little Dan Hannans running around, and why your call for a "Hell ya" will not be heard by many. Sad, but true.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 21, 2009 8:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Hell yeah, and it's a perfect fit for Rangel. His district is almost entirely within upper Manhattan, which politically is entirely rotten. All five New York boroughs are.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 21, 2009 9:43 PM

July 30, 2009

Huge Win! Huge Win!

The headline for today's Denver Post trumpets, "Dems pare health bill's tab." According to the story, the "parties rebellious rank-and-file conservatives" drove a hard bargain and trimmed the cost of the healthcare bill from $1 trillion to a mere $900 billion. Whew! What a victory for fiscal sanity! But wait, it turns out to be an accounting trick because they simply deleted the $245 billion per year increase to Medicare line item (the $100 billion "savings" is over 10 years). Moreover, the party liberals are not happy with these "cuts" and may not support the current bill.

With Blue Dogs like these, who needs Yellow Dogs? They'd better get a package done soon, because The Refugee is about to be sick...

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:10 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

The actual "huge win" part of this story is "the party liberals ... may not support the current bill."

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2009 2:13 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ahem, who was pointing out last November that the Blue Dog is a mythical creature?

""Conservative Democrats" only pretended to be so, in order to win more conservative districts/states. Now they won't have to camouflage their true colors. Their party has the White House with solid control of Congress, a strong position they haven't seen since 1976. On top of that, the American people have been softened up over the last 16 years to the idea that government should and can take of them. We're going to see an attempt to expand the welfare state that's greater than GWB, Nixon and LBJ ever did."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 30, 2009 10:25 PM

July 7, 2009

Poll Testing Our Congressmen

Since JK brings up the subject of bread, The Refugee links to this report of a Missouri bakery owner livid about the climate change bill that he estimates will cost his business $15,000 per year. Although the articles does not say so, this probably means that one person in his firm will lose his/her job. Maybe Obama will call to offer encouragement about contributing to "the greater good." One wonders how many workers will be in a similar boat. But The Refugee digresses - that's not the point of this post.

A quote from the article states:

Mike Wilson, who led a protest in Cincinnati of about 100 people on June 27 across from the offices of Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio, said he was appalled by the 1,500-page legislation, which was fast-tracked by House leaders for a vote Friday. A 310-page amendment was slapped onto the bill Friday morning.

"It was, quite frankly, criminal passing a bill that you didn't read," said Wilson, founder of the anti-tax group Cincinnati Tea Party.

This lead to The Refugees brainstorm: why not resurrect the Poll Test, albeit in a different form? Before any member of the House and Senate can vote on a bill, they have to pass a test about that bill with at least a 70%. Of course, we'll have to confiscate cell phones and other communication devices during the test to discourage cheating. Moreover, anyone caught cheating will be expelled.

Before panic sets into the Chambers, The Refugee hastens to clarify that he means cheating on the test, not their spouse which would clear both Chambers. Come to think of it, that brings up a second idea...

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 5:43 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I wonder how many can spell "cat."

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2009 6:36 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Depends upon whether or not it is the name of their girlfriend.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 7, 2009 7:09 PM

April 28, 2009

And now for something completely different

dagny and I thought this emailed "Governmentium" joke was funny enough to post, even though it's been around for years. I'll not reprint it but instead link to another blog that posted it in '07. There are also some good comments there.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:38 PM | Comments (0)

April 8, 2009

johngalt's 3 minutes of fame

On Monday I found it appropriate to share my popular March 9 post on "One Reason Governments Spend So Much Money" with Denver talk show host Mike Rosen. I suggested it was worthy of reading on air. On Tuesday he did so.

This link is to an audio recording of the entire 3rd hour of his show. The segment I'm in starts at 25:10 (it only takes a minute or two to download to that point) with my specific content starting at 27:50 (about 3.5 minutes long). No, he doesn't mention my name or the name of the blog but he did put the idea out on 50,000 AM watts from Denver.

UPDATE: Just the clip.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:31 AM | Comments (4)
But Terri thinks:

Excellent! Congratulations.

Posted by: Terri at April 8, 2009 12:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Do I not have the secret talk show decoder ring? At 25 past on mine, some monotone caller earnestly suggests that Rosen should pour through the 29-page budget summary and maybe do a whole show on it... Right link? it opens in QuickTime in Chrome so it has no time display (I could pull it into my new video studio software)

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2009 4:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The full length is 39 minutes so your slider should be just under 2/3 of the way over.

I managed to make a 96 bps mp3 out of the important 3:30 but it is 2.5 mb and I get a "too large" message when I try to upload it. Suggestions?

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2009 12:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Philistines! Email it to me and I will FTP it. (And thanks for the tip -- nice.)

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2009 1:12 PM

March 26, 2009

Twice as many now believe 'U.S. evolving into socialist state'

Before Obama was elected president a good friend disputed our impassioned arguments that America is becoming a socialist country. "I've been to Europe many times and I know what socialism looks like. We're not there and we're not going there anytime soon." Every time I see him I resist the urge to ask him about this again. But TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence has been asking, and compared the answers now to those from last August.

March%202009%20US%20socialism%20poll.gif

A thumbnail summary of the results is that among Republicans and independents, the group who believes America is becoming a socialist country has doubled (from 1/3 to 2/3 of Republicans and from 1/4 to 1/2 of independents). Democrats, more eager to support the ideology than speak its name, were more likely to see socialism in our future under Bush than Obama.

The link is a brief essay and explains the results of the larger poll as representing three groups: Undeclared Socialists, Passionate Capitalists, and Hybrid Deniers. (Worth reading just to see those in the squishy middle called "deniers.")

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:12 PM | Comments (15)
But T. Greer thinks:

JK & JG- You have taken everything I was going to say about the liberty/centralized power scale out of my mouth. Darn.

For the record, I am also a fan of those nice quandrant political scales. The one used by the Republican Liberty Caucus is my favorite of such sorts.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 27, 2009 1:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I found it ironic myself that I found so much common ground with the Ozark preacher. (Preachers ain't all bad, right Keith? :) The best parts of Christianity really are just Perry and the founder's 'Natural Law' and Uncle Eric's 'Juris Naturalis.' This is very similar to Rand's "true nature of man as a rational animal" development for an objective morality. As such, I'm on board.

If the "social conservatives" like Huckabee would just "get out of our bedrooms" they would find much less resistance to the balance of their values.

Posted by: johngalt at March 27, 2009 3:29 PM
But Keith thinks:

jg: The best parts of Christianity really are just Perry and the founder's 'Natural Law' and Uncle Eric's 'Juris Naturalis.' Ummmm... not sure I'll go that road; somehow I'm more comfortable saying the best part of Christianity is that it's objectively true in its claims, thereby appealing to the rational animal in me. On the other hand, I'm totally satisfied with Rand's "man as a rational animal" parallel, but as Christianity is not a blind leap of faith into the unknown so much as a well-informed, evidence-based faith.

jg, I find as ironic as you do the fact that you find more common ground with Huckabee than I do! What's clear is that you and I are running on some parallel tracks; the task of sorting people into Conservatives/Non-Conservatives can be as problematic as that of sorting them into Christians/Non-Christians. We've dealt with that more than once on my side; for a teaser, see this:

http://alhbible.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/what-is-a-christian/

One thing that's clear in both discussions is that neither self-identification nor media judgments are definitive. Complicating matters on my side, of course, is that the ultimate decider on who falls into which category have some longer-lasting consequences...

I don't have any children, but I'm going to have to check out the Uncle Eric books.

Posted by: Keith at March 28, 2009 3:19 PM
But dagny thinks:

I realize that this post is almost off the page and this is straying from the topic but I can't let it go. Keith states that Christianity is based on, "a well-informed, evidence-based faith." Please, Keith, can you explain what that means? My understanding is that the main definition of faith in religious terms is, belief WITHOUT evidence. I was raised Catholic BTW. I therefore have an overwhelming philosophical problem with this concept. If I am supposed to believe in God without evidence, who gets to decide what God says and wants? Unless God is speaking directly to me (and he hasn't) do I believe my priest? My Rabbbi? My Mullah? The Bible, which was written by men and re-translated many times?

Now we have a new can of worms. If I take what religion teaches without evidence, what else can I be talked into believing? Global warming? Keynesian economics? Multi-culturalism? Subjectivism in general?

So please tell me, what EVIDENCE am I supposed to base my faith on? This is not a rhetorical or sarcastic question, but one I have been asking for years to a chorus of ridiculous answers.

Finally, and on yet another subject, there has been a lot of traffic lately on the subject of, "Mark to Market," accounting rules not the least of which comes from my beloved. And as Keith says above, "Once again, I'm late to the table on a subject where I'm actually qualified to weigh in." I'm looking forward to a detailed "weigh-in" on this subject from an accounting perspective in the next month or so. But I claim that no one can expect such from someone in public accounting in the last 2 weeks of MARCH. So you can all look forward to a boring, expository filled with TLA's in the future.

Posted by: dagny at March 28, 2009 9:38 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Excellent comments, all. I'll be directing my personal contacts to this discussion. Huckster vs. McCain? C’mon, old news, let’s move along. The Preacher is good at what he is; let him reside there. I'd like to take up the discussion of political classifications, even hoping it gets its own post. I see there’s a Wiki article started on this.

1. I think classifications are useful, as people do want a 'team' to be on, to root for, and feel like they are in the game.

2. The way to get classifications into widespread use, is to get people to adopt them. Labels are assigned from the top down, a social model that nearly never works but that’s so easy, and feeds the egos of those from Rush 2 Obama; thus, their frequency. The easy part, btw, is what makes popularity in the media world, not the real world.

3. To get widespread use, they need to be simple and understandable.

So, I think two-axis (Lib/Cons. R/D, Socialist/Capitalist, etc….) approach is too divisive to get broad appeal. Even the very simple, 4-quadrant approach now adopted by RLC, as noted by TG (for more, see the end) I think is too complex.

I propose a three-axis model.
Economic Freedom
Personal Liberty
Moral(ity) Index

The first two are well known, hopefully well understood, and useful, powerful, pertinent, and rooted in our constitution. The third is where I’m moving into new ground, inspired by JK’s comments on morality and the need for force to back up the rule of law, even to create the peace necessary for it to develop, at times. I used a vague term for the third leg intentionally. I want those who participate to paint their own portrait of just what this implies. The overall thrust must once again be, as The Founders struggled with, how much power over these items must government be granted?

I think I need help from TS’ers. Probably first is how this is described: labels are bad as we all agree. “Classifications”, “categories”, etc. are all too pedantic and scream “top down” with all the divide&conquer implications they deserve. “Parties” has been used and abused. I want a new word that evokes the concept of ‘teams’, much like Tiger Teams in the working world. It implies voluntary association, as well as a direction and progress in a way the term ‘focus group’ does not. Hmm, caucus is reasonable. What say you?

I grant TS the right to share my eMail address to any who wish to contribute off line.

As an aside, let me take a moment to proselytize on the 4-axis from Nolan’s ideas, and now adopted by the Rep. Liberty Caucus. It looks identical to the 4-quandrant scale used by the AfSG folks who picked up on Nolan’s ideas to start the 10-question, “World’s Smallest Political Quiz.” I was once vastly enamored of the idea, and the implementation. If this had some lasting affect, I missed it. Pity, since I think our 100-year experiment with the current party system has run its course.

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 29, 2009 12:52 AM
But Keith thinks:

Dagny and All: My apologies - as you can probably imagine, Sunday is a a busy workday for me, and I didn't have the opportunity to come back and participate in the conversation.

Out of respect for you, my gracious hosts, I'm going to not postjack ThreeSources and turn this into a theology blog. Instead, I'm going to invite you all to let me shift the venue for the faith part on this topic over to my turf here:

http://alhbible.wordpress.com

I hope y'all will forgive me the presumption, but I have taken the liberty of dedicating the thread to Dagny and JohnGalt, owing to it being their comments on this post and the "Virtue of Selfishness" post that prompted mine. The red carpet has been rolled out...

Posted by: Keith at March 30, 2009 5:35 PM

March 20, 2009

Republic or Oligarchy

Most of us, I'm sure, are familiar with the idea that "left" vs. "right" or "liberal" vs. "conservative" are imprecise definitions of political philosophy. What I've promoted instead is that political structures are organized along a continuum from fully collectivized to complete individual liberty.

This excellent video presentation by YouTube's "notdemocracy" describes the balance as one between "total government" and "no government." Five basic types of government cover the spectrum: monarchy - oligarchy - democracy - republic - anarchy. But only two of these are "stable" forms of government: oligarchy and republic. The other three naturally evolve into one of those two. (Hint: Everything becomes an oligarchy except a republic.)

Readers who watch this will understand why I consider it so important to fight for the integrity of the original Constitution, which means removing antithetical amendments to it such as the 16th.

Hat tip: Dr. Ignatius Piazza via jg's friend Russ.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:34 PM | Comments (6)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not that excellent. Whoever put this together blindly clings to "law" and does not recognize the concept of peaceful capitalist anarchy, just because it has no "law." So what? We have plenty of "law" today, and what has that done for personal liberty?

When this guy speaks of "law," is he talking about natural law or man-made law? Is he talking about the natural right to defend yourself and your property, which are a priori and need no legislation to enforce or guarantee? No, he speaks of "law" in the sense of rule.

Now, the problem with republics is that they degenerate into democracy. Tytler said, "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury." From the very start of our "republic," the federal government practiced wealth redistribution. It was a trickle but increased during the days of "internal improvements," then in the 20th century with the welfare state.

As far as "stability," that exists only with slaves who don't rise up against their masters. Everything else about human society will wax and wane.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 21, 2009 4:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't know about this guy, but he refers to America's founders. They attempted to establish a man-made law that codified natural law - and no more. Then they attempted to preserve man's inalienable rights from future man-made laws via the Constitution. The Constitution is the only thing that stood in the way of a natural degeneration to democracy and beyond.

You may be able to cite examples of wealth distribution based on tariffs and fees but I think you'll agree the real heavy lifting wasn't possible until the progressive income tax effectively enacted by the 16th Amendment. That was in 1913. Democracy in America is, therefore, essentially a 20th century phenomenon.

As for anarchy as a desirable political system, I think even Rand would agree with the proposition that "the proper amount of government makes everyone freer." Of course this statement is vague as to quantitization of "proper" but clearly it is more than "none."

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2009 7:09 PM
But caritas thinks:

I think that people who watch this video dont realize that the creator pulled a lot from Plato's republic, that book went through these steps in much the same way but what Plato left out was that his republic was in reality not a republic but an oligarchy because the people would be ruled by a guardian class, and that the transitions from republic to democracy usually have to be sparked.

Posted by: caritas at March 22, 2009 1:54 AM
But jk thinks:

I like the video's rejection of absolute democracy. It's a good introduction to those who don't understand why "one man, one vote" is not the ideal.

It does, however, imply the existence of an ideal law. I appreciate rule by law but suggest we have not yet seen the text of that ideal. The original Constitution we all admire permitted slavery and counted people as three-fifths based on their skin color.

You want to keep all the Amendments but the 16th? Then it is a Republic? That seems awfully capricious. You call shenanigans on Wilson, but Lincoln had Federal troops in place to push the 14th. I think the 12th and 17th do more to degenerate republicanism into democracy. (You'll recall I wanted to rescind both until I encountered Governor Blogojevich, now I am not so sure.)

It is damned difficult to structure law; stop by my HOA meeting or get Sugarchuck to tell you a tale or two about township council. My problem with this video is that it papers over this difficulty. Like Perry, I see it championing a Law that does not exist.

Caritas -- great handle but you have to share it with my test server at work. I do wish I had a webcam to watch Johngalt as he reads your accusation of promulgating Platonicy.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2009 12:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I didn't take caritas as accusing me of promulgating [word] Platonicy [?]. He said Plato's Republic was an oligarchy. That's more than I know on the subject, but it agrees with what I and the video have said.

Which is not that the 16th Amendment is the Constitution's only problem, nor that the Constitution was perfect. I agree with the idea of an "ideal law" analogous with Perry's "natural law." That this law is "a priori and need[s] no legislation to enforce or guarantee" is proven false by the violation of this law all over the world (including, more and more, here in the USA.)

The Constitution sought to guarantee natural law. It did the job fairly well right up to the point where amendments such as (but not limited to) the 16th were adopted by unconstitional processes.

Some (ahem) have suggested the American people would quickly re-ratify the 16th Amendment if so proposed. I say it was more likely in 1913, before the public really understood what it would lead to. And yet it was necessary at the time to falsify the results in the state legislatures. In the full light of day, with a complete airing of the facts, it doesn't even fare as well as the old ERA (equal rights amendment).

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2009 2:52 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
I don't know about this guy, but he refers to America's founders.
Well, that in itself means nothing. Many liberals today refer to the Founding Fathers, like when Democrats proclaim themselves "The party of Jefferson."

Even then, which Founding Fathers? Jefferson believed in real liberty, while Alexander Hamilton was a statist who desired one United State government to rule all (which is what

They attempted to establish a man-made law that codified natural law - and no more. Then they attempted to preserve man's inalienable rights from future man-made laws via the Constitution. The Constitution is the only thing that stood in the way of a natural degeneration to democracy and beyond.
Yes and no. The problem with the Constitution is the consolidation of power, and making it absolute law without any ability to question it. If you don't obey, for example, the 16th or 18th Amendments, no matter how bad the law might be, you're a criminal.

Declaring something "the law" does not necessarily mean it is right or proper. Many bad things have been set forth as legislation, statute, etc. Now you might say, by what standard are we to craft law? It's simple: is a particular "law" doing anything for all persons' lives, liberties and property, or is it a bad law that redistributes and/or targets specific individuals or groups?

"The rule of law" does not mean that law must always be obeyed. It means that whatever law there is, it must apply equally to everyone, else it's merely the rule of men.

You may be able to cite examples of wealth distribution based on tariffs and fees but I think you'll agree the real heavy lifting wasn't possible until the progressive income tax effectively enacted by the 16th Amendment. That was in 1913. Democracy in America is, therefore, essentially a 20th century phenomenon.
It most dramatically increased speed in the 20th century, yes, but "internal improvements" began in the early 19th, as did the first income tax under Lincoln. It became a matter of the federal government getting more money from the states, and borrowing more.

All the money in the world doesn't matter if the government has no desire to spend it, and if the people have no desire to elect officials who will redistribute their neighbors' wealth. The "democratic process" took root in the early 19th century as people began asserting their "right to vote," and by the late 1830s the U.S. national debt necessarily increased. It wasn't as much as the 20th century, but relative to the budget then, it was tremendous. The national debt had nearly been paid off under Andrew Jackson, then started going up under Van Buren.

As for anarchy as a desirable political system, I think even Rand would agree with the proposition that "the proper amount of government makes everyone freer." Of course this statement is vague as to quantitization of "proper" but clearly it is more than "none."
Government must exist only with the consent of the people. Not just "the majority" of the people, but "the whole people" constituting everyone. Thus the "proper" amount is the maximum that any given person is willing to give.

Even so, you're talking about a "political system" rather than a government. That's where corrupt favor-trading and wealth redistribution enter.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 23, 2009 9:41 PM

March 12, 2009

Constitutional Taxation

One or two of you may have noticed my comment under Tuesday's Quote of the Day. Fewer still may have followed any of the links. I got a chance to investigate futher today.

From a November 7, 2002 Press Release by Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S., Counselor at Law, Federal Witness and Private Attorney General:

On a much broader scale, the absence of liability statutes raises the specter of widespread government fraud, going all the way back to the year 1913. And, there is no statute of limitations on fraud.

The main problem which the SUBPOENA seeks to solve is to confirm, once and for all, the apparent absence of any federal statutes which create a specific liability for income taxes imposed by subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code.

(...)

The absence of any statutes creating a specific liability for subtitle A income taxes means, quite simply, that federal income taxes are totally and completely voluntary, in the common everyday meaning of that term. Liability only begins when Form 1040 is signed.

So it would seem that refusing to complete a tax return, or even completing it and refusing to sign it, may legally absolve an individual of any federal income tax liability. I met a man who actually adhered to this strategy in the early 1990's. At the time I thought he was a madman. Now I believe I've found his justification.

But what of that pesky federal witholding that AlexC lamented?

Further stunning proof that these taxes are truly voluntary can be found at IRC section 3402(n). Here, Congress has authorized a form called the withholding exemption certificate abbreviated WEC. The term withholding exemption certificate occurs a total of seventeen (17) times in that one statute alone.

However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has never created an official form for the WEC.

I haven't yet found any information on the status of the legal action since the date of this press release. (Is there an honest judge left anywhere in the United States Federal Government?) Here, however, is Counselor Mitchell's brief essay "Let's Dismantle the IRS: This Racket is Busted"

Lets Dismantle IRS:
This Racket is Busted

by

Paul Andrew Mitchell
Private Attorney General

All Rights Reserved without Prejudice


Its time to dismantle the Internal Revenue Service. This organization has outlived its usefulness.

The hunt was on, several years ago, when activists like this writer confirmed that IRS was never created by any Act of Congress. It cannot be found in any of the laws which created the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The U.S. Supreme Court quietly admitted as much, at footnote 23 in Chrysler Corp. v. Brown. In a nation governed by the rule of law, this omission is monumental.

The search for its real origins has taken this nation down many blind alleys, so convoluted and complicated are the statutes and regulations which govern its employees rarely, if ever.

The best explanation now favors its links to Prohibition, the ill-fated experiment in outlawing alcohol.

The Womens Temperance Movement, we believe, was secretly underwritten by the petroleum cartel, to perfect a monopoly over automotive fuels. Once that monopoly was in place, Prohibition was repealed, leaving alcohol high and dry as the preferred fuel for cars and trucks, and leaving a federal police force inside the several States, to extort money from the American People.

All evidence indicates that IRS is an alias for the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA), which was declared unconstitutional inside the several States by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1935. The result of the high Courts decision in U.S. v. Constantine confined that FAA to federal territories, like Puerto Rico, where Congress is the state legislature.

Further confirmation can be found in a decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Used Tire International, Inc. v. Manual Diaz-Saldana, which identified the latter as the real Secretary of the Treasury. The Code of Federal Regulations for Title 27 also identifies this other Secretary as an office in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

This is ominous data. It serves to suggest that IRS has no authority whatsoever to mail envelopes from the Department of the Treasury. Such obvious deception is prohibited by federal mail fraud statutes, and defined as a predicate to racketeering.

Moreover, the vagueness now proven to frequent the Internal Revenue Code forces a legal conclusion that the entire Code is necessarily void, read no legal effect. The high Courts test for vagueness is obviously violated when men and women of common intelligence cannot agree on its correct meaning, its proper construction, or its territorial application.

Take, for instance, a statute at IRC section 7851. Here, Congress has said that all the enforcement provisions in subtitle F shall take effect on the day after the date this title is enacted. These provisions include, for example, filing requirements, penalties for failing to file, and tax evasion.

Guess what?

Title 26 has never been enacted into positive law, rendering every single section in subtitle F a big pile of spaghetti, with no teeth whatsoever. Throughout most federal laws, the consistent legislative practice is to use the term this title to refer to a Title of the United States Code.

To make matters worse, conscientious courts (an endangered species) have ruled that taxes cannot be imposed without statutes assigning a specific liability to certain parties.

There are no statutes creating a specific liability for taxes imposed by subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code. This is the set of statutes that impose the federal income tax.

Look at it this way: if Congress imposed a tax on chickens, would that necessarily mean that the chickens are liable for the tax?

Obviously not! Congress would also need to define the farmer, or the consumer, or the wholesaler, as the party liable for paying that tax. Chickens, where are your tax returns?

Without a liability statute, there can be no liability.

This now opens another, deeper layer in this can of rotting worms. If IRS is really using fear tactics to extort an unlawful debt, then it qualifies for careful scrutiny, and prosecution, under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act aka RICO.

How fitting, and how ironic, that IRS is legally domiciled in Puerto RICO.

When we get down to brass tacks, we find that Congress encourages private Citizens to investigate and bust rackets, mainly because it perceived a shortage of public prosecutors talented enough to enforce RICO statutes against organized crime syndicates.

This shortage is the real reason why the RICO statute at 18 U.S.C. 1964 awards triple damages to any party who prevails, using the civil remedies it provides. And, happily, State courts like the Superior Court of California also enjoy original jurisdiction to litigate and issue these remedies.

All of this would approach comedy in the extreme, were it not also the case that IRS launders huge sums of money, every day, into foreign banks chiefly owned by the families that founded the Federal Reserve system.

Did you think the Federal Reserve was federal government? Guess again!

One of the biggest shocks of the last century was an admission by President Reagans Grace Commission, that none of the income taxes collected by IRS goes to pay for any federal government services.

Those taxes are paying interest to these foreign banks, and benefit payments to recipients of entitlement programs, like federal pension funds.

So, the next time your neighbors accuse you of being unpatriotic for challenging the IRS, we recommend that you demand from them proof that IRS is really funding any federal government services, like air traffic control, the Pentagon, the Congress, the Courts, or the White House.

Dont hold your breath.

Honestly, when all the facts are put on a level table top, there is not a single reason why America should put up with this massive fiscal fraud for one more day.

Its now time to dismantle the Internal Revenue Service.

Keeping all those laundered funds inside this country will result in economic prosperity without precedent in our nations history.

Lets bury IRS beneath the Titanic, where it can rust in peace forever along with the rest of the planets jellyfish.

America deserves to be a living, thriving Republic, not another victim of Plank Number Two in the Communist Manifesto.

About the Author:

Paul Andrew Mitchell is a Private Attorney General and
Webmaster of the Supreme Law Library on the Internet:

http://www.supremelaw.org

See also:

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Falls Silent in Face of SUBPOENA for Tax Liability Statutes

31 Questions and Answers about the IRS

What Is the Federal Income Tax?

Electronic Censors Found at U.C. Berkeleys Law School

Private Attorney General Backs UCBs Graduate Instructors

Paul Mitchell Blasts Clinton, Rubin for Racketeering

Paul Mitchell Applauds House Vote to Kill IRC

Paul Mitchell Urges Nation to Boycott IRS

The Kick-Back Racket: PMRS

Congresswoman Suspected of Income Tax Evasion

Our Proposal to Save Social Security

Charitable Contributions by the Federal Reserve

Legal Notice in re Withholding Exemption Certificates

A Cogent Summary of Federal Jurisdictions

BATF/IRS -- Criminal Fraud

Income Taxes and Government Fraud

A Monologue on Federal Fiscal Fraud

Miscellaneous Letters of Correspondence

# # #

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:06 PM | Comments (8)
But jk thinks:

I s'pose. I know a guy (and I think you do, too) who makes an impassioned and reasonable sounding case that he does not have to pay taxes because of a non-capitalized 's' in State in the 14th Amendment.

So, that works just fine until he gets a job and has to explain it to HR that "he doesn't need to fill out a W-4 because he is a sovereign citizen of the State of Colorado." I just think this will land you in the same (rhymes with 'jackpot') place.

The sad part of my disbelief, though, is the alacrity with which our State and Federal legislators would rectify any situation that threatened incoming revenue. I don't think that a Congress that just passed a trillion or two in spending last month would allow a return to 19th Century funding.

Posted by: jk at March 13, 2009 10:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I gave a few minutes thought to the consequences of a tax that everyone has to pay. Since one can't get blood from a turnip and government spending can't stop on a dime, the deficit would be monumental until outflows could be made to match inflows. It would be chaotic - perhaps even disastrous (particularly in urban areas.) But it would be RIGHT.

Posted by: johngalt at March 13, 2009 11:30 AM
But jk thinks:

Stop me if I'm just being argumentative. But I think you're falling into the Libertarian trap of "misoverestimating" your electoral support.

Again I suggest that your most optimistic scenario is realized. Justice Ginsberg, writing the concurrent opinion of the court's 8-0 majority (Associate Justice Scalia was hunting with Dick Cheney) vacates the 16th Amendment.

You and I would cheer; Rep Ron Paul and Jeff Flake would jockey for position; The Fair-taxers would fill SPAM-filters everywhere...

...and the rest of the world would act as quickly as it could to overcome this little procedural obstacle. This could threaten health care to children! The AARP would mobilize 60 million hotel-discount card holders with a TV blitz. In the end a crushing majority would line up to get back to the status quo ante before their checks were delayed.

Sad, perhaps, but I cannot look at any recent election cycles and see a desire for a do-over (maybe on "Dancing with the Stars...")

Posted by: jk at March 13, 2009 2:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"... this little procedural obstacle."

Are you suggesting that the Constitution of the United States could be amended by an act of congress, or of the president?

I suppose you have cause there because that's what's been done in the case of the 16th amendment, and others. I'm afraid the constitution has become nothing more than a rallying cry for freedom-loving Americans. It sure doesn't stop our government from doing what it damn pleases.

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2009 1:26 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm suggesting that they'll do whatever it takes. If they can ignore it they will, but if they have to, they will break the world land speed record in ratifying a new amendment. They could do it in three days, with very little objection.

Posted by: jk at March 17, 2009 1:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe I'm just a rube. Two-thirds of the members of both houses of congress, then majority vote by legislatures of three-fourths of the states seems a tall order to me. Three days? Really?

And a separate question: You really don't think we could muster 34 senators OR 145 congressmen to keep America as the world's sole Republic?

http://www.usconstitution.net/constam.html

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2009 6:08 PM

January 29, 2009

With All Due Respect, Mr. President...

CATO runs an advertisement (PDF link) with a gaggle of economists and academics signatures in opposition to the stimulus.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Due" meaning "zero." There's none due him.

He lied. Liars deserve nothing better than scorn.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 29, 2009 1:18 PM

June 27, 2008

Universal!

When you're depressed about the US Congress, you are acting rationally.

It may or may not cheer you up to realize how bad government is everywhere. Natalie Solent at Samizdata brings us this gem: Members of The European Parliament show up Friday at seven in the morning to sign in (thus ensuring they get all pay and allowances for the day's work). Yet all of them seem to have suitcases and none really plan on staying for a lot of EU legislative arbeit.



Such impertinence! They really are all alike.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:37 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2008

Staying True to Principles

Fred Thompson, my first choice for GOP candidate has an piece in the Wall Street Journal decrying the chicken-littles who are marking the end of conservatism. (again)

Conservatives should stay true to their principles and remember:

- Congress cannot repeal the laws of economics. There are no short-term fixes without longer term consequences.

- In a free and dynamic country with social mobility, there will be great opportunity but also economic disparity, especially if the country has liberal immigration policies and a high divorce rate.

- An education system cannot overcome the breakdown of the family, and the social fabric that surrounds children daily.

- Free markets, not an expanding and more powerful government, are the solution to today's problems. Many of these problems, such as health-care costs, energy dependency and the subprime mortgage crisis, were caused in large part by government policies.


Read it all

Posted by AlexC at 3:13 PM

September 19, 2007

Competing with Coke & Pepsi

Sometimes you have to wonder.

Ray Murphy @ YoungPhillyPolitics is incensed, incensed, that Coke and Pepsi are taking (well paying for) regular ol' Philly tap water, putting it in a bottle, slapping a label on it, and marking up the piss out out it.

Half a cents worth of tap water is now worth a dollar and a half.

According to the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company website, our local plant is the fourth largest nationwide with over half a billion dollars in annual sales. Both Pepsi and Coke have reported that bottled water sales are among the fastest growing in their companies and may soon catch up or even overtake the sale of carbonated beverages. That means there are a lot of potential water consumers in Philadelphia.

The simpler way to profit off of water is to tax Pepsi and Coke at a higher rate for their water usage. I had some trouble figuring out the PWDs business tax rate (hello Philadelphia, can we get some good city websites up or what?), but for consumers, it costs about $17 in taxes for 600 gallons of water. Philly Cokes website says it serves about 5 million consumers a year. If one-third of these people buy one 20 oz. bottle of water a year, were talking at least 278,437 gallons of water sold annually.

I dont really care how we make money off of water, but the point here is that in these cash strapped times, we are stupid if we dont.

Our water supply is currently being exploited by Coke and Pepsi. As the largest municipality collecting and cleaning water for drinking in the region, Coke and Pepsi cant really get the tap water they need for Dasani and Aquafina anywhere else but Philly (and shipping tap water from other places would likely cut too deeply into their bottom line). That means that whether we tax them more, or bottle our own water, Philadelphia is in a good place to be able to better take advantage of a natural resource.


Admittedly, I am not a degreed economist, but I'm sure this is a catastrophically bad liberal idea, but I repeat myself.

I'll say it slowly. (Please read along slowly for full effect)

1) If the city of Philadelphia can not control crime within it's own boundaries, how in the hell is it supposed to compete with two massively global companies that have had their horns locked for years?

2) If the city of Philadelphia charges big soda more for water, they can go bottle tap water somewhere else. There is nothing special about what Trenton flushes into the Delaware River. Really. Nothing.

Bonus part of that is when they close their bottling plants in the city and move them outside of the city limits, the city loses wage tax collection, property taxes, etc... a win-win!

Never mind that whole issue of a government specifically targetting two industrial consumers of water to the exclusion of the other industrial consumers. How many gallons of water go into a box of Oreos from the Nabisco bakery? ... what about my precious Tasty-Klair Pie? or a case from the Yards Brewery? *

Ideas like this are nicely nucleated examples of liberal progressive thinking.

... and it goes without saying that if you buy bottled water that's municipal sourced, you're a dope, no matter who puts a screw top on it.

Get a Nalgene bottle and fill it before you leave the house... and use the bottle again, and again, and again. It takes two liters of water to make a one liter plastic bottle, btw.

See? You can be conservative and environmentally conscious!

* Note: I'd list more water consuming businesses within city-limits, but great business friendly ideas like this have chased most out into the suburbs, or the south or Mexico.

Posted by AlexC at 8:09 PM | Comments (6)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I read somewhere that the City of Pittsburgh almost saved the world from bad beer when they tried to close Iron City because the brewer wasn't paying their water bill. (Water being the source and closest taste to IC).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 19, 2007 11:19 PM
But jk thinks:

I love it. He goes to the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company website and finds everything he needs, goes to the city website and can't find anything -- then says that government should tell private business how to operate.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2007 10:32 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Second-best-case scenario: the companies stay put despite the taxes, but they must pass the additional taxes on to consumers. Instead of paying $1.50 for bottled water, consumers must now pay $1.65 or whatever, so sales will decrease. Thing is, the Laffer Curve can also work in reverse, so those sales could very well drop and take the tax revenues along with them.

Best-case scenario: the companies stay put, they pass the additional taxes on to consumers, and sales remain the same. But because a consumer now spends $1.65 on a 20-oz. bottle water when he spent $1.50 before, that's 15 cents taken away from other purchases. By definition it must come from *somewhere*, and it adds up to anything from a supersize option on fast food to a notepad to a restaurant meal. Now *those* companies will experience an equivalent sales decline, which means they must cut back on man-hours. Of secondary importance is the lost tax revenue. Now, this is the absolute best possible scenario, and it's also the most improbable. It won't happen for a simple reason: economies never, ever shift toward industries or sectors that are taxed higher.

A lot of people subscribe to the economic fallacy that charging more can be good, because it means the sellers (and in this case, government as a tax receiver) has more money to spend, and this supposedly spurs economic growth. On the surface it looks good, but it cannot avoid the fact that buyers have finite incomes. If I spend $1.65 on bottled water instead of $1.50, or when Henry Ford paid workers enough to afford the cars they made (an economic urban legend), that money must come from somewhere else. I'll spend less on other purchases if I'm to buy bottled water in the same quantity and frequency, and because Henry Ford's customers must spend more on the cars, they'll spend less on other things. True economic output does not increase -- unless the central bank prints more dollars so we can spend more, which is, of course, inflationary.

The lesson, as always, is to remember what Bastiat taught us. Look for the unseen.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 11:22 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I should add that I stick to bottled water, even if it's ultimately tap water, as a matter of taste and sanitation. I prefer spring water, but I'll still buy Dasani. To me, there's no choice between "free" water from a Grand Central Terminal fountain and paying $1.65 at any of the vendors. When government says it purifies, filters and UVs tap water, I wonder how well. When Coca-Cola says it does those, I actually trust it more, not because it's interested in protecting me, but because it wants to keep my business.

Oh, and by the way, liberal idiots like Murphy and Gavin Newsom can give themselves edemas with plain old tap water.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 11:33 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Who drinks brand label water? Progressive elitists ... I'm with W.C. Fields on this one. My hydration comes from a bottle of scotch, thnx.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 20, 2007 12:47 PM
But jk thinks:

I think it's a mistake to compare bottled water to tap water. The substitution is bottled water vs. Coke. The price comparison is a lot less extreme and it represents substitution better: convenient, disposable, &c.

"Freakonomist" Steven Levitt has an interesting piece discussing that Coca Cola now advertises that Diet Coke is 99% water -- after trying to hide that fact for years.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2007 1:23 PM

February 2, 2007

Government Accounting

Here's a story that's hard to believe...

    A recent audit of cash-strapped Camden, N.J. school district's finances found it was paying an employee $130,000 annually and he's been dead for more than three decades.

    City officials were shocked by the discovery.


No!! Not as shocked as the poor f*cker is going to be who's been cashing those checks....
    Camden has been plagued with scandal and is known as the nation's poorest city.

    The audit also found outside vendors have been overpaid more than $17 million. In one case the district forked over $953,000 for copy equipment even though the purchase order was for only $55,000.


So who got the $900K?

This is criminal.

A lot of people need to be hauled into a courtroom. Outrageous.

Posted by AlexC at 11:09 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Come on, ac, you worry too much. The dead teacher probably did a lot less damage to the children than his living peers, didn't overuse the health care benefit -- don't always look on the dark side.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2007 11:14 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

It isn't criminal, Alex,..its ops-normal in Camden ( and probably in Philly, too, if we ever get a chance to dig a little).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 3, 2007 12:05 PM

January 13, 2007

Deficit

AP

    The federal deficit has improved significantly in the first three months of the new budget year, helped by a continued surge in tax revenues.

Whoa... despite tax cuts for the rich?
    Tax collections are running 8.2 percent higher than a year ago while government spending is up by just 0.7 percent from a year ago. Last year's spending totals were boosted by significant payments to help the victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

    The Treasury said for December, the government actually ran a surplus of $44.5 billion, the largest surplus ever recorded in December and a gain that reflected a big jump in quarterly corporate tax payments.

    The $80.4 billion deficit for the first three months of the current budget year was down 32.6 percent from the imbalance for the same period a year ago of $119.4 billion.

    For the year, analysts are still forecasting that the deficit will worsen from last year's total of $248.2 billion, which had been the lowest in four years.


The President has been in office for 6 years... so that's not yet a record to be proud of, but there's still two to go.

Posted by AlexC at 12:08 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Quick, cut taxes some more!

I think your closing sentiment on the Bush administration is more appropriate for his half-hearted war on Islamists than domestic budget policy. He's got a scant two years to derail Iran's nuke program, get over top-dead-center in Iraq, and restore America's confidence in muscular foreign policy. I'm afraid that's too much to expect, even from Gen. Petraeus.

Posted by: johngalt at January 13, 2007 3:54 PM
But jk thinks:

No doubt President Gore would have kept spending to a minimum and kept the Federal budget in surplus.

And no doubt President Kerry would have forcefully routed the Islamist menace from Pakistan to Indonesia, kickin' ass and takin' names (Mohammed, Mohammed, Mohammed...)

My blog brothers have been sucked into the miasma generated by the anti-Bush forces. The fact is, this President cut taxes and energized the economy, when many in his own party wanted to raise them. Then he resolutely prosecuted the war on terror, against world opinion, Washington CW, and squeamish squishy members of his own party.

Had he slavishly avoided budget deficits to please ac, he would not have cut taxes. Sorry if his war performance is not perfect, jg, but compared to the life-losing mistakes in WWII, Korea and the Civil War, he is a hall of famer.

The raise taxes and cut and run brigades will both be seeking to pull him down, partly by de-energizing his base. You guys want to play?

Posted by: jk at January 15, 2007 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not attempting to pull him down, but buck him up. Perhaps I should be more cautious of appearing otherwise.

I'm fully in support of the Bush Doctrine, I just wish the President was as well. I agree that he STARTED to "resolutely prosecute the war on terror" but for many reasons, allowed the effort to become irresolute.

Example #1: A key element promised in the new Surge effort is to remove political restrictions on allied forces. When we were asked to back down in Fallujah we should have politely refused. (There are countless other examples that don't come so readily to mind.) We then explain that "this is a war, and wars do not end until enemy forces surrender or are destroyed. Your choice."

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2007 3:39 PM

January 12, 2007

Fiscal Irresponsibility

The Anchorage Daily News, for all it's liberal faults, does one cool thing.

Publishes Alaska oil prices and compares it with the state budget. (A large chunk of the states income is tied to oil tarriffs)

Witness.

oilchart.gif

Notice anything about it? Besides, the plummet in oil prices, at the current price, they're not going to make their budget... and the longer it stays below, the higher it needs to climb to just balance the books.

That would be nearly TWICE the 10 year average.

Posted by AlexC at 11:44 AM

November 17, 2006

Amendment 28

Josh Poulson offers an amendment to the Constitution in the name of the late Milton Friedman.

    Amendment XXVIIILimiting Taxation and Voting to Specific Dates

    1. Each year all Federal, State, and local government shall hold two elections for public offices: a primary election the first Tuesday in May and a general election the first Tuesday in November.

    2. All taxes and set-asides, except the collection of sales taxes by sellers from direct consumers, shall be paid twice annually, due two weeks before the primary and general elections.

    3. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Yes! Yes! Yes!

Posted by AlexC at 4:50 PM

August 8, 2006

Let Go of My Car!

Ha!

A fancy new garage controlled by a robot that inserts cars into slots stopped working.

    In the course of a contract dispute, the city of Hoboken had police escort the Robotic employees from the premises just a few days before the contract between both parties was set to expire. What the city didn't understand or perhaps concern itself with, is that they sent the company packing with its manuals and the intellectual property rights to the software that made the giant robotic parking structure work.

    The Hoboken garage is one of a handful of fully automated parking structures that make more efficient use of space by eliminating ramps and driving lanes, lifting and sliding automobiles into slots and shuffling them as needed. If the robot shuts down, there is no practical way to manually remove parked vehicles.


The city began licensing the software month by month, and whoops... eventually the software expired.

It's funny, but I think that's kind of weak. They own the garage, they should have paid for the software and all should have moved on. I don't know how advanced garage automation is, so maybe there'd be a small maintenance fee yearly. A lot of very high end software is sold that way. But it shouldn't stop the garage.

In the 80s, there was a company selling compressor and turbine control software to third world nations.... and companies within them. Obviously on big equipment, it gets installed, running and then the payments get completed. After a run of "non-payments" the controls company began installing code with a month or two "startup grace", and then after a while, it would stop. If you're using turbines to make electricity, you can imagine what kind of a bind that put the theives in.

Posted by AlexC at 6:18 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Well, maybe you can beat city hall after all!

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2006 1:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Am I the only storage veteran around here who sees a huge tape library for cars? Hey, I used to write software for those, maybe I can help out.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2006 11:26 PM

June 26, 2006

Questions

Via Email:

    A West Texas cowboy was herding his cows in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.

    The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy,

    "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?"

    The cowboy looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, "Sure, Why not?"

    The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within minutes he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

    Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150- page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, "You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."

    "That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says the cowboy.

    He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

    Then the cowboy says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?"

    The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

    You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government", says the cowboy.

    "Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"

    "No guessing required." answered the cowboy.

    "You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about cows. Now ... give me back my dog."

Posted by AlexC at 3:10 PM | Comments (1)
But dagny thinks:

I think it's because I'm a farmgirl at heart but I think this is hilarious! Thanks for the laugh AlexC.

Posted by: dagny at June 28, 2006 11:31 AM

April 12, 2006

A Pox on Both Parties

Today's NY Times editorial As the Ethics Panel Ossifies calls for the Democrats to get serious and force Rep Alan Mollohan of West Virginia to resign his seat on the House ethics committee, which the editorial calls "inert and feckless".

Thinking of the general dysfunction in Congress makes me wonder if there is any achievable way to reform the system. As was mentioned in the "Little likelihood of tax system overhaul" thread below, both parties are so entrenched and vested in the status quo. There was a lot of heat and perhaps a little light as the Abramoff scandal flared up, but the furor and the feigned interest of the 535 in enacting reforms has died down. I imagine some of you would support abolishing government altogether, but I'm curious to hear your ideas on reforms that might improve the current system. A couple of examples that come to mind are the abolition of earmarks and halting the practive of bringing massive bills up for a vote when members have had little or no time to read the hundreds or thousands of pages in the legislation.

Thoughts on why these two proposals work or suck? Other proposals?

Posted by LatteSipper at 2:11 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I think we're pretty close, here. If each earmark were attributed to the member who calls for it, and if bills were available 72 hours before the vote, bloggers could attack the egregious earmarks, and members could step up and explain why they support others. (My favorite Democrat, Rep. Harold Ford, has called for this as well).

The problem with a "House Ethics Panel" chaired by either party is that there is no incentive for vigorous self-policing and every incentive to use it for politics.

The best solution is to get the Spirit of '94 to prevail. I'm guessing you're not a big fan of Speaker Gingrich, but we need a party to run on the idea of serious reform.

Posted by: jk at April 12, 2006 2:35 PM
But LatteSipper thinks:

We need a party to run on the idea of serious reform AND with an intent to implement serious reform. It seems to me the biggest impediment to reform is the huge advantage of incumbency. The two major parties have gerrymandered congressional districts to the point where only 30 or 35 (I don't remember the exact figure) districts are considered to be in play this year? Arrrrrgggghhhhh!

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 12, 2006 2:50 PM

March 24, 2006

2008 Contenders Fiscal Rating

The National Taxpayers Union came up with a ranking of every roll call vote on fiscal and budgetary issues for the leading contenders for 2008.

The best scoring Democrat? Russ Feingold with a D.

Worst scoring Republicans had B+'s. The downside?
Their names are Allen, Brownback and Frist.

On top of the Rs are Hagel and McCain with As. (Yes, I know).
But they're also joined by Gingrich and Tancredo.

Posted by AlexC at 9:58 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

So that was an official endorsement of Senator Chuck Hagel in '08?

I suppose the NTU is at least as fair as I ma, but I was surprised and skeptical that they showed almost zero benefit for DLC-types, like Evan Bayh, over committed progressives like John Kerry. Richardson deserves better based on his performance in New Mexico. He brought supply-side tax cuts to the state in his first gubernatorial term,

I'll say it, good job for the guys I dislike who did well. I'd still like to Sen. Hagel and Rep. Tancredo open up a Dairy Queen in the Nebraska panhandle, but I am glad to hear they were doing something for us.

Posted by: jk at March 24, 2006 8:57 PM

March 2, 2006

Precedence

Does a federal law supercede a state's Constitution?

    Pennsylvania's highest court ruled Thursday that a county may replace its mechanical lever voting machines without voter approval in a case that pitted new federal election laws against the state constitution.

    The state Supreme Court's ruling eased concerns about possible disruptions in the ongoing upgrading of voting systems in dozens of counties before the May 16 primary election.

    "We're very happy with the decision," said Allison Hrestak, spokeswoman for the State Department, a defendant in the lawsuit and the agency responsible for certifying which voting machines meet the requirements of federal law in Pennsylvania. "It reinforces our position all along — that the federal law supersedes state law."

Posted by AlexC at 4:18 PM