Archives for October 2011

Charity, Church, and Individual Responsibility

As discussions of repealing Obamacare have become more common, one of the arguments given for its repeal is that charity is not the job of the government. Indeed, the Constitution gives no authority for social justice, likely because the Founders recognized that charity was not the work of government:

“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of government.”
– James Madison

“I deem it the duty of every man to devote a certain portion of his income for charitable purposes; and that it is his further duty to see it so applied as to do the most good of which it is capable.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Even in the 1800s, it was understood that charity was not a role of government:

“I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. [To approve the measure] would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”
– Franklin Pierce vetoing a measure to help the mentally ill

“I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.”
– Grover Cleveland vetoing a bill for charity relief

As we fight for individual liberty, we fight for individual responsibility. Charity is the responsibility of the individual – not government, and we must begin assuming that responsibility.

Though all citizens – Christian or not – have an obligation to do the work of charity, Christians have been specifically instructed to be charitable with our resources. Consider these passages:

Crony Capitalism Is Phony Capitalism

That little gem is from a new page on Facebook, called “Crony Capitalism is Phony Capitalism.” Now, you may be wondering why I posted this. I mean yes, it’s kinda cute (c’mon, this is the postmodern 21st century, zombies and Cthulhu are automatically cute), short, pithy, and expresses a libertarian message, even if it generalizes it. A lot. But a 30-second video from a Facebook page? Really?

The reason I did so is because I feel this is the Number #1 message we need to be getting out there (well, that and how feeling up women at airports is just wrong.) Back in college, when I argued about government intervention in the marketplace, “corporatism” and “crony capitalism” were just not mentioned. It was an important discovery for me when I found these terms, because previously I had been just trying to defend capitalism, no adjectives. It was difficult, because everyone associated large businesses ripping them off with the capitalist system, and they just could not understand how government so heavily involved itself in the market, but that system was not what we libertarians were espousing. Oh, how useful these new terms were! How sharp were their blades in cutting away the web of lies! How deep were their inkwells in writing the new papers blogs on liberty and the free market!

“Some Are More Equal Than Others…”

I keep hearing about how income has become vastly unequal in the past decade. That’s really not a big problem, because if the top 1% get richer, it doesn’t ipso facto mean I’m going to lose money, but as it turns out, it’s also not really true.

Political Calculations took a look at the data on incomes, and using the Gini coefficient—the standard for income inequality—plotted a graph from 1994-2010 on it:

Flat red line showing how much income inequality hasn't changed

Yeah. As you can see, zip.

The writer then explains why so many are saying the income equality sky is falling. It’s a good read.

Past allegations haunt Herman Cain

By now you’ve seen or heard about the sexual harassment story that Politico dropped last night on Herman Cain. The allegations are that while he was running the National Restaurant Association (NRA), Cain made unwanted sexual advances towards two women, who later monetarily settled with the organization.

Though Cain’s supporters are crying foul at the Politico story and blaming the media. But Politico certainly seemed to have carefully proceeded with the story, even tipping the campaign off at least a week in advance. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, and that’s one reason why the initial fumbling responses from Cain’s campaign team are so unacceptable. And blaming the media, as Philip Klein wrote this morning, just isn’t going to work in the long run.

What does the story mean? It’s hard to say right now. The candidate himself seems to be handling the issue well today. Yesterday, however, Cain handled it poorly when he didn’t deny the accusation four times and then responded to the reporter, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”

Irresponsible US Intelligence Practices Destroy Real Lives

Thomas McGarvey, who submitted this to UL, is a writer living in East Africa.

As an American expat living in East Africa, I have been amazed at how actively involved the US Drug Enforcement Administration is in these parts. I never imagined that a sub-saharan country like Kenya would be seen as warranting its own DEA office, but it does.

The amount of illegal drugs being routed to the United States via Africa is extremely small. Most drugs on the continent are routed through Western African countries, and most of these drugs are destined for European markets. So it is safe to say that the amount of illegal drugs entering the US through the East African Community is probably less than 1/100th of 1 percent. Yet, the DEA is here. Why?

The most obvious reason can be attributed to law-enforcement support the US regularly provides to allies like Kenya in enforcing its own laws and also in dealing with challenges like the Al-Shabaab terrorist organization strongly present in Somalia— Kenya’s troubled neighbor to the north.

Through this support network, the US government has established an elaborate, well-funded, and intricate web of “busy-bodies” that stretches around the globe. And this intelligence community scoops up any information that is thought to be of interest to itself or its allies. The problem arises when this information is wrong and is publicized (either by accident or design). When this happens, the lives and reputations of innocent people can be harmed or destroyed.

Recently, I met one victim, whose story is a tragic example of Big Brother’s overzealous and sometimes irresponsible intelligence-gathering and sharing practices.

Romney reverses course on global warming

While there may be an excuse for his perceived gaffe last week in Ohio, Mitt Romney has made another notable shift on an issue. This time Romney is reversing course on global warming, in hopes to appeal to conservatives:

Speaking at a closed-door fundraiser on Thursday in Pittsburgh, Romney’s position on the causes of global warming continued the rightward shift that has been underway for several months “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us,” he told donors at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center.

As recently as his 2010 book, No Apology, Romney wrote, “I believe that climate change is occurring.… I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control.”

In June of this year, Reuters reported that Romney said that the United States should “reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”

To be sure, I actually agree with Romney’s more recent comments on the issue, but as the AP notes, Romney isn’t really helping himself with these reversals. And if/when he gets into the general election, Democrats aren’t going to give him a pass.

Man, Those ICE Guys Sure Have Some “Balls”

I, for one, welcome the ballsy-ness of our new ICE overlords:

The ACLU of Tennessee filed a lawsuit this week in federal court on behalf of fifteen residents of an apartment complex in Nashville, TN who say they were targets of an unlawful immigration raid. The defendants allege that ICE agents and Metro Nashville police officers forced their way into their homes without warrants. When residents asked the officers to show a warrant, one agent reportedly said, “We don’t need a warrant, we’re ICE.” Then, gesturing to his genitals, the officer reportedly said “the warrant is coming out of my balls.”

I’m sure he meant it was going to be generated in his balls and then be distributed via his deployment tube; if it actually was coming out of his balls, he should get them checked. I don’t think they’re supposed to have holes in them. I mean, they’re not Wiffle balls, are they?

Snark aside, this is yet another dangerous abuse of government power. It is nothing new, and that’s the part I find most shocking. In the most powerful country on Earth*, one that has in the past championed civil liberties the most, where we have a Constitutional amendment protecting privacy in one’s home and prohibiting officials from invading said privacy, we have “law” enforcement going around completely disrespecting said law in order to pursue, at best, questionable policy outcomes set in place by politicians with, at best, questionable comprehension of the situation and the consequences. And we’re not outraged by this? What a docile population we’ve become.

New poll shows ObamaCare is still unpopular

We all know that ObamaCare is an unpopular law. The more people find out about it, from the individual mandate to the likelihood that all Americans will not keep their insurances policies, to the need for fixes to the law — repeal of the 1099 provision and the unsustainable CLASS Act. But what you may not know is that Democrats are a growing part of the problem for ObamaCare (emphasis mine):

The health care reform law’s popularity hit an all-time low this month, largely driven by Democrats’ eroding confidence in the historic overhaul, according to a new poll released Friday.

Just 34 percent of those surveyed said they have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, the lowest ranking in Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly Health Tracking Poll since the law passed in March 2010. By contrast, 51 percent said they have an unfavorable view.

That’s more lopsided than most of the Kaiser tracking polls have found since President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law. In most cases, the public has been about evenly split in its views of the law.

The big difference this time is that Democrats seem to be souring on the reform law. Even though Democrats remain much more supportive of the law than Republicans, favorability among Democrats dropped from 65 percent to 52 percent over the past month.

There have been other big shifts in opinion in past Kaiser polls — including a surge in the popularity of the law three months after it passed. But this is the first time the favorable views of the law have trailed the unfavorable views by so wide a margin.

“Half or more of Americans” Don’t Give a Rat’s Pajamas

If you ever wanted more fuel for the argument against Occupy Wall Street being the 99%, then look no further than Gallup.

In their polls, they’ve found that, while OWS has a slightly higher approval-disapproval mix than the Tea Party (26% support and 19% oppose for OWS, compared to 22% support and 27% oppose for the Tea Party), they also found that:

Half or more of Americans are neither supporters nor opponents of these movements. That underscores the point made by my colleague Jeff Jones in his analysis — namely that the majority of Americans are not highly caught up in these movements that occupy so much of the news media’s time.

In other words, neither the Tea Party nor the Occupy movement are representative of the American public. I think that’s a shame, for both groups, because there are so many points they both have right and need to be spread. The most crucial of these points is that “corporatism is not capitalism,” and that people need to earn their way to the top—not cheat by lobbying politicians and extracting favorable rules from regulatory agencies that put their competitors out of business.

As for why more people are against the Tea Party, while more support the Occupiers, I think it’s pretty simple. One of my friends questioned a free market supporter after a debate, as to why he “lost,” and the debater said simply: “The challenge of defending free markets and limited government is that you’re telling people there’s no Santa Claus.” On the contrary, what the Occupiers are mostly saying is “Give us more free stuff!” It’s really nothing to do with which group is right, but everything to do with human psychology.

Support for gun control falls to a record low

With two Supreme Court decisions in the last few years affirming the Founding Fathers view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership, Gallup reports that Americans opposition to gun control laws are at a record low:

A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.

 Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?

The results are based on Gallup’s annual Crime poll, conducted Oct. 6-9. This year’s poll finds support for a variety of gun-control measures at historical lows, including the ban on handguns, which is Gallup’s longest continuing gun-control trend.

For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.

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