Archives for July 2012
After a tragedy, there are things that happen. Friends and families of the deceased try to come to terms with the event, journalists try to learn what they can about the event and the people affected by it, and if the tragedy involved a madman with a gun then a politician will scream for gun control.
This time, we have none other than President Obama calling for the gun control:
“A lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals,” Mr. Obama said at the annual National Urban League convention in New Orleans. “They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.”
“Every day, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater,” Mr. Obama said. “For every Columbine or Virginia Tech,there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago or Atlanta, here in New Orleans. Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest towns.”
I guess he thinks he can get it passed now? After all, four years ago he said he wouldn’t try to pass gun control legislation because he didn’t figure he had the votes. Now, he has lost control of one chamber of Congress, with a lot of politicians still battling to keep their seats. Gun control is usually a loser issue for Democrats.
However, Obama clearly believes that the Aurora massacre will swing things his way. He’s using the word “gun owners” to convey the idea that the very people who will be regulated share his belief that an “AK-47” belongs in a soldier’s hands. Well, that may be true in a few places, but I haven’t met too many of those gun owners.
In a blog post yesterday morning, my former Cato Institute colleague Tom G. Palmer, who is openly gay and who once “brandished a pistol to scare off several men who he feared were about to attack him because of his sexual orientation,” discussed Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s reaction to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s on-the-record remarks about his company’s multi-million dollar support for traditional marriage causes and advocacy. Mayor Menino, in an interview with the Boston Herald, subsequently threatened to lean on city planners to deny Chick-fil-A business licenses it would need to operate within the jurisdiction:
“If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies,” he warned.
Menino also told the Herald that
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”
Tom Palmer concluded his post, writing
We’re seeing more and more efforts to push for taxes to be collected on Internet purchases. Articles on this topic have been popping up all over the place lately (here, here, and here). The push makes sense in some minds. States with revenue issues need more revenue, and the Internet is the great untaxed frontier. (States with revenue issues more likely need a better fiscal policy more than they need added revenue, but that’s a huge topic for another post.)
You probably don’t have to wonder too much about whether or not I’d support the idea of taxing internet purchases. I’d oppose it primarily on the grounds that taxes are already too high, but there are other considerations as well. South Carolina’s Senator Jim DeMint addressed the issue recently and made the point that taxing Internet purchases would be unconstitutional:
Make no mistake: the online sales tax would be another unconstitutional mandate. If MFA [the Marketplace Fairness Act] becomes law, politicians in Washington would give California the right to force a business in another state to collect and pay California sales taxes.
On Sunday, Jack Hunter posted on his website this:
Liberal: “We need more gun control.”
Conservative: “We need less gun control.”
Independent: “I can see both sides.”
“An anarcho-capitalist society’s non-aggression principle in practice would enable individuals ability to prevent violence, should this principle be violated by any of the individuals within a true stateless society.”
Effective public debate necessarily requires a recognizable context for all parties involved. Examining the shooting tragedy in Aurora Colorado, the average American wants to know what will make them and their family safer in the future from similar incidents–more gun control or less? A reasonable concern.
Libertarians have answers to this concern. In fact, libertarians probably have some of the best answers. But those answers must be concrete and reality-based. Something virtually any American could understand on an everyday level.
There is a time and place for theoretical debate. But every time is not a place for theoretical debate. In fact, most times are not.
Jack makes an excellent point and one that is missed by many libertarian activists, especially both online and inside the Beltway. Libertarians tend to spend way too much on theory and idealistic solutions instead of articulating real world arguments for liberty. A lot of this is due to the fact that libertarians, especially based at the universities and think tanks in Washington DC, tend to be better educated than the general population. It’s a simple disconnect from how most Americans think.
Progressives are big on tolerance. They want people to be tolerant of other for a variety of reasons. They often cite religion as one. Hey, I’m a libertarian. Who am I to argue? We’re all about tolerance too.
However, following the comments by Chic-Fil-A’s CEO last week regarding gay marriage, the left has responded quickly with calls to boycott. Jason touched on that last week, and I have nothing to add to that front except that while I think the boycott to be ultimately useless, it’s certainly their right to do it.
Things have gotten a little more intense since then however. A couple of days ago, the mayor of Boston decided to block a franchise there:
The people of Boston will have to purchase their chicken sandwiches elsewhere: Mayor Thomas M. Menino has sworn that the franchise will have to fight city hall to bring its fast-food empire to Boston after Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy, said gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.” The Atlanta-based chain is hoping to open a restaurant in a popular tourist spot near the Freedom Trail — a rather ironic choice in Menino’s eyes.
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston,” Menino told the Boston Herald on Thursday. “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had an interesting discussion about conservative-libertarian fusionism. Jeremy Kolassa has written a couple of excellent posts about the issue, which you can read here and here. My rebuttal to Jeremy’s original post can be found here.
It seems as though we agree that libertarians will, at times, need to reach out to conservatives on issues where we have common ground. Jeremy’s broader point, and he’ll correct me if I’m wrong, is that we, as libertarians, need to make sure we have a separate identity, one that clearly delineates us from conservatives. For what it’s worth, I don’t really disagree.
There is no denying that the run up CPAC 2012 hurt whatever unspoken alliance that conservatives and libertarians have. It was clear, that after libertarian influence on the event in the two prior years, that we were not welcome at CPAC in 2012. Unfortunately, GOProud was also given the cold shoulder by social conservatives, many of whom threatened to boycott the event if the gay Republican group were allowed to continue sponsoring it.
Note: I’ve adapted these 10 things from this post about Christians and atheists. It’s not a complete rip off (or an endorsement of that post), but I wanted to give credit where credit is due.
We fight all the time. Every problem America has is because of them. They did this to our country. The bickering will continue forever, but there are a few things Republicans and Democrats all need to be able to agree on.
1. Both sides have done some awful things.
Let’s stop pretending we’re perfect and admit that both parties have pushed some bad legislation on America. This act where we pretend we’re perfect and they’re pure evil is pretty pathetic.
2. Both sides really believe what they’re saying.
The Democrats really do believe they can fix our problems by taxing the rich. Republicans really do believe that tax cuts stimulate job growth. The other guys aren’t trying to trick you – right or wrong, they really believe in what they’re saying.
3. For the most part, we want the same things.
It’s important to remember that we really do want the same things: a better America, opportunities for our children, a chance to succeed. We differ in our views on how to reach those goals, but it’s important to remember that we have many of the same goals in mind.
4. There are good people on both sides.
Despite warnings that President Barack Obama’s tax plan, which would raise taxes on families making more than $250,000 a year, could have a severely negative impact on the economy, Democrats pushed the bill through the Senate yesterday afternoon:
Senate Democrats on Wednesday narrowly passed President Obama’s plan that would extend Bush-era tax rates for family income up to $250,000 a year.
By a 51-48 tally, Democrats overcame two defections to win passage of the measure, which would also raise the top rate on capital gains and dividends, as well as continue several targeted tax provisions that Democrats say help the middle class.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Senate turned aside a Republican proposal, by a mostly party-line vote of 45-54, that would have extended all current rates on income, capital gains, dividends and the estate tax, also for a year. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.), voted against both plans, and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) voted against for the two proposals. Pryor is up for reelection in 2014.
The dramatic roll calls came as Vice President Biden presided over the tally. He was in the chamber in case his vote, as president of the Senate, was needed to break a tie.
Though a day later than expected, the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon overwhelmingly passed Rep. Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed bill (H.R.459), which would open the Federal Reserve to transparency so Americans can see how the central bank is making policy decisions:
The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the Texas Republican’s bill to increase the transparency of the Federal Reserve. With bipartisan support, the measure passed 327-98. One Republican, Rep. Bob Turner of New York, joined 97 Democrats in voting against it.
Paul’s bill came to the floor Wednesday with 270 co-sponsors. The measure also received support from his fellow Republican presidential candidates during the primaries. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, most recently voiced his approval for Paul’s efforts last week.
“Ron Paul’s ‘Audit The Fed’ bill is a reminder of his tireless efforts to promote sound money and a more transparent Federal Reserve,” Romney posted on Twitter.
You can view the roll call vote here.
As President Obama tells Americans that his economic policies have worked, there is a lot that say the measure taken haven’t done as they were sold. One need only look at the United States’ poor economic growth numbers, which are constantly being revised downward. Even Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner doesn’t deny that economic growth has been slow.
But perhaps the most important information comes from Americans, who have beared the brunt of this slow economy. Bankrupting America put together an infographic on the results of a poll conducted last month. As you can see (it doesn’t need anymore commentary, believe me), Americans are heavily impacted by Washington not being able to get its act together (click on the image to expand):