Archives for August 2012
Most libertarian policy wonks knew this all along, but John Merline in Investors Business Daily Makes an important point. While Ryan sounds infinately closer to Ronald Reagan than Romney ever could, his second proposed budget taxes and spends more than post-World War II historical averages:
His proposed spending and revenue levels are above historic averages. His Medicare reform has strong bipartisan support. His tax reform plan is similar to one proposed by Obama’s own bipartisan debt reduction commission.
Ryan’s budget, which passed the House last March, would set the federal government on course to spend an average of 20% of GDP over the next decade. That’s slightly higher than the post-World War II average of 19.8%.
His tax plan would produce revenues averaging 18.3% of GDP. That, too, is somewhat higher than the 17.7% post-war average. What’s more, Ryan’s plan would set tax and spending rates higher than every Democratic president before Obama.
This shows why some conservatives weren’t thrilled with Ryan’s budget when proposed and would rather see spending tied to 18% of GDP. For example, here is what the Club for Growth said back in March:
Yes, there does appear to be a media bias. I see it all the time, just like you probably do. Part of the reason Fox News does as well as it does is because he simply presents a different media bias than what it’s watchers see elsewhere. They’ve presented something new, and are being rewarded for it.
However, many people don’t believe in media bias. They just don’t think it exists. Well, let’s take a quick lesson in media bias, and some of the reasons for it. For the record, I am the publisher of The Albany Journal, what was once a weekly newspaper in Albany, Georgia but is now an online news website. I’m not telling you this to try and make it out like my vast newspaper experience gives me some insight (I only bought the paper last October after all), but so some stories later on will make some sense.
When talking about media bias, there are some things that happen. I’m guilty of it as much as the next newspaper editor/publisher/news director. Some stories cross my desk, and my natural reaction is to not devote space to them. Even if they don’t cross my desk, I sometimes read articles on other sites and think “I wouldn’t run that”. Sometimes, it’s well founded. An eatery half way across the state that says it is going to start making their own bread just isn’t news for Albany.
Sometimes though, my subconscious makes the decision for me. For example, a story about how laws regarding junk food in schools may be helping reduce childhood obesity. Now, this as an AP story, and I don’t get to run AP stories, but this is a case of one I would probably not have run. Consciously, I would probably argue to myself that I just don’t think my readers would find it interesting, but is that really the reason?
As expected, the attacks on Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are well under way. Specifically, President Obama’s campaign is attacking Ryan’s Medicare reform plan, which was a plan pieced together with Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon.
The proposal would offer a competing plan different than the current “fee-for-service” model, by giving new enrollees — those younger than 55-years-old — the option of a voluntary voucher program to purchase health insurance. Nothing would change for seniors already in the system.
But President Obama is already demagoguing the issue, claiming that the Ryan-Wyden plan would have hurt Medicare, which is our most costly long-term entitlement, and refuses to acknowledge that his own health care law cuts more than $700 billion from the government-run health insurance program for seniors.
During an interview with Wolf Blitzer yesterday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) tried to tear down Ryan, who was picked by Mitt Romney as his running mate, claiming that the plan is “extreme” and would hurt seniors. Blitzer came back at Wasserman Schultz’s talking points about Ryan’s proposal, noting that anyone over 55 would not be affected in any way and that the traditional “fee-for-service” option would still be available for those who want it.
Here’s the video:
This weekend Mitt Romney announced that his running mate would be Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. Ryan gained a lot of notoriety recently with his better-than-Obama’s budget proposal, which aimed to balance the budget in the next 3 or 4 decades.
It’s a sad day for conservatives when the hero to save them from their budget woes needs 30+ years to balance the budget.
Still, Ryan is the latest non-libertarian making waves about balancing the federal budget, so I would like to believe that Romney’s pick of Ryan is more about sending a message that he is (or that he wants to be) serious about fiscal issues rather than a pick to appease the Tea Party folks who don’t really care for Romney.
I am, however, a bit confused over the Tea Party excitement of Ryan. Sure, Romney could have made a worse choice, but Tea Party leaders are acting like the problems with Romney have vanished now that Ryan is on the ticket.
Let’s remember this is the same Paul Ryan who not only supported TARP but went to the floor of the House to beg his colleagues to do the same. This is the same Paul Ryan who supported the auto bailouts. How do those positions qualify anyone as a fiscal conservative?
The investigation into the Fast and Furious scandal came to a head in June when the House of Representatives approved two separate charges finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Holder had refused to comply with requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to produce thousands of pages of material related to the operation. The Justice Department has only produced 7,600 pages of documents out of the more than 100,000 requested by the committee.
Instead of providing transparency to Congress — and ostensibly, the American people, President Obama invoked “executive privilege,” which effectively prevents congressional investigators from viewing sought after materials. But yesterday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, filed suit claiming that the Obama Administration has no legal basis on which to conceal documents related to the scandal:
A lawsuit filed today by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) alleged Attorney General Eric Holder is standing on a “legally baseless” claim in refusing to provide internal Justice Department documents relating to the “Fast and Furious” gun walking investigation.
As a libertarian, I approve of Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choice. Naturally, I expect this statement to inflame a certain subset of the movement - but to those of you who are invested in mainstreaming libertarian thought, particularly within the Republican Party, I hope you’ll consider why the Ryan pick is actually a victory for us - on an intellectual level.
The reality is that we’re contending with a tale of two Paul Ryans. The Paul Ryan that I like, and encourage other libertarians to embrace, is Vice Presidential candidate Ryan - the man with a natural gift for communicating; who articulates the dire need for entitlement reform and balanced budgets effectively (which I recognize and appreciate, even if I disagree with some aspects of his plans). Before we can enact the bolder reforms of, say for example, Senator Rand Paul, the public needs to be introduced to the notion that entitlement programs are no longer the third rail of politics. Vice Presidential candidate Ryan is different from his evil twin Congressman Ryan, whose voting record libertarians should rightfully reject. But we need to understand the difference between the two Paul Ryans, and how one can be our enemy while the other is our friend.
Freedom of speech is one of the most important factors of a free society. The ability to say unpopular things is essential. After all, abolition was once an unpopular thing to talk about. So was civil rights. Questioning the government regarding the Vietnam War wasn’t always a popular thing either.
In the realm of ideas, you typically have a free market. Good ideas will grown, while bad ideas die a horrible, painful death given enough time. Not always (see communism, for example), but this is how it works most of the time. Most free nations understand that. However, Australia has apparently forgotten that little tidbit:
Australian MPs have started to call for legislative powers to compel social networks to swiftly remove offensive content, after Facebook failed to act decisively to remove a page containing numerous racist stereotypes of Australian aboriginals.
Facebook initially did nothing about the page, which disappeared briefly and then resurfaced marked as “controversial humour”.
The Social Network TM made some noises about freedom of speech, which apparently allows controversial humour even if it includes hate speech. At this point in the saga Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy said he felt the page was inappropriate and should be removed.
Facebook seems to have finally done so as it became apparent the page contravened Australia’s racial discrimination laws. Controversy over the page also exploded into mainstream media. Australia’s media regulator and Racial Discrimination Commissioner are both looking into the incident.
Has the Tea Party movement taken over the Republican Party? It’s a loaded question, perhaps one that was definitively answered on Saturday when Mitt Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan, a conservative favorite, to run along side him this fall.
Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks and author of Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America, joined Chris Matthews on Hardball last week to discuss the Tea Party movement and its influence on the Republican Party (note that the video below takes a moment to load):
As fall approaches, hundreds of thousands of high school students are being asked that nagging question: “What college are you going to?” These students would be wise to follow the advice of Peter Thiel, a billionaire Silicon Valley investor. For most of us, college is an expensive waste of time.
Not only is entrepreneurship a nearly impossible skill to truly teach at college since true entrepreneurship boils down to risk-taking (read: outside the box thinking) and self-motivation (read: not a classroom environment) — but enormous amounts of student debt severely limit the options of graduates in the marketplace by forcing them to take jobs that cover loan costs and provide for basic living costs.
This may be the ultimate folly of college education in my eyes. How many bright, young people are stuck in the rat race of professional jobs, or worse government, who are simply unable to follow their passions, be entrepreneurial, or develop something socially useful because they took on $100,000 in student loans when they were 18 and they just are not able to take the risk due to that looming $600/mo tuition payment.
This is why the Thiel Foundation is offering $100,000 scholarships to budding entrepreneurs to drop out of college for two years and develop their ideas. At least 20 students are awarded the scholarship each year, with some impressive results.
40% of full-time students fail to get a degree in six years, and with roughly one of three college graduates in a job the Labor Department says requires less than a bachelor’s degree, it is clear that our emphasis on the need to go to college is misguided.
People are spending a large amount of time getting degrees for jobs that may never be there.
Recently, I’ve been having a running discussion on this blog about the US Constitution, the concept of “states’ rights,” and individual rights. It’s been very illuminating, as I’ve discovered that many so-called “libertarians” are in fact quite confused about what the US Constitution means, and have gotten mixed up in other ideas
Users such as “Jim” and “The Torch” (real name Johnny Storm, I’m assuming) have made the claim that the federal government should not, and is prohibited by the Constitution, from protecting people’s rights when they are being violated and trampled on by the state governments. Their reasoning is that the Tenth Amendment prohibits this, because the Founding Fathers were setting up a federalist system. This argument would actually hold water…if it was being presented on July 8th, 1868.
That’s because the next day, the nation formally adopted the 14th Amendment, which gives the federal government the power to enforce the Bill of Rights against the states, which now how to abide by it as well. (Little known fact: prior to the 14th Amendment, the Bill of Rights were not binding on the state governments; they only applied to Washington.)
These folks are both fans of Ron Paul, and have cited this column he wrote on Lew Rockwell’s site about state vs. federal: