Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa
Rick Santorum’s defeats in Michigan and Arizona—and possible defeats in tomorrow’s Super Tuesdays contests—come as the Republican Party appears to be regaining some amount of common sense. Although at one time appealing, numerous individuals have pointed out the candidate’s flaws—including many libertarians, who have pointed out that the guy really isn’t a friend to individual liberty and is just another big government statist.
And then, of course, there are those who simply think he is downright crazy.
I was reminded of the old adage, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Many libertarians have lobbed granite boulders at Santorum (and Gingrich, and Romney…and even Paul), but as I was thinking about it, we really aren’t all that good and pure ourselves. We have our own problems to clean up, our own areas that we need to fix.
I was doing some cleaning of my apartment, getting ready for a move, when I found my copy of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism & Freedom. Unable to help myself, I took a look at the tables of contents, and flipped to Chapter 2: “The Role of Government in a Free Society”.
It is absolutely beautiful.
Hanging around most libertarians in the DC area, I hear a lot about Hayek and Mises and this thinker or that guy, but Milton Friedman is surprisingly not all that bandied about. I think its a shame, as he has some great things to say.
From the afore-mentioned Chapter Two, let me excerpt a paragraph or three from his conclusion (pg. 34):
A government which maintained law and order, served as a means whereby we could modify property rights and other rules of the economic game, adjudicated disputes about the interpretation of the rules, enforced contracts, promoted competition, provided a monetary framework, engaged in activities to counter technical [i.e., natural] monopolies and to overcome neighborhood effects [i.e., externalities] widely regarded as sufficiently important to justify government intervention, and which supplemented private charity and the private family in protecting the irresponsible, whether madman or child—such a government would clearly have important functions to perform. The consistent liberal [libertarian] is not an anarchist.
With Senator Olympia Snowe announcing that she will not run for a fourth term, some pundits—including John Nichols of The Nation—are claiming that moderate Republicanism is dead. I’m not 100% sure of that, but it does seem that moderation within the GOP is fast becoming impossible. Santorum and Gingrich have stalled, but even with Romney in the lead, it appears that the Republican party is still moving to the right, and not in the manner of Ron Paul.
Doug Mataconis is calling it the “Twilight of the RINOs.” I find it to be apt—and lamentable. It is quite disheartening to see the GOP get devoured by radical “wingers” who are unable to compromise in order to advance a truly free market agenda, and are basically letting the left win the ideological battle because they are painting themselves as frothing-at-the-mouth nutjobs with their talk of how the gays are destroying America and how President Obama is actually a Muslim from Kenya with an anti-colonialist worldview—things that the vast majority of the American public simply does not buy.
There have been many treatises written over the decades about the demise of the GOP. This is a common defense of many Republican and conservative pundits, but that’s just the appeal to history fallacy: you guys said it before and it didn’t happen, so it obviously won’t happen this time. I’m not so sure.
Americans are fed up with both parties. They’re disgusted by the blatant disrespect for democracy and economic stupidity practiced by the (inappropriately named) Democratic Party, yet simultaneously are turned off with the radical right-wing psycho-populist pro-war Republican Party. And with the moderate faction of the GOP essentially dissipating, the question becomes: what now?
I had an interesting discussion with Doug Mataconis and Brian Lehman on Twitter last night about partisanship and polarization in American politics. It was, of course, initiated over the death of Andrew Breitbart, conservative “journalist” extraordinaire, who infuriated many on the left and whose death brought out a number of deplorable comments that were akin to dancing on his grave. As Brian wrote:
@dmataconis It’s stupid.Loving or hating someone based on politics is literally the dumbest reason ever.
— Brian Lehman (@BrainLemon) March 2, 2012
And as Doug Mataconis tweeted later:
— Jeremy Kolassa (@JDKolassa) March 2, 2012
So the Occupy movement has moved into the next phase of operations, which they are calling “Shut Down The Corporations.” This is a 24-hour protest across the country of major businesses, including trying to “foreclose” on Wells Fargo.
Now let me be clear: many of these corporations have lobbied the federal and state governments extensively, and are direct actors in that vile practice known as cronyism. I am not fans of them. But think about this.
If you, the Occupiers, shut down the corporations, millions of Americans will be out of work. Americans. You know, people. People like you.
You would put folks who are struggling to pay their mortgage, put food on the plate of their family table, clothes on their children’s backs, out onto the soup line. You would aggravate the already tenuous economic situation (which, despite what the mainstream media is saying, is not improving—just take a look at the labor force participation rate) and punish millions of Americans who might even agree with you.
It’s not just executives in their Armani suits and corporate jets who work at corporations. You also have mid-level managers, junior analysts fresh out of college, down to the individual laborers and janitors. Poor janitors, being forced out of a job because you want to shut down their employer.
Does Occupy think through these things? More importantly—do they even care? I don’t think so. If anything over the past year or so has shown, they do not care about what they are doing, nor do they really know what they’re saying. They’re fed up with the current situation—as well as they should be—but don’t have a clue as to what to do about it. And therefore, in their lashing out against the situation, they are hurting a lot of people.
We all know that public sector pensions—of firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other civil “servants”—are dragging state budgets under and imperiling other budget areas. But the question is, how bad is it? There have been numerous conflicting reports to the unfunded liabilities state governments are facing.
Well, as usual, it seems to be worse than we previously thought. From the Economic Freedom Project:
These facts should stop dead any further pushes to defend and keep public pensions sacrosanct. The left and public unions may get up and toot their own horn, but they can bleat about it until they’re blue in the face: the simple fact is we have no money. Eventually, people are going to get sick of the reductions in service and the hiking of taxes in order to pay for these pensions, and they’re going to come at them with hatchets.
Yet, for some inane reason, public unions cannot recognize this fact. They cannot see ahead even just ten years.
The good times are over. We all need to make cutbacks in order to get through this, and that includes our government. No matter what the left likes to think, reality does not have a liberal bias. It has a libertarian one.
DemandProgress, some of the folks behind the anti-SOPA push, just sent me a very funny letter. At least, that’s how I’m taking it.
From the email I received:
It took 10 million-plus constituent contacts to beat back SOPA—and we barely won. That’s because a few wealthy interests had bought the allegiance of key members of Congress.
If we want to win the next fight, we need to reduce the role of special interest money in politics.
That’s why we’re teaming up with CREDO on a call to overturn Citizens United and end corporate personhood.
Oh, where to begin?
Of course, the DemandProgress guys are looking at the MPAA and the RIAA when it comes to corporations…but have they given any thought whatsoever to the big boys who helped bring it down? You know—Google? Facebook? Twitter? Wikipedia?
Perhaps DemandProgress should go and read Doug Mataconis’ excellent post on the subject over at Outside The Beltway. Let’s face it: SOPA would have gone under the public’s radar if Wikipedia and Reddit didn’t go dark and if Google hadn’t spoke out against it. DemandProgress has a staff of two people and while it has many supporters, there’s not enough of them to seriously change the debate within the 311.5 million population of the United States.
If DemandProgress got their way and got Citizens United overturned, when SOPA (inevitably) comes back for a second run, Google and other major companies and organizations might not say anything, and we’ll get shafted by our government again. Then where would DemandProgress be?
Maybe they should take a minute to consider what they’re saying before they just push it out to the public. They’re making themselves jokes now.
If you missed the debate on CNN last night in Arizona, count yourself lucky. It was miserable. I only watched it because I discovered—much to my chagrin—that a recently purchased WiMAX adapter allowed me to stream video directly off the web at a framerate that wouldn’t make my brain explode. (It instead left that job up to the candidates.)
If you were a conservative turning in to your first presidential debate, you may have been surprised. Up on stage was one Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, who in a number of statements said that he voted against spending and was dead set against the big government philosophy of Barack Obama…only to then say that he wanted to use the power of the government to force his own view of family life on people, and that he was for the big government philosophy of Barack Obama.
Just, you know, for his things. Riiight.
If you were still unswayed by the arguments by myself or Kevin or anyone else that Santorum was not a friend to libertarians or even fiscal conservatives, well, Santorum should have swayed you tonight. Let us focus on his whopper of a quote during one of his numerous tirades against Mitt Romney:
[C]ongress has a role of allocating resources when they think the administration has it wrong.
Newsflash, Santorum: Neither Congress nor the administration has the role of allocating resources. We have this thing called the “free market” that does that. Now, one could say that I was misconstruing Santorum’s argument, because he was only talking about resources that were justly appropriated for government use (though that is a whole Pandora’s box right there.) But as Alex Roarty over at the National Journal points out, the whole thing came in over a discussion on earmarks, something that Santorum has defended.
In a story that will shock and disgust any sane American, Florida police officers went undercover into high schools and spent weeks befriending students…who they then tricked into becoming marijuana users:
Last year in three high schools in Florida, several undercover police officers posed as students. The undercover cops went to classes, became Facebook friends and flirted with the other students. One 18-year-old honor student named Justin fell in love with an attractive 25-year-old undercover cop after spending weeks sharing stories about their lives, texting and flirting with each other.
One day she asked Justin if he smoked pot. Even though he didn’t smoke marijuana, the love-struck teen promised to help find some for her. Every couple of days she would text him asking if he had the marijuana. Finally, Justin was able to get it to her. She tried to give him $25 for the marijuana and he said he didn’t want the money — he got it for her as a present.
A short while later, the police did a big sweep and arrest 31 students — including Justin. Almost all were charged with selling a small amount of marijuana to the undercover cops. Now Justin has a felony hanging over his head.
This is outrageous.
First of all, I don’t think 25 year old police officers should be dating 18-year old high school students; that’s just inappropriate in any situation. But second (and third) they are now fabricating criminals out of whole cloth, while wasting scarce police resources that could be put to far better uses.
We’ve heard for over a year now that the Republican Party is the “Obstructionist Party.” They have dithered, meaninglessly opposed, and just plain stopped anything the Democrats have done simply out of a kneejerk reaction and not because of any real concern.
Well, it now appears the shoe is on the other foot.
Timothy Geithner, appearing before Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the House Budget Committee, had an absolutely fantastic line that we should keep for the ages:
Allow me to focus on that last part by copying the blockquote from Guy Benson’s piece from Townhall:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking on behalf of the Obama White House, to Rep. Paul Ryan: “You are right to say we’re not coming before you today to say ‘we have a definitive solution to that long term problem.’ What we do know is, we don’t like yours.”
You hear that? They have no plan, but they don’t like “yours” (being the GOP’s.)
Where are the adults in the room right now? We have the Democrats who have failed to pass a budget in the Senate for over three years and an Administration that is not even pretending to take care of the problems the country faces and only says “We don’t like your plan.”
Now who is being the “obstructionist party?”