Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa
I want to love the Libertarian Party. I really do. It’s the only political party out there that is anywhere close to my beliefs. I cannot stand the Democrats’ Keynesian social welfare malarkey, which ruins our economy, keeps folks from getting jobs, basically makes people dependent on the government, and is run on absolutely no logic whatsoever. Conversely, I cannot stand the Republicans’ social conservatism BS, which oppresses gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, Muslims, pagans, atheists (and agnostics), Hispanics, immigrants, marijuana users and, to an extent, women. I can’t stand either party’s foreign policy, or their joint support of such idiotic civil liberty destroying things such as our current national security state or the war on drugs. Only the Libertarian Party has a platform that I fully (or near as fully as anyone can) support.
But regrettably, the Libertarian Party hasn’t had a lot of success. This is understandable; we are unfortunately stuck on a rather ridiculous plurality vote system that became obsolete in the middle of the 20th century, an archaic throwback to a far more simpler time when the entire electorate was comprised of a bunch of old white landowners (all men, natch.) In our current system, it is nearly impossible for a third party to get success anywhere, though there are examples where they do (notably at the governor level, including, this last time around, Rhode Island.)
No matter who wins Tuesday, we lose. That could easily sum up the 2012 presidential election. Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney have any sort of plan to solve the problems facing us; neither has any path towards entitlement reform (Romney sort of does, but I doubt he would ever implement it); both are warmongering morons; and both will continue to grow and enlarge the state.
If there isn’t going to be much change in actual policy, then there might be a sea change in our two major parties’ attitudes and behaviors. What follows is highly speculative, but since there are pundits out there predicting we will elect a Smashing Meteor of Death this year, that’s probably just fine. I do think, one way or another, that in the years following this election both parties will undergo deep changes. This election will definitely not be a realigning election, but the fallout just might.
First, let’s review the reasons for why each party’s standardbearer might lose this election.
If Romney loses, it will come down to these reasons:
He is an empty suit running an entirely empty campaign. Rather than articulate any clear deviation from Obama’s course, he has only said that Obama has done a terrible job and then put forth not details, not plans, but vague corporate marketing speak that does nothing. Voters will decide to go with The Devil They KnowTM and ignore this just-as-bad challenger.
This is the dude who came up with the blueprint of Obamacare—what all Republicans hate. So…duh.
ALGEIRS, Algeria (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Algeria’s assistance on Monday for any future military intervention in Mali, pressing the North African nation to provide intelligence — if not boots on the ground — to help rout the al-Qaida-linked militants across its southern border.
Clinton, on the first stop of a five-day trip overseas, met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as the United States and its allies ramped up preparations to fight northern Mali’s breakaway Islamist republic.
When Mali’s democratically elected leader was ousted in a military coup in March, Tuareg rebels seized on the power vacuum and within weeks took control of the north, aided by an Islamist faction. The Islamists then quickly ousted the Tuaregs and took control of half the country.
So much for Barack Obama being the peace president, ending the disastrous interventionist foreign policy of George W. Bush. Have we learned nothing in the past decade? We go into Afghanistan to kick out the Taliban and “restore democracy,” and end up getting Harmid Karzai, more Islamists, and a bunch of people who hate us. We go into Iraq to kick out Saddam Hussein, and what we get is a country wracked by violence and bloodshed, more militant Islamists, and a bunch of people who hate us. We go into Libya to help with that country’s rebellion, and what do we get? An unstable country, a bunch of Islamists, and four dead Americans—including our Ambassador.
There’s been a lot of talk lately, between Steven Taylor, Doug Mataconis, Jazz Shaw, and other bloggers, about the Electoral College. It seems to come up every now and then, usually in pieces calling for it’s abolition. That’s Steven’s and Jazz’s take, and they do make good points. Steven mostly thinks that the EC is irrelevant, and indeed, somewhat undemocratic:
Here’s the deal: the only southern states that are true toss-ups are Virginia and Florida, and under any plausible EC scenario President Obama can lose them both and still win the electoral vote. Governor Romney, however, can not.
Imagine a world in which all of those extra Southern voters mattered and imagine how differently the candidates would be behaving if that were the case. As it stands, all of that Romney support is contained almost exclusively in places where extra support has no marginal value. Each extra voter in Alabama who decides to vote for Romney simply doesn’t matter. An Ohio voter, however, matters an awful lot.
A grand irony here is that a standard pro-EC argument is that it protects the states against national sentiment. However, if the Gallup poll is correct and Romney wins the popular vote by a large margin due to overwhelming support in southern states, but still loses the electoral college, the fact of the matter will be that the EC actually diminished the significance of those states.
This is also, more or less, what Jazz Shaw thinks:
Like many libertarians, I am voting for Gary Johnson. This is not because he is the candidate of the Libertarian Party. It is because he is the only candidate running who is presenting a libertarian message, who is actually dealing with reality, and who has a plan that can get us out of our current mess. Neither Romney nor Obama have shown they are willing to work with reality, have plans that can actually solve our current problems, or anything close to a libertarian message.
Specifically, I am voting for Johnson and not Romney because I do not see how voting for the GOP is going to move us anywhere closer to a libertarian future. I have heard the case made that if libertarians join with conservatives and vote for Romney, their voices will be heard in the party. But how true can that be? The party shut out Gary Johnson, then pushed away Ron Paul, and none of their policies made it into Romney’s campaign. If libertarians vote for Romney now, it will just show that we are rubes that are easily bought by rhetoric, and then can safely be ignored during the administration. There will be no message sent other than “continue as normal, they don’t really care.” But by voting third party, by voting for Gary Johnson, you sap valuable votes away, and perhaps put some states and districts into play they don’t want. Only then, only after you put them into a place of weakness, will the party ever come to the table and ask what we libertarians want. Only then will they start to move towards us.
Not before. As long as they get our votes while doing nothing more than utilizing rhetoric, they will do so—and send us further into debt, war, cronyism, and socially conservative jihads. And the only way to change that, my friends, is to vote for someone who won’t.
I know we’re focused pretty intensely on the elections, which are only two weeks away, but we always need to focus as well on underlying principles and concepts that drive our economy and our government. Elections come and go; this stuff is forever. In that vein, you really need to take a look at a new paper from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, by Randall Holcombe:
Crony capitalism describes an economic system in which the profitability of firms in a market economy is dependent on political connections. The term has been used in the popular press but rarely appears in academic literature. However, there has been a substantial amount of academic research on various components that, when aggregated, describe crony capitalism. This literature shows that crony capitalism exists only because those in government are in a position to target benefits to their cronies, and have an incentive to do so, because they get benefits in return. The ability to target those benefits is a result of the spending and regulatory power of government, so big government causes cronyism. One remedy often suggested for cronyism is more government regulation and oversight of the economy, but this remedy misunderstands the cause of cronyism. The substantial and well-established economic literature on the components of crony capitalism shows that big government is the cause of crony capitalism, not the solution.
By “crony capitalism,” of course, he refers to lobbyists, and big business using those lobbyists to get more power and take more wealth away from the public. It’s the reason we had Occupy Wall Street, and why many folks still cry out for “regulation” to “rein in” big business and the big banks.
The above line comes from an interview in the New York Times with Noel Biderman, the CEO of a very controversial company—AshleyMadison.com, the “Match.com” for married folks looking to have an affair. I’m not commenting on the business itself—well, maybe a little, at the end — but really on one small part that I think appropriately sums up the free market and how we should be dealing with each other:
Q. If someone in your neighborhood opened up a controversial business — a porn shop or a gun store or an abortion clinic — what would be your reaction?
A. Depending on the business, I wouldn’t patronize it. I would choose to vote with my dollars. I wouldn’t protest.
Look at that. “I wouldn’t patronize it,” he says. “I would choose to vote with my dollars,” he says. “I wouldn’t protest,” he says. Really, in a free market, that’s all you have to do.
So many people out there in the world today fail to see what power they hold by virtue of being consumers. Although in the past two decades, big businesses have worked harder than ever to appropriate government power to thwart consumers, it remains that you are the most powerful person the marketplace. Businesses live and die by the money in your wallet. If you choose not to patronize them, they shrivel up and cease to exist.
If you think about it, businesses are slaves to the consumer masses.
It’s true that we need to clean up and out all the cronyism in the modern economy. There can be no doubt that rules and regulations created by lobbyists and passed by legislators hurts our economy, hurts the free market, and most importantly hurts the free choices of consumers. But aside from that, just on a philosophical level, the free market is the most empowering system we have—period.
Honorable mentions go to New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission for driving out Uber’s online taxi-hailing service and to automobile dealers’ groups in four states for trying to have Tesla dealerships declared illegal. But the grand prize in this week’s unexpectedly heated competition for most creative use of government to stifle innovation has to go to Minnesota.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the state has decided to crack down on free education, notifying California-based startup Coursera that it is not allowed to offer its online courses to the state’s residents. Coursera, founded by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, partners with top-tier universities around the world to offer certain classes online for free to anyone who wants to take them. You know, unless they happen to be from Minnesota.
Not a day goes by when I get a message from a conservative telling me that I must vote for Mitt Romney, not just because a vote for Gary Johnson (or anyone other than Romney or Obama) would be a wasted vote, but that we must vote for the one guy who has a shot of defeating Obama to save our country. That we absolutely cannot vote for anyone other than Romney, because if Obama gets another four years this country will no longer exist. There’s a reason for this.
Some examples of the comments I’ve received:
We are on the preverbial roof of a house while the flood waters are rising. The rescue boat is here to help us off the roof and to drier ground. Are you going to say, no I would rather stay on the roof until a helicopter comes because I like helicopters better?
Let me be clear, Romney was not my first, second, third, fourth,or even fifth choice! But I would vote for the town drunk before I voted for Obama. As far as the status quo you say, well I think we have to STOP THE BLEEDING, you may not agree with that approach but the last four years of the wrecking ball smashing away at the economy everyday I believe we need to try a different approach. Such as getting more people back to work so there is more people paying taxes.
The thing is that there is virtually no evidence that Romney is either A) piloting the rescue boat coming to get us, or B) going to do anything to stop the bleeding. The man is very acutely interesting in expanding our military budget, while doing little to reform our bloated entitlements or actually cutting spending beyond the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—which is a good move, but not enough to save us from the black hole we’re spiraling into.
David Dayen of Firedoglake, the liberal social democrat blogging community, has a recent post up about how we have almost reaching our spending cut targets. Since we know that spending has actually increased as of late, not gone down, I had to take a look and see what he was talking about. David writes:
Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has an important piece that reinforces something I’ve been saying for a long time. Contrary to the opinion of Michael Grunwaldthat there has been no austerity in Obama’s first term, Bernstein lays out the numbers that actually shows the austerity, in both the short- and long-term, that actually encompasses most of what deficit scolds seek in their grand bargain. And this is actually a bad idea, as Bernstein illustrates.
These developments are poorly understood by those—most vocally, SB advocates—who continuously inveigh that we’re not “serious” about cutting spending. In fact, that’s the only thing we’ve been “serious” about so far, such that we’ve actually achieved 70% of the discretionary spending cuts called for in the SB budget plan. This does not count war savings, nor does it include savings on interest payments, which would add another $250 billion to the savings.