A blogger by the name of Allen Clifton over at “Forward Progressives” has put out a list of “facts” that annoy conservatives and Republicans, supposedly for fun. Allen writes:
I highly encourage all liberals to share this with their conservative friends. Then watch as they haplessly try and argue against each comment.
It’s irresistible. And, as I expected, it doesn’t actually make us look bad. It just shows that progressives like Mr. Clifton haven’t thought their argument the full way through. I’ll leave the points Mr. Clifton makes in bold and my responses below.
1. Nowhere in our Constitution does it say we’re a Christian nation.
2. In fact, no where in our Constitution does the word “Christian” appear even once.
These points are actually true, and I cannot argue with Mr. Clifton. The Constitution does not mention the word “god,” and while many of the Founders were religious, it is questionable whether they were hardcore Christians or rather deists (or, in Mr. Jefferson’s case and the case of others, Christian Deists.) There are mentions to God in the Declaration of Independence, but again, are these references to the Christian conception? The Declaration refers to “Nature’s God”—a deist term, not a Christian one. The only time the Constitution mentions God is in the dating: “ the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven.”
That’s hardly grounds for making the Constitution a Christian document. That’s just how you told the date back then. These days, we replaced “Lord” with “Common Era.”
In 2012, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) spent $22 billion on subsidy programs for farmers. Introduced in the 1930s to help struggling small family farms, the subsidies now routinely draw condemnation from both left and right as wasteful corporate welfare. While the number of farms is down 70 percent since the 1930s—only 2 percent of Americans are directly engaged in farming—farmers aren’t necessarily struggling anymore. In 2010, the average farm household earned $84,400, up 9.4 percent from 2009 and about 25 percent more than the average household income nationwide.
What’s more, a handful of farmers reap most of the benefits from the subsidies: Wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton have always taken the lion’s share of the feds’ largesse. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that “since 1995, just 10 percent of subsidized farms—the largest and wealthiest operations—have raked in 74 percent of all subsidy payments. 62 percent of farms in the United States did not collect subsidy payments.”
That is completely wasteful spending right there, something we could drop immediately and wouldn’t be hurt for it. In fact, repealing agricultural subsidies would have a very beneficial effect on the poorest of Americans:
Oh, what a tangled web we weave. The United States government has sued credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s over the ratings it gave to mortgages just before the financial crisis:
The U.S. government is accusing the debt rating agency Standard & Poor’s of fraud for giving high ratings to risky mortgage bonds that helped bring about the financial crisis.
The government said in a civil complaint filed late Monday that S&P misled investors by stating that its ratings were objective and “uninfluenced by any conflicts of interest.” It said S&P’s desire to make money and gain market share caused S&P to ignore the risks posed by the investments between September 2004 and October 2007.
The charges mark the first enforcement action the government has taken against a major rating agency involving the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
According to the government filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the alleged fraud made it possible to sell the investments to banks. The government charged S&P under a law aimed at making sure banks invest safely.
S&P, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., has denied wrongdoing and said that any lawsuit would be without merit.
It is without merit, but not for the reasons S&P thinks. See, this whole thing is hilarious, because the situation itself was created by the government. That’s right; if it wasn’t for government meddling in the credit rating market, this would never have happened:
POLITICO has a new story on how big money donors from NYC are reacting to the changes in the Republican Party. The most interesting part of it, though, is one statement that so perfectly encapsulates the big government-big business relation:
“Everyone in the financial industry, much like the business world, look at politics as an investment, and they just don’t feel like they got much of a return,” said one financial services Republican lobbyist. “I think it is going to be tough this time.”
The moral of the story? That liberals, who are always decrying big business and want to increase big government to control it, are fools. Since businessmen view political contributions as an investment, the larger you make government, the more money businessmen will invest in it.
And, of course, the best way to do that is through campaign contributions and lobbying. Randall Holcombe, a professor of economics at Florida State University and a research fellow at the Independent Institute, explains why:
When government is limited, both in its budget and its regulatory powers, businesses seek profits through innovation and productive activity. Big government inevitably influences business profitability because taxes lower profitability, subsidies can raise it, government expenditures can aid business projects, and regulations can provide both benefits to firms and erect barriers for their competitors. So, with big government, businesses have to turn their attention toward those activities of government that influence their profits.
The notion that big government can control crony capitalism is exactly backwards. Big government causes crony capitalism.
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.
Gene Healy, vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute in DC, is pretty much over politics:
I have a confession to make: Even though it’s my job to write about politics, I didn’t watch a single second of the Republican or Democratic conventions — not even a YouTube clip of Clint Eastwood talking to the chair.
I’ve long found electoral politics seedy and dispiriting, but that sensibility has lately become a debilitating affliction: like being a sportswriter struck by the unhelpful epiphany that it’s silly for a grown man to write about other grown men playing a game for kids.
These days, when I tune in to ABC’s “This Week” looking for a column topic, I can’t even make it past the first commercial break. Like Peter says to the management consultant in “Office Space,” “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy; it’s that I just don’t care.”
Politics makes us worse because “politics is the mindkiller,” as intelligence theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky puts it. “Evolutionary psychology produces strange echoes in time,” he writes, “as adaptations continue to execute long after they cease to maximize fitness.” We gorge ourselves sick on sugar and fat, and we indulge our tribal hard-wiring by picking a political “team” and denouncing the “enemy.”
What Healy is talking about is mostly elections and the actual governing process. He cites fellow Catoites Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus, who write in their Libertarianism.org essay “Politics Make Us Worse”:
(Image from Progressive Libertarianism)
Today is Labor Day, that holiday created in the 1880s to celebrate workers and blue-collar labor.As a youngster, I always found it quixotic, since doesn’t everyone labor somehow? It’s a holiday for everybody? But now I know what it really is about, and the new question I have is: Why not have a capital day?
With all the demonization of the 1% and industrialists in this day and age, it’s necessary to take a moment and remember just where we would be without capital: not very far. Foundation for Economic Education President Lawrence Reed explains it well:
Capital without labor means machines with no operators, or financial resources without the manpower to invest in. Labor without capital looks like Haiti or North Korea: plenty of people working but doing it with sticks instead of bulldozers, or starting a small enterprise with pocket change instead of a bank loan.
Capital can refer to either the tools of production or the funds that finance them. There may be no place in the world where there’s a shortage of labor but every inch of the planet is short of capital. There is no worker who couldn’t become more productive and better himself and society in the process if he had a more powerful labor-saving machine or a little more venture funding behind him. It ought to be abundantly clear that the vast improvement in standards of living over the past century is not explained by physical labor (we actually do less of that), but rather to the application of capital.
By now most have given their opinion of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. In all of the commentary I have noticed a disturbing trend: grassroots conservatives and some libertarians think there is an upside to the pick.
Most notably for me is Corie Whalen’s praise of Romney’s pick as “victory…on an intellectual level.” Corie’s view is that the Paul Ryan post-VP pick contrasts that of the other Paul Ryan, with the former being more libertarian-ish than the latter. Her theory - and it sounds nice - is that Congressman Ryan will sow the seeds of a more libertarian populace by introducing and articulating certain ideas more favorable to free markets and sensible fiscal policy. She goes on to admit that Ryan’s voting record during his tenure in congress has been anything but libertarian.
I’m used to people falling for a candidate’s rhetoric without actually analyzing their record, but to have someone admit that a candidate’s record is abhorrent yet praise them for their rhetoric is…strange. But does Corie have a point? His record aside, is Paul Ryan’s rhetoric good for libertarianism?
No even close, because libertarianism at its heart is anti-rhetoric. Libertarianism concerns itself with actions not words. Libertarianism rejects politics as usual in favor of principled representatives who will walk the walk. Paul Ryan can talk a pretty talk, but he does not have the record to match his rhetoric.
When people become enamored purely with rhetoric they place inadequate stock into actions. Until this trend is reversed, politicians will continue to contort themselves to fit the need and say whatever it takes to get elected; until this behavior is rejected by the populace, libertarianism will not flourish.
Over at RealClearPolitics, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has just called opponents to the 2007-2008 bailouts as “knuckledraggers,” by saying that Paul Ryan—who did vote for TARP—is not one.
Did Boehner just have a Joe Biden moment?
We can take this a few ways. We can first take it that it was genuine, honest-to-goodness mistake, and never meant to say that. But we can also take it as a real “Kinsley Gaffe,” defined as: “when a politician tells the truth - some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”
What is this obvious truth, then? It’s not all that obvious, but it is the truth: the Republicans are not at all committed to a free market system, and instead want to wallow and embrace crony capitalism. They love taking money from taxpayers and giving it to their friends and cronies who run major banks and industries, giving them preferential treatment in the laws they craft and unfair advantages in the marketplace.
Oh, and “we had to do it to save our economy”? Yeah right. Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest investment bank in the nation four years ago, collapsed in September 2008. The end result? It’s leftovers got bought out by Barclays and Nomura, and nothing else happened. There was no disaster. So all of this is just cover for the truth: he likes to rewards cronies and punish enemies.
How free market is that?
The headline of a recent story in Politico reads “President Obama’s jobs panel missing in action”. My response to this? Good!:
President Barack Obama’s Jobs Council hasn’t met publicly for six months, even as the issue of job creation dominates the 2012 election.
At this point, the hiatus — which reached the half-year mark Tuesday — might be less awkward than an official meeting, given the hornet’s nest of issues that could sting Obama and the council members if the private-sector panel gets together.
The last official meeting of the 26-member President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness took place Jan. 17 in the White House complex. Obama and a slew of other administration officials attended, including his then chief of staff, Bill Daley.
Obama named General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head the panel in January of last year as the president tried to mend his frayed relationship with the business community and highlight his commitment to job creation. Part of the council’s political value was to show Obama working closely with top business leaders on behalf of the American people. But the White House insisted that the council’s recommendations would lead to real action.
The panel held three “quarterly” sessions last year with Obama: in February, June and October.
“This has not been a show council. This has been a work council,” Obama declared during the January 2012 session, where the panel presented a report containing more than 60 recommendations aimed at stimulating job creation.