The “Independence” of the Thoroughly Dependent: Modern Scotland’s Welfare Mentality and Proposed Succession in 2014
Scotland holds a very special place in my heart as it always does for anyone who has had the pleasure to travel there. My wife and I lived in Scotland while I was at the University of Glasgow, and our time spent amongst those charming, funny, witty, spirited people will never be forgotten. I still enjoy all things Scottish and look forward to my future visits to that amazing country. It is because of my admiration for both the Scottish people and succession movements in general that I have been closely watching the Scottish independence movement and am eagerly awaiting the upcoming referendum. I’d love to see a truly free Scotland loosened from the socialist, statist, bureaucratic chains of the United Kingdom. I get goosebumps at the very thought.
We all know the fighting spirit of William Wallace who proclaimed that the enemies of Scotland may take their lives but never their freedom. Statism and state-dependency have taken both from today’s Scotland. As shown on the Drudge Report this week, Mrs. Ruth Davidson of the Tory party recently got into hot water by drawing attention to the fact that nine out of ten Scottish households take more from the government than they pay in. In her words they are “living off of the patronage of the state.” This should shame those nine out of ten households, but it won’t. For the European lefty political class, there is no such thing as shame and they have passed this mentality onto their constituents.
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.
Joe Biden made the hilarious comment that the past four years have absolutely “buried” the middle class. While a gaffe for the Democratic Vice President, his party, and his boss, it is also a chance to examine what can be done for the middle class—and Americans in general. David Frum lamented that the GOP isn’t doing more to help the middle class, and in fact has no real strategy there.
On top of all of this, comes an interesting story from the Wall Street Journal, via the Lehrman Institute, the DC think tank that is the gold standard on the gold standard. The piece, written by Sean Fieler, is titled “Easy Money is Punishing the Middle Class.” He writes:
With the Republican Party committed to a gold commission and the Federal Reserve committed to easy money, a substantive debate about the principles underpinning our monetary system is finally in the offing. For sound money to carry the day, Republicans will need to do more than point out the still-hypothetical risks of easy money. The GOP will have to detail the harm that the middle class has already suffered as a result of a policy of low but persistent levels of inflation.
Today marks a new chapter in the history of the Cato Institute. Ed Crane, president of the libertarian think tank since it’s founding, has retired from his position. His replacement, former BB&T Bank president John Allison, has taken over. Mr. Crane will be missed
I was an intern under the Crane Administration early last year, and had the pleasure of meeting him a few times. He came in and gave us interns a lecture on what Cato was all about, cracking jokes about jacuzzi’s and seat sizes. (Ever watched a movie where a higher up makes a joke, starts laughing, everyone else starts laughing, and then he glares at everybody and they all shut up? Yeah, it was like that.)
What is great about Ed Crane is that he didn’t give in to crazy conspiracy theories or tight ideologies. Mr. Crane is all about individual liberty, smaller government, and not meddling in every country we feel like. He isn’t dogmatic, he doesn’t let himself be shaped by outside ideologies, or hold fast to any sort of dogma. He is just a simple libertarian; if you really want adjectives, then you can say he’s a libertarian minarchist, or the other way around. (It doesn’t matter.)
That’s the beauty of Cato, really, and Mr. Crane’s leadership. It was truly non-partisan because it was non-dogmatic. As long as you generally held to the idea that, on government, less is more, and generally held that across the board, you were accepted at Cato. That’s what we need more of in the liberty movement. We need fewer purity tests, or demonstrations of fealty to rigid ideologies. No more of this “Well you’re not a libertarian because you fail to bow at the altar of Murray Rothbard” (or Milton Friedman, for that matter.)
On Thursday, Fox News conducted a poll showing that the vast majority of Americans think everybody should pay some taxes:
A large majority of likely voters believes all Americans should pay some federal income tax — even if it is as little as one percent of what they make.
Seventy-nine percent say everyone should pay something, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday. That includes 85 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of independents and 71 percent of Democrats.
According to the IRS, last year approximately 41 percent of tax filers did not pay federal income tax. The Tax Policy Center estimates that will increase to 46 percent this year.
Republicans and independents are pretty similar on this point; Democrats are 14 points behind, but most of them believe it too. I think they agree for totally different reasons: Republicans want the poor to pony up something for the government services they keep consuming; Democrats still think the rich don’t pay their fair share. It’s all semantics, really; if we’re going to have taxes, everyone should pay them. Fair is fair.
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”:
Here we go again.
Over the weekend, the Romney campaign released it’s space policy. It was immediately criticized by Newt Gingrich, who said it wasn’t “robust enough”:
One-time presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who promised during the GOP primary to create a U.S. moon colony if elected, criticized Mitt Romney’s plan for space exploration as not being “robust” enough.
“The Romney plan for space starts to move in the right direction but could be much more robust,” the former House speaker told NBC News a day after the Republican presidential nominee unveiled his “Securing U.S. Leadership in Space” plan. “We could move into space much, much faster than we are. Romney is better than [President] Obama on space but could be bolder and more visionary.”
The sad thing is, I kind of agree with the speaker, after reading the actual space plan. Here it is in its eight page glory, which is to say, not much glory at all. Like the rest of Romney’s campaign, it is empty platitudes and watery statements about America being awesome and Obama being…not awesome.
Of the eight pages, it is divided thusly:
Michelle Fields, the Daily Caller’s star reporter and a frequent contributor to Fox News, has a great blog post on what is happening to the GOP, and where it is going:
The biggest threat to conservatives right now is President Barack Obama, but the long-term threat to conservatism is an internal threat– young republicans. The RNC is doing everything in its power to prevent them from gaining power, but will it work?
If you were to talk to any reporter covering this year’s election they’ll tell you that most of the attendees at GOP events are over 40 years old. You can’t help but ask yourself “where are the young people?” Well, they’re organizing a libertarian take-over.
Young republicans aren’t on board with social conservatism, instead we’re seeing an unprecedented level of enthusiasm for libertarianism. Many of my conservative colleagues will argue that, “ah, this is just a phase amongst young republicans.” But being socially liberal isn’t a phase. What we’re seeing is a cultural shift that is inevitably going to force the Republican Party to make some major adjustments. For example, take gay marriage— Millennials have grown up a time where it’s no longer taboo to be openly gay. Our favorite films and television shows have gay characters. Some of the most prominent figures in American culture are openly gay. And if you look at the polls, public opinion has moved sharply in favor of gay marriage in recent years with 76% of 18-34 year olds saying that the law should recognize same sex marriage.
(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.