Limited Government

Time for a New Narrative on Food Stamps

Food Stamps (SNAP)

By this time, if you follow politics at all, chances are you’ve heard a lot about the farm bill. Passed Tuesday, this bill represents nearly $1 trillion in new spending, with typical promises for paltry reform over the next decade.

At risk of presumption, the problems with the farm portion are rather obvious. It’s no surprise that 85% of economists from across the ideological spectrum oppose farm subsidies. It seems commonly accepted that the “farm bill” long ago ceased to be a temporary relief for struggling family farmers and has instead become a hefty bonus check for some of the biggest corporate agriculture. For example, the richest farmers get the most subsidies, and just three firms received the most in sugar subsidies last year. And Tuesday’s bill did little to address these issues.

A program so misguided is easy to attack. But unfortunately, the farm portion is a very small part of the “farm” bill. And the other part backs people who want to save the next generation from massive debt into quite a tough corner.

Have some fries with that executive order

The All-Nite Images (CC)

Because ObamaCare is such a complete failure, the president is at least slightly welcoming the latest distraction to keep the masses from noticing that problem. Protestors took to the streets demanding that the government not only increase the minimum wage, but essentially double it. Of course, while that might seem like a nice idea for people that are barely making it by with low wage jobs, it would not work out very well for them in the end.

Forbes explored this issue at length a while ago, but their findings remain just as true today. Slight increases in the minimum wage have been shown to cause job losses, as companies downsize to absorb the increased costs of their labor force. One thing that has changed is the effect of ObamaCare on the situation. Many employers are already looking at cutting hours of low wage workers to avoid the increased costs of benefits for employees.

Liberals are demonizing this action, and are still demanding higher wages, while ignoring what should be obvious. Increased costs must be paid one way or another, whether by cutting labor costs, increasing prices for consumers, or a combination of the two. Since the latter is a likely solution for many companies that employ low wage workers, that would mean the continuation of a vicious cycle for the very people that liberals would hope to help by increasing the minimum wage in the first place.

Low wage workers tend to use the goods and services of companies like fast food restaurants and WalMart, so even if their wages are increased, it probably will not help them very much in the end. A pay raise doesn’t do much good if the price of goods and services goes up, too.

US enters age of Uber-Executive

Dave Newman (CC)

As arguments over the problems with ObamaCare are raging, there was another discussion occurring on the Hill in the Rayburn Office building. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to explore whether or not Barack Obama has been overstepping his limits during his tenure as president. Not surprisingly, two out of three Constitutional scholars were of the opinion that he certainly has, and not only with his various extensions, waivers, and fund shuffling over his landmark legislation.

Of course, the hearing was split, just as everything else has been - on party lines, with Democrats leaving the room for at least portions of the questioning. That was predictable, and while it could be slightly satisfying to point out the adolescent nature of that behavior, it’s far more important to point out some of the more interesting statements made by the scholars.

Mediaite latched onto the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon, and his contention that this reckless power grab could lead to another revolution. While that might be the extreme, the concept that people may stop paying attention to laws isn’t such a stretch. Lawlessness breeds lawlessness, and when the example is the man that is supposed to be upholding the laws of the land, it is a dangerous situation.

The answer to government shutdown is less federal power, not more

In the wake of the now five-day long federal government partial shutdown, center-left pundits have wasted no time calling for drastic changes to the republic.

In the Washington Post, Dylan Matthews openly called for fascism:

Max Weber, in conversation with Gen. Erich Ludendorff, advanced my personal favorite theory of democracy: “In a democracy the people choose a leader in whom they trust. Then the chosen leader says, ‘Now shut up and obey me.’ ” People and party are then no longer free to interfere in his business.

Max Fisher, also in the Post, called for monarchy:

You might find yourself wishing that the United States could follow Australia’s example: Fire everyone in Congress, hold snap elections next month and restart from scratch. But we can’t, because we haven’t recognized the British monarchy or had a London-appointed governor -general in more than two centuries. Maybe, if we ask nicely, Britain will take us back?

The New Republic suggested the President dissolve Congress and then attack it:

Almost exactly 20 years ago, he dissolved parliament. The vice president and the speaker of the parliament dissolved Yeltsin’s presidency, and holed up with their supporters in the parliament’s headquarters, now known as “the White House.”

Then Yeltsin [sent in the tanks].

Pew Poll: A Plurality of GOPers Oppose Intervention in Syria

Pew poll on Syria

According to new survey data from Pew, a plurality of self-identified Republicans oppose bombing Syria to help we-don’t-really-know-who. Across partisan divides, respondents overwhelmingly believe that a U.S. military intervention would elicit significant blowback, and would likely lead to an actual war (as opposed to a strategic, surgical bombing campaign to even the score for the rebels fighting Assad’s regime):

Three-quarters (74%) believe that U.S. airstrikes in Syria are likely to create a backlash against the United States and its allies in the region and 61% think it would be likely to lead to a long-term U.S. military commitment there. Meanwhile, just 33% believe airstrikes are likely to be effective in discouraging the use of chemical weapons; roughly half (51%) think they are not likely to achieve this goal.

Read the full report here (PDF).

What Syria Can Teach About Net Neutrality

Internet killswitch

There is a focus, and rightly so, on what the U.S. reaction to the crises in Syria will be — if anything — from the perspective of how strong the United States looks on the world stage, and what that means as regards our relationships with long-standing allies. These are important considerations.

But Syria may have something else to teach us that is just as timely and relevant as the ubiquitous relevance of international relationships and war games. The country, along with the other hotbed of unrest Egypt, is the Petri dish of the Internet “killswitch.” (Read: what happens when the government controls access to the Internet and decides a population has had enough of communication and information gathering. Yeah. Scary.)

Mashable reports:

The Internet is a decentralized global network, designed to be resilient and hard to take down. But it’s still possible to black out a certain area, or even an entire country, disconnecting it from the rest of the world.

That’s what happened in Egypt in 2011 and three times in Syria in just the last year…does Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have stronghold over the country’s Internet access? Most likely yes, according to experts.

Ted Cruz picks a winner in Paul-Christie spat

After harsh words were exchanged between Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Gov. Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in an interview that not much has changed since Rand Paul’s historical filibuster: he still stands with Rand.

“I disagree with Chris Christie when he said that the protections of the Bill of Rights and the privacy of the American people are esoteric and academic,” Sen. Cruz told National Review Online. “I am proud to stand with my friend Rand, I don’t think the protections of the Bill of Rights, I don’t think individual liberty is an esoteric concept.”

According to the Texas Republican, Gov. Chris Christie has been doing a good job in a state that was never historically too friendly to Republicans but that alone doesn’t mean Cruz and Christie agree on much else.

When asked if he would be on Christie’s side if he decided to run in 2016, Sen. Cruz declined to answer by claiming it’s “far too early to be speculating on 2016 presidential candidates.”

The Tactics of the Enemy

Peggy Noonan has a great column in The Wall Street Journal about the domestic spying at the National Security Agency (NSA) that, it turns out, may have been a little broader and a little more illegal than previously suspected. The Washington Post reported yesterday that new documents and an internal audit indicate that NSA “has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008”:

The documents provided by Snowden offer only glimpses of those questions. Some reports make clear that an unauthorized search produced no records. But a single “incident” in February 2012 involved the unlawful retention of 3,032 files that the surveillance court had ordered the NSA to destroy, according to the May 2012 audit. Each file contained an undisclosed number of telephone call records.

One of the documents sheds new light on a statement by NSA Director Keith B. Alexander last year that “we don’t hold data on U.S. citizens.”

Some Obama administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have defended Alexander with assertions that the agency’s internal definition of “data” does not cover “metadata” such as the trillions of American call records that the NSA is now known to have collected and stored since 2006. Those records include the telephone numbers of the parties and the times and durations of conversations, among other details, but not their content or the names of callers.

NLRB Illegally Wades into Labor Dispute; Private Sector Fights Back

Just a couple of short years after using litigation to intimidate Boeing into either allowing new South Carolina employees to organize, or to move those new jobs to a state with stronger labor protections, two regional directors of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board asserted themselves in a labor dispute in New York earlier this year between Cablevision and the Communications Workers of America union. The NLRB, however, doesn’t have the authority to wade into the dispute because a D.C. Circuit Court ruled in January that Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal.

Cablevision, according to the Wall Street Journal, sought emergency injunctive relief from that same D.C. Circuit Court earlier this year to stop the NLRB from trying to adjudicate the dispute in the agency’s administrative court:

Cablevision is petitioning the D.C. Circuit to issue a writ of mandamus—a direct court order—prohibiting the NLRB from proceeding with unfair-labor-practice complaints against it and its parent company, CSC Holdings. Cablevision’s rationale is straightforward: The same D.C. Circuit ruled in January that President Obama’s non-recess recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal. Thus, the board has been operating without a quorum since January 2012….

Too Good to Check: Ben & Jerry’s Ben Cohen Now Buying Issue Support with Free Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen is waging a new campaign to reform the campaign finance system, and to “get money out of politics.” But Cohen is no stranger to injecting a lot of his own money into politics, and his latest gambit makes him a hypocrite of the highest degree, as the Ben & Jerry’s company and its parent company Unilever bear the financial costs of his advocacy.

Ben & Jerry's truck

You might say Cohen is delivering the bullshit by the truckload these days. Politico Influence reports:

BEN & JERRY’S DEFENDS FREE ICE CREAM TO FIGHT CORPORATE INFLUENCE: Last week, POLITICO reported that Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen is fighting the Citizens United decision by stamping dollar bills with anti-money-in-politics messages. Anyone who presents a stamped dollar bill gets a free ice cream. PI asked Ben & Jerry’s ‘Grand Poobah’ of communications Sean Greenwood who was paying for the effort - noting that it would be a bit ironic for a for-profit corporation to fight influence-peddling by giving away free ice cream.

 


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