Mike Herrera is a songwriter and record producer from Bremerton, Washington. He hosts The Mike Herrera Hour every Friday night on IDOBI.com. You can catch more of Mike’s musings on Tumblr.
What if I told you that the government knows you are reading this? In an article on June 6, 2013 by Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian, more damning evidence surfaced that “NSA PRISM program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others. The top-secret PRISM program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Apple and Facebook.” However, one day before from Greenwald again, “NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily.” Did he say daily? With these two huge stories on top of all the recent White House scandals — including kill lists, Predator drones, and the IRS debacle — this could read as a racy Hollywood drama much like the aptly named TV show, Scandal.
The real life scandals are worse! I feel consciously detached from the fact that some if not all of us are being recorded by the government. Many US foreign policies and our ongoing policing of the world has made me nervous to be an American on foreign soil many times over. I’m suddenly hit from behind by the fact that a large majority of US citizens don’t have a clue and don’t really want to know that everything you search online is recorded, every email saved in a government file. Ignorance is bliss. But when it suddenly affects those individuals, it’s too late.
The American Dream—the idea that any American has the ability to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, work hard, make good decisions, and lift themselves from even abject poverty to extreme wealth—is what has always made America different from any other nation on earth. Only in the United States’ free market capitalist economic system has this level of economic mobility been possible, which is why people from around the world have flocked to the United States throughout its history. But is the American Dream still possible?
According to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 59 percent of Americans believe that it is impossible for any individual American to work hard and get rich, the highest level ever. Not only that, only 48% believe that it is possible for anyone to work their way out of poverty, while 39% disagree. Rasmussen also shows that pessimism is at an all-time high, with only 25% of Americans believing that the economy will be better a year from now than it is today. Given the sorry state of the American economy, that’s a very sad statement.
The 2008 Mises Institute Supporters Summit
The Gold Standard Revisited
This past weekend was a chance for many of the Mises Institute’s supporters to get together, get familiar, and get updated on the Austrian tradition’s interpretation of recent events. The focus of this weekend seminar was on the gold standard, and the increasingly desperate need for sound money in today’s fiat fiasco of an economy. Speakers, local and international, delivered the message of monetary sanity to the supporters and students in attendance, as well as those who tuned in around the world via Mises.org. Talks were given by many of today’s
Most of us have seen the passionate speech given by George Baily in It’s a Wonderful Life to the evil bank-owner, Mr. Potter, begging for leniency towards Potter’s delinquent homeowners and espousing why owning a home makes the residents of Bedford Falls better citizens and more productive members of society.
Mr. Potter is simply interested in making sure his payments are received on time and that foreclosures are issued to those who fall behind. He believes, and rightly so, that if a man has overextended himself and cannot pay his bills, the mortgage owner has the right to claim the house and boot the residents out.
George Baily, however, is more interested in promoting the “American Dream”- home ownership- and has built his life and Savings and Loan business around helping families buy homes… even if they’re not quite ready to take on that financial responsibility.
Over the weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave the commencement address at Michigan’s Hillsdale College. This school is known for its conservative bent, which is rare in academia today.
Cruz, who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, opened with a touch a humor and self-depreciation and then went onto discuss the values of freedom and liberty and also praised the American Dream and economic prosperity. he told graduates that one of the great ideals in the Constitution is that “power comes not from the monarch on down, but instead up from ‘We the People.’”
He also went onto directly challenge the culture of dependency on government that President Obama has pushed. You might recall that President Obama clamored for more big government and warned against the voices that warned of tyranny at Ohio State University earlier this month.
“Human beings are not happiest when they’re taken care of by the state. Areas under the yoke of dependency on government are among the least joyish parts of our society,” Cruz told graduates. “The story of Julia is not an attractive utopia. We all flourish instead when afforded opportunity, the ability to work and create and accomplish. Economic growth and opportunity is the answer that works.”
Watch the speech below. It’s definitely worth it:
Republican voters are being put through the pincers. We are back to 2008. Heaps of strong candidates, but no consensus. Great speeches, but no substance. PAC money spent by the millions, but no conclusive results. GOP candidates are even welcoming Democratic voters, to smear each other, to add to their victories, or to just plainly embitter each other. The Republican race is not going to get any more civil. Once, we see these subterfuges, we can ask the real questions: what will it take to unseat Obama in November, and who can best do this?
In America the conservative movement has been changing. Neo-conservatives, who had for roughly two decades (1980-2000) held the strongarm of the party, are gone with the Bush Administration’s doctrine of “pre-emptive strike” and the PATRIOT ACT. We are in the midst of the dregs. Still trying to find out which direction this country will spill it’s spirit of changelessness.
For all his grandeur, Mitt Romney just has not taken his campaign to the next level. Rick Santorum has peaked, but more likely will not hold his miniscule leads. Newt Gingrinch’s populism and Ron Paul’s constitutionalism, so similar to each other, are self-negating. None is in charge. Marginal candidates can’t win delegates, nor the RNC party’s nomination. Mitt Romney, the ever-chameleon like business mogul, can’t strike a human touch to save his life and political prospects.
If Mitt Romney is the front runner of the wolves, ready to flay Obama; what is his version of the American Dream? How does he see this country, through which prism? Is it a legalistic, rigidly technocratic, institutional approach? It seems, his advantage is not his base, his character, anything as much as his warchest. He won’t run out of steam. Even if the delegate count gets close in Tampa, FL this spring; he’ll be able to resurrect himself, make the necessary promises and sail away with the nomination.
Americans have this tendency to pick a President that will promise to give them a better life. They want prosperity, and any failure to deliver can kill a political career almost as fast as a dead girl or live boy. In all of this hoopla, something gets missed. One key factor that is constantly overlooked. It’s not the government’s job to give you a better life, it’s their job to make sure you have a chance to do that for yourself.
The truth is that government hasn’t been doing their job lately. Many regulations actually prevent entry into various fields, lobbied for by corporations looking to protect their profit share. Licensing requirement for jobs with such high risk towards human life like interior decorator and hair stylist put up ridiculous barriers for people to make a living. This isn’t how it should be.
Unfortunately, this nation is no longer capitalist, but corporatist. Corporations lobby for massive regulations that they know will choke out smaller competitors. Why choke out the little guys who pose no real threat? Because enough little guys can make up a sizable market share, something the big guys covet. By choking out these smaller companies, they grow without having to really compete with like sized companies.
For some people, the American Dream is their own business, but the various levels of government have put up so many obstacles that many have had to abandon their version of The Dream. Now, if so many politicians are concerned with fairness, tell me where the fairness is in that?
Of course, fairness isn’t something the government can or should provide. There will always be unfairness in the world. Efforts to create “fairness” automatically create “unfairness” for someone else.
There’s been a lot of talk about Paul Ryan’s budget proposal out in the blogosphere, and with good reason. Ryan’s proposals, whatever they might actually be, are bound to fire up some deep emotions within people. For some, that emotion is joy. For others, it’s anger. And this was without even knowing what the hell he was going to say.
The truth is, we’ve run out of money. Like it or not, some tough choices have to be made. Progressives throughout the land have been saying “Republicans haven’t offered anything better,” despite Ryan’s earlier proposals. Granted, quite a few in the GOP didn’t like his ideas either since the programs he would have cut would have been the same ones that help get them elected, but it was out there.
The truth is that we can’t provide all things to all people. We can’t provide the American Dream to everyone. We just can’t afford it. We can’t provide education at every level to every person. We can’t provide health care to every American. We can’t afford to do any of these things that sounds so noble on paper but fail the ultimate test: practicality.
The Soviet Union tried to provide many of the same things, and it failed. Socialism throughout the world fell, and for the exact same reason. As Margaret Thatcher pointed out, eventually you run out of other people’s money. However, it’s a lesson that our current and previous crop of leaders seem to have missed. They have run out of other people’s money, so now it’s time to cut.
The American Dream will still live. It won’t die because Uncle Sam can’t foot the bill for it, or even help foot the bill. The American Dream is about starting with nothing and building up until you have achieved your own home, maybe your own business, and can provide for your family. Its never been a promise that it would happen, only a promise that it would be possible.
It looks like another hot button issue will be coming to the forefront of American politics this year as the Senate is planning on tackling immigration. You may recall that President George W. Bush tried to tackle this issue with the Democratic-controlled Congress in 2007. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), was meet with fierce opposition by conservatives and Republicans and ultimately defeated.
Reform that makes it easier for immigrants to come to seek the American Dream, should be welcome. Unfortunately, much of the opposition (though not all) was rooted in xenophobia, nativism and, in some cases, racism. Because of this there was no opportunity to have a substantive debate on the points of the bill, such as provisions of McCain-Kennedy dealing with REAL ID, which was a defacto national ID card approved by Congress in 2005.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Chuck Schumer may be incorporating a biometric national ID card in his proposal:
Under the potentially controversial plan still taking shape in the Senate, all legal U.S. workers, including citizens and immigrants, would be issued an ID card with embedded information, such as fingerprints, to tie the card to the worker.
The ID card plan is one of several steps advocates of an immigration overhaul are taking to address concerns that have defeated similar bills in the past.