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.
I was intrigued by the question posed by Jim Geraghty at National Review Online yesterday, “Do We on the Right Still Trust the People?” My first instinct was to respond “yes, of course we do,” because after all the idea that we as individuals can take care of ourselves better than the government can is one of the reasons we believe in limited government. The problem is, the American people have not been voting as though they really believe that themselves. So really, this question is two questions:
- Do we trust the American people to take care of themselves?; and
- Do we trust the American people to vote in ways that allow them to take care of themselves?
The answer to the first is obvious, as I’ve already mentioned. We do believe that the people are better at taking care of themselves than the government is. When left alone by government, individuals will be more empowered to make a living for themselves and pursue happiness as they wish. Society as a whole would be happier and more prosperous under a limited government than it currently is under big government.
The second question is much more difficult, because the American people have not voted for liberty. Instead, they have voted for the much easier relative security of the cradle-to-grave welfare/entitlement state and the nurturing of big government statism. Clearly the American electorate has not given us reason to have faith in them to vote against the largesse, as the welfare state has continued to grow. The question is: Why? And as a secondary question, how do we reach out to voters to get them to understand that they will be better off under smaller government than they are under big government?
President Obama’s State of the Union address was nothing new. The President continued the same leftist rhetoric he used during his inaugural address, calling for even more spending and government. As Jason wrote, he absurdly claimed that he has CUT spending, attacked the sequestration plan that he himself proposed, and called for an increase in the minimum wage would would prove disastrous to job creation. In short, it was more of the same - big government, high taxes, and spending money we don’t have.
The official Republican response was fairly lackluster. Marco Rubio is a gifted speaker, but his speech was big on platitudes and slogans and small on substance. The real response came from Senator Rand Paul. It’s no secret that Senator Paul is a favorite of mine and of many libertarian-leaning folks, so there was much anticipation that he would offer a clear vision apart from both Obama and Rubio. For the most part, he did just that.
To begin, Paul went strongly after the President and laid out a clear idea of what he believes America is really all about:
Tonight, the President told the nation he disagrees. President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt.
What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.
What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations.
Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Much to the horror of various interest groups, it appears that there will be a “sequester” on March 1.
This means an automatic reduction in spending authority for selected programs (interest payments are exempt, as are most entitlement outlays).
Just about everybody in Washington is frantic about the sequester, which supposedly will mean “savage” and “draconian” budget cuts.
If only. That would be like porn for libertarians.
In reality, the sequester merely means a reduction in the growth of federal spending. Even if we have the sequester, the burden of government spending will still be about $2 trillion higher in 10 years.
The other common argument against the sequester is that it represents an unthinking “meat-ax” approach to the federal budget.
But a former congressional staffer and White House appointee says this is much better than doing nothing.
Here’s some of what Professor Jeff Bergner wrote for today’s Wall Street Journal:
After listening to ten days of hand wringing and doom saying from the usual suspects that Republicans must abandon our principles if we are to survive, we need a little of Mark Twain’s common sense. I suggest we all take it to heart.
He said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
So it is in that spirit that I will begin with three incontrovertible truths about this election.
First, the same election that returned Barack Obama to the White House also returned the second largest House Republican majority since World War II - bigger than anything Newt Gingrich ever had.
Second, according to polls before, during and after this election, the American people agree with us fundamentally on issues involving the economy, Obamacare, government spending, bailouts - you name it.
Third, the American people are about to get a graduate level course in Obamanomics, and at the end of that course, they are going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.
That is not to say that there aren’t many lessons that we need to learn and to learn well from this election, particularly here in California. But capitulation is not one of them.
Sometimes a single statement can say everything. Often these statements come as off-hand remarks, or in a setting where the speaker does not believe he or she will be recorded. A recent example from the 2008 campaign was Barack Obama’s infamous “bitter clingers” comment, which is still repeated today by his critics to depict him as elitist and disdainful towards many Americans. And now the 2012 race has its counterpart.
In comments recorded secretly from a private event, Mitt Romney laid out his assessment of 47% of America, and it’s a doozy:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax…[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
If there was one theme that was found throughout the Republican convention last week, it was this: America is awesome and everything would be great if only our guys were in power. Now, this is certainly not a new idea. It is common for partisans to see their opposition as the source of all our societal ills. But in the Republicans’ case, this is amplified into the concept of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that America is not only a great nation, but one that is uniquely blessed and, thus, obligated to spread freedom throughout the globe.
Now, this would be one thing if it were just a bunch of overblown nationalism. Pride in one’s country is perfectly fine, of course, but the concept of American exceptionalism takes that to an even further extreme, arguing that the normal rules don’t apply to the US and we have a special role unique in history. It is an attitude that causes one to overlook America’s numerous failings and sins, and to excuse actions that, if undertaken by another nation, we could rightly condemn. It is a worldview that calls anyone who questions it unpatriotic and part of the “blame America first” crowd.
Fifteen years ago today, I married my high school sweetheart. Since the topic of marriage is at the front of my mind, I thought I’d write about an issue of double standards that surrounds the whole marriage argument. The issue of marriage is, to say the least, a very sensitive topic, and this post might end up being one of my posts that steps on some toes. You’ve been warned.
My wife and I were married in a small church in Warner Robins, Georgia. Our wedding was a ceremony committing our lives to each other before God and our friends. We had a state-issued marriage license, but Georgia’s stance on our marital stance was (and is) inconsequential. If Georgia were to revoke our marriage license and declare us single, we would still be married in the eyes of our church because our union is a religious union.
As with most things, the problem with marriage comes when government gets too involved. Since marriage is a religious partnership, the government has no place defining – or redefining – what marriage is. That is the role of the religious institution that administers the wedding; it is not the role of government.
To take it a step further, government has no right to dictate to a church who it will or will not allow to be married. It’s very similar to the issue of a church’s qualifications for pastors or priests. Some churches forbid women pastors while some allow women to serve in that capacity. Some require celibacy, while that’s not an issue for other churches. Each church enforces the qualifications according to its own doctrine, and the government – state or federal – has absolutely no business dictating behavior to a church.
Women have come a long way in this country. Gone are the bad old days of when a woman’s place was solely in the home. Violence against women is rightfully condemned. Women participate in all aspects of American life from the workplace to the political arena. While we should remain vigilant to ensure we don’t take any steps back in protecting equal opportunity to women, you would think the feminist movement would declare victory. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
I love women. I was raised by a single mother. I love strong, independent women; the type of woman you would think the feminist movement would embrace. However, the modern feminist movement; with few exceptions, are not about celebrating and promoting strong, independent women. The feminist movement has instead morphed into the womyn’s liberation left which has decided to destroy the sexist patriarchy and replace it with Sugar Daddy Government that will provide women with everything from free birth control, to subsidized child care, to student and small business loans, and taxpayer subsidized abortions.
The activists of the womyn’s liberation left of course are not entirely to blame. They have many willing accomplices in our political class like Barack Obama who even drew a little cartoon to pander to them. Like other groups who derive a part of their living from the plunder of taxpayers, the womyn’s liberation left and their fellow travelers are more passionate than most voters about keeping the benefits they have and, if possible, expanding their benefits than the average American who is just trying to make a living for their family. Instead of the males in the family providing for women or women providing for themselves, the womyn’s lib left now want women to rely on a sugar daddy, Big Government.
The case against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — what we often refer to as ObamaCare — is in the books. Members of the Supreme Court will cast their initial votes today than begin their deliberations, issuing their rulings — likely in four parts — at the end of the term in June.
It’s hard to make predictions about which way a majority of the Supreme Court, particularly Justice Anthony Kennedy, is going to go on the individual mandate and severability. But as has been noted by Jim Antle and Stephen Richer, many legal pundits never took the case seriously and now seem out-of-touch due to how close the end result is likely to be, no matter whether liberty prevails or statism hacks away another limited government principle from the Constitution.
Admittedly, I wasn’t going to write any predictions about the case simply because I don’t want to get my hopes up. But over at the National Review, Daniel Foster has given his predictions based on what we read and heard from oral arguments. He believes the Supreme Court will overturn the mandate, but split on severability, which he says will lead to “Chief Justice Roberts ask[ing] one of the liberal justices to write the operative opinion as a way of extending an olive branch.”
So with that, here are my predictions. I really hope I’m not let down, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the court go the opposite way on severability. I think there is just too much concern in the mind of Justice Kennedy to sign off on the individual mandate.