Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

31 October 2008

Detecting an Elitest

I have often commented on how elitists often presume to know how to manage your life better than you can. Without your upbringing and childhood experiences, without your body and mind, without knowledge of your dreams and goals, without knowledge of how you specifically make a living or invest for your future, and without your loves and friendships, they are sure they can provide you a better plan for life than you can provide yourself. And best of all, you do not get an option to review their plan for your life and choose to either sign on or walk away from it in disgust. No, their plan is mandated by government and you are forced to submit to it in the name of the Law of the Land!

Some time ago in a comment I made on the Bidinotto Blog, I noted that I would rather spend an evening in discussion with Sarah Palin than with Barack Obama. Well, perhaps that comment planted a seed of thought in Robert Bidinotto, who has made some interesting and useful observations on how elitists gravitate to Obama, while those who respect the fact that others want to and should be allowed to manage their own lives are drawn to Palin. He notes that the very irritating (for me) tendency of elitists to elevate style above substance and principle plays a strong role in their disdain for Sarah. Indeed, in part because of Palin, many so-called libertarians and some conservatives are actually going to vote for Obama! Elitists are not always found amid the socialist spectrum.

This quote is very long, but it is nonetheless less than half of Robert's post of 30 October and I do want people to focus on this astute observation.

Sarah Palin (and Joe the Plumber) have indeed become Rorschach symbols for conservatives and libertarians, but also for the wider culture. Whether one views them favorably and sympathetically -- or whether one despises and repudiates them -- speaks volumes about one's personal self-image and one's sense of place within American society and culture.

What Sarah and Joe symbolically represent and personify are the millions of inhabitants of what intellectual and cultural elites arrogantly dismiss as "Flyover America": the "non-intellectual," pop-cultural American heartland that lies between its two culturally "sophisticated" coasts. They represent plain, simple, unpretentious, hard-working, self-supporting individuals whose concerns focus mostly on the concrete matters of daily living.

By contrast, the elites base their personal self-images on how smart, well-educated, well-connected, and culturally sophisticated they are. Their social "comfort zones" center around associations with others who occupy the same educational levels, cultural classes, and social strata.

This division is not primarily economic: There are plenty of wealthy people in Middle America. But most of those are self-made successes -- people who built small businesses or struggled to support themselves through school. But they still retain an emotional connection to their social and cultural roots: to their old neighborhoods and families, and especially to the values that shaped them as they grew up. By contrast, many of the financially successful among the elites had the privilege of attending the finest schools, and/or came from upper-middle-class families, and/or found some other portal of access to "sophisticated" circles.

Now, observe the pedigrees, educational backgrounds, social circles, cultural preferences, and zip codes of those conservatives and libertarians who are expressing their loathing of Sarah Palin and/or their admiration for Barack Obama. Using the same criteria, contrast them with those who like Sarah and despise Obama.

It is certainly true that "progressive" John McCain has sunk too often to a populist assault against the financially successful. But populism shouldn't be confused with a legitimate sympathy for, or identification with, the millions of working Americans who are being targeted for regulations and financial exploitation by politically connected elites. Just consider, for example, who are the beneficiaries of the massive governmental financial bailouts, and who are being forced to pick up the tab. What right-wing elitists are repudiating as "populism" becomes much more transparent when they attack not McCain, but Sarah Palin or Joe the Plumber -- and especially in the kind of insults they use to demean the latters' intelligence and mock their cultural values and preferences.

I'm generalizing, of course; there are notable exceptions among all these groups; but I think the exceptions prove the rule. And the rule can be summarized by means of a simple question:

Would you rather spend an evening with Sarah Palin or Barack Obama?

That question appears to be a huge, if tacit, factor in the polarization taking place in this election -- a factor competing with any philosophical principle or other calculation among the electorate in deciding whom to support. I certainly believe it explains the dispute on the right between supporting McCain or Obama.


Thank you Robert!

Fred Thompson on the Election

I have just seen this excellent video by Fred Thompson on the Presidential election at the excellent Bidinotto Blog. I am going to post it here also.



I hope you enjoyed this and will send it to your friends also.

Obama Opposes the Constitution

The primary responsibility of the President as the Commander-in-Chief and head of the Executive Branch of the federal government is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution requires the person elected President to take this oath before he enters on the execution of his office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

This is absolutely critical, for only the Constitution with its protections of the rights of the individual and its limits on the power of the federal government stands between us and the many forms of tyranny that governments and the leaders who run them have historically been greatly drawn to. We have had many Presidents who have done a poor job of preserving the Constitution, but we have never had one who has so blatantly stated that he does not believe in it and that it is wrong. Since the Constitution only protects our liberties to the extent that we understand it and insist on a society that lives in accord with its principles, it is fatal to have Presidents, Senators, and Congressmen who do not understand it and believe in it.

In 2001, when Obama was an Illinois state senator, he gave an interview on Chicago Public Radio in which he bemoaned the fact that the Warren Court had failed to disregard the protections of the Constitution to set out on a massive redistribution of income in the name of political and economic justice in society. You can listen to him yourself here. He states clearly that he wants a Constitution which, contrary to the Founding Fathers intent, will require people to serve others in our society. Ironically, he does not see that this requires the enslavement of some, commonly the hardworking and able, to those who wish to have a helping hand in life. He advocates what he calls positive rights, which he expresses as the right to demand that government will provide for the wishes of the people. What this really means is that the government and the people have the right to make claims on the life of others for what some people want. This is the very heart of socialism, which is why I am forthrightly identifying him as a thorough-going socialist.

The text of his comments follows:

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society.

To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that. …

I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know, the institution just isn’t structured that way.




On reading this, one also gets the impression that this man wants to foment a revolution against the Constitution on the streets. He has frequently spoken of the corps of young people he wants to dedicate themselves to various socialist programs and I find myself picturing the Brown Shirts also dedicated to the socialist programs of Hitler. At the least, he will clearly do everything he can to bring about further, accelerated reinterpretations of the Constitution, which interpretations he clearly understands thwart the will of the Founding Fathers, in order to abridge more of our negative individual rights. The reason the Founding Fathers did not make a Constitution full of Obama's positive rights is because they understood that government does not have the right to impose upon the individual's negative rights in order to lay obligations upon him to be his brother's, his neighbor's, or a stranger's keeper.

The two concepts of rights are completely incompatible. Positive rights negate negative rights. Positive rights must have the consequence that everyone is endangered by everyone else who might make a claim upon his service by using force to take his time, his income, and his property. All societies based on positive rights wind up pitting everyone in a desperate battle against everyone else. There is no possibility of harmony in such societies.

A President Obama will be a complete disaster. We must not allow this man to further erode the few remaining protections our Constitution provides to the individual in our society. We cannot allow him to use the force of government to herd us down the road and over the cliff into a total socialist society. Remember that even those nice-sounding, seemingly caring programs of socialism are always carried out at the point of a gun and do not allow anyone to insist on managing their own life. Socialism pretends to offer security, but what it delivers is a loss of freedom and a loss of prosperity. It chokes economic growth, since it chokes incentives, innovation, personal initiative, and it devours wealth and investment. If socialism led to the good life, the USSR would not have collapsed, China and India would not have had to make economic reforms to have the relative economic booms they have been having recently, and Africa and South America would be much better off than they are. The United States bucked socialism to a degree and because of that, we have much better lives today and we dominate world commerce. Obama would herd us down the old much-traveled road to socialist failure.

Socialist government not only leads to economic slowdown, but it dispirits the people and forces them to act like children before their state mother. Socialism means perpetual childhood. It also produces a brutal society in which force is used as a matter of course to govern almost all human interactions. George Washington said that government was not a pretty thing, it was dangerous. Government is at its heart all about the use of force, which is why government had to be strictly limited by the Constitution. Socialism is the glorification of force as the means to govern every human interaction. Obama is a socialist. Obama glorifies the use of force.

30 October 2008

Obama Presidency Guaranteed a Lie

That sure is a bold statement for a title, Charles.

Obama pledges to "spread the wealth around" and that is not a lie. He will. He will redistribute income and wealth just as he has said he will. There are no lies here. He will not disappoint his socialist friends. He is a socialist to the core.

But, most politicians do lie. Most believe the best way to win an election is by promising many people things that cannot be delivered. Obama has done this in a big way. He has pledged to do all of these things:
  • Give a reduction in taxes to 95% of the people.
  • Add a trillion dollars of new programs on top of the huge increase of spending for the government bailout package.
  • Eliminate disease, worldwide.
  • Eliminate poverty, worldwide.
  • Create 5 million new jobs in the alternative energy industries.
  • Strengthen the economy by increasing taxes on businesses, capital gains, and on the "wealthy," whom he will not allow to then invest their money and talent abroad where taxes will be much lower.
I could go on, but no rational observer can fail to note that this package is one which could not be delivered by any politician. It could not even be delivered by the Messiah, since surely God would not allow that.

If he offers 95% of the people tax reductions, the taxes on the remaining 5% will have to be so confiscatory that there will be no reason at all for them to even bother to work. I suppose they will soon no longer be the wealthiest 5% and the next 5% will then bear the burden until they are broke and broken. Then it will be the turn of the next 5%. They came for the Jews and I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Gypsies and I was not a Gypsy. Then they came for the mentally handicapped and I was not mentally handicapped. It is clear that he is simply buying votes here from those who are ignorant and unthinking. Fortunately, a few, including my new hero, Joe the Plumber, do not fall for this and stand upon the firmer ground of principled thinking.

Besides, when the taxes on businesses are increased, don't you suppose that that will mean they will have to charge higher prices which all of us will have to pay? How could it be otherwise?

You may be incredulous that he pledged to end disease and poverty throughout the world. But, he did so in his widely heard acceptance speech for the Democratic Party nomination for the Presidency. That had to have been a carefully prepared speech, so it is highly unlikely that he simply misspoke. How much money would it take to eliminate world poverty? Well, there is no way to do that except to encourage people to insist upon government which protects the rights of the individual with enthusiasm, as our Constitution does, but relatively few other countries do. A simple transfer of every American's income to the poor in the rest of the world would make us poor and help them only briefly. In the end, without the American economy to pull the world into a better, more productive future, the poor of the world will be left worse off. Disease.....we do not have the technology to end it. There are only so many people available to do the research and they will not have time in their lives, let alone in an Obama presidency, to find all the cures to disease. Perhaps he intends to be President for more than two terms, in violation of the Constitution, but his life will still be too short for this pledge. These are both absolutely insane claims, which is why you were incredulous that he made them.

He might create more than 5 million jobs in the alternative energy industries, but if he does, the necessary subsidies and mandates will kill many more than 5 million jobs elsewhere in the economy. But, yes, he can keep this pledge, though not in the way he intends you to understand it. With respect to my argument, the high cost energy that will result will be a very effective tax upon the 95% of the people he is claiming will get a tax reduction. Sometimes, the most insidious taxes are laid upon others, who then transfer many of the costs to still others. Governments are masters at spreading the taxes over many methods of taxation. They pretend your employer is paying half of the Social Security and Medicare taxes, for instance. But that is really money which otherwise would have been paid to the employee. All taxes on business income are simply transferred into the costs of goods and services. Money is printed and inflation ensues. This is a tax on everyone. Then, our telephone service is taxed, our utility service is taxed, tobacco and alcohol are taxed, fishing and marriage licenses are taxed, tariffs and tolls are paid, and in the end, all these taxes actually fall upon all of us as individuals. Yet, this very complex taxation scheme is understood by few, so governments are always able to pretend that most voters are not heavily taxed. They get away with it too.

I cannot believe that he gets away with claiming that he will strengthen the economy by increasing taxes on business activity. Yes, he claims he will reduce some taxes on small businesses, but he is talking only about very small businesses here. He is always unclear about where he is drawing the line at that. When he talks about it, he says he will help companies with incomes below $250,000. Those are not just small businesses, they are micro businesses. Perhaps he means net income, but he never says that. Maybe he does not know the crucial difference. Frankly, if you want to strengthen the economy, it is necessary to reduce taxes on all businesses, not just those with the most votes. He is clearly buying votes and that is all.

So, he cannot deliver what he has promised. He will not even be within the usual loose bounds that we commonly allow over-promising politicians these days.

But worst of all, his first act as President will be a lie. That first act is to swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. He stated in a National Public Radio interview in 2001, when he was a state Senator of Illinois, that he opposed the Constitution because it did not allow for the redistribution of income. More on that in my next post. This man must swear to preserve the Constitution while knowingly opposing it! Could any President's lie be more insidious and evil?

29 October 2008

The Weathermen Take Over

Over and over, Barack Obama has chosen to ally himself with socialists who hate the principles upon which the United States of America was founded. He and Sen. Biden are pure enemies of individual sovereignty and the idea that each person has an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Obama got his first big break when William Ayers, a founder of the 1960s terrorist and socialist organization The Weather Underground, selected him as the grant dispensing director of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge with a $49.2 million budget over five years, whose purpose was substantially to introduce teaching curricula which would radicalize students in support of socialism. This was Obama's only management experience. William Ayers, who teaches education courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the College of Education, continues to radicalize students to the cause of socialism to this day. In 2001, he stated that he only regretted not doing more to stop the war in Vietnam as a Weatherman. In 2006, he reiterated his belief in the Marxist and socialist principles of The Weathermen. He was never convicted of participation in bombings due to a technicality, but his wife Bernadine Dohrn was found guilty of a felony due to her Weathermen work. Obama wrote a supporting blurb for a book written by Ayers and Ayers helped him gather campaign contributions for his first political race.

Obama has consistently allied himself with people who hate America, which I equate with hating the principles upon which America stands. The Rev. Wright is another clear example of such a long-standing ally anti-American ally as William Ayers. Still another is Rashid Khalidi, a former spokesman for the PLO, who now is a professor at Columbia University who uses his endowed professorship to denounce Israel and the Jews constantly. Previously, he was at the University of Chicago and a friend of William Ayers and Barack Obama.

A very chilling tape of an undercover police officer who participated in the Weatherman activities is available on You Tube here. This is chilling stuff. There is something seriously disturbed in those who were a part of the Weathermen. This is not the kind of disturbance that mellows out with age, it simply evolves into more subtle and dangerous techniques for mastery over others.

The strong-arm tactics used in the Democratic caucuses in which Obama had out-of-staters bused in for caucus votes, had people vote in the Texas caucus who had not voted in the Texas primary as required, intimidated elderly people and women, removed voting papers from sites just after large numbers of Obama supporters were brought in in large groups so others could not vote, told people they could leave since their votes were already counted, when they were not, and stuffed ballot boxes with ballots whose numbers greatly exceeded the number of people present, all serve to underline just how committed Obama is to the traditional Black Shirt tactics of socialists, whether Marxist or Fascist. There is a reason why he easily won caucas votes in states in which he was way behind Hillary Clinton in the polls. He is ruthless, though suave. He is a leader among socialist wolves, though he covers himself with a sheep hide. Beware.

27 October 2008

Eviscerating the Private Sector

The private sector is under total attack by government, the mainstream media, and socialists, who are now nearly everywhere in charge of educating our children by virtue of their control of the public schools, of colleges, arts and culture, and increasingly of religion. The attack is unremitting and the inroads toward total control of the economy are terrifyingly extensive. What has happened:
  • It has been established in the courts that anything we may wish to sell, whether goods or services, is subject to regulation under the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution, despite its purpose being to free trade.
  • The financial industry was heavily regulated, but now the winners are chosen by the federal government using bailout money, with those not being chosen being forced to merge by takeover with those who were chosen.
  • The disposal of waste products is largely controlled by governments, with many areas having draconian recycling laws which make no economic sense.
  • It has long been law that governments can prosecute a company for charging more for its goods and services than other companies do (proves monopoly), or for charging the same (proves collusion), or for charging less (proves cut-throat dumping). Woe be the company that angers government.
  • Homes and commercial buildings cannot be built in most areas of the country without currying the favor of local and often state governments. When they are allowed to be built, they must often be built according to archaic, expensive building codes. Architectural designs must often be approved by conventional thinking local agencies. Often homes can only be built on very large lots, which means that it only makes sense to build large, expensive homes on those lots.
  • The Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency a very freely exercised power over power plants, manufacturing firms, and the user's of many products such as paints, aerosols, insecticides, and plastic foams.
  • The Clean Water Act controls the use of water and the emissions or dumping of chemicals which may pollute water sources. It also means that low spots which are only very occasionally wet, cannot be used, since they are declared wetlands.
  • Employers are required to hire some people and reject others, sometimes forcing them to adopt racist policies. They are required to serve as unpaid tax collectors and record keepers for governments and their employees. In some cases, they are required to confiscate the pay of their employees.
  • People are required to subsidize many businesses through their tax monies. Examples of such businesses are those farmers who grow corn, rice, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, sugar, sugar beets, and many other crops; banks, especially those favored with bailout money; home mortgage holders, especially those in default who will soon be given bailout money; industries protected by tariffs, such as sugar growers, ethanol producers, steelmakers, and many more; power companies using wind-driven electric generators and solar power; companies granted monopolies by government such as cable companies, electric power companies, land-line telephone companies, gas stations on many toll roads, and others; and by companies and individuals given licenses for operation such as cab companies, plumbers, electricians, interior decorators, beauticians, real estate agents, certified public accountants, doctors, psychiatrists, dentists, EPA and FDA and state and local government accredited laboratories; those who purchase energy-efficient cars or who add insulation to their homes; those who send children to college on student loans; those who send children to public education schools; those small businesses who get subsidized loans from the Small Business Administration; those businesses owned by favored minorities and by women; businesses located in depressed zones; and many other activities favored by government.
  • Redistribution of income using the progressive income tax, which moves money from those who create wealth and value to those who do not. This is an essential defining characteristic of socialism and has no basis in the American heritage prior to the New Deal in about 1937.
  • Rare and unimportant species and the occasional hill or mountain take precedence over human needs for land or resources even in situations where the harm to the living species is unknown or minimal while the harm to humans of inaction is very clear and considerable.
  • Businesses are required to keep expensive records of all transactions involving money, despite the fact that their only purpose is to be used as evidence against a firm that it is not paying some tax money some government wishes to take from entities with no voting privileges. The more government can tax business the happier it is, since voters care little and understand little about how these taxes have deleterious impact upon their lives. Businesses are required by Sarbanes-Oxley accounting requirements to use accounting procedures which make little economic sense.
What do we have to look forward to? Much more of the same. This includes:
  • The declaration that the use of most energy forms produces polluting and climate-changing CO2, so our use of all the major forms of energy will be curtailed. This means much less economic activity since coal, oil, and natural gas use will be greatly reduced, despite the fact that this will do very little to reduce climate change, which is dominated by the forces of nature, not by those of man.
  • Much more massive redistribution of income, with non-taxpayers receiving deceptively termed tax rebates from hard-working and creative thinkers who earn higher incomes.
  • Slower economic growth caused by reduced use of energy, more expensive energy, less efficient investment of income due to government favored redirections, less total investment since lower income people invest less, an unwillingness to invest in longer term projects because of erratic and arbitrary government interferences such as changes of tax law and emission standards, the holding of investments for excessive periods to avoid paying higher capital gains taxes, shifting investment into government bonds, the increased commitment to expanding operations abroad where corporate taxes are lower, and creative and hardworking people working less.
  • A great increase in required service to the government or to those charitable activities it may favor. Women will be required to register for the draft. More schools will require community slavery, err... service, before children are allowed to graduate from high school. College loans will be dependent upon signing up for service with the government, which will put many ignorant and untrained young people into the business of using government power, resources, and our tax money to do all sorts of mischief.
  • Heavier dependence upon Social Security for retirement as stocks and securities either continue to shrink in value or grow much more slowly. As the economy grows more slowly, the tax income to support those on Social Security will diminish. Obama would give tax rebates to people who do not pay income tax, claiming that the rebate is really because they pay Social Security taxes. The distinction between income tax and Social Security tax will be completely lost. Since the Social Security money already collected has already been spent largely on non-Social Security programs by the federal government, that distinction was already very weak. In order to continue the Social Security program for Baby Boomers and beyond, the tax burden on the remaining workers will increase until they rebel, assuming that their vote is any longer able to take power away from the governments. Obama may choose to rule as his socialist hero Hugo Chavez does in Venezuela where the voters have little say.
  • Freedom of speech will be everywhere as limited as it is now on most college campuses and in most public schools. Important issues will no longer be discussed, because if an issue is important, it has the power to make someone upset and it is not allowable to upset anyone, unless he is intelligent, hardworking, and a creative and rational thinker. The remaining pablum which we will be allowed to talk about will be the subject of radio talk show hosts chosen initially to have equal numbers of conservatives and socialists and very few libertarians under a Fairness Doctrine. After awhile, all libertarians and most conservatives will be banned, since it will be claimed that they are guilty of hate-speech and racism or that they are global-warming deniers.
  • Human beings will be discouraged from procreating, since they are considered a threat to the planet and natural ecosystems. They cut down forests, build homes, use resources, and breathe out the greenhouse gas CO2. Humans will be considered inherently evil by most people rather than just the elitist environmental radicals of today and those young people recently rolled out of the propaganda mills called schools. Western Europe and Russia, where new births are far below replacement levels, will set the example in the U.S. where our population is damned for growing.
  • Massive depression of the population will set in as they realize that they cannot do anything unless they get the approval of 25 government agencies, all of whom are fighting for power and have different, often contradictory, requirements. Many more people will turn to alcohol and drugs, as they do in Russia, to forget their helplessness and their total insignificance. Some, those who can remember the time, will dream of living a self-directed life.
  • The United States of America will be as jaded as France and Germany. People will lose all sense of individuality. They will be defined only by what gender, race, and economic class they fall into. Employers will have the duty to provide jobs and will be thoroughly hated. More and more, government will attempt to chain them to their posts. Slavery will make a historical return with minorities and women as slave masters of so-called white males. Of course, this slavery will be directed through the agency of government, so that it will be easier for people to pretend that it is just required service. The slave masters will be many, rather than a single individual.
If we should fly with McCain, he will push us out of the plane with a deployed, but badly ripped parachute. If we fly with Obama, he will push us out of the plane in a free-fall without a parachute. We sure do have a lot to look forward to as we watch the ground come rapidly closer, before socialism gains its last death grip on us as we imprint the earth. Our deaths as individuals will be unlamented, but we will be damned for that last imprint we make upon the earth.

25 October 2008

Choosing a President

Ask most people what criteria they use to choose a president and they will say something like:
  • He should be smart.
  • He should have experience.
  • He should look presidential by looking good and being self-assured.
  • He should make me feel comfortable and that I can trust him.
  • He should care about the people.
In reality these translate into:
  • He should not be really smart, because then he would not be like me, but the mainstream media should say he is smart.
  • He should have been busy creating coercive laws, but know nothing about business and running other voluntary organizations.
  • He should be a megalomaniac who is sure that he knows what is best for the rest of us and he should look like someone a good-looking woman might choose for sex.
  • He should have a silvery tongue and be able to convince me to follow him off a cliff.
  • He gives never-ending speeches claiming that he cares about people, but he gives money to special interests to get their vote and deprives everyone of their liberty.
Well, what should be the principle upon which a rational person would make his choice for president? It would be great if he were very smart, if he had real experience in living a happy and productive life, if he had self-confidence, but also understood that the job of the president is so overblown now that no one could perform that job well, that he has a clear understanding that he serves the people, and that he knows that the best way to care about them and to serve them is to govern in accordance with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But note that none of the other characteristics is really important and useful unless he will act as President in a manner consistent with his role as set out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If he is smart, but he uses his intelligence to consistently seek more power over the lives of individuals, then his intelligence is in the service of the Devil. The same is true if he looks presidential or has years of experience turning out coercive laws. If people think he cares about them because he makes promises that government will deliver goodies to them, then he is dangerous and will soon control us all by making us dependent upon his goodies and fearful of his taxes and service mandates. If he has a silvery tongue, this is also a great danger if he uses it toward evil goals.

The Declaration of Independence placed sovereignty for the first time squarely in the hands of the individual. The individual has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, yes, to his property, which word was left out because it was clearly already covered by the given trilogy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration declared that just, legitimate government became so only if it served the people by protecting their individual sovereignty by ensuring their inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government and its leaders could and should be overthrown if they did not act in recognition of the inalienable rights of the individual, which all of the people enjoyed and which none of the people had to apply to government for. Their rights were inalienable and could not legitimately be denied by government.

The Constitution attempted to bring about the mechanisms of government which would help to direct government to fulfill its goal of protecting the individual's rights and thereby serving the sovereign people well. The Preamble sets this understanding up. It states that the Constitution is to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." The Constitution then embarks on enumerating a very carefully chosen list of powers held by the President, the Congress, and the Federal Courts. It is very obvious that these powers are very limited. Let us examine some of the powers that Congress was given:
  • To borrow money on the credit of the United States
  • To regulate commerce between the states, foreign nations, and the Indian tribes, where regulate meant to keep the states from interfering with free trade, as they had been doing.
  • To establish naturalization and bankruptcy rules.
  • To coin money and establish weights and measures.
  • To establish penalties for counterfeiting.
  • To establish post offices and post roads.
  • To provide for copyrights and patents.
  • To set up federal courts inferior to the Supreme Court.
  • To define and punish piracies and felonies on the high seas.
  • To declare war and make rules for captures.
  • To raise and support Armies.
  • To provide and maintain a Navy.
  • To provide for calling forth the Militia.
  • To tax for the purpose of performing the above powers. There was no implication that taxes could be levied and used for other purposes, though some soon claimed they could be and were opposed by such men as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison.
The President and every Congressman have a primary function of protecting the Constitution and its protections of the rights of the individual. The President is explicitly required to make the following oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States , and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Any president who does not do so is illegitimate and a threat to the inalienable rights of the individual and clearly subject to overthrow by our birth certificate, The Declaration of Independence. Therefore, the most central principle for choosing a president is clear: He must be the man who will do the best job of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution of the United States, whose central purpose is to honor the inalienable right of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by maintaining government's very limited scope of action and leaving as much as possible to the individual choice of those who are the people.

Many people opposed the idea of establishing a Bill of Rights, since they said that the powers of the Federal government were so limited that they could not be used to violate the rights of the individual. There was no need to declare a right to freedom of speech, since it was clear that the government was given no power to limit freedom of speech. In fact, when the decision was finally made to put together the Bill of Rights, one of the original amendments, Amendment IX, states "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This makes it very clear just how jealously the people claimed their inalienable individual rights!

Today, we should do no less. Today, we are much more threatened by illegitimate and overblown government than the colonies were by the government of King George III and a Parliament in which they had no representation. The actual encroachments upon the rights of the individual in the colonies were small compared to those we now experience in America. The level of taxation was microscopic compared to the present. The redistribution of wealth and the requirements for service were small in comparison. There are now many more limitations upon our right to lead productive and self-directed lives. We are allowed the freedom to make a much smaller fraction of our life choices now. The mere fact that a plurality of voters may choose to violate the Constitution and the rights of the individual does not lessen the horrible fact that the rights of the individual and his sovereignty are under brutal attack. This government, backed by this plurality of voters, is illegitimate.

Just as the most singly critical principle for choosing a President is whether he will preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, so is that also the most important criterion for choosing any member of Congress. We do an awful job of choosing those people as well as choosing Presidents. The people we have chosen have proven very adept at violating our individual, inalienable rights. This is no surprise, given that few of us recognize the most important principle for choosing our President and our representatives in the House and Senate. Most people have richly earned the loss of their liberty, but they must be damned for also losing that of the few who deserved their liberty and for losing that liberty for our Posterity!

23 October 2008

What Company Pays More Taxes than 50% of the People Combined?

The 27 October 2008 issue of Forbes has a quote of an Investor's Business Daily article which answers this astounding question. We hear Obama and his supporters constantly claiming that McCain is offering a tax break to the oil companies and we are supposed to assume that this is an evil act on McCain's part. Well, actually, he is not planning any special tax break for oil companies as seems to be implied by the Democrat claim. What he is planning to try to do is to reduce our corporate tax rate which is essentially tied with Japan's corporate tax rate as the highest in the world. He knows that our super high tax rate is causing American companies to expand more of their operations abroad at the expense of expanding operations in the U.S. Of course, it is also allowing companies based in Ireland and the many other low corporate tax countries to take business away from American companies.

Many Democrats have called for a windfall profits tax on American oil companies. According to the Investor's Business Daily article, economist Mark Perry has observed that ExxonMobil will pay more taxes to the Federal government this year than the combined total of taxes paid by 50% of all taxpayers. ExxonMobil paid $61.7 billion in taxes in the first half of the year, while having an aftertax income of $22.6 billion. The government makes much more from ExxonMobil's operations than ExxonMobil does!

Jimmy Carter went the windfall profits tax route on oil companies. There was a resulting 6% drop in domestic oil output and an increase in oil imports of 15%. If ExxonMobil were not being taxed so heavily, it would undoubtedly spend more on oil exploration, drilling, and oil field development. The result is already that less oil is coming to market and this means that oil prices are higher.

But Obama wants to milk even more money out of all of America's producers and it is especially easy to convince the simple-minded that oil companies are prime targets to be milked for all they are worth. Expect less oil and other goods and expect America's standing in a global economy to worsen when Obama puts his policies into effect. Expect American energy dependence to greatly increase despite all of Obama's foolish claims that his subsidies for alternative, sustainable energy sources will bring us to energy independence. Actually, I do not believe that he believes what he is saying. He is simply using the power of government subsidies, regulations, and mandates to gain control of the energy industries in order to advance his socialist agenda. This is as much a route to power as is giving tax rebates to people who do not pay taxes! It is all about power gained by promising some ill-gotten gains at the expense of some others chosen to be sacrificed.

14 October 2008

Politicians: Greed Caused Financial Crash

Politicians are all clamoring mightily that greed caused the financial crash. They claim this greed was entirely that of Wall Street fat cats with multi-million dollar golden parachutes. They are right that greed had much to do with the crash. They are wrong to locate that greed primarily on financial company executives. The primary source of greed was Washington, state, and local politicians. The greed was primarily for power and secondarily for campaign contribution money and favors to keep them from messing with business. This greed circumvented the usual constraints that financial business executives have to keep them reality-oriented. This political greed forced businesses to take foolish risks to satisfy politicians who claimed they were guilty of racial discrimination if they did not loan enough money to people who did not have enough income to pay back the loans. This was the purpose of the Community Reinvestment Act given primarily to us by the Democrats.

Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were set up as government-sponsored businesses to encourage risky home mortgage loans to people and package those in the form of securities that financial businesses and retirement funds would buy. The oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission was minimized by Congress. Low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve further fed the madness. Local and state governments drove up the cost of housing with building restrictions often called growth management. People in managed growth places such as California where homes cost 8 times their average family incomes clamored for subprime mortgages and Congress saw that Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac provided them. Finally, when the financial companies found that they held mortgage loan-based securities with large subprime obligations and no one would pay anything like their purchase price for them at this time, they had to write their value down to almost nothing to be compliant with Congress' Sarbanes-Oxley accounting legislation. This further insured that no one could afford to buy these securities, even though only a fraction of the mortgages they are based on will not be repaid.

Some business executives went more overboard than others, thinking that the government policies would protect them from the consequences. Most of these executives have lost their jobs and most of the value of the company stock that was used to reward them for their work has vanished. But.....as usual, our politicians are unscathed and unrepentant for their dastardly roles. They have been able to use the crisis to grab even more power. The more they clamor, the more responsibility they generally have for the mess our economy has been put in. Look primarily to these polititicians, who are so good at distracting us from the real issues, for those most responsible for this catastrophy. Remember that many of these same rascals are backers of catastrophic global warming theories that will allow the government to take control of our use of energy, as well as our financial industries. Doubt their motives at all times! Throw these rascals out of office. Sweep the House and Senate clean.

Unfortunately, both of the major presidential candidates are busy spouting the nonsense that the crash was caused by the greed of Wall Street and of fat cat executives. They are among those trying to distract us from the real issues of governmental interference in the free market. When the market is free, businessmen act to make sound investments, not unsound investments. The scale of this financial crash is itself a great indicator that it was primarily government policies that fed the problem. This was clearly the case in socialist Europe as well.

We are now unreservedly the Socialist People's Republic of the United States! We must call a spade, a spade. Rational men will soon be retiring to Galt's Gulch as Atlas shrugs everywhere. The next president of the United States will either be a moderate socialist or he will be a very committed and very radical socialist. This socialist president will have a very socialist Congress to work with. The sovereign American individual will find nothing but disrespect and, increasingly, chains.

Alan Reynolds has written an interesting article on the plight of those businessmen who most followed Washington's lead and who most went overboard with risky loans and subprime-mortgage based securities.

12 October 2008

Growth Management Laws Created Housing Bubble

For some time, I have been pointing out that the rapid increases in home costs are limited to some areas of the country and that these rapid increases have been largely determined by local governments, or in some cases by state governments. Even the Federal government has contributed in some areas out west where the Federal government owns a large fraction of the land. Where growth management planning by governments is not practiced or has been very newly implemented, the cost of housing has simply increased at about the inflation rate. Home sales are still brisk in areas without such growth management and people have little need to resort to subprime home mortgages in such places. The story is catastrophically different in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont, where the states have mandated growth management laws. The Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul areas have also been hit due to local government restrictions. Randal O'Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, has written an excellent article on this called Big Burdens from Growth Management.

He points out that a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home in San Jose, CA costs $1,100,000, while the same home costs $550,000 in Seattle, WA and only $250,000 in Raleigh, NC. San Jose has practiced growth management since 1970, Seattle since 1985, and Raleigh has the wisdom not to interfere. Housing costs in urban areas depend heavily upon how long growth management policies have been followed. O'Toole points out that several fast-growing states such as Texas and North Carolina have home price to buyer income ratios of less than 2.5. In comparison, the average ratio is more than 9 in San Jose! In Dallas, this ratio is slightly more than 2 and the area growth rate is 40% since 1990, compared to San Jose's growth of only 10% in that time. The average home price to buyer income ratio in all of California is more than 8. If more than 30% of your income goes to making your mortgage payment, you will most likely have to take a subprime mortgage. Consequently, it is most in the growth-managed areas that subprime mortgage loans have become a major problem.

The difference in home price brought on by government growth management requirements is such that in 2006, home buyers paid more than $250 billion in planning taxes, the cost of this government meddling in the home and land markets for that single year. Needless to say, these costs keep many families from owning the homes of their dreams, which is exactly what they are supposed to do. From 1940 to 1960, homeownership grew from 44% to 62%, but has grown to only 69% since. Homeownship has grown better in most states with no growth-management laws. This is important, because a home is the biggest investment most families have. It also provides the most common means for people to finance a new small business.

It is commonly said that growth management prevents the "urban sprawl" that planners hate, but that most people's dream of a single-family home with a yard requires. Yet, all urban areas now account for less than 3% of the land in the U.S. California requires 95% of its people to live in 5.1% of that state's land, but with no growth management, only about 8.5% of the state would be urban. In order to keep 3.4% of the state's land unoccupied, the state has tripled the cost of a home. Oregon requires its people to live in 1.25% of the state, but with no requirement and assuming the same densities of people in urban areas as in the rest of the country, they would occupy less than 1.7% of the land in Oregon.

O'Toole points out:

"Of course, when we say a particular law has 'protected' open space from development, we usually mean that the law has denied rural landowners the right to use their property as they see fit. Because landowners receive no compensation for this taking of their property rights, it should be viewed with even greater outrage than the Supreme Court recent decision allowing cities to take people's land by eminent domain -- with compensation -- and give that land to private developers."

"Russians say that Americans do not have any real problems, so they have to make them up. Urban sprawl is one of those made-up problems. Unfortunately for U. S. citizens, efforts to control sprawl have led to very real difficulties: unaffordable housing, higher land costs for business and industry, housing bubbles and busts, and increasing barriers to homeownership for low- and moderate-income families."

In an effort to address some of these problems, local governments create subsidized housing, which adds to the tax burden. They sometimes require builders to build money-losing housing so they will be allowed to build other single-family and townhouse homes, to which they shift the costs. This makes them more expensive. The federal government uses Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac to help insure a market for subprime home mortgage loans. Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac fed the bubble in the securities based on these unstable loans to the max, while greasing the palms of many Congressmen with heavy donations to keep them onboard with the program. It also used the Community Reinvestment Act to force lenders to make subprime loans to many of the riskiest borrowers. Critical error was piled upon critical error has governments wrecked havoc on the free market and addressed every problem with more government mandated havoc. Without the government interference, no one would have been interested in loaning out their money in so many risky subprime loans.

The financial problem we are facing today was not caused by Capitalism or by the free market, as the socialists in government and in the Democrat Party are claiming. They have been clamoring mightily to try to prevent the people from understanding what did cause the problem. It was caused by socialist governments all the way from the local to the federal levels.

This is not the first housing bubble that has burst. A bubble occurred in the 1970s in the few states with growth management then, while a worse bubble erupted in the 1980s with more homes involved as urban planning spread. O'Toole says this present bubble affects about 40% of the nation's housing. The bubbles are becoming worse as more and more areas turn to urban planning.

Fall Onslaught at the Lab

I have not been posting recently since the Fall season is commonly the most busy season at my materials analysis laboratory. This year, the major onslaught of new jobs began a bit later than most recent years, since it started in mid-September. There has been much I would have liked to have posted on, but time has not allowed. Tonight, however, I will take a short break and write some notes.