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.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

04 November 2004

President Bush to Continue

President Bush has won both the majority of the votes and sufficient states to win the Electoral College. This is a good result, but his program includes not only good goals, but also some very bad goals. Some of the very bad goals are very popular with many of his voters. As a man who loves the complete panoply of our freedoms, I will have much to do to encourage the wise programs and to block the irrational ones.

In his victory speech today, President Bush put his emphasis on his good goals. He vowed again to be resolute in fighting the terrorists and in helping Afghanistan and Iraq, to simplify the tax laws, and to reform Social Security with privatized retirement funds. These are great goals.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, while congratulating President Bush on his re-election, stated the need to renew the effort to solve the problem of Palestine. The only solution I can see is that there is a need to so invigorate the economies of the nearby states of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt that those societies are eager to invite the Palestinians into their countries to help them fill out their own workforces. This clearly can only be accomplished in the long run and requires that the people of those countries make a serious effort to improve their governments and add dynamism to their economies by injecting laissez faire capitalism.

President Bush understands this and he hopes Iraq will be the first example of such an Arab and Muslim state. This will take time, but the effect on the neighboring countries, if it is successful, will be huge. The recalcitrant, thug-filled Sunni triangle will have to be suppressed with sufficient force to allow this. The Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south will have to be given sufficient autonomy that their regions can prosper and serve as examples to the Sunni population of what they could accomplish as producers rather than as thugs. We should help the Kurdish and Shiite areas to prosper by providing more security and economic help in their areas and waiting for the Sunnis to get the message.

With his increased support in the Senate and the House, President Bush should move to make the tax decreases permanent so business planning can be freed of the worry of the rates shooting up again soon. Some of the $600 billion in overseas earnings of American-based multinational companies should be coming home in the next several years now that the tax to be paid for bringing it home will drop greatly. This will generate much business investment and many more jobs in the U.S. Reductions in the capital gains taxes that President Bush has indicated he wants should also help to make our now vigorous economy become still more vigorous. We can then respond to the need for more productive workers by increasing the number of highly educated and skilled people that we allow to immigrate to the U.S. This will generate still more growth and jobs, without being a social services burden to anyone. It also provides more workers to spread the Social Security tax over to support the Baby Boomers in their retirement. We need badly to give the public school system more competition. This is the most practical way to begin its badly needed reform. The better investment climate, stronger incentive to earn income, and the stronger work-force will make it easier to reform the Social Security debacle. This is not to say that we should wait until these economy-boosters have already produced their effects before starting the privatization of Social Security. We should carefully explain all of these plans to Americans and enlist their support in this new vision of a freer and richer society. Privatized Social Security will add still more investment money to the economy and make the new investment holders more responsible and knowledgeable with respect to business. I believe that President Bush understands how such a coordinated plan fits together and he needs to start making this clear to the people.

On the bad side, President Bush's re-election was accompanied by a great many propositions that are said by their supporters to protect the sanctity of marriage. These measures are small-minded and irrational. I will soon write commentaries on homosexual and bisexual freedom of conscience. I will build upon a foundation of freedom of conscience and why we must welcome expressions of individual conscience whether we wish to make the same choice ourselves or not. These issues are frightening to many and receive too little rational discussion because people fear the irrational response of others. Oftentimes, that response is ugly. President Bush is willing to take the lead in many difficult situations, but his fundamentalist Christian side does not allow him to do so on some issues. He is not likely to be very vigorous in promoting these issues, since they are hurtful and I do not think the President likes to hurt people. We should watch vigilantly, however, since we know that some cohorts do not mind in the least pointlessly hurting others, though they call themselves followers of the gentle Jesus.

The subject of abortions is also one subject to passions and a strong polarization of some Christians with respect to the majority of the population. Most people are resolved to leave the choice of giving birth or aborting to the pregnant woman. This is as I believe it should be. However, this issue is not a trivial one and it does carry with it an issue of freedom of conscience that cuts two ways. Just as government should not deny a woman the right to an abortion, neither should government take money from those who view abortion as murder and provide it to the poor to pay for their abortions. Government should not be playing any role in this issue except to see to it that neither side uses force against the other. There should be a live and let live policy. Oops! No, in this context, I have to say a policy of free choice must reign. There really is no other practical choice here.

We must watch our civil liberties closely even as we fight the war on terrorism or the war on organized crime. It took centuries to secure the right to be free from unreasonable searches. The Patriot Act allows searches of our homes without us knowing it with a court order. We must see to it that this provision is not abused. We have already largely lost the hard-won right to our property without unreasonable seizure to such recent laws as environmental laws, organized crime laws, and the desire to increase the tax base by accommodating a private enterprise. We do not similarly want to lose our right to have a free trial. If an American is caught with the Taliban, I believe it wise to see to it that he is tried in the manner that any American accused of a crime is tried. Our right to trial was won too hard to let it go under any circumstance. That right does not apply, however, to non-citizens who are or have attacked us.

On many fronts, we must be vigilant in defense of our rights. Our Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness require that we have great freedom to make the many choices required for us to be competent managers of our own lives. Unless a very strong rational argument can be made for depriving an individual of this very wide ranging freedom of choice in any aspect, neither government nor any combination of people have the right to take away any choice. We must always err on the side of freedom and never on the side of apparent convenience. We must never be afraid to demand a good reason when someone proposes to limit our freedom of thought or any action other than the initiated use of force against others. Not even if they say that they do not need to justify themselves to us. Well, no, they do not if we are discussing what color suit they are wearing, their choice of hobbies, or even whom they love. But, they must have a justifying rational argument to back up their use of force to attain their ends. If they do not, then one is justified in using force to protect those of one's values that they have initiated an attack against. Better that we be willing to rationally evaluate the actions we take with respect to others than have to constantly respond with force to repel force. That makes for a very ugly society and quickly leads to the end of civilized life. We have so much to trade freely with one another and to our mutual advantage, that this civilized minimal use of force leads us to a much richer and more secure life.

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