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 August 2009

Clunker Morals and Government

The Democrat Congress cash for clunkers program has quickly spent its first billion dollars. The program is widely touted as an effective stimulant of the economy and as popular with the people. Presumably, the environmentalists and those who worry incessantly about running out of fossil fuels or about the Middle East enjoying oil income, are all very happy to get the clunkers off the road.

I, however, have a few problems with this program. They are:
  • It encourages the destruction of wealth, without the wise inputs of the free market system, which is replaced by the foolishness of politics.
  • It transfers large sums of money from the taxpayer to the relatively few individuals who decide they want a new vehicle and who have a qualifying "clunker."
  • It transfers large sums of money from the taxpayer to the auto industry.
  • The pollution emissions of even 12 year-old cars are already very low, so there is little to be gained on that issue, unless you believe the craziness that CO2 is a pollutant or a global climate changer of catastrophic import.
  • If oil were in critical short supply such that cars that would mostly have been junked in one or two more years saved enough to be significant, then oil prices would be high and we would not hesitate to drill in ANWR, the eastern Gulf, and off the southeast Atlantic coast.
No, this is immoral politics as usual. It is a simple transfer of wealth to buy votes. The beneficiaries are more grateful to the politicians than those who are hurt are angry.

Before the late 1930s when Roosevelt's threat to pack the Supreme Court turned some of the Justice's knees to jelly, such a program would have been found unconstitutional on two grounds. First, Congress has no enumerated power to play the stimulating the economy game. Second, such a transfer of wealth from so many to so few could not be said to be consistent with the limitation on the federal government that all of its actions be taken for the General Welfare. This is clearly a program for the welfare of a few and the harm of the many.

The concept of the General Welfare these days is apparently this: The government will undertake thousands of programs most of which harm more people than are helped. But, somewhere among these many programs there are likely to be a few which will help a given individual. If most people are helped by some program, then the General Welfare has been satisfied.

There are severe problems with this concept of the General Welfare. They are:
  • People are aware of how they have been helped by the few helpful programs.
  • The vast majority of people cannot add up all the harm they have suffered from the many programs that hurt them, partly because they are unaware of all the little hurts and even if they remembered them, they cannot calculate up the sum of the pains.
  • This concept gives the government unlimited powers, which the politicians are certain to abuse.
  • These programs act to reduce the role of choice in each individual's effort to manage his own life.
  • The government is given the power to pick winners and losers.
  • The politicians use this power to collect campaign contributions to win re-election so they can continue to sell their votes in Congress.
  • The entire process pits every segment and group within our society at the throats of all other such groups, because the prize to win the power to guide the government monopoly use of force is so critical. The losers are hurt badly and the winners are rewarded grandly.
  • As a result, every segment of society has reason to distrust every other segment of society.
  • This distrust causes universal anxiety and uncertainty.
  • Anxiety and uncertainty make life miserable and people in despair turn to government to bail them out, which creates a visicous circle.
One would think this would be reason enough for rational people to reject this loose and immoral idea of the General Welfare. Apparently, the observational skills, the rational linkages of the observed events, and the importance of the principles of a harmonious and force-forebearing society are too much for the modern man to figure out. Yet, the framers of the Constitution were able to figure this out in a more primitive world than that we live in now. We should be most appreciative of their intellectual effort, even as we bemoan the weakness of the modern American's thinking skills. To a substantial degree, we can thank the dumbing down of Americans in a public school system for that. These government schools are very happy to confuse the people about the ennumerated powers of the federal government and about the Constitution's further restriction that actions be for the General Welfare.

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