Category Archives: Liberals

Advice and Affirmative Consent

(Before we begin, a bit of housekeeping. I have said all that I want to say, all that any should ever need to say, about Donald Trump. I shall speak of him no more in this post, and never again if I can help it.)

(And I know, I know what my maybe half of half a dozen readers are thinking (“Andrew! Where have you been in these dark times when we really need you!”~ Nobody) and I can assure you that if there was any reason to think we aren’t in the metaphorical end times of politics, a metaphorical Tribulation in which as a metaphorical Catholic I do not metaphorically believe, I’d probably post a lot more to try and reassure you. There’s nothing to be reassured about. It is that bad.)

There is much to say, and much has already been said, about the death of Supreme Court Justice and legal-theory giant Antonin Scalia. About the event itself it is probably best to say nothing at all. The cynical mind would perhaps think it awfully convenient for the left that Obama get one last chance inflict generational damage on the structure of America itself. But We All Agree that to even wonder whether anything nefarious might be at work is to flirt with insanity itself. And remember, it is what We All Agree To which determines what truth is, and surely not anything else.

But least you think my protestations a bit much, I am not here to talk about today whether a President who has said he’s good at killing people is above applying that to his domestic enemies when not above applying it to foreign civilians presumed guilty until proven innocent (no really, the way the Obama administration counts civilian casualties in drone strikes is by considering every military aged male an enemy combatant until intelligence posthumously exonerates them. I did not make that up. The New York Times may have.)

Instead I’m here to talk about consent. It’s a popular topic these days, especially among feminists, who are probably especially eager to see Scalia replaced with someone more willing to see rights to murder and free birth control where none plainly exist. These Social Justice Warriors who wax eloquent about the pervasive rape culture which literally tells young men that one of the most heinous crimes a person can commit is a perfectly okay thing to do-through such blatantly pro-rape things as that ancient, and clearly outmoded legal principle; Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat. Perhaps, however, before claiming that President Obama has a right to appoint whoever he wants to the Supreme Court, they ought to reconsider. Despite what some twitter leftist apparently believe, nominate and appoint are not words with identical meanings, which is perhaps why, you know, the Constitution refers to both separately. More to the point, however, the appropriate clause of the Constitution is the Advice and Consent clause (“[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint […] judges of the Supreme Court”), and Social Justice Warrior feminists who embrace a very strict notion of affirmative consent-whereby sex or intimate activity in effect requires a notary public to verify in writing that both parties agree to whatever actions will be undertaken by them, and even the reason as to why, before they occur, lest the male party later be legally considered guilty of rape or sexual assault, and again, I am not making this up, as a quick google search would verify)-ought to take note how quickly their male colleagues in the ongoing march of Progress now embrace the doctrine that a man is entitled to consent-As long as that man is Barack Obama.

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Filed under Courts and Law, Liberals

Some people are confused

I have often wondered at the fact that Libertarians are so prone to smug finger-wagging at Conservatives who allegedly fail to consistently apply skepticism about government, who moreover consider the American Conservative a strange alien creature they do not recognize. For my own part I recognize my cousins, most of the time, and merely feel they fail to grasp some important aspects of the Right-Radical world view. But every now and then I see that Libertarians allow antipathy to the State, even when justified, to distract them from reality. And at no time in my recent memory has this been clearer than reading a recent reaction to the now infamous cause celebre in Ferguson, Missouri. As usual when this happens, out of respect for the commentator in question, someone whose opinion I usually regard as quite worthwhile, I will not say who they are nor will I quote them directly. And in fairness to this individual, they primarily quoted someone else, rather than giving in depth analysis of their own. In even greater fairness, I believe we would agree on the substance of all their concerns, about police violence and the police state in general. I only disagree with the desire to tie a worthy cause to a case to which it bears no relation: Michael Brown was not killed by a police officer in a tank provided by the US Federal Government. Nor was he killed by Asset Forfeiture. Nor drug laws. This was not a result of over-empowered Police authority at all-though such a thing surely exists. An anarcho-capitalist Private Security Firm worker would have done the same thing Darren Wilson did.  Brown was killed by his own foolishness. About the only thing that could have saved his life would have been to disarm the Police entirely, and the result would have been that Darren Wilson would be dead, rather than Brown.

For the record I endorse wholeheartedly the idea of agents of the state having to have their activities in that capacity monitored by surveillance. Therefore I have no objection to requiring Police Officers to wear cameras, apart from questioning how those suggesting it intend to pay for this expense. But let’s face reality, here: if Darren Wilson had been wearing a camera, all that would have resulted would be that he would have been exonerated of any wrong doing immediately. The reality challenged protestors in the streets of Ferguson with their violent thuggery, and the peaceful, free speech exercising, lie promulgating Football players and Congressmen and women, to say nothing of the President of the United States or the Attorney General, would still have forced him out of his job and ruined his life through their “protest” against the facts. It is embarrassing to see Libertarians I respect participate in this, and of all things to wag their fingers at Conservatives for believing in the Police! More than that they do themselves and their beliefs a disservice by associating their cause with a hoax.

Libertarians like to speak of why they are not conservative. This sort of foolishness is why I am not a libertarian.

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Filed under Common Sense, Conservatism, Liberals

Rand Paul’s Criticism of Reagan Is Unfair, Misplaced.

Recently-although not that recently, since I can’t work and keep totally on top of everything that happens in the world-Senator Rand Paul criticized the record of President Ronald Reagan on spending, comparing him unfavorably to Carter. I’m obviously saddened to hear this, as I’m actually a fan of Paul, and more obviously, and fan of Reagan. But I’m not afraid to criticize people I generally like when I think they’re wrong, even if their going astray really is a rare miss. Rand Paul cites statistics that are, as a matter of literal fact, accurate. However, Paul has fallen victim to a dangerous political myth: that of the All Powerful President. It is wrong to give all of the credit, or all of the blame, to the President of the United States for everything that happens during their term(s) in office. It is especially wrong to do so when the Congress is controlled by the opposition party. Although Republicans controlled the Senate from January 1981 to January 1987, at no point during Reagan’s Presidency-and indeed at no point from 1953 to 1995 did Republicans control the House of Representatives at all. You should consider that last point for a bit, also: the House of Representatives was at one point controlled by Democrats for forty two years. It is Congress, not the President, which ultimately possesses the power of the purse. And the House in particular is important in this regard. Measures for raising revenue-which in practice generally means the entire budget-must originate in the House of Representatives. So under the Reagan administration, a significant degree of the blame for increased spending should fall on Congress, with only a relatively small portion of the blame falling on Reagan for not fighting hard to restrain spending. Cynically, it is likely that doing so would have insured a Mondale Presidency-who would have basically run the country into the ground, to be perfectly frank. Similarly, Bill Clinton does not deserve the credit he is given for the restrained of Government growth in the 1990’s-the fact that Republicans regained control of the House for the first time in two generations-that’s 21 elections!-and fought impressively for an agenda today’s GOP wouldn’t dream of achieving, actually succeeding in achieving most of their ambitious goals. Clinton fought this every step of the way, but not quite to the bitter end the way Obama has proven frighteningly willing to. It is remarkable enough that Reagan managed to achieve as much as he did, in fact it’s likely that much of his agenda had to be achieved by giving spending to the House Democrats. But there is much, in retrospect, that we have learned from the Reagan years. Certainly not the lessons many people think we ought to have learned. But perhaps Paul has mostly learned the right lessons. For example, we have learned that deals to cut spending, traded for higher taxes, lead to higher taxes and higher spending-hence the familiar left wing talking point about how many times “Reagan raised taxes” (which, again, and even more strongly, is the responsibility of Congress and in particular the Democrats running the part of it from which revenue measures must originate. We have learned that “comprehensive immigration reform” meaning deals cut to secure the border traded for amnesty for illegal aliens, results in more illegal aliens and no actual border security-and leads, gradually, and unfortunately inevitably, to the demographic suicide of the United States of America. In short, we’ve learned what we should have known all along. The other side is evil and not to be trusted. You don’t compromise with the devil (speaking metaphorically here, butthurt atheists).

If you fault Reagan for anything, as a Conservative, or a True Liberal (rather than these Pre-Liberals who call themselves “Progressives” who would advance society by advancing an agenda to reconstruct Medieval society) it is being too compromising. Too willing to reach across the aisle and work with the other side. The struggle between individualism and collectivism is a fight between right and wrong, a moral battle. So I’d be quite pleased if, say, a President Paul would be unwilling to compromise in this fight. But be fair. Intellectually, I believe Reagan understood that. But unfortunately it is difficult to act like this in practice. The Leftists are our friends, our neighbors, our countrymen. As much victims of their own hateful, repugnant ideology as they are perpetrators. And Reagan was sentimental, and friendly to a fault. A man who could write, privately, of JFK being, underneath the boyish haircut, still old Karl Marx, but who never the less considered his adversary in Majority leader Tip O’Neill a friend. Hate the sin love the sinner, better Christians would say. These days it is easy to criticize that sort of sentimentality. The stakes are too high these days, to be that way anymore. Still, I really do think that Paul has erred, and done a disservice to Reagan and to history, with a criticism that is not really fair.

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Filed under Conservatism, Fiscal Policy, General, History, Liberals, Republicans

Minimum RAAAAAAAAAAAGE!

So, according to the Keynesians at the CBO, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 cents an hour would cost 500 thousand jobs. That’s not some right wing talking point, that’s what they actually claim:

Effects of the $10.10 Option on Employment and Income.
Once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent, CBO projects. As with any such estimates, however, the actual losses could be smaller or larger; in CBO’s assessment, there is about a two-thirds chance that the effect would be in the range between a very slight reduction in employment and a reduction in employment of 1.0 million workers (see Table 1).
Now, for the record, the report itself is actually quite nuanced. You can decide for yourself, for example, if it is worthwhile to increase the income of “many more” families, and the expense of those whose incomes you reduce to zero-I personally doubt they know either of those numbers with the precision necessary to say one is actually a larger number than the other. They’re still Keynesians.
But for what it is worth, it doesn’t seem like the left wing position should be that we should redistribute wealth from the very poor, to the slightly less poor.
But that is the left wing position. At least if we keep in mind that the left is not entitled to their own facts.
Predictably, the Keynesians at the CBO came under attack for their apostasy. But they are standing by their findings. Well, good on them, someone really ought to push back hard on the Administrations asinine lie that economists don’t believe that the minimum wage reduces employment for low to unskilled labor. The real truth is that since the 1990’s, a handful of econometricians-not economists but statisticians who study economic data-have published a handful of studies suggesting little such effect occurs empirically. The actual case for what happened “empirically” is not clear. But one would not be justified in throwing out textbook economics on the basis of a few studies claiming that the laws of supply and demand are magically suspended in low to unskilled labor markets. The reaction of economists should be not unlike the reaction scientists would have to someone claiming to have created a perpetual motion device: “No, you’ve obviously done something wrong.”
Let’s review, though, lest you think me some heartless ideologue, let’s review what the very laws of economics tell us the consequences of a minimum wage and raising it are.
First, what is a minimum wage? A minimum wage is a price floor. It outlaws any employment contract-with certain exceptions, which we will discuss-where the hourly wage rate is below a certain nominal value. If this floor is above the wage that would clear a labor market, then that labor market won’t clear, at least legally. The last bit is kind of an important point, which some commentators miss. It is already illegal, for example, to hire an illegal alien. However, it is not like you are doing something that will get you in significantly more trouble as an employer if you also pay illegal aliens below the minimum wage. There are no jobs Americans won’t do-there are jobs Americans aren’t allowed to do. Or more specifically, there are employment contracts Americans aren’t allowed to agree to. But I am digressing a bit. What does it mean to say that a market “won’t clear?” Well, those on the short side of market can deny trade to those on the long side, or attach conditions to trade. Or, in English, employers can refuse to employ people at the non market clearing wage. Because demand curves slope downwards and supply curves slope upward (mathematically, the derivative of quantity demanded as a function of price is less than zero, the derivative of quantity supplied as a function of price is greater than zero) there will be a large gap between the people willing to accept work at the new wage, and the actual amount of work available at the new wage. This is called “unemployment”-or at least it is, as long as the surplus labor doesn’t get the message that they might as well give up on getting a job altogether, in which case we just pretend it isn’t a problem because we suddenly no longer call it “unemployment.” It’s worth noting that certain groups will be over represent amongst those whose labor is still demanded, and those whose labor is not. Those who will be better represented in the former group: secondary/part time workers from multi-income families, entry level workers with clear potential for advancement, and young workers from working class households will probably still, mostly, see their labor still demanded. The latter group will have would be workers from the lowest income families, victims of discrimination, and single parents with young children overrepresented. In other words, the minimum wage hurts most those it is intended-or at least, claimed to be intended-to help. It cuts off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, needed more than anyone else by the most disadvantaged. The total income earned by all such workers may initially increase-it depends on the elasticity of labor demand-but it will be a redistribution of income within those in that labor market. But over time firms will substitute skilled labor and capital for unskilled labor-labor demand will become more elastic-and as a result, ultimately the total income earned by unskilled workers will go down. Now, this effect is the effect on the unskilled and some low skill labor markets, at least those which are subject to the minimum wage price floor. But actually, not every labor market for unskilled or low skilled labor is subject to the price floor. Tellingly, there is a legal exception for farm labor. This has the effect of driving those driven out of other unskilled or low skilled labor markets, into the market for farm labor-the supply curve for farm labor shifts rightward, which means that the market clearing wage for farm labor is now lower. This means that not only does the minimum wage drive many out of the unskilled and low skilled labor markets, it has the particularly perverse consequence of driving down farm wages. But this is the only way to avoid the politically unpalatable level surplus of labor that would be created if an exemption for farm labor did not exist. But the effects on other labor markets are equally telling. Unions generally support raising the minimum wage-even though union workers typically earn well above the minimum wage already. This might seem strange, since there should be no direct effect on their wages. However, union labor is typically skilled labor, and skilled and unskilled labor (or more skilled and low skilled) can be substitute inputs, which means that the imposition of or raising of a minimum wage, should increase demand for skilled labor-the demand curve for skilled labor shifts rightward. Both employment of skilled workers and their total income increases as their wages rise. In other words, higher earning skilled labor, including most union labor, gains at the expense of low earning unskilled labor. In a parallel story, because of regional cost of living differences, and because a Federal minimum wage does not factor these in, areas where prices-including wages-tend to be higher, for example, more Northern states versus Southern ones, those regions with lower wages will have the direct effect of a high minimum wage impose increased labor costs on them, but those regions with higher prices and wages will not. As such, Northern labor acts as a substitute for Southern labor, demand for the labor of higher cost of living areas increases, the total income, and the wage rate in those areas rises. But migration also shifts, as the Southern or low cost of living area workers can move more to the North or high cost of living areas (or more likely, fewer people move away from higher cost of living areas). This shifts the supply curve for high cost of living area labor rightward, somewhat offsetting both the increase unemployment in the low cost of living areas, and the income gains in the higher cost of living areas. But in net, higher cost of living regions are expected to gain at the expense of lower cost of living areas. This lines up rather well, generally, with elections maps-it’s a redistribution of income from Red States to Blue States.
Now, maybe you really think all of the above effects sound great. I certainly don’t. I find them perverse, and immoral. But then, that’s why I vehemently oppose the minimum wage.

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Filed under Common Sense, Dumbasses, Economics, Liberals

To Whom Success Is Due

Recent statements by Obama have gotten a lot of (well deserved) attention already. As usual when Obama tells us what he really thinks, we Conservatives are just too stoopeed to comprehend the point, or we are taking the remarks out of context. Right. Well, what does Obama mean when he says “You didn’t build that”? Apparently his point was simply that people cannot take all the credit for their own success. But such a statement is totally vacuous if it is not meant to make a political point. So what is the political point? The political point is that successful people owe their success to the fact that the government made their success possible, and, therefore, they have a special obligation to pay the government for the services it provided them. This point is still vacuous, however, because it is basically an argument for a progressive income tax which, in case you haven’t noticed, is the existing government policy. In terms of what Obama would like to do with that policy, he has said that the wealthiest should pay more: in other words, according to Obama, the wealthiest are not currently paying income taxes in proportion to the extent to which they benefit from the services that government provides. But that is false: those with the highest incomes pay a greater portion of the overall revenue from income taxes than their share of the national income. The other possible political point is that the government needs to provide certain services. Again, vacuous: the government can provide necessary services, it also might “provide” many unnecessary ones. What services that only the government can provide does Obama want? Which ones are the “bad guys” trying to do away with? The answer to both questions is none. There are a great many unnecessary services that the government “provides” and many such services that Obama wants to create or expand (or has).

But, let’s deal, in a philosophical manner, with these points in a bit more detail. Obama says people owe their success (at least some of it) to great teachers or roads and bridges. These are government services, it is surely true that people may benefit from these services. But do the successful disproportionately benefit from these services? Put another way, why is life unfair? I have t0 admit I am a bit amused to learn that Leftists do not believe that some people succeed and others fail because of a cruel and angry God in whom they do not believe. It turns out it’s teachers. Yes, teachers choose to make some people successful and others not; in fact we may make a general statement that government services discriminate systematically to make certain people successful and others not. One has to wonder, if government services are so profoundly biased and unfair, why we would want the government to be the provider of services at all. Well, either that or one cannot attribute a few people’s success to services provided to people who failed, too. But on a less facetious level, it is worth noting that, in a capitalist economy, one would not have obligations to those who have provided services or goods for one’s use. One pays the price the offerer asks for their services-or one demonstrates how little one actually desires the service by not bothering. It is by forcing some services to be done through the government that you create a situation where someone “owes” another party for their services, but does not pay. Who are the greatest beneficiaries, and to whom is the most owed? The answers are, the government’s friends, and the governments enemies. Are there services which only the government can provide? The first that springs to mind is national defense. But every person benefits equally from that crucial service, and yet about half of the people pay nothing for this service (crucial point here: for this service. While Social Security and other things that payroll taxes pay for are arguably not necessary services, such taxes are in-arguably not supposed to pay for national defense). I would certainly agree that people should pay for services they receive. If such services cannot be provided by private entities (cannot does not mean the same thing as “currently not” as Leftists inevitably interpret this) the solution to this problem is called user fees, or in the case of services which a person may not choose to forgo a head tax-not a progressive income tax. In point of fact, however, Leftists do not agree with the principle that people should pay if they receive a service-they strongly reject this proposition as unfair when it applies to making those people who they like pay for things Leftists think should be given to them for free. But a more fundamental problem is that, even if they were being serious in proposing such a principle, the Left believes a great many things must be done by the government, that frankly don’t need to be. We might be able to maintain true fairness (those who benefit, pay), if we adopted the aforementioned principle and then had the government provide most services, but never as well as the private sector could. In fact in many cases it would only remain “those who benefit, pay” in the sense that many would not benefit at all and therefore have no obligation. But more importantly, people would not decide for themselves if they were in the group of those who benefit, and pay, as in the capitalist economy; the people who would benefit, and pay, would be arbitrarily determined by the government-the only difference from the current situation being that the government cannot make those who benefit and those who pay two different groups of people. The real alternative is capitalism.

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

~Frédéric Bastiat

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Filed under Common Sense, Conservatism, Dumbasses, Economics, Election 2012, Freedom, Liberals, Thinkers

Right AND Wrong

Much has been made of the alleged “apostasy” of the Romney campaign from the talking points among Republicans, whose campaign strategy to turn the disastrous and wrong Supreme Court decision into a big get out the vote drive was t0 jump on the Court declaring the mandate a tax. What can I say? For once, I agree with Mitt Romney. It shouldn’t have been declared a tax, any proper analysis of the law would have struck it down as an unconstitutional penalty; the fact of the matter is, however, that even when the Supreme Court is wrong, the government is bound to it’s interpretation of the law. So the way I look at it, Obamacare went into the Court an unconstitutional penalty, and left, along with the shredded remains of the Constitution, as a “constitutional” tax, as rewritten by our nation’s latest greatest legislator, John  Roberts.

So why doesn’t any of the media including Fox or WSJ, ask Obama why, if he really believes he didn’t sign a middle class tax hike into law, he doesn’t ask John Roberts to reconsider and declare his law unconstitutional? Why is it that the Obama administration is being allowed to get away with trying to have it both ways and the Republicans are being given a hard time? Even if we go with the media narrative, the we are left to conclude that Romney is an independent thinker who doesn’t just say what other Republicans tell him to, but the Democrats are much smarter because they are all on the same page with different Democrats, but each individual Democrat is not on the same page with him or herself! Baffling!

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Filed under Courts and Law, Dumbasses, Election 2012, Healthcare, Liberals, Republicans

Madison in Tatters

The Supreme Court has, as I am sure many of you are aware, narrowly upheld Obamacare against constitutional challenge. Many say that this isn’t too big a deal, if we just elect Republicans to the Presidency and Senate, and hold the House, we can repeal it and it does not matter what the Court said because Congress has the power to undo what it has the power to do. This is incredibly shortsighted and fails to grasp that what the Court has done, in effect, is fundamentally alter the nature of the American government. Not merely this decision, but the recent decision to tell the States they cannot decide for themselves how to sentence juvenile murderers, and the decision to tell the States that they cannot maintain their sovereign status even if fully compliant with federal law. Moreover, the Court has just engaged in a clear case of violating the separation of powers among the co-equal branches of the federal government. Has there ever been a more clear case of legislating from the bench? I doubt it. Even the majority opinion concedes their reading of the individual mandate as a tax is not “straightforward” nor is it the most “natural” reading, but on the basis of “precedent” points out it doesn’t have to be an easy reading-if they can go out of their way to save a poorly written law, precedent says they should. The dissenting opinion rightly sees this as quite the stretch, as not only did the government, but also the majority, agree that it was not a tax “for purposes of” the Anti-Injunction Act (that is, the ruled it not a tax for the issue of legal standing) the law is clearly written so that this alleged “tax” is a penalty, a distinction that makes the whole difference as to whether the mandate passes muster. The issue is clearly expounded upon by the dissent. The majority’s opinion is baffling, beyond being wrong.

Truly this is the death Madison’s Federalist vision. Every element of restraint on the government’s power is now gone. The government may now undertake to compel any action of Americans under the power to tax-not merely health insurance, but to use an example given by majority opinion author Roberts, a mandate to purchase energy efficient windows, could be enforced by a “tax.” What the government cannot compel of people is unclear because frankly, it really has no limits any longer. Under penalty of “taxation” under penalty of criminal prosecution, anything may now be required of Americans by their own government. None of this is likely to ever be undone. Congresses will come and go, but in the modern era, Supreme Court cases are essentially forever.

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Filed under Courts and Law, Freedom, Healthcare, Liberals